Last of the Bison by State

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Dr Jeff Martin: Whence the Buffalo Roamed:
When and Where Were Bison Roaming During Colonial North America and Before?


Last of the Bison by State


The following account of the killing of the last big Buffalo bull appears in the Macleod Gazette in the form of a letter signed “Wyoming Bill.”:

Early in November 1887, John Nolan and other half breeds were near the forks of the Red Deer and South Saskatchewan when they came across a bunch of eleven buffalo, one of the bunch being a very large bull.

They killed the big bull, two cows and a calf and brought them into Swift Current.  J. Grant got the head of the bull and Curry Bros.,  got the two cows heads and hide of the calf. No doubt afterword the half breeds cleaned out the rest of the bunch for they were never heard of again.

Hine of Winnipeg mounted the bull’s head and in 1893 it was loaned to the government and was sent to the World Fair at Chicago, where it was much admired.

It is still in the hands of John Grant, taxidermists, of Red Deer, Alberta, and any person passing through Red Deer would do well to go and see the head, it being one of the largest and handsomest I ever saw, and I believe the last Buffalo killed in the territories.

One the other heads is in the possession of Dr. George of Innisfall, who is much interested in natural history.

The country lying between the South Saskatchewan and the Cypress Hills and Old Wives Creek and the lakes and the Vermillion Hills was famous for Buffalo and even now the old Buffalo trails and wallows are to be seen from Moose Jaw to Medicine Hat.

But most of the game, both hair and feathers, is gone now. The last time I crossed the plains from Red River to Rocky Mountains overland some of the favorite resorts of waterfowl and wading birds were nearly deserted. Rush Lake, once the breeding place of many kinds of waterfowl – pelicans, geese and ducks, besides small birds – was half dry and only a few ducks there.

Other lakes were the same, but along some of the streams north of the Cypress Hills, especially Pi-a-Pot creek. There were quite a few prairie wolves, Fox’s and badgers and antelope on the middle plains.

The Last of the Bison by State 1760 Map of Cherokee Lands


1740-1760 South Carolina -The buffalos are now become scarce, as the thoughtless and wasteful Indians used to kill great numbers of them, only for the tongues and marrow-bones, leaving the rest of the carcasses to the wild beasts.


Fish & Game Magazine

By the end of the 18th-century bison were extirpated from North Carolina.

The last known bison in Georgia was killed in 1801 – the last two east of the Mississippi River were shot in Wisconsin in 1832.

It didn’t take much longer for elk to follow the same path. The last known eastern elk was killed in 1877 in Pennsylvania. As settlers pushed westward, they also pushed elk and bison ahead of them, shooting the animals at will for food and clothing.

The last bison in North Carolina was recorded in about 1760. 

The last bison killed in Pennsylvania was in Union County, in 1801. 

The last bison in Virginia was said to be killed by Nathan Boone, a son of Daniel Boone, in 1797 along the New River.

The last bison killed in West Virginia was killed near Valley Head, Randolph County in 1825. 

The last bison in Kentucky are dated to 1800, and in Tennessee, between 1800 and 1810.



1840’s West of the Rocky Mountains, bison (never in large numbers) disappeared. Native Americans market hunters concentrated on cow bison, because of their prime hides for trading.

1859 General Randolph B. Marcy himself had journeyed from Fort Randall on the lower Missouri to Fort Laramie without seeing a single buffalo. The experience had convinced him that the animals were “rapidly disappearing, and a few years will, at the present rate of destruction, be sufficient to exterminate the species.”

1864 Idaho State Legislature passed the first law to protect the bison – after they were gone from the state.

1866 July 6th
A St Paul paper publishes some facts which indicate that the cattle disease is raging among the buffalo on the Northwestern prairies, numbers of these animals having been found dead, with no marks to account for the cause of death. Many cattle also have been attacked, and died at Pembina, with what is supposed to be disease identical with that now spreading through Europe.

1860s-80s: Railroad divides bison into northern and southern herds.

1868 Gen. Sherman wrote to his friend and comrade-in-arms General Sheridan, “as long as Buffalo are upon the Republican the Indians will go there. I think it would be wise to invite all the sportsmen of England and America there this fall for a Grand Buffalo hunt, and make one grand sweep of them all. Until the Buffalo and consequent[ly] Indians are out [from between] the Roads we will have collisions and trouble.” February 1868. Lieutenant Colonel Luther P. Bradley “Private Journal,” Bradley described his mission: “Ordered to the forks of the Republican to make permanent camp: to kill all the buffalo we find, and drive the Arapahoes and Cheyennes south, and the Sioux north.” Bradley carried out his orders energetically, but his troops were able to find and kill comparatively few buffalo.

Wholesale Slaughter
Jan 6 1874 Wholesale Slaughter
With reference to the wholesale slaughter of buffalo on the plains, a Western paper says: Mr. Lessing estimates that there are at least two thousand hunters in camp along there waiting for buffalo. He came across one party of sixteen, who stated that they killed twenty-eight thousand buffaloes during the past summer, the hides of which only were utilized. If sixteen hunters can kill this many animals, how great must be the slaughter upon the broad extent of the bison range? Evidently millions of the animals must have been killed during the past summer alone. Mr. Lessing says there are no buffaloes to been on the plains except dead ones, and that hunt as much as they may. the sportsmen cannot at present find any game. The value of the hides has deteriorated considerably, owing to a great increase of the article in the market. Heretofore they were worth $3 delivered at the railway stations, while now a distinction is made as to the size, and paid for accordingly,  the prices ranging from 4¢ to $1.00 per hide. 

1880-83: Northern herd reduced to less than 100 animals – plus 200 in Yellowstone.
1883 By mid-year nearly all the bison in the United States were gone. The Dakota Territorial Legislature enacted a law to protect bison; it was not enforced.
In 1883 Oklahoma, the McCoy brothers and J.W. Summers caught a pair of bison calves, 2 of very few left on the southern plains.



Times-Democrat- Oct 3, 1911

A herd of ten thousand buffalo used to visit a lick near Onondaga lake, NY….Settlers killed 700 there in one year. In 1730 the last buffalo east of the Alleghenies was killed. In 1897 the last wild buffalo in the country, outside the preserves, was killed. Goodbye, bison.






Pennsylvania enjoys the distinction of being the scene of the most easterly range of the buffalo , Bison bison , in North America . Dr. J. A. Allen , whose excellent memoir on the American Bisons furnishes the best data on this subject, has conclusively proved its existence up to the beginning of this century as far east as Buffalo Valley , near Lewisburg , in Union County. The last buffalo killed in that region was shot by Col. John Kelly, ” about 1790 or 1800,” on the McClister farm adjoining his own , and situate in Kelly township , about five miles from Lewisburg . Col. Kelly stated that an old Indian named Logan informed him of the former abundance of buffaloes in this valley. In the map of its distribution, Dr. Allen practically limits the range of the buffalo in the Keystone State to the country drained by the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers, which includes the region west of the Alleghany ridge on the south, and on the north, from a point in Clearfield county to the eastern shore of Lake Erie, westward. The movement east of this area is supposed to have been limited to the mountain passes extending along the west branch of the Susquehanna, to the forks below Lewisburg. –  Read more @ JSTOR It continues with talks about the fossil remains found- teeth.

His dog was young, and at so late an hour he did not allow it to pursue. The next morning he went to hunt his game, but did not find it. Nearly a week later word was brought him that it had been found, dead, some mile or two away. He found the information correct, but the animal had been considerably torn and eaten by the wolves. He regarded the animal as a stray one, and had never heard of any in the valley at a later day.” -Dr. Beck had the account from Colonel Kelly about three months before his death.


Pennsylvania 28 Sep 1937 This Morning’s COMMENT

In a recent issue of that widely-read magazine, “We, the People,” a page is devoted to the story of the slaughter of the last Pennsylvania bison herd in “Booney’s Hole,” a section of Boonestiel’s Sink, in the White Mountains of Union county, January, 1801.

 Apart from the data concerning the final mass execution of Bos Pennsylvanicus the mention of “Holes” recalls other Pennsylvania butcheries human and bovine. It was during; the wheat harvest of July, 1756, that Indians swooped down on a band of harmless Bohemian harvesters at the Hole in what is now Monroe Valley, on the Dauphin-Lebanon county line, slaying all, including the little boy who carried water to the party- The graves of these Innocent victims of the ill-feeling between Ulster Scot and redskins are in the tiny St. Matthews cemetery where on each brown-stone grave-slab appears the words, “Killed by the Wilden,” or “savages.” Historian ‘W. H. Wheeler, of Reading, in an address to the Blue Mountain Wilderness Trail association at the site of Fort Dietrich Snyder, in Shubert’s Gap, in June, 1937, stated there is a second “Hole’ in the vicinity of Grindstone Valley, back of Millersburg, now called Bethel, Berks county (not Millersburg, Dauphin county) where Indians staged several successful raids from their strongholds across the Blauen Barichen, or Blue Mountains; among their captives being Molly Heysham, Berks county’s most historic girl, whose captivity at old Fort Niagara has been previously told of in this column.

Prof. N, W. Moyer. at the same meeting, told of another “Hole” the “Red Hole” near Shubert. The name “Hole” seems to be of Swiss origin as there are many of these holes, or deep glens, mountain-encircled in the storied land of William Tell. One of the most celebrated of these is St Martins Hole, in the Canton Glarus, where the heroic Andreas Wilhelm Naegeli as the name was then spelled the Swiss ancestor for whom Andrew William Mellon was named, successfully withstood simultaneous attacks from four sides by Austrians, Tyrolese, Germans and Lombards in the Fourteenth century come to levy taxes and tribute on this little independent community. Just as the wave of the last band of invaders disappeared behind the snow covered Alpine passes and as the sun had commenced to set a stray arrow, some think aimed at an eagle, laid low Andreas Wilhelm Naegeli, “the bravest of the brave” as he is called in his modest epitaph.

Just as Andrew William Mellon had routed an encirling movement of income tax, aluminum trust, oil well snipers and banking investigators only o breathe his last like his Swiss ancestor, his name will go down in history as a great American and benefactor of mankind.

In the Reading Howell map of Pennsylvania, published in 1792, the portion of the now Iron City around the “Point” is called Pittsburg while the whole eastern section is known as “Negley’s.” Much of the Pittsburg of today stands on the former Negley farm, East Liberty having been laid out by Andrew Mellon’s grandfather, Jacob Negiey, esquire.

Speaking of heroes, this “Jacob Negley, Esquire,” was none other than the former “Little Jakey” Negley, Pennsylvania’s most historic boy, a prototype of Andreas Wilhelm Naegeli and Andrew William Mellon himself.

The last buffalo in Pennsylvania was killed at a much later date than is mentioned in the
instructive article in “We, the People.” The date is October 1810, the place one of the Glades of Somerset county near Buckstown and the slayer John Yutsey, whose named “Englished” from the Macedonian, means “Gipsy,” otherwise the famous “Gipsy John.” Earlier in the same year Frederick Stamm killed a bison in Northumberland county, while Jacob Weikert drove the last buffalo out of the Buffalo Valley of Union county in 1803. In 1792, in Harrisburg, a large bison driven from the Blue Mountain by dogs was shot in Derry street and the meat was divided among the hunters.



1730 (As early as ) buffalo calves had frequently been taken by the settlers, and brought up among the domestic cattle; being, however, mainly as objects of curiosity. According to Gallatin, a mixed breed was quite common ninety years ago (1786) in some of the north-western counties of Virginia; but they gradually became merged into the common domestic herd, through lack of fresh supply of wild blood.

“ELLIS HUGHES”, father of Jonathan Hughes “fit” in the big Shawnee battle at Point Pleasant 1774. Job Hughes, another brother of Jesse Hughes, is buried in Jackson County. In addition to Jesse Hughes’s father being killed by Indians,  a brother was also killed. This made him hate Indians. Then when Indians captured Jesse’s daughter, Martha, the cup of his wrath ran over.

One of Jesse’s sisters married Joseph Bibbee who settled near Ravenswood. Joseph Bibbee had a brother named William Bibbee who was quite a nimrod. William Bibbee enjoyed the unique distinction of being the hunter who killed the last buffalo that was killed in Jackson County.

-1842 in Mason County VA. Deborah married William Bibbee January 7, 1795 in Harrison County. He was born November 24, 1766 in Harrison County and died April 25, 1842 in Jackson County VA. The family was listed in the 1820 Mason County Va census.


1730 (As early as ) buffalo calves had frequently been taken by the settlers, and brought up among the domestic cattle; being, however, mainly as objects of curiosity. According to Gallatin, a mixed breed was quite common ninety years ago (1786) in some of the north-western counties of Virginia; but they gradually became merged into the common domestic herd, through lack of fresh supply of wild blood.

Last buffalo –WHEN POPULATION WAS 100
 For Instance, Mr. Jeffries, claimed the first clock and watchmaker here was Thomas Mathews (1808). When our town’s population was a booming 100. .  Dr. Eolf was listed as the finest resident physician.

Mr. Jeffries noted that in 1815, the last buffalo was killed here and our first tailor was James Truslow, a rather odd coupling of events.

A milk crock and jug factory was built in 1818, the year the Mercer Academy at Hale and Quarrier Streets was opened.

Mr. Jeffries compilation also showed: Charleston’s first newspaper, the ‘Kanawha Patriot rolled off the press in 1819.. A year later the population was 500 souls.

Our town got literary rather early, according to Mr. Jeffries – a public library was opened in 1828. Two years later Dr. Henry Rogers opened our first drug store.

In 1830, the population jumped to 750. Two years later, we got our first bank – Bank of Virginia.

The year 1849 was a bad one medically – a cholera epidemic spread. The population then was 1,500.



Largest of the animals confined there are five elk and two buffaloes, brought to from game refuges to the Far West. Thousands of their kind once roamed the hills of West Virginia but all have been gone for many, many years. The last elk recorded killed in this State was in 1820 on Two Mile Creek of Elk River and the last buffalo was slain five years later near Valley Head to Randolph County.  (State Game Farm in Upshur County.)


Last Buffalo

There are a total of 176 springs listed in the book with complete information about each. The oldest spring pavilion in the United 8tates is the one at White Sulphur, that was erected in 1818.

 About Pence Springs the Survey relates that the last buffalo was seen in West Virginia in 1825, but centuries before that an old buffalo trail led through this section, and it was this fact that led to the discovery of Pence Springs as buffalo drank there regularly.

Another “sprlng” which developed from a buffalo-lick along the trail just mentioned is Green Sulphur, Here the grandfather of the present owner, Wade H. Gwinn, dug a well with a sweep, or spring-pole, hoping to secure a. brine for sale manufacture, but be obtained this fine water instead.



Louis Hennepin-1683
That buffaloes are usually very numerous here (Southeast of Lake Michigan) is apparent from the bones, horns, and skulls to be seen on all sides. The Miami hunt buffaloes at the end of the autumn in the following manner.

When they see a herd the Indians assemble in great numbers. They set fire to the grass all around these animals except for one passage left on purpose. There the Indians station themselves with their bows and arrows. The buffaloes, wanting to avoid the fire, are thus forced to pass by the Indians, who at times kill as many as a hundred and twenty of them in one day. Louis Hennepin-1683

(The Miami natives originally lived in Indiana, Illinois, and southern Michigan at the time of European colonization of North America and now the 1500 left, reside in Oklahoma.)


Mar 7 1874 – THE BISON  When It Disappeared from Illinois.
Andrew Shuman in the (Chicago) illustrated Journal.

That member of the bovine family to which the American Indians and the early pioneers gave the name of buffalo, but which is not the genuine buffalo (bos bubalas) of Zoology, but the bison, is now in a fair way of early extinction. Year by year the Indians in the hunters of the Western mountains and plains are destroying these animals by thousands, and in a very few years the bison will be among the many extinct quadruped tribes of this continent. Therefore whatever fact or history can be ascertained in reference to this peculiar and wants numerous denizen of our American wilds, before he shall have entirely disappeared, should be carefully recorded for preservation.

In a conversation, a few days ago, with Capt. Leonard C. Hugunin, one of Chicago’s oldest residents still surviving, he came here from Oswego, N.Y., in 1833, he informed the writer that, among his private records that were lost in the Great Fire, where the memoranda of many historical facts and Indian traditions, which he had obtained from Billy Caldwell, the second Head Chief of the Pottawattamies, then over 60 years old; and that, among these memoranda, was one important fact for natural history that he distinctly remembers, namely: but in 1833, in the course of an interview with the old chief, the latter informed him that 70 years previous to that time that is, in 1763 there was the severest snowstorm and the heaviest fall of snow that had ever been known East of the Mississippi River; that, throughout the region now known as the state of Illinois, the snow was from 12 to 15 feet deep; and that, among other disastrous effects of that visitation in this region, was the total destruction of the bison, which, although up to that time as plentiful here as were the trees of the forest, perished by wholesale by being overwhelmed in the snow, or by starvation.

He said that some of the elk and deer also perished in that storm, but that many of these, taking refuge in the timber, subsisted upon the browse of the hazel bush and other shrubbery until the snow melted and freed them from their temporary embargo.

Capt. Hugunin, in confirmation of the correctness of Billy Caldwell’s statement, also informed the writer that, in the autumn of 1840, while on a stage trip from Chicago to Galena, his attention was arrested by seeing, here and there, throughout the prairies, which had but recently burned over, great fields or yards of bleached bones: and that, on inquiry of Mark Beaubien, the old half-breed keeper of a tavern in this vicinity, and of other pioneer settlers and Indians, he was assured that the bones were those of the “buffaloes;” that these bone-yards, some of which were 10 acres in extent, were the Golgoths of the bison, which, gathered in vast groups during a great snowstorm many years previous, were literally imprisoned in the deep snow, and there died in multitudes.

Taking together the tradition of Billy Caldwell, and those bone-yard evidences throughout the Kankakee, Illinois, Fox, and Rock River Valleys, Capt. Hugunin, who is himself an amateur zoologist and ornithologist of no mean order, came to the conclusion that it is only a little over a century ago since the bison were as plentiful between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan as they had been in our day between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains; that the American buffalo on this side of the Mississippi River was completely destroyed by tremendous snowstorm in the winter of 1763 and that in 1840 the osseous remains of the animals were still to be found throughout northern Illinois. Possibly a careful survey might find some of these remains in the same localities even at this day.




Defiant Death of the Bison Monarch of the Great Salt Lake.

The last buffalo in Utah, one of the few remnant of the millions which roamed the vast plains of the west, was killed on Antelope Island, in Great Salt lake, lately by a party of hunters organized for the purpose.

He died as he had lived – with his face to the enemy, defiant to the last.

Antelope Island is on the southern end of the Great Salt Lake, 20 miles from the mainland, itself about 25 miles in length and from eight to ten miles in width. It is a wild and weird place. It is uninhabited, save for two or three small ranches, the owners of which indulge in cattle raising.

 Here, undisturbed, save when some men invaded his feeding grounds, this buffalo had lived for a number of years. How he gained the island no one knows. He was found there seven years ago. It was against the law to kill buffalo, and those who found him let him go in peace.

About a year ago, however, the old buffalo changed his tactics and declared war. He came out into the open and fought everything living that crossed his path. Not having anything in the open to conquer the buffalo took to going through barbed wire. He tried every rancher on the island scores of times.

Some weeks ago, after he had slain a very valuable thoroughbred colt, it was decided that he must die.

Under command of Lannan, a party left Salt Lake City early one morning for Farmington, where they embarked is a sailboat for the island.

The old fellow had taken up a position as far from the abodes of men as he could get, up a little canyon in the northern end of the island. All the party were on horseback and scouring the country for him. With a defiant snort the buffalo raised his shaggy head and started towards Edwards at a rapid rate. For three miles there was the prettiest race man ever looked upon.

Finally, the buffalo halted. Shaughnessy was singled out by the enraged animal. He charged directly at him, and so suddenly that the colonel had no time for anything but a snap shot, which was not fatal. Then Brown sent a bullet through the old fellow’s heart. He halted, stood still for a minute, and with a half bellow, defiant to the last, fell dead.



Colorado February 1874
Indiscriminate Slaughter of Buffalo on the Plains.
On the South Fork of the Republican, they came upon one spot where were counted 6500 carcasses of buffalo from which the hides only had been stripped. The meat was not touched and was left to rot on the plains. Only a short distance further on hundreds of more carcasses were found, and, in fact, the plains were literally dotted with putrefying buffalo carcasses. On the Rikaree river, which lies between two forks of the Republican, the camps of buffalo hunters were frequently seen. Mr. Lessig estimates that there are at least two thousand hunters in camps along there, waiting for the buffalo. He came across one party of sixteen who stated they had killed twenty-eight thousand buffaloes during the past summer.

In times past, certain taxidermists of Montana promoted the slaughter of wild bison in the Yellowstone Park, and it was a pair of rascally (scoundrels) taxidermists who killed, or caused to be killed in Lost Park, in 1897, the very last bison of Colorado. W.T.H.

A press despatch of March 20 announces the killing in Colorado of the last of the Lost Park herd of buffalo. The story, may be true or not, but even if not true, it foreshadows something that must shortly take place. It is sad to know that a great State whose territory for uncounted
ages has been traversed by America’s greatest mammal, has lost its last wild specimen of that species. The little bunch of buffalo within the northwest corner of Colorado close to Wyoming has for years been known as the only wild herd of buffalo left in the United States. The Yellowstone Park buffalo are under the charge of guardians employed by the Government and so are in a sense domesticated animals.

The little bunch on the head of Dry Fork and Porcupine rivers in central Montana, is believed to have been utterly destroyed about six
or eight years ago, by the Red River half breeds, who made a systematic hunt for, them. But in the high mountains and among the dense timber of North Park, in Colorado, about Hahn’s Peak and Lost Park there has always been a bunch of buffalo, bison, mountain buffalo,
strongwood buffalo—call them what we please—which have held their own bravely, though with constantly diminishing numbers. Every year or two we have read accounts of one, two or three of these animals being killed and smuggled across the Wyoming line into that State, and now we are told the last one has gone! How inadequate is a $100 fine as the penalty for killing the last buffalo in Colorado. What does the man deserve who would commit such a deed?



THE BUFFALO IN KANSAS –  To dwellers in those portions of the West where the buffalo disappeared more than a generation ago, the reports of immense herds still giving life to the plains seemed almost fabulous. — Several eastern artists of note are now on an expedition to the Rocky Mountains, and under the head of “Letters from Sundown,” one of the parties is contributing to the New York Post. He thus writes of the main Buffalo herd of Kansas.

The site I saw no money could buy from my memory, I always thought that the buffalo stories which we here at the East, and the pictures which we see must be greatly exaggerated. In truth, they are underdrawn. For two miles on the table land before me, and stretching sideways twice as far, the earth was overwhelmed with one deluge of stampeding buffaloes. It is literally accurate to assert that one could not see the ground between them. I could think of nothing but a black sea, with humps for billows, and the thunder of a shaking prairie for the music of the surge.

Out of every gully, from each side of me, poured in exhaustless streams the laggards of the herd. – The Ealstaff bulls, who carried years and abdomen; the yearlings, much like their contemporaries among our own cattle in look and size; the cows, now galloping, now coming with an ungainly trot, followed by their little new dropped calves — these rushed by scarcely sheering as they saw me, mad to reach the main herd. I raised my field glasses and far beyond the stampede saw the broad plateaus towards the White Rock Creek covered with quietly feeding bison, as thick as on the prairie right before me. Flies on the head of a leaking molasses barrel, ants on the hill, ducks on a Florida lagoon, all familiar symbols of multitude, are hopelessly out before the task of representing that herd of buffaloes. I should like to have been accompanied by a man at home in Gunther, that I might have gained something expression for the number of millions between me and the horizon.


By Captain E. A. (“Jack”) Hart
In August, 1865  Fights Over Buffalo Meat

Our nest point was Salina. Kansas: but the day before reaching there I espied an old buffalo bull, which had probably been too poor to go south with the herd. After a long chase on a poor horse. I succeeded in killing him I cut out the humps and loins, and on my way back to camp had three fights with my hungry companions over the meat. It seemed as though the sight of fresh meat made them so eager for it that they could not resist the temptation to take it from me. They did not get it, however: but went on to where the old buffalo lay and brought him piecemeal into camp. My bunkmate and myself sat up late that night and broiled and ate our fill. Then, wrapping what was left in a piece of canvas; we put it in the snow under our heads and turned in for the night. We must have slept soundly: for in the morning, to our consternation, our meat was gone. Imagine our disappointment when we had to go back to the corn for our breakfast. I saved the hide from the hock joints and made moccasins for my frosted feet.


 Atchison, Kansas, 1869.

Northern Kansas, in particularly that portion through which the Central Branch railroad runs, was never in so prosperous a condition as at present. The great tide of emigration has set in, and parties from nearly every State in the Union are now swarming upon the boundless, wide prairies and securing a farm and home, while it can be bought for a mere song. All kinds of property has more than doubled in the northern tier during the past year; and while there are still thousands of good chances for the immigrant, every day’s delay reduces the best chances, for nearly all go on the principle of “first-come, first-served.”

It seems almost impossible to comprehend the wonderful changes and improvements made in this part of the State during the past two years. At that time there was not one hundred buildings on the whole line of the Central Branch railroad, and now the number has increased to upwards of five hundred, and ten or a dozen prosperous towns have sprung up to accommodate the large and rapidly growing trade. Where the Indian and the bison roamed only a few years ago, we now the hold improved farms, and the prairies dotted with houses and all kinds of agricultural implements, and laborsaving machinery.


It is seldom that any bison are seen before reaching the Missouri river, and travelers are not permitted to carry their guns in the sleeping cars. The usual practice of loading up while crossing the ferry on the Mississippi is not necessary, as there are not Indians and buffalo in Missouri in sufficient numbers to attack express trains.

Everybody has heard of the Missouri Valley. Well, there are no buffalo there. No country containing over 50,000 inhabitants is permitted by the legislature to have herds of bison within its borders, as they would interfere with hotel runners and omnibuses. So hunters need not get excited as they step on Kansas soil, as the game is still several miles distant.


Oct 7, 1871 A half-dozen teams came into town today loaded with buffalo meat. Buffalo are now within ten miles of town and can be seen grazing by the thousands. All who are fond of the sport had better go now, as they are migrating animals and may see proper to move very soon further west.


Nov 18 1871

 **This was one of the worst storms in history 1871/1872
A letter from the traveling correspondent of the Lawrence Journal says that the recent storm on the plains was very severe. A large number of Texas cattle were frozen and the herds dispersed. Several herders were frozen to death, and five bodies were brought into Hays city last night, frozen stiff. They were supposed to have been buffalo hunters, as a number of buffaloes were found near them which had perished in the storm. Great anxiety is felt for a large party of buffalo hunters which have not been heard of since the storm. Beebe brothers of Ellsworth lost 51 horses and 23 cattle. The cold was unprecedented.

 Dec 7 1871
-No mail from Denver for the last few days. The mail train West on their Kate. P. Road was delayed on Thanksgiving day, four hours, west of Kit Carson, one hour by the passage of an immense herd of buffalo, further west then they were ever known before at this season. This is because of the burning of the grass last fall and the severe weather following.

Jan 10 1872 –
From Leavenworth (Kansas) Times. Senator Sprague visited Kansas a few weeks ago, and, like all other Eastern visitors, wanted to see the buffalo on his native heath. Accordingly, Benjamin Akers, Esq., of this city, got up a party, and with the Senator, went out to the buffalo country. A few miles from Fort Wallace they found the bison in thousands, and the hunters “went in.”

From the Aurora (ILL) Beacon, Jan 12 The party found the buffalo out farther than they expected


June 27 1872 – The Murder of The Buffalo,
Some idea of the extent of this ruthless slaughter may be formed from the fact that 25,000 bison were killed during this month of May south of the Kansas and Pacific Railroad for the sake of their hides alone, which are sold at the paltry price of two dollars each on delivery for shipment to the Eastern markets. Add to this 5000- a small estimate- shot by a tourist and killed by the Indians to supply meat to the people on the frontier, and we have a sum total of 30,000 as the victims for a single month.

 Jan 17 1874 – Kansas – THE BUFFALO 
 The Kansas City Times says of Buffalo-hunting in Kansas: “this is not as plentiful this year as last, and hunters experience much difficulty in securing it. The Indians are holding the bison to the southward, and forbid hunters from encroaching upon their grounds. 


Kansas  Jun 1912 – THE BISONS FAREWELL
The Last Buffalo Seen in Hutchinson in March 1873
It entered Town at the South End of Main Street. LOPED THROUGH THE TOWN
Crossed Sherman Street Near the Presbyterian Church And Was Shot Dead Near the Plum Street Crossing of Santa Fe Railway.

It was on the 25th day of March, 1873, that the last wild buffalo loped through the streets and across the vacant lots of Hutchinson.. The date is remembered by A. D. Crotts, of the Ragland Abstract Co., for it was his uncle, Samuel H. Martin, who shot down and killed this last of the buffalo.

 “It was early in the morning,” said Mr. Crotts. “There were a good many buffalo about Hutchinson, especially south of the river that spring. This one crossed over the river just west of the Main street bridge, and came up Main street.

“He passed through south of where the Rock Island depot is now, headed northwestwardly across the vacant tracts of ground. He crossed Sherman street just west of the Presbyterian church and then headed over toward the Santa Fe track.

 “My aunt saw the buffalo crossing through the yard near the house and she called to her husband, saying: ‘Look at this funny looking cow coming.’ She didn’t know what it was, but my uncle did. He grabbed his gun and gave chase and shot the buffalo down near the Santa Fe whistling post east of where the Plum street crossing is now.”

That was the last time, the old settlers say, a buffalo invaded the city of Hutchinson. Buffalo were very common in Reno county, however, a year later, in 1874, especially in the southern part of the county. George Hern, former chief of police, came very near being badly hurt by a buffalo bull that year.

Hern had settled on the Ninnescah in 1873. Frank Stallman, of 108 Seventh West and Sam J. Morris, later justice of the peace in Hutchinson, but now dead, were neighbors of his then.

Hern, Morris and Stallman were hunting buffalo one day near, their farm houses. One big bull made a charge on Hern, his horns catching Hern’s leg in such a way as to literally pick him from his horse, but without injuring him.

Stallman’s horse didn’t get away in time and the buffalo literally ripped him open with his horns, killing him. “The buffalo were thick then, and we had plenty of fresh meat while they lasted,” said Mr. Hem. But we got tired of it.”


NEBRASKA statehood in 1867

 Dec 16 1874 -Otoes allowed to hunt again

The Otoes who had been refused permission to go west to hunt buffalo this winter recently received permission to go out once more, and they started a few days ago. Now they are returning. Agent Greist having sent word to them at Red Cloud that the Sioux are on the Republican in large numbers,  and that if they went out,  they would probably meet with the same luck that befell the Pawnees a year ago.  (The Pawnees went out to hunt with Custer as an escort and they were attacked by the Sioux killing 165 men, women, and children. Spring of 1873 )


Nebraska Feb 21, 1932
Last Nebraska Buffalo Hunter relates Narrow Escapes of Early Bison Hunts.
For John W. Cranmer hunted bison on a commercial scale in the early seventies and” the scene of his activities was in Harlan county, Nebraska, from 1871 to 1875. From time immemorial, that section had been the favorite grazing ground of the bison. Its lush, nourishing grasses, clear flowing streams, and the shelter afforded by the valleys between its numerous rolling hills attracted and held great herds of the animals.

So fixed were their habitation there, and so large were their numbers, that it lured the Arapahoes, from the far west, the Kiowas and Comanches from the far south, and the ferocious Sioux of the north, who battled fiercely with the native Pawnees for possession of this most desirable hunting ground and jointly they made a common cause against the white men who penetrated the country for the purpose of killing game with the result that it was truly sanguinary ground.

Buffalo Hunts Passed In 1874
“Buffalo hunting, on a commercial scale in the Republican valley (Southern Nebraska) petered out in the winter of 1874, although stray animals were killed there as late as 1876. During its progress, thousands of monster wolves, grey, gaunt creatures, known as ‘buffalo wolves’ swarmed all over the hunting grounds. Wolfskin coats were then collegiate, as much so as the coonskin is now at Harvard. Yale, Princeton, and our own Nebraska university. The pelts brought $3 apiece and were eagerly sought for.


1872 A herd of 25 discovered by  A. N. Ward

 The Sunday World-Herald‘s account of his hunting yarns, published on October 2, 1910, noted: “In recounting some of his experiences of the early days in the state, Mr. Ward said that he was thoroughly convinced that he killed the last wild buffalo killed in Nebraska. ‘With Dan Prime and John Russell,’ he remarked, ‘I was up at the head of the Birdwood river, in McPherson county, hunting blacktail deer. In October 1881, and on coming into camp down the valley, the second day we were out, I saw this buffalo, which proved to be a two-year-old heifer, coming out of the shallows where it had been for water. I made a capital shot, killing the heifer stone dead at 160 yards, with a bullet back of the left fore-shoulder. That was the last buffalo killed in the state, or at least the last one of which I could get any authentic account. In fact, I never heard of one being killed later, but was told that a herd of six or seven were seen later that month up on the Dismal.'”


Oaks Oklahoma Editor Cambridge Clarion:
 A marked copy of the Cambridge Clarion was sent me some time ago in which was an article copied from the World-Herald from “Sandy’s Dope” entitled “States last buffalo killed on Bird wood” and I take it for granted that it was intended for reply or comments Thu article refers to an Interview with Mr. A. N. Ward of Milford Nebraska formerly of Arapahoe in which he claims to have killed the last wild buffalo in Nebraska on the Bird wood in October 1881 while in company with Dan Prime and John Russell, and while I have written articles relative to the passing of the buffalo and the early settlement of the west and said to an article published in the Times-Tribune that there was a number of stragglers in Furnas County as late as 1875 and N A Pettigrove of Oxford thought I was wrong in my statement as he had killed buffalo in the county as late as 1875 which no doubt is true and does not conflict in the least with my article but rather confirms my statement which would have been seen by careful reading nor do I disbelieve the statement made by Mr. Ward for he is no doubt correct in his statement.

 Dan Prime one of his associates was a great hunter in the early days and when the buffalo were all gone he turned his attention to hunting deer and in this he was very successful.

The conditions were very different on Birdwood from what they were in the Republican valley in 1881 there was homesteaders at that time located one hundred miles west of Furnas county both on the Republican and the Beaver so the buffalo were constantly being driven back by the settlers in the seventies and the last meal brought to Beaver City from the herd of wild buffalo was in 1879 Birdwood empties into the Platte about twenty miles west from North Platte and there was no homesteaders occupying that part of the state even as late as 1881. It was a wild desolate country and even along the Platte west of North Platte there was no attempt at fanning at that time but the country was covered with cattle owned by the cattle men who had ranches along the Platte valley and a few straggling buffalo might have remained along the tributaries of the Platte as late as 1880 or 1881 and Mr. Ward’s story is a good one and no doubt true and unless some other of the old hunters have an authentic story to the contrary, I believe Mr. Ward is entitled to the credit of having killed the last “Monarch of the Plains’ in the state.


OKLAHOMA,  Indian Territory – statehood in 1907

Which states were part of the Indian Territory?
A region conceived as “the Indian country” was specified in 1825 as all the land lying west of the Mississippi. Eventually, the Indian country or the Indian Territory would encompass the present states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and part of Iowa. (

 The last buffalo in Oklahoma County was killed in March , 1876 , and the animals were rarely seen east of the Chisholm Trail after that time . 1877

In 1883 Oklahoma, the McCoy brothers and J.W. Summers caught a pair of bison calves, 2 of very few left on the southern plains -Hornaday


NORTH DAKOTA  & SOUTH DAKOTA  (Known as Dakotah Territory) statehood 1889

“Burning” in the Red River Valley (North Dakota) made a vivid impression on Alexander Henry in 1804. He noted:
“Plains burned in every direction and blind buffalo seen every moment wandering about. The poor beasts have all the hair singed off; even the skin in many places is shriveled up and terribly burned, and their eyes are swollen and closed fast. It was really pitiful to see them staggering about, sometimes running afoul of a large stone, at other times tumbling down hill and falling into creeks not yet frozen over. In one spot we found a whole herd lying dead. The fires having passed only yesterday these animals were still good and fresh and many of them exceedingly fat …. At sunset we arrived at the Indian camp, having made an extraordinary day’s ride and seen an incredible number of dead and dying, blind, lame, singed, and roasted buffalo.”    The journal of Alexander Henry the Younger (1739-1824)

George Catlin 1830’s Last of the Bison by State

Mouth of the Plateau River. (South Dakota)
During the remainder of that day we paddled onward, and passed many of their carcasess floating on the current, or lodged on the heads of islands and sand-bars. And, in the vicinity of, and not far below the grand turmoil, we passed several that were mired in the quicksand near the shores ; some were standing fast and half immersed; whilst others were nearly out of sight, and gasping for the last breath; others were standing with all legs fast, and one-half of their bodies above the water, and their heads sunk under it, where they had evidently remained several days; and flocks of ravens and crows were covering their backs, and picking the flesh from their dead bodies.


Hiddenwood Hunt—June 20, 1882  In June 1882, 2,000 Dakota Sioux travelled 100 miles from Fort Yates to the Hiddenwood Hunt, and in two days killed 5,000 buffalo. (The last great buffalo hunt began about June 20, 1882, when 2,000 Teton Lakota men, women, and children traveled 100 miles from Ft. Yates to this valley on foot and horseback, and saw the hills black with thousands of grazing buffalo. On the first day 2,000 buffalo were killed, pursued by mounted hunters with rifles. The hunters painted their faces, bodies, and horses in traditional ways for a successful hunt. Very few hunted with bow-and-arrow. After the first day, the buffalo remained where they had fallen and the hunters returned to camp long after dark, too tired to even celebrate or tell stories. On the second day the entire tribe worked quickly to butcher and care for the meat. Humps and other tender morsels were removed for immediate feasting, and women sliced the remaining meat into thin sheets to dry and make into pemmican and jerky. On the third day, the hunters killed an additional 3,000 buffalo. In three days, the tribal hunters killed 5,000 buffalo on this “last great hunt.”) from Historical Marker Database. by Ruth VanSteenwyk 

The last great buffalo hunt in the United States took place in June 1882, when a Sioux hunting party of two thousand men, women, and children came to Hiddenwood Creek, near present-day Hettinger, North Dakota, where the last of the northern herd had moved in from Montana and Wyoming. In three days they killed five thousand buffalos. The next year, about twenty miles farther south, another Sioux hunting party killed the final one thousand buffalos in that herd. That left only a few isolated groupings and piles of bones that eventually became fertilizer or ingredients in the making of bone china. A Guide to the Indian Wars of the West By John Dishon McDermott-1998

Extermination William T Hornaday  In the southeast the fate of that portion of the herd is well known. The herd which at the beginning of the hunting season of 1883 was known to contain about ten thousand head, and ranged in western Dakota, about halfway between the Black Hills and Bismarck, between the Moreau and Grand Rivers, was speedily reduced to about one thousand head. Vic. Smith, who was “in at the death,” says there were eleven hundred, others say twelve hundred. Just at this juncture (October 1883) Sitting Bull and his whole band of nearly one thousand braves arrived from the Standing Rock Agency, and in two days’ time slaughtered the entire herd. Vic. Smith and a host of white hunters took part in the killing of this last ten thousand, and he declares that “when we got through the hunt there was not a hoof left. That wound up the buffalo in the Far West, only a stray bull being seen here and there afterward.”

Curiously enough, not even the buffalo hunters themselves were at the time aware of the fact that the end of the hunting season of 1882-’83 was also the end of the buffalo, at least as an inhabitant of the plains and a source of revenue. In the autumn of 1883, they nearly all outfitted as usual, often at an expense of many hundreds of dollars, and blithely sought “the range” that had up to that time been so prolific in robes. The end was in nearly every case the same—total failure and bankruptcy. It was indeed hard to believe that not only the millions, but also the thousands, had actually gone, and forever.

I have found it impossible to ascertain definitely the number of robes and hides shipped from the northern range during the last years of the slaughter, and the only reliable estimate I have obtained was made for me, after much consideration and reflection, by Mr. J. N. Davis, of [Pg 513]Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mr. Davis was for many years a buyer of furs, robes, and hides on a large scale throughout our Northwestern Territories, and was actively engaged in buying up buffalo robes as long as there were any to buy. In reply to a letter asking for statistics, he wrote me as follows, on September 27, 1887:

“It is impossible to give the exact number of robes and hides shipped out of Dakota and Montana from 1876 to 1883, or the exact number of buffalo in the northern herd, but I will give you as correct an account as anyone can. In 1876 it was estimated that there were half a million buffaloes within a radius of 150 miles of Miles City. In 1881 the Northern Pacific Railroad was built as far west as Glendive and Miles City. At that time the whole country was a howling wilderness, and Indians and wild buffalo were too numerous to mention. The first shipment of buffalo robes, killed by white men, was made that year, and the stations on the Northern Pacific Railroad between Miles City and Mandan sent out about fifty thousand hides and robes. In 1882 the number of hides and robes bought and shipped was about two hundred thousand and in 1883 forty thousand. In 1884 I shipped from Dickinson, Dakota Territory, the only carload of robes that went East that year, and it was the last shipment ever made.”

“When I first arrived at this place, on my way up the river, which was in the month of May, in 1832, and had taken up my lodgings in the Fur Company’s fort, Mr. Laidlaw, of whom I have before spoken, and also his chief clerk, Mr. Halsey, and many of their men, as well as the chiefs of the Sioux, told me, that only a few days before I arrived, (when an immense herd of buffaloes had showed them¬ selves on the opposite side of the river, almost blackening the plains for a great distance,) a party of five or six hundred Sioux Indians on horseback, forded the river about mid-day, and spending a few hours amongst them, recrossed the river at sun-down and came into the Fort with fourteen hundred fresh buffalo tongues, which were thrown down in a mass, and for which they required but a few gallons of whiskey, which was soon demolished, indulging them in a little, and harmless carouse. “ (pg 259 North American Indians, Catlin) Also in Hornaday’s book.



A brother of Hon. L.R. Bentley, of this place, returned from Fort Abercrombie last evening and reports that on the 25th ult., the boys at the post had a grand buffalo hunt, the shaggy monsters coming within less than 2 miles of the Fort. Seven were killed and eight calves captured.


 Oct 6 1873 –   Town of Bismarck, Some Amusing Characters

Last year, buffalo, antelope, coyotes, and other animals were to be seen along the line between Fargo in Bismarck; but, this year, railroad men tell me they had seen but few of either species. The only signs of animated life between stations is that of the little brown prairie owl and the grasshopper.

1878 Scotty Phillips hired hay man named Dan Powell who spotted a buffalo and shot it. It was the last of the wild buffalo ever killed in the area.

Up to the time when the great Sioux Reservation was established in Dakota (1875-’77), when 33,739 square miles of country, or nearly the whole southwest quarter of the Territory, was set aside for the exclusive occupancy of the Sioux, buffaloes were very numerous throughout that entire region. East of the Missouri River, which is the eastern boundary of the Sioux Reservation, from Bismarck all the way down, the species was practically extinct as early as 1870. But at the time when it became unlawful for white hunters to enter the territory of the Sioux Nation, there were tens of thousands of buffaloes upon it, and their subsequent slaughter is chargeable to the Indians alone, save as to those which migrated into the hunting grounds of the whites. (William Hornaday -Extermination of the American Bison)




Early in 1912 I addressed to about 250 persons throughout the United States, question as follows:
What species of mammals have been exterminated throughout your state?
These queries were addressed to persons whose tastes and observations rendered them especially qualified to furnish the information desired. The interest shown in the inquiry was highly gratifying. The best of the information given is summarized below, but this tabulation also includes much information acquired from other sources. The general summary of the subject will, I am sure, convince all thoughtful persons that the present condition of the best wildlife of the nation is indeed very grave. This list is not submitted as representing prolonged research or absolute perfection, but it is sufficient to point forty-eight morals.

These are the states he has listed as being without bison: 

Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan,  Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas (Texas**Charles Goodnight Native Herd still existed, but was not running wild)

UTAH: Records insufficient.,
VIRGINIA: Records insufficient.,
West Virginia, Wisconsin, Canada, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. 

Wherever rich agricultural lands exist, the big game must give way, from those lands. Today the bison could not survive in Iowa, eastern Nebraska, or eastern Kansas, any longer than a Shawnee Indian would last on the Bowery. It was foredoomed that the elk, deer, bear, and wild turkey should vanish from the rich farming regions of the East and the Middle West.