With the Border Ruffians: Memories of the Far West, 1852-1868
by R.H. Wilson
Published by John Murray; Albemarle Street, London, 1908.

CHAPTER I
THE RIVAL PARTIES

THOUGH by the latter end of February the ice on the river had broken up, no boats were running, or could run, for several weeks. I therefore determined to wait no longer, but to ride to Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri, a distance of 450 miles.

Leaving my niggers with their masters, who treated them well, I mounted a fine young horse I had bought, and set off, one bitterly cold morning, on my long and solitary journey. Roads there were none, except near the widely scattered farms, and then they were more like a series of half-thawed mudholes.

The country was very different from the Virginian forestlands I knew so well, but the people were the same kindly, hospitable folks, making the weary traveller welcome to the best they had, and seldom accepting payment for their entertainment. So I journeyed on, getting over about thirty-five miles a day on an average, and nothing worth recording occurred till Independence, an important town and Indian trading-post on the frontier of Missouri, was reached. There I found the place crowded with Missourians and a goodly sprinkling of men from the Southern States, all full of excitement over the burning question whether the Territory of Kansas, recently opened up for settlement, should be Slave or Free.

The Free State party in the North, managed and Worked from Faneuil Hall, Boston, had been sending up men and arms, and had occupied positions defended


74 THE RIVAL PARTIES

by light artillery. The Missourians were crossing the river, and volunteers from all the Southern States were marching up to the conflict, which might break out at any moment.

In this scene of seething unrest and wild passion, a stranger was naturally regarded with suspicion until he declared his sympathies. Mine were strongly on the side of the South, and, as soon as I made this known, I was heartily welcomed amongst the "Border Ruffians," as the pro-Slavery party was nicknamed by the Free Staters.

Strong pro-slavery man as I was, I saw a sight, as I rode out of the town next morning, that opened my eyes to the cruelty and barbarity of the "Institution." A slave-dealer was there, with his drove of niggers, collected for the Southern market, and in it was one who had been sold as a desperate character. Just as I started, the unfortunate creature had broken loose, and passed close by me in his frantic rush for the woods near by. After him came his master and some other men, shouting to him to stop. But he was running for life and liberty, and held on in desperation.

He was rapidly nearing the covert when the master raised his rifle, fired, and the fugitive fell dead in his tracks. It was a brutal deed, done by a brute, but the law sanctioned it. It was almost as much as my life was worth to remonstrate; so I held my tongue and rode on, sickened and disgusted with this, to me, new aspect of slavery.

That night I put up with "Johnny Cake," the head chief of the Delaware Indians in Kansas, on the Delaware reserve. He was a tame Indian, spoke English well, and was a member of the Methodist Church. He treated me very well, and was most hospitable; but what I chiefly remember of my visit is that my host gave us a long and very extraordinary grace before and after the corn bread and bacon.


LEAVENWORTH CITY IN 1855 75

Late the next evening I reached Leavenworth City, and, at a wooden shanty dignified with the name of hotel, got taken in. The "city" was on the Delaware reserve, and was not open for settlement; indeed the U.S. Government had warned all squatters off it by proclamation, under heavy penalties. But these were "paper penalties" only, i.e. never enforced, and were treated as non-existent; especially as it was known that nearly the whole of the reserve would be thrown open in the fall. In 1855 the "city," now a great centre of the rich wheat-growing district in which it stands, consisted of a few frame buildings, two or three small stores, and the "hotel" I put up at. The Leavenworth Democrat represented the majesty of the "Fourth Estate," and was edited, printed, and published in a small shanty under a big cottonwood-tree by Major Euston, an out-and-out Southerner, and a typical specimen of the South-western fighting editor. He was the quickest man with his six-shooter I ever saw, even in a country where it behoved every one to be on the alert.

The little place was full of gamblers, as all frontier settlements were in those days.

Their " boss sportsman " was a certain A. B. Miller, who had run up a shanty with a showily fitted-out bar and rooms for the accommodation of the fraternity. There roulette, pharo, and poker were going on from midday all through the night, and large sums changed hands. Now and then some unlucky gambler would end his miseries in the mighty Missouri, and many another was shot in the saloon itself during the constant night rows.

In those early days there was no law in the city, not even a Vigilance Committee, and the sporting frater nity, holding all together, and being well armed, ruled without question. They were all "Sound on the goose," or in other words, strong pro-slavery men, and their


76 THE RIVAL PARTIES

misdeeds notwithstanding, were in a measure popular with the rest of the community.

In face of all these drawbacks, and the prevailing ruffianism, I soon made up my mind to risk my fortunes in the Territory. With a man named Moses Young from Kentucky, a carpenter and contractor, I entered into a sort of partnership, with the object of buying up likely "lots" and building thereon shanties for the new arrivals who kept pouring in.

If I only had had the prescience to foresee what that new country would so rapidly grow to, I might now be a millionaire, simply by buying up, and holding on to, town lots.

As soon as I had made this agreement with Young, I left my horse and other belongings with him and set off for St. Louis to fetch my darkies, and my cash and Manor. The soft breath of spring was in the air, spring that comes so suddenly and so sweetly in the Southwestern States of the Union, and my six days' trip down tho river was delightful. Ten days I spent in St. Louis, and then started back with my "chattels," my dog, and my capital of $2,000, as well as a wagon and harness for a team 1 had bought as a spec.

The boat was crowded with pro-slavery men, and some few Free Staters; but the latter kept very quiet. At Leavenworth the Levee was crowded by the whole population, who had turned out to see that our boat had brought no arms for the Free Staters.

Young had found me room in a boarding-house started in my absence, and we marched there in great state, followed by the darkies; and their possession gave me quite a status in the city! The landlady of the house at once hired my girl Ann at $20 a month, and the two boys were as quickly taken for $25 each, and their keep. So I had an income of $70 a month, more than enough for my modest wants, and felt quite independent.

Presently I bought another horse and, with my new


THE SIOUX CAPTIVES 77

wagon, began carrying, at good paying rates. Then Moses Young and I bought a lot and built a Californian frame house, in which to live ourselves and board our hands, with stabling behind it for our horses. Moreover we dug a garden, and planted it; the only one, I think, in all the city.

About two miles from the city was Leavenworth Fort, held by a regiment of U.S. cavalry and two or three companies of infantry. The Sioux Indians, then, and for some years after, a very powerful tribe, had been troublesome, and just before my arrival the troops had had a big fight with them. A good many Indians were killed, and a number of prisoners taken, which was an unusual occurrence in those days, when quarter was rarely given by either side. I well remember seeing quite a bunch of these inside the Fort, crouching on the ground in the bitter cold, wrapped in their coloured blankets, apparently quite indifferent to what Fate might have in store for them. All the captive chiefs I know were shot, but don't remember what was done with the rank and file.

Whilst my house was building, some of the officers at the Fort, whose acquaintance I had made, wanted to be taken to Fort Riley, some 150 miles west, and I contracted to take them in my wagon. It was a most delightful trip across the rolling prairies in that lovely spring-time, and with pleasant companions. We camped out each night except one, when we put up at the Pottawattamy Catholic Mission, where the Sisters entertained us most hospitably and pleasantly. To this day I remember the charm of their courtesy and refinement; it seemed like a memory of the past.

The prairies in those days, one hundred miles back from the Missouri, were covered with herds of buffalo and antelopes, and, never having seen these before, I was astounded at their numbers. The latter were particularly tame, and, moved by their insatiable curiosity, would


78 THE RIVAL PARTIES

come circling up quite close to the wagon, have a good look, and then gallop off again in ever widening circles.

We shot two buffaloes on our way up; we might have shot hundreds had we cared to do so, but as we only wanted their humps it would have been sheer waste.

After a pleasant stay at the Fort, which, by-the-by, is said to be the centre point of the United States, measuring from east to west, I departed on my beautiful but lonely drive over the vast prairies.

Having a good supply of hump with me, I did not kill any more buffalo, though I passed through many thousands of them; a sight that no man now can see, for on the prairies where they thronged so thickly they are as extinct as is the dodo in Mauritius.

One night, on my back track, I halted, unwittingly, close to the camp of the Delaware chief Bullbone, the leader of the warriors of that nation. I confess I felt rather uneasy when, just as I had unhooked my horses, the chief walked up with three or four "buck" Indians. However, it turned out that he was in a peaceful mood, and only wanted to trade skins for tobacco and whiskey.

As neither of us could speak a word of the other's language, it was rather difficult to arrange the deal; but we managed it somehow in dumb show, and he departed in high good humour, to my great relief, for in his presence my scalp seemed to fit rather loosely on my head.

That was my first meeting with a real wild Red Indian: I could heartily wish it had been the last, for I thoroughly endorse Artemus Ward’s opinion that "they are pison wherever met"; and I met a great many of them in after days.

I returned to Leavenworth without adventure of any sort, well pleased with the money I had earned, and with the rich rolling prairies of Kansas.

"What a splendid country is waiting the advent of the white man!" I thought.


HONEST ANN 79

What a marvellous change the fifty years that have passed since then have wrought in it! Ah! if, in Western parlance, "my foresights had been as good as my hindsights," what might I not have done?

I should mention that when I started for Fort Riley I was much perplexed as to how to safely bestow my cash capital of $2,000. I didn't want to take it with me, for the benefit of the Indians who might scalp me, and there was no one to whom I could entrust it in Leavenworth. Finally, in this fix, I made up my mind to trust my nigger girl Ann; and, as it turned out, I was right.

The boarding-house where she was employed was raised on piles, and, in my presence, she buried my bag of money under it at night. On my return we went and dug it up, and not a dollar was missing. I believe Ann, poor girl, was the only honest person in the place!

Even then this blessed money bothered me not a little, for there was no place of safety for it. Generally I carried it about with me, but sometimes buried it, and always kept the fact that I had ready money as secret as I could. However, Miller, the boss gambler, got wind of it, and pressed me to lend him $1,000 on the security of his saloon and its good-will. In the then state of affairs I couldn't well refuse, so let him have it, though with many doubts as to whether I should ever see it again.

The Californian frame house was nearly finished by this time, and Ann, the honest, was installed as cook to cater for our carpenters, who crowded in for board and lodging, at high prices, before even the place was ready.

Meanwhile the political excitement had day by day been growing more intense, and now was at fever heat.

Quietly and calmly looking back on the situation in the United States, one sees quite clearly that the struggle for supremacy between North and South, of which the fighting in Kansas was only the prelude, had to be decided


80 THE RIVAL PARTIES

sooner or later. Further, it is also plain that the two sections were so diametrically opposed to each other in political ideas that they must have fought it out before a peaceful modus vivendi could be arrived at. Negro slavery was not the cause of the war, but only one of many causes; nor did the North enter on the struggle with the object of freeing the negro.

The South, broadly speaking, was a landed aristocracy, whilst the North was trading and commercial.

Since the establishment of the Republic, the South, with its comparatively sparse white population, had, by the voting power given by its negroes (though these of course had no votes themselves), ruled the wealthy and rapidly growing Northern States, and the yoke had at last become intolerable.

In Kansas the South fought for the right to add to the number of Slave States, which was its only hope of retaining supremacy in the Union; the North to restrict slavery within the limits fixed by the agreement arrived at in 1820.

The law of 1787 forbade the extension of slavery North of the Ohio River, whilst it prevailed in all the States and Territories south of that boundary. Then came the purchase of Louisiana by the States-- an immense accession of territory. The portion round New Orleans was admitted as a Slave State in 1812, under the name of Louisiana; but when, a little later, the country round St. Louis, on the Missouri, where slavery already prevailed, applied for admission, as another Slave State, the North strongly opposed the application. Finally a compromise was arrived at, by which it was settled that Missouri should be a Slave State, but that all the rest of the Louisiana purchase north of its southern boundary, north of 36° 30', should always be free.

This was known as the Missouri Compromise, and no doubt it deferred the inevitable conflict for many years.

In 1836 Texas, over which the States had acquired


SQUATTER SOVEREIGNTY 81

some vague claim by the Louisiana purchase, revolted from Mexico, and set up as an independent Republic. In 1845 this short-lived independence came to an end, and Texas was annexed by the States, and admitted as a Slave State.

In 1846 war broke out between the Federal Government and Mexico, on questions arising from the boundaries of the new State. By the treaty signed at the conclusion of the war in 1848, Mexico ceded to the States the southern and western portions of Texas, as well as New Mexico, part of Arizona, and California.

Here was an immense accession of strength to the South, and the old disputes broke out afresh between the two sections. These were finally allayed by the expedient of allowing the people of each portion of the territory obtained from Mexico to decidethe question of slavery for themselves; this was afterwards known as "squatter sovereignty."

In 1850 California was admitted as a Free State, to the great disgust of the South, which could not control the vote of the emigrants who rushed thither on the discovery of gold. To pacify this the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, under which the Federal authorities were ordered to return to their owners all slaves escaping to the North. The putting of this in force at once gave a great impetus to the party of Abolition, which had hitherto been comparatively insignificant in numbers.

Now in 1854, just before I arrived on the scene of strife, the South attempted to apply the principle of "squatter sovereignty" to the vast territories of Kansas and Nebraska, lying north of the 36° 30' line. This was manifestly a breach of the Missouri Compromise, and the North was up in arms at once.

This is a long digression from my story, but it seemed necessary to explain, as shortly as possible, the cause of the bitter strife in which I played a humble part.

The Southerners then, whether they had law and right


82 THE RIVAL PARTIES

on their side or not, were determined to establish "squatter sovereignty" in Kansas, and to carry the vote for slavery. The Northerners were equally determined they should not succeed.

South Carolina, Missouri, and Texas especially, raised war funds and organised companies.

Henry Ward Beecher, the moving spirit of Faneuil Hall, Boston, and his Abolitionist associates, with any amount of capital behind them, poured men and arms into the territory, regardless of expense.

The Government at Washington, controlled by the Southern Democrats, preserved a benevolent neutrality for the Southerners' cause, and did not interfere until compelled to do so by the frightful state of anarchy which eventually prevailed.

To stop the influx of men and arms from the North into Leavenworth, which was the only easily accessible port of entry for them, a "minute company," so called from its brief period of service, was formed to search every boat, more especially for arms. I joined this company directly after my return from Fort Riley, and I remember we seized a great number of rifles; some of them Sharp's breech-loaders, two of which were given to me.

Now the elections for the Territorial Legislature came on, and, considered as elections, were of course a farce. In many places the Missourians and other Southerners seized the polls, and crammed the ballot-boxes. In others the “Free Soilers” did the same. The result was that two Legislatures were elected; the pro-Slavery one making its capital at Lecompton, and the Free State one at Topeka.

The rival parties met at the polls and elsewhere, and many lives were lost in the fights that took place. The excitable Southerners' blood was nearly at boiling-point, when Sheriff Jones, elected by them, was shot dead by a "Free Soiler," in the execution of his duty.

Then it boiled over, and the fight became general; but what I saw of it must be left for another chapter.


CHAPTER II
WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS"

FULLY resolved to throw in my lot with the South, I now joined a company of mounted Rangers, raised by A. B. Miller, who, though a professional gambler, had the reputation of a plucky fighting man, and was at once elected orderly sergeant myself. No oath of enlistment was taken, but there was no fear of desertion or insubordination, since death would have been the penalty for either crime.

Our company was the best mounted and equipped in the Southern force, and, as soon as we were mustered, moved into camp at Salt Creek, about three miles from Leavenworth City, where about eight hundred Missouri and Southern volunteers were assembled.

Our commander was "General" Davy Atchison, a well-known and influential character in those parts. When I met him, and served under him, he was about fifty-five years of age, and one of the most popular men in his section of the country; in fact, a typical Western politician. A lawyer by profession, he was also a planter and large slave-owner; consequently thoroughly "Sound on the goose." At this time he was U.S. Senator for the State of Missouri, and had been Vice-President of the United States. As an Indian fighter and hunter he had made himself a great reputation.

With a somewhat rough exterior, he was really a kindly man, and, being "hail-fellow-well-met" with all his supporters, was, as I have said, extremely popular.


84 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS"

Miller introduced me to the "General" soon after I joined the camp. He invited us into his tent, and ordered drinks forthwith. Youngster that I was, the old fellow received me without any "side" or stand-offishness, so that I felt on a friendly footing at once, and, like the rest of his followers, would have gone anywhere with him.

Life in camp was pleasant enough at first, for our "General" didn't go in for much drill, possibly because he didn't know much about it himself, and our principal duty was to keep watch and ward over the river and stop all passing steamboats to search them for Free Soilers and their arms. Those that did not stop when ordered were promptly brought to by a field battery we had posted on the river, commanding the passage. All suspected Free Staters were taken out and kept under guard, and of course all their arms were confiscated.

Our excuse for this rather high-handed proceeding was that " The Massachusetts Emigrants' Aid Society," with great resources at its back, was pouring men and arms into Kansas, with the avowed object of conquering and dominating the Territory, by fair means or foul, for the Free State party.

Our first apparently important movement was now made on Lawrence, the Northern headquarters, which was protected by considerable earthworks and held by a force of some two thousand men under Robinson, the "Free State" governor, and other leaders of the party.

I may say at once that, though we did a deal of marching and counter-marching, and though on several occasions a general engagement between the opposing forces seemed imminent, it never came to a pitched battle; and all the many lives that were lost in this miserable border fighting, were lost in small affairs between scouting parties and outposts. Many men too, on either side, were killed in this way to pay out old scores and gratify private spite and revenge.


LAWRENCE SURRENDERS 85

So one fine morning we "Border Ruffians," as the enemy called us, struck camp and marched out some fifteen hundred strong, with two 6-pr. field-pieces, to attack Lawrence, my company acting as the advance guard. We halted the first night near Lecompton, our capital, my company being on picket duty, spread out fan-like some two miles round the camp. Next morning Governor Shannon, our own party's governor, paid us a visit of inspection, and was pleased to express his high approval of our discipline and workmanlike appearance.

I can't say much for our discipline myself, but there is no doubt we were a fighting lot, if only the Northerners had given us the chance of proving it.

The morning after the inspection we marched on Lawrence, where we expected a sharp fight, which we were fully confident of winning. My company acted again as the advance guard, and when, about midday, we reached Mount Oread, a strongly fortified position, on which several guns were mounted, covering the approach to the town, great was our surprise to find it had been evacuated. As soon as our general r received the report, he ordered our company to make a wide circuit round the town, to seize the fords of the Kansas River and hold the road leading east.

Then he moved the rest of his force to within half a mile of the town, formed square on the open prairie, and sent in a flag of truce, demanding an unconditional surrender of the place. To the no small disgust of the "Border Ruffians," Governor Robinson, without further parley, threw up the sponge, and meekly surrendered the town and the 2,600 men it contained.

No doubt his men were not very keen on fighting, being the riff-raff of the Northern towns enlisted by the Emigrants' Aid Society, and most of them quite unused to bear arms of any kind. Many of them bolted for the Kansas River ford and the Eastern road; and we of Miller's's company took quite three times our own number


86 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS"

of these valiant warriors prisoners. I well remember how scared the poor wretches were! I am glad to say that the prisoners' lives were spared, all but two, and they were hanged by the Provost Marshal for horse-stealing, the penalty for which was invariably death, in that Western country, even in ordinary times.

Though the prisoners were spared, I regret to say the town was not, for Atchison's men got completely out of hand, battered down the "Free State Hotel," and sacked most of the houses. It was a terrible scene of orgy, and I was very glad when, about midnight, we of Miller's company were ordered off to Lecompton to report the day's doings to Governor Shannon. There we were kept several days, scouring the country for Free Soilers, and impressing arms, horses, and corn.

In these operations we occupied Topeka, the pro-Slavery capital, and had a brush with a body of Northerners, under Jim Lane, in which we lost two men killed and six wounded.

Next, at "Lone Jack," we had a skirmish with Captain John Brown's men, but the firing was at long range and no harm was done, for the Free Staters soon retired, and we were not strong enough to follow them up.

On the march, the day after this, to Stranger Creek, and whilst scouting ahead of the company with two other men, I came on the bodies of two young men lying close together, both shot through the head. The murdered men, for it was brutal murder and nothing else, were dressed like Yankee mechanics, and apparently had been done to death the previous night.

I had heard that one of our scouting parties had taken some prisoners, but that they had escaped; and now it was plain what had been done by some of our ruffians. That night I told Miller that I would be no party to such disgraceful villainy, and that if any more of it went on I would quit the company, for I had no mind to fight with murderers, or with a rope round my neck. He


A QUARRELSOME RUFFIAN'S FATE 87

made light of the whole affair; said the other side had done just the same, and that for his part he did not mean to ask for, or give, quarter.

At Stranger Creek we remained the next day, waiting for orders, and a party of the boys was sent out foraging. Presently they returned with bundles of green corn, some chickens, and a pig or two. The eatables were fairly divided amongst the messes, and soon all were busy cooking the welcome additions to the everlasting bacon. But the supply of corn was scanty, and there was almost a fight amongst us for it, each man being keen to get a bit for his horse.

What now followed shows how cheaply human life was held in those rough times, and how feeble was the discipline the Governor had praised so much.

Amongst the foragers was one Mike Murphy, a barkeeper from Leavenworth; a very quarrelsome and ill-conditioned fellow. He had taken more than his share of the corn, and Lieutenant Kelly, a Texan, ordered him to hand over part of it for his horse. Murphy refused, swore at him, and dared him to come and take it. The lieutenant took no notice of this, but quietly stepped over and helped himself to the bundle.

Murphy seized his loaded rifle, and Kelly bolted for the only tent we had standing, using it as a screen. Mike thought he saw a chance, took a snap shot, missed, then threw down the empty rifle, and ran for the bush. Kelly then whipped out his six-shooter, fired three times, and missed.

All this time Murphy was running for dear life, and had just reached the edge of the covert, when the lieutenant fired again. This time his aim was true, and the bullet struck the fugitive full in the middle of his back. With a tremendous bound, like a shot buck, and one piercing scream, he fell in his tracks and lay motionless.

We carried him into camp, where he lingered till


88 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS"

next day, in great agony, and then died. Kelly reported what he had done to our captain, and was placed under arrest.

Though in the opinion of the company, or the majority of it, he was justified in killing Murphy, it was thought best he should resign his position, which he accordingly did, and I was elected by the unanimous votes of the men to fill the vacancy. To be chosen second Lieutenant of such a corps may not be thought a very high honour; but my comrades, whatever else they were, were fighting men, and I was proud that they thought a youngster like myself fit to fill the billet.

We now moved on to Leavenworth, where our chiefs were every day expecting an attack from the forces led by Colonel Jim Lane. This man had made a reputation in the late Mexican War, and was placed in chief command of the Free State invaders, with all the power and wealth of the New Englanders at his back. Therefore, as a measure of precaution, a strong laager was formed round three sides of the town with chained wagons belonging to Major & Russell, the great firm of freighters. The fourth side was a bluff overlooking the Missouri, and needed no defence.

Two mounted companies, of which mine was one, were camped on Brush Creek, about a mile from the Leavenworth line, with pickets spread out in a circle, some six miles round.

Colonel Lane, however, thought himself not strong enough to attack us, and drew off to Lawrence, where he entrenched himself. So the rival forces remained for some time doing nothing, each waiting the other's attack.

Meanwhile much "bushwhacking" and murdering went on on both sides, and in this respect there was but little to choose between them.

On scouting duty we were supposed to burn and destroy the houses and property of any Free Staters we


A RISKY VISIT 89

could find, and to kill, or capture, the owners. Hateful enough work that I detested, and avoided whenever I could.

Of course I was often in command of parties sent out on such an errand, but I am glad to think that, in this position, I was now and then able to save homesteads from fire, and their owners from murder. On one such occasion I had been instrumental in saving a large ranch belonging to a prominent Free Stater named Cody; to this I owe it that I am now alive to tell the story that follows.

One night, whilst on picket duty, I left my party, and taking one man, Missouri Smith by name, rode over to a ranch some six miles away in the hills near Stranger Creek. I fully believed there were none of the enemy's scouts in the neighhourhood, and having a great attraction at the ranch, in the shape of a young lady named Margaret Hendricks, staying there, thought I would risk it. I was only twenty-three, so perhaps I may be excused. Anyway I fancy the same thing has been done often enough before, and for the same reason. Bright eyes are hard to resist in the days of one's youth. The owner of the ranch, Falk by name, was, I knew, in the Free State camp, but his wife and her sister, a "Californian widow," were at home, and my friend Margaret was with them. An hour or two's chat with the ladies would be such a pleasant change from camp life, that go I must!

We reached the ranch about 9 p.m., seeing no sign of the enemy by the way, and hitched our horses to the fence close by.

The only arms Smith and I had were our six-shooters; mine I carried in my belt.

The ladies welcomed us very kindly, though Margaret warned me I was doing a very risky thing, as some of Lane's scouts had recently been seen in the neighbourhood, and begged me not to stay. If they caught me


90 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS"

they would surely kill me, and I mustn't risk my life, but go at once. Boy-like, I laughed at the danger, told her she needn't be afraid for me, and stayed on.

We had supper, and were enjoying ourselves mightily, for Margaret had forgotten her fears, when suddenly, without the slightest warning, four men fully armed burst into the room, a pistol was clapped to my head before I could stir, and I was called on to surrender, "or my d-----d head would be blown off." I glanced round; besides the pistol at my head, I was covered by four carbines, and my man Smith, who had been asleep, was already securely bound. It was hopeless to resist, so of course I caved in, and was at once disarmed.

Sergeant Everard, in charge of the party of eight men, abused me roundly. "We know you well, you d-----d villain; we've been after you a long time, and now we've got you at last, we'll hang you pretty quickly."

A pleasant plight to be in; even a worse one than I feared, for I had expected to be shot, not to be hanged! But I was helpless, and could only try to brace myself to bear the dread ordeal like a man.

It was no good to plead for mercy, I knew; my company, or some of its members, had done too many ruthless deeds, for which no doubt I had the credit; so I held my tongue.

But if I was silent, the three ladies, and especially Margaret, who knew Everard, and another of the party named Cline, begged hard for my life; but it seemed to me, made no impression on our captors.

They took us out to an oak-tree close by, and got ready the ropes, fastening them to an overhanging branch. The end seemed very near. I stood stunned and stupefied, and said no word; only the tears and entreaties of the kind women folks sounded in my ears, as though heard in a dream. During those few moments that I stood waiting for my death, the present seemed to vanish,


THAT AWFUL DANGLING ROPE 91

and my thoughts went rushing through all the events of my short life. So short it seemed, and so sad to end it in this terrible way; and there was no one to tell my dear ones in the far away vicarage home how I had died. Best after all that they should not know it!

Then some one touched me on the shoulder; the ropes were ready, and our captors impatient to be done with the hanging. That touch roused me from my stupor, and I bethought me of Cody, and what I had done for him only a few days ago. I spoke at last, and told Everard the story; asked him to ride over to Cody's (it was only two miles off), and he would learn that I was not the ruffian they supposed.

Margaret averred that my story was true, and that I had saved Cody, arid others of their friends, from ruin and worse. She, and the others, begged so hard that he would do this little thing, for their sakes, that at last Everard consorted, though with a bad grace; and rode off, leaving Smith and myself safely guarded under that oak-tree with its dangling nooses.

For an hour wo stood there, with seven men round us, ready to shoot us doif we tried to escape.

Would Cody come, and would he be true enough to speak in my favour if he did ? Hope and despair alternated in my mind, and in all my long life I have never spent such an hour as that; the minutes seemed hours, and the hour dragged itself out to years.

Now my straining ears caught the distant sound of galloping hoofs. Was it one horse, or two ? How intently I listened to the dull thud on the soft turf!

Nearer and nearer came the sound; there were two horsemen, sure enough. Cody had come, and the bitterness of death was passed!

The moment he heard Everard's story, he had saddled his horse; and there he was, shaking my hand most warmly and assuring me I was safe. A moment's


92 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS"

whispered conversation apart, between the two men, and I was allowed to go back into the house again.

Everard announced that on Cody's intercession, and on his statement of how I had befriended him, and other Free Staters, my life, and Smith's, would be spared, but we would have to give up our horses, arms, accoutrements, and any money we had on us. You may be sure we were glad enough to get off even on these terms; so after most warmly thanking the ladies, and Cody, for saving our lives, and many hearty handshakes, we departed.

To Margaret Hendricks special thanks were due; for it was her influence with Everard, and her tears and pleadings, that saved me from a shameful death.

I thanked her from my heart of hearts; and so we parted.

I shall never forget that wretched six-mile tramp across the prairie with Smith, who never spoke a word, and seemed dazed and stupefied by the experience he had gone through. For myself, that hour under the oak-tree and its dangling ropes will never be forgotten.

Arrived at camp, miserable and crestfallen, I got a severe reprimand from Miller, but retained my position as second Lieutenant, and had to provide myself with another horse, accoutrements, etc.

By this time the lawlessness and anarchy prevailing in Kansas had become a scandal to civilisation, and great pressure was brought to bear on the Government at Washington to put a stop to it. The President therefore ordered out two regiments of U.S. cavalry, under Colonel Sumner, to keep the peace, and issued a proclamation directing both parties to disperse; the troops to march against either side that might disregard it.

Thereupon we were marched into Leavenworth and disbanded, and the so-called Kansas War came to an end.


CHAPTER III
CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS

THOUGH the rival forces were both disbanded, the Territory remained in a state of lawlessness difficult to realise in these days. To add to the anarchy prevailing, and to make "confusion worse confounded," the Delaware land sales were coming on.

These lands by the westward march of civilisation had become valuable, and, as usual in such cases, the unfortunate Indians had to move on, to make way for the white man. The Washington Government had made a new treaty With the Delawares, under which they surrendered the greater part of their reserve in Kansas, receiving other lands in exchange, still further West, and an annual subsidy of so much per head, payable by the Indian Agent.

These sections of the reserve, duly surveyed and laid out by the Government, were proclaimed for sale (but not at the customary "pre-emption" price) on and after a fixed date, which I believe was October 31, 1855. Instead of throwing the lands open for "pre-emption," the authorities determined to sell them by auction to the highest bidder; and knowing this, the squatters, long before the time fixed for the sale, seized all the best lands, and most of the valuable sites, and banded together to protect what they called their rights.

The squatters' organisation was a very strong one, and it was made thoroughly well known that any Northerner, or land speculator, who dared to bid against one of the


94 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS

fraternity for any land he had seized, would be promptly shot, or lynched.

Though the city of Leavenworth swarmed with anxious buyers, who had come for the auction with well-lined pockets, so great was the terrorism that not one dared to compete with the squatters, who all got their lands at the Government's upset price of $2.50 an acre.

The auction took place outside the walls of Fort Leavenworth, possibly in the hope that the presence there of the U.S. troops might overawe the squatters.

Surely never did auctioneer in his rostrum face such an audience as this one! From far and near the squatters had come, all well armed with six-shooters and bowie knives; and, for the time, pro-Slavery and Free Stater men sank their differences and combined against the eager speculators from the North. Hundreds of them, fully armed, stood round the auctioneer, who, when a squatter's land was put up, vainly strove to get an advance on the upset price. Not one could he get, poor man, till he came to the outlying sections which, though valuable enough, were left to the outsiders.

Three days that auction lasted, and, being a squatter myself, I was in constant attendance. It was as stormy and threatening a scene as ever I witnessed, but, wonderful to say, passed off without bloodshed.

Of course, like the rest, I got my own particular claim of eighty acres, for which I paid $200 and promptly sold for $1,500, as it was adjoining Leavenworth City. I thought myself pretty clever to have made such a quick and good turnover; but I dare say that land is to-day worth $500,000, for Leavenworth City is now one of the most important commercial centres in the West.

Another claim I had on Salt Creek, some distance out, I sold for $100 and a very fine mare.

Now for a brief space I became a bar-keeper and gambling-saloon owner, and can't say I liked it, though the dollars rolled in freely. Soon after we were dis-


I TAKE OVER MILLER'S SALOON 95

banded, on the termination of the "War," I asked Miller for the $1,000 I had lent him some months before. Now Miller, gambler as he was, was an honest man, and frankly told me he hadn't the money, but would hand over his bar, saloon and stock, in satisfaction of his debt.

I took them, though somewhat reluctantly, and so became a gambling-saloon owner! For three weeks I retained that proud position, doing a roaring trade, in more senses than one; for the land sales were on, and the town was crowded. Night after night, and all night, I had to look after the place, while the money came rolling in; but I admit the business had its drawbacks, and wasn't quite one that a nervous man would choose; my customers were too ready with their six-shooters for that.

Anyhow I got sick of it by that time, and sold out for the money it cost me; so I lost nothing by Miller after all.

Now shortly after the Delaware land sales were over, the inevitable policeman, represented by the Government at Washington, ordered the Shawnee Indians to "move on." Their reserve, situated on the Kansas River, had become valuable; so the usual treaty was made, and they had to pack up and be gone.

Much as I have suffered at the hands of one of their tribes, and cruel and merciless as they are by nature, one cannot but pity the fate of the Red Indians; ever moving westward before the march of the white man till extermination overtook them, like the buffalo on which they lived.

It was well known that this reserve would be thrown open to "pre-emption" in August of the following year, at the price of $1.25 (five shillings) per acre.

By the law of the United States any one could establish his right to a claim of 40, 80, or 160 acres by laying the foundation of a log cabin, 16 feet square,


96 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS

on such claim, and cutting his name, the date, and number of claim on one of the logs. This “squatter right” held good for six months from the day "preemption" was authorised by proclamation; and it was only legal to make your claim on, and after, that day. Thereafter, if you wished to retain your claim, you must break up half an acre of ground, put it into some sort of cultivation, and build a cabin on the foundation.

This, as I have said, was the law; but the custom was to make claims as soon as it was known for certain that a reserve would be thrown open. If any one "jumped" your claim, you had no legal remedy; it was a case of "the strong man armed keeping his house," or rather his foundation. So you may be sure there were plenty of rows, and not seldom bloodshed, over this claim-making.

I had sold my house in Leavenworth, and my three darkies, being obliged to do so through heavy losses I was let in for by my partner Moses Young. I was truly very sorry to part with the poor creatures, and I think they were attached to me; but I had no alternative, and I found them good masters, which was all I could do for them.

Being then "foot loose," I got up a party of five, all well mounted and armed, to make claims in the Shawnee country. I provided a wagon and horses, and a team of cattle to haul out the foundations, and the simple provisions we required; for these capital outlays I was allowed first choice of claims.

It was bitter December weather when we started, and the cold was so intense that we were nearly frozen each night, huddled together though we were in our wagon. Crossing the Kansas River on the ice we were at once in the Shawnee country. However, we were first in the field, which was the great thing; for we knew that a powerful organisation had been got up in Kansas City to lay claims on the best lands, and to hold them by force of arms if necessary.


"SHAD" THE CLAIM-RUSHER 97

It would be tedious to tell of all the claims we made. Suffice it to say we made a great many, for though the law only allowed one man one claim, there were ways of evading it; the commonest being to put them in the names of nominees. At last we came to Cedar Creek, along which the lands were very fine; deep alluvial soil, well timbered, but not so heavily as to make the clearing of it difficult. There we camped, sheltered from the piercing cold of the open prairies, in a snug hollow. The river was full of fish and "soft turtle," game was abundant, and we fared sumptuously. So we stayed in this paradise for some time, each man making one, or more, claims.

Mine was close to the river, in a beautiful spot, and we put up on it a substantial cabin to serve as headquarters for the whole party whilst we were looking after, and guarding, our various claims in the neighbourhood. Then we struck across the prairie to the trail from Santa Fé to Independence, making more claims as we went. Then, having taken up as much land as satisfied even us, if we could only hold on to the half of it, returned to Cedar Creek.

There we left a curious old fellow, who went by the name of "Shad" (if he ever had any other it had been lost), with a generous supply of corn-meal, bacon, and whiskey, to look after our interests, a young fellow volunteering to stay with him. The old fellow (no one knew how old he really was) had spent all his life on the frontier; Indian fighting, claim-rushing, and such like were commonplace events to him. Tall and spare, with a wrinkled parchment-like face, he must have been sixty, or seventy years old, but was as active as a young man, and as tough as leather.

For Indians, and such "varmin," as he called them, he had a great contempt, and, in his cups, would boast that the Redskin didn't live who could "raise his h'ar. " I believe he was right, and that he died with it on his head.


98 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS

In Shad's efficient guardianship then we left our head quarters, and the rest of us returned to Leavenworth, crossing the Kansas River on the ice, which by this time was pretty rotten, and let us all in, wagon included. It was a terribly freezing bath, I remember, but we scrambled out somehow in safety.

Though the "war" had been put a stop to for some time, political excitement ran very high. The Southern party, owing to Washington influence, was in the ascendant still, though the Free State party was slowly but surely gaining ground.

Throughout the South, where he was well known, few men were more respected, or more worthy of respect than Judge Lecompton, who was the head of such justiciary as existed in those parts. In the North, such is the evil power of partisanship, he was denounced as a second Judge Jeffreys, for whom hanging was too good. As a matter of fact; he was an able judge, and an upright, honourable man. With his wife and family he lived in a double log cabin near Leavenworth, and there offered to all his friends, of whom I was one, a simple and refined hospitality which was as pleasant as it was rare in that wild country.

The remainder of that winter I spent in Leavenworth settling up my affairs, or riding about the Shawnee country looking after my claims.

Early in the following spring an event happened which changed all the future course of my life, and eventually landed me in Texas, nearly as wild a land as the wild West that I had to leave.

In Kansas in those days, as I have, I think, shown, every man was a law unto himself; and if he had suffered wrong, his own right hand alone could get him redress. In the story I am about to tell I came very near killing a man, and, though I had suffered much at his hands, and he was a big ruffian and bully


A POT-VALIANT CONSTABLE 99

whose death would have saved me great trouble and heavy loss, I do not regret that I spared his life when he was at my mercy.

It was about the beginning of March, I think, that Merril Smith (otherwise Missouri Smith) came and told me that he had sufficient evidence to lay an information against the man Cline for horse-stealing and threatening to kill. Now Cline had been a very active member of the party, under Everard, who had captured Smith and myself at Falk's ranch, when my friend Margaret Hendricks saved our lives. If he had had his way we should no doubt have been hanged pretty promptly; and it was he who insisted that, if we were let go, our horses, arms, and accoutrements should be taken from us. We therefore had rather a heavy score against him, and I, for one, was not unwilling to be quits with him. So I agreed to lend Smith a hand to arrest him.

A warrant having been issued in Leavenworth, we rode off, armed with our six-shooters, to a small settlement on the Stranger Creek, near which Cline had a farm, to find a constable named Pearson, who was to effect the arrest. It was quite late when we found Pearson, and when we told him our errand he at once declined the business, saying the man was a desperado who had quite recently shot two men, and would certainly shoot him if he tried to capture him. However, we plied our man liberally with whiskey till he became pot-valiant and at last consented to serve the warrant, if we would protect him.

The next day was a Sunday, and it was known that Cline would be present at a "preaching" to be held at a cabin about ten miles up the creek. We got our constable off in pretty good time, but he was evidently in a blue funk, and would have turned tail if he had had a chance. For my own part I confess I did not like the job, but having once started on it, one could not turn back; even


100 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS

at the risk of being shot, one must in honour go on. Moreover I was pretty certain that if any fighting was to be done the lion's share would fall to my lot, and that was not pleasant.

Smith and Pearson hitched their horses to the snake fence of the cabin, and I dismounted and stood with my reins over my left arm, about twenty paces from the door. Under the cavalry cloak I wore, I held my six-shooter ready for action, and Smith stood near me. Pearson, as agreed, walked into the cabin to tell Cline some one wanted to see him about buying some of his corn. As soon as the door was opened we could see the shanty was full of people. Loud and angry voices were heard, and presently Pearson emerged followed by Cline and three or four of the latter's friends. Directly he saw who wanted him he stopped, and the constable, with trembling hand, pulled out the warrant.

The moment he began to read it, Cline vowed he wouldn't be taken by us, or twenty men like us; declared, with many oaths, I was everything vile and bad, and ought to have been hanged long ago, and that, if I didn't clear out, he would shoot me like a dog. By this time he had got his six-shooter out, and there was no time to be lost if I wanted first innings. I had him covered at the time, but was loath to fire unless obliged to.

It was now or never I saw, his life or mine, and, as I naturally preferred my own, I let drive two barrels, and hit my man in the right arm and side. Down he fell, and the bullet he had meant for my head whistled high over it. Pearson, who held the man in great dread, shouted to me to fire again, and finish him; but I couldn't shoot a helpless man on the ground, blackguard as he was.

Now it was high time we were off, for at the sound of the firing some twenty men had rushed out of the cabin, some with shotguns and six-shooters, and others with "rocks" in their hands. Pearson was already


A RIDE FOR LIFE 101

up and away; but Smith's mount, which by-the-bye was a mule, had broken loose, and perforce I had to wait for him. Pulling up by the side of a log, Smith scrambled up behind me, and away we went for dear life, as hard as my good mare could gallop. It was a close shave, for the enemy fired a volley after us, but missed us clean.

At the Stranger Creek settlement Smith got a horse, and we rode on to Leavenworth, where my friends of the pro-Slavery party gave me quite an ovation for shooting Cline, though it was the general opinion that I ought to have finished thoroughly what I had so well begun

As to our friend the constable, it was said that he never stopped till he had put the Missouri between himself and danger, so terrified was he at what Cline's friends might do to him !

Of the man himself I presently heard that, though very seriously hurt, he might pull through; next that he was well enough to be sent to his friends in New York, and would certainly recover. I soon found that no steps would be taken against me on account of this little affair, but I made up my mind to leave Leavenworth and settle in Johnson County, across the Kansas River in the Shawnee country, intending to make my claim on Cedar Creek my headquarters. Forth I fared then, with my wagon and pair of horses, my saddle-horse, provisions, whiskey, arms and blankets, taking with me four of my claim-making party. These were named Shoemaker, Mike Macnamara, William Hitchcock, and Wash Gobel, who all agreed to stand by me whatever happened. Shad and the young carpenter were already at the camp.

I found that things were moving fast indeed in the reserve, and that joining the claim I had made on the Laramie and Kansas City road, a town had been laid out, which had been named Monticello, and that a


102 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS

tavern, groggery, and several shanties were in course of erection. Furthermore that my claim had been jumped by a party of Missourians, who had put up thereon a little frame cabin, where they sold whiskey, tobacco, etc.

I rode over at once and warned these folks that they were trespassing on my land, and that I meant to maintain my squatter rights at all hazards. They refused to move, but about a month afterwards three of my boys rode over one night from Cedar Creek, and so scared the two men left in charge of the shanty that they moved out the little "plunder" they had, and the boys burnt the cabin and restored my old foundation. So far so good, but hereafter I was to have a tougher job than I thought for to maintain my rights over this desirable property, and it eventually landed me in a lawsuit, of which more anon.


CHAPTER IV
THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO

At the early part of that spring and summer I was busy making claims, and disposing of others, for which I got prices varying from $50 to $500. It was a free and easy time, with plenty of hunting and fishing, and the life was pleasant enough.

But now I bethought me it was time to settle down, and make myself a permanent dwelling-place. I was then twenty-seven years of age; getting quite old, and all my life I had been a wanderer on the face of the earth! I would build me a house on my 160-acre claim at Monticello, and wander no more-- at least for a time.

At once I set to work to haul out the necessary timber, which my hands cut on Cedar Creek, and in a short time we had a very comfortable one-story log cabin put up, with some chimneys. It was quite a mansion for those parts, with four rooms in it; and behind it good log stables and "corn-cribs." When all was finished, I gave a house-warming party to all the folks in the neighbourhood. About twenty of us danced all night to the music of a couple of violins, and nearly wore out our musicians; for when we did dance out in the West, we kept it up with vigour, and polkas and cotillions followed each other without much pause, except for refreshment.

So that summer passed away without any incident particularly worth recording, and in the autumn, I


104 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO

forget the exact day, the President's proclamation was issued throwing open the Shawnee lands for pre-emption Though I had already built a substantial house on the claim, I had of course to comply with the requirements of the law, and lay a foundation on it, on the day named; and that before any one else could do so, or I should lose my right to it. The logs for the foundation were all cut, and laid ready, so all I had to do was to put them together. At daybreak, on the day appointed, I was engaged on this, with my six-shooter in my belt, and had all but finished, when I was aware of quite a party of men marching along bearing four logs between them.

I walked over to them, and told them quietly they were trespassing on my claim, and that if they attempted to lay a foundation I would use what force I could to stop them, as I was first in the field, and had already complied with the requirements of the law.

"You use threats, do you?" said the leader of the party. "I threaten no one, but I don't think it will be healthy for you to steal my property," I answered.

There was a good deal more wrangling, and at one time it seemed as though they meant to fight-- they were five to one-- but at last they cleared out, saying they should apply to the U.S. Court for pre-emption, as they had been prevented by my threats from laying their foundation. This they eventually did, and I had to fight them in the Court for the claim.

Later on that fall, I took service with the great freighting firm of Major & Russell, as wagon-master. Major we knew nothing of-- probably he was a sleeping-partner-- but "Billy" Russell, as he was commonly called, was quite a power in the West, and at Washington too, for the matter of that. He owned some 20,000 working cattle and about 2,000 wagons, or "prairie schooners," and did all the freighting west of the Missouri River to the military posts and forts in the Indian


FREIGHTING ON THE PRAIRIES 105

country. It was he who started the "Pony Express," carrying mails, by relays of horses, through the hosthe Indian country to the outlying stations.

It was a risky employment, fit only for a daring and resourceful man to engage in: for the Indians kept a sharp look-out for the Express in those days, and killed many of the men. William Cody, so well known since as Colonel Cody, or "Buffalo Bill," was one of his first riders, and perhaps the most successful of all.

My first trip as wagon-master was from "St. Joe," where we loaded up, to the forts on the "Big Blue." I had seventy-five wagons, each drawn by eight yoke of cattle, a driver to each team, and twelve spare men. Under me was an assistant wagon-master, and I had two horses for myself, and about a dozen supernumerary ones. Each "schooner," which was a lumping great thing with a body about twenty feet long, carried a load of four to five tons of goods. The whole train on the march, in single file, would occupy a length of about 1 3/4 miles; more of course if the ground was boggy, and any of the teams lagged. So it was no easy task to keep an eye on them all. It meant pretty hard riding from morning till night.

At or before nightfall we made a laager, or "corral" as we called it, to guard against Indian attacks. It was made in this way:

The leading wagon was unyoked, and the fore-carriage turned at a slight angle inwards; the next wagon was drawn up as close as possible to it, with its hind wheels on a level with the front wheels of the first, till a rough circle was formed. The cattle-chains were then run from the wheel of one wagon to the wheel of that in front of it, and the corral was formed. Inside this the cattle were unyoked and, if there were no Indian signs about, turned out to graze under charge of a couple of herders.

Of course, with a strong party like mine all well armed,


106 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO

there wasn't much fear that the Indians would attack, as long as proper precautions were taken and a good look-out kept; the greatest risk was that they might stampede your cattle at night, and leave you stranded on the prairie.

Road, properly speaking, there was none, only a track some quarter of a mile wide, made by successive trains. It was usually easy enough going over the prairie, especially as there was a bitter frost, and the ground was hard frozen. But every now and then a deep creek would have to be crossed, with a muddy bottom, and the whole lot of wagons must be hauled through, one by one, with perhaps three or four teams to each. The long line of cattle would be yoked on, and stretched to right or left ("hew" or "gee," it was called), nearly at right angles to the wagon; the drivers with their whips then swung the cattle over to left or right, as the case might be, and the wagon was bound to come out by the sheer weight of the teams, unless, as sometimes happened, the tongue drew out of the body.

I was about several weeks on this trip, and enjoyed it much; the only drawback being the intense cold, which almost froze one at night. My pay was $100 a month, and all found; so I was well satisfied, and think Russell was too, for he at once engaged me to look after a big lot of cattle he had wintering at Lone Jack, about sixty miles from my ranch. The distance was nothing, and I gladly accepted the employment at $75 a month.

If there was plenty of hard work, there was plenty of fun going too, and many a good dance we had that winter. We all of us, girls as well as men, had to ride long distances to many of these, through the keen frosty air, and the rides were almost as good fun as the dances. One of these, I particularly remember, was held at Olathy, the county seat of Johnson County, on New Year's Eve. The occasion was the opening of a new hotel at this place, which was about ten miles from Monticello. I


I AM IN FOR A FIGHT 107

got together a party of five girls and seven or eight young fellows, all well mounted.

It was a lovely starlit night, with an intense frost, and six inches of snow on the ground. All were in the wildest of spirits, and the gallop over the level trackless prairie was delightful.

At the hotel we found quite a big gathering, and as soon as the ladies had divested themselves of their wraps we were all hard at work at the cotillions and polkas. Our host had provided an excellent supper, and of course liquid refreshments were in abundance. Everything was going off capitally and, what is more, peacefully, till the bully of the place, a man named Cosgrove, of whom I had often heard, but had never met before, picked a quarrel with me in the most unprovoked manner. Probably he had a cargo of whiskey on board, or wouldn't have done it.

I was standing at the bar downstairs with some friends, when this fellow began, with many very forcible oaths, and in a loud voice, to say there was a man from Monticello he meant to "whip" that night. He fixed his eye on me as he spoke, and I knew I was in for a fight. That being so, the sooner it was over the better; so I stepped across to him, asking my friends to see fair play, and told him he wanted a lesson in manners, and I would give it him.

He rushed at me to clinch, throw, and probably, after the manner of his kind, to gouge me if he could. Luckily I was too quick for him, met him with a straight lefthander between the eyes, and sent him, with a heavy fall, against the stove at the end of the bar. He cut his head pretty badly against the ironwork, and wanted no more fighting that night. I think every one was pleased that the bully had got his lesson, for he wasn't nearly so quarrelsome after it, and I was looked upon rather as a hero by the girls, for taking the bounce out of him. So easily is fame won !


108 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO

At many of the dances I have spoken of, I often met Shawnee half-breed girls, daughters, some of them, of well-to-do people and fairly well educated, others hardly "tame." Amongst the first I remember the two Choteau girls, and Mary Owens and Sally Blue Jacket. They all dressed like other Western belles, and were good dancers; but some of them were prone to take a little too much whiskey. Once when dancing with Sally Blue Jacket, who was a remarkably handsome girl, I remember the lady pulled a flask of whiskey out of her pocket, and pressed me to join her in a drink. It would have been rude to refuse so delicate an attention, from so charming a partner, and I of course accepted the offer.

However much I might be occupied, I never lost sight of my farm work, and during three months of that winter kept hands cutting timber, and splitting it for rails. These either Shoemaker or I hauled across the prairie about two miles from the Shawnee lands, until I had enough to build a "worm" fence, eight rails high, round eighty acres. It was a mighty lot of rails, and the hauling of them alone was heavy work, but the doing of it was a pleasure, for when the fence was up I felt I should have made a valuable property of my beautiful claim, especially when I had ploughed and planted my eighty acres in the coming spring.

Amongst the curious scenes I witnessed about this time, the most curious was the hanging, by his own people, of a Shawnee Indian who was supposed to have committed a murder. Though his crime was in reality a mild form of manslaughter, the Shawnee council, which by U.S. law had the power of life and death over its own people, wished to maintain and exercise this right, and so insisted on hanging the poor wretch. Not that he seemed to mind it in the least, for he was the least excited of all the performers in the tragedy. The platform under the gallows, in which was the drop, was occupied by the chiefs of the tribe and local


INDIAN STOICISM 109

preachers, who, for about two hours or so, "improved the occasion," whilst the victim sat in a chair, apparently utterly indifferent to what was going on around him. Round the gallows stood a crowd of white men and some Indians.

The former threatened a rescue, and frequently called upon the doomed man, who sat on his chair unbound, to jump, and they would save him. Though these calls were made in his own tongue, and he must have understood them, he gave them no heed whatever, but sat impassive as a statue.

When the preachers had exhausted their eloquence and came to a pause, the man rose, placed himself on the drop still unbound, and waited for the rope to be adjusted. A white man named Paris married to an Indian squaw, who was the Shawnee sheriff, stepped forward, slipped the rope over his head, drew the bolt, and the Indian¿ln was launched into eternity without a cry, or a struggle, or effort to save himself, though his hands were free.

I have seen many exhibitions of Indian stoicism, and many a one make his exit from this world, but I never saw anything like this man's calm indifference to death.

Johnson County began to fill up a bit with immigrants, and the Governor of the Territory now issued a proclamation for the election of County officials. Each "township," or district of six square miles, had to elect three supervisors, one constable, and one overseer of the poor.

The County Board of supervisors was something like our present County Councils, but with greater powers. It consisted of the senior supervisors of each township, who also had magisterial powers in their own locality. I "ran" for supervisor in the Monticello township, and being elected at the head of the poll, became a member of the County Board. We received $3 a day


110 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO

pay whilst in attendance at the Board, which met at Olathy once a month.

When my house at Monticello was finished, the "boys" made it the headquarters of a Squatters' Association, formed to protect our mutual claim-interests, and elected me president. We met there regularly once a week for the transaction of business, and often besides this there would be quite a gathering at the ranch on a Sunday for hymn-singing, to the accompaniment of a violin and accordion. It may seem strange that men so rough and hardened, so inured to bloodshed that they thought no more of shooting a man in some trumpery quarrel than a jack rabbit, should have been amenable to such influences, which for the moment, at any rate, softened and subdued their wild natures. But so it was, and an atmosphere of peace and quietness reigned at those gatherings that was a complete contrast to our everyday life.

I suppose even the roughest and hardest had a tender spot somewhere in his nature, and that the hymns we sang touched chords in our hearts that vibrated to memories of bygone days and other scenes; I know they did in mine.

About this period I was much away from Monticello, looking after William Russell's cattle ranches, on which he kept fifteen thousand head of work-cattle, or thereabout. These, of course, were scattered over wide distances, and as I had to look them all up at intervals, I was almost constantly in the saddle.

On my return from one of these journeys I found my best hand, poor Shoemaker, in a very serious fix. He had accidentally shot a German boarding-house keeper named Schleeman, in a drunken row. It seems they got quarrelling in their cups, and Schleeman brought out his shot-gun. My man, after a struggle, disarmed him, but in the struggle the gun went off, and mortally wounded the German. He was alive when I arrived, but sinking


RIVAL SQUATTER ASSOCIATIONS 111

fast. I went to see him at once, and he fully exonerated Shoemaker from all blame. Nevertheless his compatriots, who were rather numerous in the place, were in a great state of excitement, and it was all we of the Squatters' Association could do to prevent their lynching Shoemaker, who had been arrested, and was under guard in a room in the hotel. However, the Coroner's Jury brought in a verdict of accidental death, and a strong party of us carried our man safely off to the ranch, where he remained under the ægis of the association till the matter had blown over.

I have dwelt much on the lawlessness and ruffianism prevailing in Kansas in those days, but I suppose much the same state of things existed in other newly settled parts of the States before society became organised and the law had gained sufficient strength to overawe evildoers. We certainly were a law unto ourselves in Monticello, and stood sadly in need of some power to restrain our evil passions, which had been strongly aroused by the conflicting interests of claim making and holding.

Between our Squatters' Association and a rival organisation in Monticello, a very bitter feeling existed, and one felt that, sooner or later, bloodshed would come of it. The leader of our enemies was a hotel-keeper in the town, Miliner by name, who undoubtedly was a bully and ruffian of the first water; just such a one as generally floats to the surface of such troubled waters. He was backed by people from Kansas City and from Missouri, to whom the desirable claims wo held amongst us were as so many Naboth's vineyards. I don't pretend that all the right was on our side, and all the wrong on theirs; it was a mixed matter, like everything in this world is, but it was their "tall talk" and threats that led to the row I am going to describe.

Two of our "boys" had been distinctly threatened that if they ventured into Monticello they would be shot down. This was too much for my hot-bloods to


112 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO

endure quietly; so one Sunday morning, stirred up thereto by one Molesby, the most absolutely fearless man I think I ever met, they determined to have it out with Miliner and his crew. I did all I could to dissuade them, but in vain; so of course I had to go too.

Sunday out West was little observed, unless there was a "preaching" going on, and stores and groggeries generally did a brisker trade on that day than on others So when we walked across to Monticello there were plenty of loafers about, eager to report to my party of seven the threats Miliner and company had that very day made against us.

We halted behind Riche's store, which stood on one side of the square, opposite Miliner's hotel. Peering cautiously round the corner, we could see the barrels of several shot-guns protruding from an upstairs window of the hotel, which completely commanded the approach. It looked like certain death, for some of us at any rate, to attack such a position, and again I tried to dissuade them from it. But Molesly particularly was "mad," and vowed that, if no one would go with him, he alone and unaided would "clear out the shop." The man's daring was infectious, and, against my better sense, I said, "We have no chance, but you shan't go alone." Then three others, of whom Shoemaker was one, ranged themselves by our side.

We five then dashed across the open space, which l might be some thirty yards, as hard as we could run, making for the bar-room door below the window where the guns were posted. Once in we would storm the staircase, and make things lively for Miliner and his friends.

Molesby and I led; close behind ran the other three. We got half-way across, when a volley was fired from the window; Molesby sprang into the air and foil riddled with slugs, whilst the rest of us dashed into the open door for cover. There for a few minutes we stood irresolute,


THE DEATH OF MOLESBY 113

not knowing what to do. Molesby, poor fellow, who had urged us to the fray, lay motionless in the square, his rifle thrown far from him in his death-spring, but still grasping his six-shooter

Upstairs all was still; the enemy didn't seem to relish the idea of coming down to attack us, nor, if the truth must be told, did we, as soon as we had cooled a bit, like the task of storming that stairway. So after a time a truce was made, mainly through the influence of three of Miliner's party to whom I was known, and we were allowed to depart unmolested, and to carry off our dead comrade with us. A blessed relief it was to our embarrassment too, for we were like rats in a hole with no exit, except by way of that staircase!

Poor Molesby had twenty buckshot wounds, and I, who was close to him when the volley was fired, had three shots through the loose dragoon cape I was wearing, so had a very narrow escape.

The dead man owned a prairie claim, about a mile and a half from Monticello, the dispute about which was the chief cause of the quarrel that led to his death. There I had a grave dug for him, though Miliner and his gang swore they would not permit us to bury him in it. Ten of us, however, all well armed, laid him to rest in the place we had chosen for his last home, and I, with a sad enough heart, read the burial service over him.


CHAPTER V
THE CAPTURE OF MILINER

EARLY in the spring of 1868 I started ploughing, or "breaking," my eighty acres of prairieland. I was the possessor of two breaking-ploughs, each of which was worked by three yoke of cattle; with one I broke my land myself, and the other I let out at $3 a day. The ploughs cut a width of thirty inches, and the Indian corn was sown in the turned-over sod by chopping a hole and dropping in the grain. By this primitive culture I got a fine crop of twenty-five bushels of corn per acre; and between the rows had a fine lot of watermelons, pumpkins, and cucumbers.

In June that year I had my first experience of a Western tornado. It was on a Sunday, and there was a "preaching" at Judge Reid's in Monticello, which I attended. The heat had been most oppressive all the morning, and by three o'clock the sky had darkened and it was almost suffocating, for not a breath of air was stirring. The people in the town stood about in groups, wondering what was coming. I had dined the Judge, and when it was evident a terrific storm was brewing, I invited all present to come over to my place, where they would be safer in my one-storied log cabin than in their flimsy frame houses. The most of them accepted, and we hurried across to the ranch and were only just in time.

Down came the rain in bucketfuls, a perfect deluge of water, the sound of which drowned our voices. Suddenly it ceased, and for a minute or two silence reigned.


A WESTERN TORNADO 116

Then came the wind, with an appalling roar. It seemed to shake the cabin to its very foundations, and for the twenty minutes or so that it lasted, the girls of the party crouched on the floor, and we all expected the roof to fall upon our heads. But the stout cedar logs stood the awful strain, and not one of them was displaced.

Outside in my yard stood two great freighting wagons, or "prairie schooners," and they were carried off, and dropped in shreds, over a distance of about three miles. My log stables were down, and quite a mile of fencing, the logs being scattered about the prairie as though they were straws

In the calm that followed the tornado we all walked back to the town, to find it more or less in ruins. Fortunately the casualties were few, and only one child was actually killed. Curiously enough one small frame house was carried out of the town rather more than a mile, and was little the worse for the trip.

The tornado had swept a belt of country forty-three miles long by about four wide, and in its course had uprooted every tree it encountered, as though they had been reeds.

In the month of August the Land Court, presided over by the U.S. Receiver and Registrar, would be held at Lecompton, to decide the conflicting pre-emption claims on the Shawnee reserve, and I therefore sent in notice of my intention to pre-empt my Monticello claim.

Soon I received notice from the Court that a merchant of Kansas City, named Nash, had filed a claim to the same land, and that the case would be heard early in August This man was leader of the party I had warned off my claim, as related in the previous chapter, and as he was much incensed against me, it was clear I was in for a big lawsuit.

Though my title to pre-empt the claim, according to "squatter right," and universal custom in the West, was undoubted, for I had not only built a house thereon and


116 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER

lived in it, but had complied with the letter of the law by laying my foundation on the day proclaimed, I felt very uneasy as to the result of the case. My opponent was a wealthy man for those parts, and, what was more, a man of influence with the Free State party, and that counted for much; for these cases went by favour, as much as by right. However, it had to be fought out; so I got together my witnesses, six in number, all squatters, and we started in good time for Lecompton from my ranch.

One of my friends and I rode; the rest went in my smart two-horse wagon, well "fixed" for a week's camping out. It was glorious weather, and the outing would have been delightful if one had not been so anxious. Our first camp was on a lagoon, off the Kansas River, and we caught enough fish for our supper in half an hour, with very primitive tackle. The next night we camped in a beautifully wooded dell, with plenty of grass and water, about half a mile from Lecompton, and then walked into the town, Where we found there was considerable excitement over my case, which had aroused a good deal of party feeling.

My antagonist Nash, with his friends and witnesses, had pretty well filled up the best hotel, and were indulging in many sherry cobblers, and much boasting and swaggering as to the result of the case, which was to come on on the morrow.

Nash had the impudence to ask mo to drink with him, and wanted to shake hands. ] told him he was attempting to perpetrate what he knew was a robbery, and that if by some unfair means and hard swearing he succeeded, there would scarcely be room for both of us in Kansas. 'This took most of the bounce out of him, and he troubled me no more.

I remember well, even now, at this long distance of time, the wondrous beauty of that night in the camp. As I laid on my blanket and watched the "great comet"


I WIN MY CASE 117

blaze in the eastern sky, I thought I would not exchange the scene for the finest hotel in the world.

The Court sat on my case for three whole days, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., for Nash produced quite an army of witnesses, who swore through thick and thin for him. As the case proceeded, and each of his men swore harder than the previous one that he had been first in the field, I grew more uneasy as to the result. Nash, I believe, made sure of winning, and the thought of what might follow success seemed to weigh on his mind, for many a time I caught his eyes fixed on me with a questioning gaze, as though he were wondering whether I really meant what I had said to him. Be that as it may, he had, as it turned out, no cause for fear, for he lost his case.

The Court decided in my favour, and on payment of $240 and some small Court fees I got my title deeds, and became absolute owner of the claim. That night we had a "high old time" in camp, and next day set out on the return to Monticello in great triumph. Arrived there, we found a crowd of my friends at the ranch, waiting to congratulate me; for the news of my success had outrun us. We got up an impromptu dance that night, and celebrated the occasion right royally.

As I intended to make the ranch my home, for some time at least, I added to the house and sunk a well. Before doing so I called in a "water wizard," who was highly thought of in those parts, and he contracted to select the proper site for the well for the modest fee of $5, on the principle of "no cure no pay." He stepped about the place with the usual hazel wand in his hand, and presently drove a peg into the ground, close by the house, assuring me I should find water there at no great depth. As a matter of fact I did find an abundant supply of excellent water, at about twenty feet in depth, and cheerfully paid over my $5. I suppose the man was an impostor; but I understand that many people, even in this enlightened country, believe in this water-magic.


118 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER

I fear the picture I have drawn of life in Kansas fortyfive years ago may be thought over-coloured by those who know nothing of the then state of society in the Far West but I can assure them that if I had told of all tho desperate deeds within my knowlege, but in which I was in no way an actor, it would be lurid indeed. One more scene of brutal and ruthless murder, of which I was a helpless witness, I must give, since it is characteristic of the times, and of a place where human life was held "at a pin's fee," and also because I took great pains, though without avail, to bring the chief culprit to justice.

It was in the month following my triumph at Lecompton that a young fellow named Walker, whom I had known in Leavenworth, rode down to Monticello on business, and then came on to my place to see if he could buy a yoke of cattle from me. We had dinner, and then smoked and chatted; for the young fellow was friendly and pleasant, and I was glad to see him. Then we started out to cross tho short strip of prairie between my house and Monticello, where the cattle were at work.

Walker was mounted on his horse, and I was on foot, a little ahead of him. Both of us were unarmed; he because he was a quiet, inoffensive fellow, and seldom carried firearms, and I because I had a very painful whitlow on my right hand, which was in a sling. Things were then pretty quiet and peaceful in Monticello, and I had no idea that Walker had an enemy there, or anywhere else. So we walked on without the remotest suspicion of what awaited us so near at hand.

We had reached the outskirts of the town, when from behind Riche's store the man Miliner and another named McDougal suddenly appeared with double-barrelled shotguns in their hands.

Miliner it was who shot poor Molesby in front of his hotel; McDougal had been for some time on friendly terms with me.

They halted Walker, and some words passed between


UNARMED AND SLEEPLESS ll9

them, the purport of which I did not catch; then without more ado they both fired their shot-guns into the unfortunate man. He fell from his horse, dead, as I thought; but no, he was still alive, and, sorely wounded as he was, scrambled to his feet and ran as fast as he could for a small corn-patch close by the hotel. The ruffian Miliner fired at him again, as he ran for shelter, but didn't stop him. I, all helpless and unarmed as I was, could only throw up my arms. The murderers said, "We have nothing against you, but we mean to finish the d------d scoundrel with you."

They then set off to hunt their victim out of his shelter, whilst several of the inhabitants of the town looked on, without daring to interfere, so terrorised were they by these two ruffians. Just at this moment two of my hay-wagons, with four hands, arrived on the scene, on their way to my ranch. I ran down to them directly, shouting to them, as I ran, to shoot Miliner and McDougal down. Not one of them had a gun, or a six-shooter; but the murderers evidently thought they had, for they bolted forthwith, and then the brave townsfolk turned out and joined in the pursuit!

With one of my hands I climbed the fence into the corn-patch, whilst poor Walker, who thought it was his murderers coming to finish their work, pleaded most piteously for mercy.

We bore him as tenderly as we could into the hotel, and did all we could for him, which was little enough, for he was grievously wounded in the back and side, and died in great agony about ten o'clock that night, assuring me, with his latest breath, that he had no idea why they had shot him.

The moment Walker was safely deposited in the hotel, I wrote a note to my, friends in Leavenworth, urging them to at once bring a strong and well-armed party, to hunt down the murderers. By 3 a.m. the next morning a band of seventeen of the "Boys" were


120 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER

at my ranch, having ridden post haste to my summons. All that day and part of the next we hunted the country for the villains, but without success; for, as we heard afterwards, they had fled into Missouri. Had they been caught, "Judge Lynch" would have given them but short shrift.

Now for the sequel to my story, which is even more shameful than the opening chapter, since these coldblooded murderers were allowed to escape the just penalty of their crime, and that by an act of the Territorial Legislature!

Three weeks after the murder McDougal was arrested at his own ranch, and committed to stand his trial for murder at the next District Court. But, having friends and money, he was immediately brought up before the District Judge, under a writ of habeas corpus, and admitted to bail in $4,000.

About six weeks before the sitting of the Court, Pat Cosgrove, Sheriff of Johnson County, having got wind that the chief villain of the tragedy, Miliner, was in hiding at Atchinson, a small town in Missouri, about thirty miles from Kansas City, asked me to bring one of my "Boys," and go with him to effect his arrest, if possible; and I readily consented, for I was most anxious to catch the scoundrel.

To ensure secrecy we said no word to any soul in the place as to our errand, for we had very reliable information, and felt sure of catching our man, unless, by chance, he got wind of our being after him. Crossing into Missouri, we easily obtained a warrant for .iliner's arrest, from the proper authority, and then rode quietly the first ten miles of our journey. After resting our horses, we started, well after dusk, to ride the remaining twenty miles to Atchinson, meaning to surprise the murderer a little after midnight.

The man was a desperado of the worst kind, and wonderfully quick with his shooting-irons. If we


AT DEAD OF NIGHT 121

roused him some of us were bound to get shot, so you may be sure we went to work very cautiously. It was pitch dark when we reached the town, and not a soul was stirring in the one street it contained; nor was any light visible; the whole place seemed wrapped in sleep.

We had such clear directions to go by that, after groping about a bit, we found the house we wanted. Tying our horses to a fence near by, we took off our boots and crept in at the back door, which, luckily for us, was unfastened.

I cautiously lit a candle, and we stood for a moment or two at the foot of the stairs, listening for any sound. But nothing was to be heard; the silence was absolute. We were pretty sure our man was in the house, but in which room we didn't know, and must risk that. Silently and carefully we stole up the stairs, and in the dead stillness of the house it seemed as though the slight creaking of the boards, and the sound of our breathing, restrain it as we would, must arouse the inmates.

At last we stood on the landing; on each side of this was a door-- which should we choose? There was nothing to guide our choice, and at haphazard I slowly lifted the latch of that on the right. Peering in, with the shaded candle in one hand and my revolver in the other, I could make out two beds, both occupied. Looking from one to the other, at last I made out Miliner fast asleep in the one nearest the door.

He moved, sat up, and, taking in the situation at a glance, made a grab for his six-shooter under the pillow. But he was just too late, for before he could handle it we were upon him, and Cosgrove had him safely handcuffed in another moment. Now we roused up the people of the house, and told our story. They were not a little astonished to find their place so quietly invaded by three armed men, of whom they had never heard a sound, and


122 THE CAPTURE OF MlLINER

they appeared not very well pleased at our visit. However, when they saw the warrant, and knew why we had arrested Miliner, they were appeased, and treated us very well. Next day, starting at daybreak, we marched our prisoner across the prairie, securely fastened to Cosgrove's stirrup, to Kansas City, and the following morning landed him safely in the gaol at Olathy, where he was at once heavily ironed.

The curses he heaped on our heads during the journey were voluminous and powerful, but having got him safe enough, after what we thought was a smart capture, we let him swear at large, without interruption. He seemed to realise that he couldn't escape hanging this time; but what rankled most in his mind was that if he must hang, he couldn't kill me first !

He was committed for trial, on the charge of murder, and, being unable to obtain bail, lay in prison for nearly six weeks before the District Court sat. During that time I was often at Olathy, on County Board business, and there heard from the gaoler and others of the threats our prisoner constantly uttered against me, and how he vowed to shoot me, if only he got free. This made me particularly anxious he should be hanged, and I had a justifiable confidence that that would be his fate.

The District Court was held at Olathy, the county seat, early in July, and on the first day of its opening I rode over with four or five of my "Boys." The Grand Jury found true bills against Miliner and McDougal, and they were brought into Court in irons. Their counsel objected to this, and asked for the removal of the fetters, which the Judge granted, though the Sheriff strongly protested, averring that the men were such notorious desperadoes he would not be responsible for them if they were cast loose.

The little town was crowded with people from far and near, and in the Court itself one could hardly stir, so densely was it thronged with excited spectators. The


MIILINER LET LOOSE 123

murder was a particularly atrocious one, even for Kansas, and the interest it created was intense. Walker's two brothers, decent, quiet young fellows, had come all the way from Ohio to see justice done upon the murderers, and if they had only followed my advice they would have seen it.

I was the principal witness for the prosecution, and the first called. All day I stood in the box, examined and cross-examined by counsel, for and against, who, after their kind, managed to spin out even so simple a case as this was to an unconscionable length. However, all things, even criminal trials, come to an end, and by 2 p.m. the next day all the witnesses had been examined, the Judge had summed up, very much against the prisoners, and the jury had retired to consider their verdict. The audience in the crowded, stifling Court still kept their places, discussing the pros and cons of tho case; and the almost unanimous opinion seemed to be in favour of a verdict of murder in the first degree.

At this moment an "Express Rider," his horse all in a lather, galloped up to the door, dismounted, and pushed his way through the crowd, calling loudly for the Sheriff.

Cosgrove came forward, and the messenger handed him an official-looking document.

The babble of talk was hushed in a moment, and every one wondered, and waited, to know what this strange thing might mean. We were not long in doubt, for presently Cosgrove announced that it was an amnesty, granted by an act of the Legislature, and duly signed by the Governor, for all criminal offences committed up to date, whether under trial or not! Was ever such an act passed by any other legislative body in this world?

Of course, the reason of it was that many of the honourable legislators, and most of their friends, had serious misgivings as to what might happen to themselves, for deeds done during the "war," and so passed the amnesty.

The trial was over, and the seeming tragedy turned into


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a farce; for now the prisoners were brought in, and, by order of the Judge, released in open Court. But there was a very strong feeling against them both, and especially against Miliner. The crowd of angry men who watched them slink away could have been roused to fury in a moment if the Walker brothers had but said the word, and asked for the justice denied them by the Law "Judge Lynch" would have done his work promptly and the world would have been well rid of two remorseless villains.

But it was not to be; the Ohio men were too gentle, or timid, or too law-abiding, for such an action.

So Miliner and his partner in crime departed unharmed, and for some time thereafter I, metaphorically speaking, slept with one eye open, expecting an attack.


CHAPTER VI
LAST DAYS IN KANSAS

As I said in the previous chapter, mine enemy's escape from hanging caused me no little disquietude; because, to keep a whole skin, one had to walk very warily, and it did not add to the enjoyment of life to feel that he might be lurking privily behind every corner one turned, or every clump of bush one passed.

The very evening of his unexpected release he came up to me in the town, very civilly, and asked me when I was starting for home, as he would like to ride with me, and talk over our differences. It was nearly dusk, and I said I was leaving at once, that he was welcome to come too, if he liked, but he must keep his hands out of his pockets, for, if he touched his six-shooter, I would let daylight through him.

He laughed, saying I needn't be uneasy, as he only wanted to be friendly, and would certainly ride with me. Very good, I answered, come along then; I start in ten minutes.

I felt sure he meant to shoot me if he could get the chance, so I told two of my "Boys" to ride behind us, with their six-shooters ready for action. My "friend the enemy" appeared punctually to time, but when he saw I wasn't riding alone he suddenly changed his mind, said he found he had business to detain him in town that night, but would certainly come and see me before long. "You will always find me ready whenever you come," I said; and so we parted, to my relief, for though I wasn't


126 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS

much troubled with nerves in those days, a dark night's ride alongside a murderer, anxious to add you to the number of his victims, is not altogether enjoyable.

At the end of that month of July I went in charge of one of "Billy" Russell's trains to Fort Kearney, without seeing any more of Miliner, and when I returned home, after some three months' absence, found he had left Monticello for some unknown destination, having made the place too hot to hold him any longer.

I was offered the charge of a train of seventy wagons to Fort Laramie, but I chose that for Fort Kearney though it was only one of forty-five wagons. The latter journey, though long enough, was only half the length of that to Laramie, and I was anxious not to be away too long from home. I loaded up on the Levee at Leavenworth City, and at the Fort, and started on my long journey to the south of the Platte River, in the Territory of Nebraska, with forty-five teamsters and six extra hands. I had two horses for my own riding, and ten supernumerary ones; but there was no assistant wagon-master allowed for so small a train, and I had to look after it all myself.

We travelled for weeks towards the "Big Blue" River, across an open, rolling prairie country; treeless as a rule, except when we struck a stream lightly fringed with timber. There had been a good deal of rain, so water and grass were good; a great thing for the cattle, as they got plenty of feed, but it caused many a wagon to stick in the mudholes, out of which they had to be pulled in the way I have described.

We were passing through a rather dangerous Indian country, for the Sioux and Cheyennes were out on the warpath against each other, an occupation which rather whetted their appetite for the plunder of freight trains, if they could catch them unawares. Indeed, only recently a strong band of the Sioux had surprised one in that very country, and killed every man in it after


BUFFALO, BUFFALO! 127

torturing them by fire, as could be seen from the "sign" plainly enough.

Not to be caught napping, I always scouted ahead of my train with three spare hands, keeping best part of a mile in front of it, with the men widely spread. At night, or rather before sundown, I formed my wagons into a corral, and if the cattle were grazing outside at night, had scouts out round them. We frequently saw bands of Indians at a distance, but they never attacked us; probably because they found we were on the alert.

One night on the "Big Blue" we had a bad scare. It was just after sundown, and we had corralled the wagons, and all hands were busy cooking at the fires outside the circle. A little way off, in the gathering gloom, we could see the scouts and cattle-herders rushing the animals along for the corral, as fast as they could drive them with frantic yelling and much cracking of whips. At first I thought the Redskins were upon us, but as the mob drew near we could hear the cry of "Buffalo, buffalo!" and realised the situation.

The fires were made up, and every man stood ready with his loaded rifle and six-shooter.

The cattle came lumbering into camp at the top of their speed, and close at their heels followed the vastest herd of buffalo I had ever seen. On they came in countless thousands, and the sound of their trampling was like the distant, dull roar of the surf on the sea beach. If we couldn't turn them aside, they must surely overwhelm us by sheer weight and pressure of numbers. The whole multitude was on the move to pastures new, and, as was the custom of their kind, travelled at a steady "lope," or canter; the hindermost following blindly the lead of those in front.

However, just as the sea of clashing horns and gleaming eyes seemed as though it must roll over us, wagons, cattle and all, our fires, the shouts of the men, and the volley of rifle fire we discharged turned the front rank,


128 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS

or rather split it in two. So the great herd passed to right and left of our corral, which stood like a solitary rock in the midst of a wide and raging flood, and did no harm.

For several hours the buffalo streamed past us, so close that we could see the shine of their great bright eyes and the dim outline of their shaggy forms. When daylight came we found we had killed a couple of dozen or so, which was quite as many as we wanted.

There must have been tens of thousands of buffalo in that one herd, and now there isn't a single one on all those wide plains!

After a week's rest at Fort Kearney, which both men and cattle stood in need of, I started back, nearly empty, and, making good time, arrived at Leavenworth City about the end of October, without any incident by the way worth recording.

"Billy" Russell, a man of few words, appeared satisfied with my management of the train, and asked me to winter two hundred of his cattle on my ranch, at $10 a head; ten per cent. loss to be allowed, but anything above that to be paid for by myself. To this I agreed. He also engaged me to look after some of his cattle farms in the surrounding country, at a salary of $50 a month.

I accepted this employment, though the pay was small, for I was anxious to keep in with Russell, who, as I have said, was a power out West. Though "still of his tongue," he was bluff and outspoken enough at times. To his intimates he was "the Colonel," but not to outsiders. If these gave him the title, common enough in the States, he resented it. " D---- you, sir," he would say, " I'm no colonel, I'm plain Billy Russell, and don't you call me out of my name."

When I knew him he was at the height of his prosperity, but, soon after I left Kansas, came to utter grief. His business was enormous, and very difficult to keep proper


TECUMSEH'S DAUGHTER 129

control of. Somehow or other he had got to windward of the Treasury at Washington, to the tune of some $6,000,000; it was said through the connivance of some of the officials. A committee of Congress was appointed to unravel the affair, and they had to call in "Billy" himself to help them; of course under the usual indemnity from prosecution, if he made a clean breast of it. This saved him, for there was little doubt that he had dipped his hands pretty freely into the national till.

Early in November I got together four or five hands and set out to fetch my two hundred cattle from one of Russell's "farms" beyond the Kansas River. Winter had set in early; the cold was intense, and riding was bitter work. I remember halting the first night at a Shawnee settlement near the river, where the Indians put me up as best they could. In the one room their cabin contained sat an old squaw, cowering over the fire; she looked exactly like a dried-up mummy, except that she breathed and lived. Her great great grandson, the owner of the cabin, said she was one hundred and ten years old, and was the daughter of the great Shawnee chief and prophet Tecumseh. This chieftain was shamefully treated by the U.S. Government, and his tribe treacherously slaughtered and broken up at Ticonderogah, just after the War of Independence.

I worked very hard for Russell all that winter looking after his cattle, which necessitated being in the saddle day after day, and all day often. Indeed all the years I was in Kansas I may say I spent most of my time on horseback.

The wintering of the cattle at the ranch didn't turn out a very profitable speculation after all, for though I had plenty of fodder and corn for them, the weather was very severe, exceptionally so indeed. Then many of the working steers had been "alkalied" on the plains, and many of them died, despite my utmost care. So, as


130 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS

May 10, the time for handing them over, drew near, I was in rather a fix, for I had lost considerably more than the ten per cent. allowed. What in the world should I do ? Now I knew there were a number of Russell's vast herds of cattle that had strayed away from his various "farms," and were roaming wild on the plains. I therefore got together two or three trusty "Boys," and went out to see if I couldn't hunt up some of these on the sheltered and well-grassed river-bottoms I knew of, where they would be likely to winter.

After a rare hunt, I was lucky enough to find nearly as many of these wild steers as I wanted. It was no easy job to drive them to the ranch, but we managed it somehow, and when the handing-over came I was very few short of my number. Russell received them himself, at one of his corrals, and was pleased to express his satisfaction at the condition of the cattle. 1 said nothing about his wild steers I had caught, and he paid me on the spot.

That winter of 1858-9, the last one I spent in Kansas, was comparatively uneventful. The country was gradually settling down, though not in the way my friends or myself desired; for the Free State party had got the upper hand, and ruled the Territory, making things somewhat hot for us of tho defeated faction.

Though the state of affairs was not altogether so pleasant as it might be, we managed to enjoy ourselves pretty well in the intervals of hard work, and amongst other things had many a good dance. We thought nothing of going ten, fifteen, or even twenty miles to one of these; and the ride over the hard-frozen prairie in the dry, keen air with a party of girls, who were just as much at home on horseback as the young fellows who escorted them, was almost as good fun as the dance itself.

Margaret Hendricks, she who saved my life when Everard and Cline were so anxious to hang me at Falk's


MARGARET HENDRICKS 131

ranch in the "war" time, often made one of the party on these occasions. She was the finest and most daring horsewoman I ever saw; even in that country, where all the girls had to ride, no one could approach her. She could break the wildest horse in a surprisingly short time, and make him do just what she liked. One very handsome Indian pony she had that would come to her call, and follow her like a dog. She would call him up on the prairie, make him kneel down, jump on his back, without saddle or bridle, and go cantering off. Then, whilst still in motion, she would stand up on his quarters, quite at her ease; I never saw anything in a circus to equal it.

I may say she was as good at taming men as she was horses, and laughingly averred she managed both by the power of her eyes! Probably it was so, for I know they were large, and dark, and lustrous; very beautiful in repose, but flashing ominously in anger. Indeed it would have been a hold man who dared to take a liberty of any kind with Miss Margaret; he certainly wouldn't have done it a second time.

The state of society, and the perfectly free and easy terms on which the young folks of both sexes mixed out West, would no doubt have scandalised "Mrs. Grundy"; but in reality I never saw, or heard of, any impropriety. Moreover the girls were quite capable of protecting themselves, if necessary, for most of them were handy with a six-shooter, and many of them good rifle-shots.

Margaret was a beautiful dancer, amongst her other accomplishments, and, being very pretty and lively, was in great request as a partner. Though her father was a Free Stater, he and I were on friendly terms, and he never objected to my taking his daughter out to dances, and bringing her home at any hour of the day or night.

So she and I became close friends, despite the opposition of her brother, a young fellow of about my own age, but


132 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS

a bitter Free Stater, who couldn't forgive the part I had taken on the other side. He even went so far as to threaten he would shoot me (though not to my face) if I did not drop the friendship. The girl was very wroth at his daring to dictate to her in this fashion, and I expect must have given him rather a had time over it.

I remember particularly bringing her home one morning early, from a dance a few miles out of Leavenworth City. The family were all at breakfast, and the father greeted me cordially enough, but the brother sat glum and silent, ignoring his sister's presence, and taking not the slightest notice of myself. M argaret sat silent for a minute or two, after greeting the old man; then her eyes began to blaze, and at last she burst out, and gave that young fellow such a dressing down as he wouldn't forget to his dying day. If he hadn't slunk away I believe she would have horse-whipped him! No doubt he was the coward she told him he was, or he would have shot mo; but he never went beyond threats, of which I took no notice.

Margaret, with all her outdoor accomplishments, was equally great in the house; was a first-rate cook, could spin, and make her own clothes, as indeed all the Western girls did in those days, and was a good musician. Her uncle was a well-known Bishop of the Episcopal Church out West, whose name I have forgotten, and in his family she had been educated, till she was seventeen.

I have dwelt on my friend Margaret at some length because, though she far outshone all her compeers in beauty and accomplishments, she was a true Western girl, of a type which I suppose must, by this time, be wellnigh extinct.

It is forty-four years since I said good-bye to her at her father's ranch, and, if she still lives, she must be an old woman now, though it is difficult to realise that one so full of youth, high spirits and courage should ever grow old. I don't like to think of her in that aspect,


CLINE'S RETURN 133

but as she was in those far-off days she will always abide in my memory, as long as I shall live.

My sojourn in Kansas was drawing to a close, and I had to choose between giving up my pleasant home and ranch or standing a criminal prosecution, with the probability of a long term of imprisonment to follow. I chose the former, and this is how it came about.

It will perhaps be remembered that I had, unfortunately. to shoot the man Cline in self-defence when Merril Smith and I went to arrest him; that he was severely wounded, but recovered so far as to be able to be removed to New York, where his friends lived. As time went on, and I heard nothing of him, I fondly hoped that Kansas would see him no more, and at last forgot all about him. I was destined, however, to have a startling reminder of his existence, for the next thing I heard of him was that he was back in Leavenworth City, and, the Free Staters being in the ascendant, had got himself elected Sheriff!

This was in the winter, or rather, very early spring, of 1859. I put a bold face on it, and, directly I heard the news, rode into Leavenworth to see how the land lay.

My friends there reported Cline as breathing the direst vengeance against me, and vowing he would "shoot me on sight."

I met him in the street that day, and we passed each other without a word; but he didn't attempt to shoot, though I saw he had his hand on his six-shooter in his pocket, just as I had.

I took good care to let it be known in the town that I was quite prepared for MI. Cline, and always went armed; and that as to shooting, two could play at that game, as he well knew. But all this bluff notwithstanding, I returned home in a very uneasy frame of mind. I wasn't so much alarmed at his threats of violence, for, desperado as he was, he had had a severe lesson, and 1 reckoned that would make him very careful, but what


134 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS

I did dread was his setting the law in motion against me. His party was in power; the judges were Free Staters, and my chance of a fair trial was small indeed.

My farm was in good order, and my crops flourishing; in fact my house and ranch were amongst the best in the neighbourhood, and I was very loth to leave them and all the good friends I had made in that country, which, rough as it was, suited me well in those days

But I wasn't prepared to risk the probability of a long term of imprisonment, and possibly heavy civil damages as well, even for all this, and made my preparations accordingly.

I got together all the cash that was owing to me, as far as I could; had prepared, by a lawyer in Kansas City, a deed of sale of all my property to Shoemaker, and a mortgage from him to me, as well as promissory notes for the value, and then awaited events. None of these documents were signed, but were all ready for an emergency.

I don't know why, but Cline made no move till about the middle of July; perhaps he thought he would keep me in suspense, which he certainly did. About that time, however, I got a message one morning early from my friend Pat Cosgrove, the Sheriff of Johnson County, that he held a warrant for my arrest, and that, if I wished to avoid it, I had best be off at once. By the middle of the day I was ready.

One of my hands brought round two of my best saddle horses for Shoemaker and myself. I buckled on my six-shooter, threw my saddle-bags, with a change of clothes in them, across the saddle, and, with one last lingering look at my pretty ranch, set off at full gallop for Kansas City, en route for my far-distant home in old England, which I hadn't seen for seven long years.

In Kansas City Shoemaker and I speedily arranged our business matters; and I say at once that no one could have acted more faithfully, or more honourably,


HOMEWARD BOUND 135

than did this rough Western Borderer to me in all these transactions.

Everything having been prepared beforehand, I was in time to catch the evening boat to St. Louis. Shoemaker came down to the Levee to see me off, and there we had quite an affecting parting.

Steam was up as I stepped on board; the boat cast off, and away we went on the first stage of my long journey home, whilst my faithful Shoemaker stood and waved a last farewell.

I had once again escaped safely from a very threatening danger, and for the moment was happy and content.


CHAPTER VII
KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS

THE journey home, and out again to New York, my sojourn in Philadelphia, and my trip to Canada, I propose to condense as much as possible, only referring to incidents here and there which may be of some interest.

The great Dominion had not been created in my time, and the country I saw round Ottawa was not tempting to settlers.

On the trip down to St. Louis there was an exciting episode which I must tell, since it shows how easily a free coloured human being could be kidnapped by an unscrupulous villain in the days of slavery.

A Northern man had come on board with a lightcoloured mulatto woman and her two children. These he entered on the books as his slaves, and of course they~ were put on the boiler deck, whilst the supposed owner enjoyed himself in the saloon. The woman, w ho was rather good-looking and had some education, told her tale to one of the passengers. The u trite man, she said, had made her acquaintance in Kansas City, and persuaded her he would provide her with a good home, and care for her and her children in one of the Free States, I forget which, where he lived. "And now," she said, "I feel sure he is taking me to New Orleans to soil me for a slave, and I am as free as he is. My little ones will be torn from me, but rather than that I will drown myself, and them, in the river."

Her piteous tale impressed her hearers, who repeated it to the captain. He heard what she had to say, and


AN IMPROMPTU JURY 137

so straightforwardly did she tell her story, that he called a meeting of the passengers to determine what should be done. The supposed owner was haled before this impromptu Court, and both sides were heard. It was evident that the feeling was in favour of the woman, who adhered to her original statement without variation, whilst he contradicted himself, and was manifestly lying. Finally his papers, when examined, were proved to be forgeries, and he confessed his guilt.

It was a bad case of nigger-stealing, the most heinous of all crimes in the South, and the verdict was death; the sentence to be carried out at the first landing-place. To this however the captain, who acted as president, would not agree, and it was resolved to leave the culprit, just as he stood, on a sandbank in the middle of the river. This was presently done, and I have no idea what became of the scoundrel.

A handsome subscription was got up for his victim, enough to give her a start in St. Louis, where we left her. She had had a very narrow escape, and the poor creature's gratitude to her rescuers I shall never forget.

In St. Louis I interviewed the great firm of Western land-agents, Messrs. Pollock & Co. The senior partner was well known to me, and to him I frankly told my story, placing my affairs unreservedly in his hands. Then I took ticket to New York, crossed the Mississippi, and set out on my seventy hours' journey.

Even in those days America was far ahead of us in the comfort and convenience of railway travelling, with its corridor carriages, dining and smoking cars, etc. But the road itself, and the bridges, were not by any means perfect. For instance, I remember on that journey the conductor requesting all passengers to alight, somewhere near Indianopolis, as a trestle-bridge in front of us was very shaky. We got out and walked ahead of the train, whilst the frail wooden structure trembled i and shook with the ponderous weight behind us.


138 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS

Crossing the Alleghanies the scenery was very grand and the brilliant moonlight of a glorious summer night touched the mountain-tops and flooded all their slopes with silver; whilst in the deep valleys, along whose precipitous sides we crept, gleamed far below us the red flares of the blast-furnaces. The glamour of the scene held me entranced, and all that night I sat out on the corridor platform, dreaming dreams of the future before me, till daylight broke the spell.

At New York I put up at the American and European Hotel, and for the first time in seven years revelled in comfort and luxury. Well-cooked dinners, attentive servants, comfortably furnished rooms, and a feather bed to sleep on! Why, the place seemed a palace after the cabins of Virginia and the ranches of the West.

I had to wait four days for a steamer, during which I did New York and the Hudson River. The city I thought more like an English one than any I had seen in America.

A twelve days' passage to Southampton, in the first-class saloon of a German "Lloyd's" steamer, was a revelation of tho comfort, not to say luxury of ocean travel, for hitherto I had been most accustomed to tho unsavoury fo'c'sles of ill-found sailing ships.

It was a perfect summer morning as I journeyed up to London through what seemed to me a smiling and of gardens and orchards and pleasant homesteads. Nothing like the fruitful richness of an English countryside in full summer is to be seen elsewhere, that I know of, in all the world. It is almost worth the banishment of years, only to look upon it once again.

So, in full enjoyment of the scene, and with happy thoughts of the meeting now so near, I journeyed homeward, and in the still, peaceful summer twilight, walked through the quiet churchyard, past the grey old church, into the vicarage home, to receive a greeting so warm that it dwells in my memory still, and will remain as long as I live.


THE OLD HOME 139

Boys had grown into young men, and children into strapping lads, but except for that, and for the one vacant chair, my favourite brother's, who had passed away, swiftly summoned to that other world in the heyday of youth and manly beauty, and now resting in the quiet churchyard, to the grief of all who knew him, nothing seemed changed. Nothing in the home at least, though some kind friends, who had bade me good-bye so tenderly, were not there to greet my return.

Two months I spent at home visiting friends and relations, and renewing old acquaintances. Then the restless, roving spirit grew strong upon me once more, and I must fare forth again to seek my fortunes in the West. So early October of the year 1859 saw me crossing the Atlantic, bound for New York. Thence I took train for Kansas, in the hope of settling up my affairs and realising my property.

At St. Louis I learned from my friend Pollock that my enemy Cline had obtained judgment against me in the Civil Court, for heavy damages, and had refused to compromise in any way.

Apart from this, there was the criminal warrant out against me, and it was quite impossible to return to live in Kansas, where, under the existing Free State régime, I couldn't hope for a fair trial if I surrendered. So, reluctantly, I instructed Mr. Pollock to sell my ranch and claim, now growing daily more and more valuable, as best he could.

But I must have one more look at my Monticello home, at whatever risk. By boat and train then I travelled to Independence, where I found my faithful overseer and friend, Shoemaker, waiting for me with one of my best horses. Soon we were on the road to Monticello, Shoemaker telling me all the news by the way. How good it was to have a gallop once more over the open rolling prairies !

Only a few of my most trusty friends knew of my


140 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS

coming, and they were at the old place with warm and kindly greetings, though these only made the inevitable parting more sad. They all pressed me to stay on, and they and my other many friends would stand by me to the last, they vowed. But it was no good, I knew, for I had no chance of success against my enemy; even if they shot him, as they were eager to do, it would only get them into trouble and not help me. So, after one day's stay, I said good-bye to them all, and having paid off Shoemaker and the other hands, sadly enough rode off to Independence once more, on my return to St. Louis.

Having settled my affairs with my friend Pollock, I made up my mind to give up roving, and settle down somewhere in the more civilised parts of the West as a civil engineer. First I tried to enter at West Point, which in those days admitted civilians, but failing there, went through a course at the Polytechnic College ill Philadelphia. For one term I managed to keep up with the class I joined, but the strain was too great and nearly broke me down; so at the end of it I took out a certificate as a qualified surveyor, and gave up the idea of graduating as an engineer.

In the boarding-house at Philadelphia I made friends with a man some few years older than myself, who called himself Thompson and who said he had been in business in the North of England. For a reason I did not know till long afterwards, he had thrown up his business and, with a moderate amount of capital, had come out to the States fully determined to settle down on a farm either there or in Canada. His disqualifications for the life of a settler in a new country were many and palpable; he knew nothing of farming, couldn't ride, couldn't shoot, and was wholly unused to roughing it, but had plenty of pluck to go through with anything he undertook.

My own inclination pointed to Texas and the wild life of cattle-ranching on the borders of the Indian country; but Thompson clung to the Canadian idea,


THE "COLONEL" GOES WITH ME 141

and, as he was much more fitted for the métier of a farmer in a settled country than for Indian-fighting, we finally agreed to prospect the district round Ottawa, and settle there if it suited us.

For three months we travelled about, by road and river, and saw the country thoroughly, being hospitably entertained by the settlers whenever we put up at their houses, though more often we camped out on the banks of some river or lake, despite the awful mosquitoes which bothered me somewhat, but nearly devoured poor Thompson alive.

We had splendid fishing that summer, and shot a few deer for the pot, but nothing befell us worth giving in detail.

Everywhere there was lumber in abundance, and it seemed to be a thriving business for those with sufficient capital; but farming in such a country appeared to be hopeless, and meant hard toil without prospect of anything but a bare subsistence. We were full thirty years too soon for the Red River district and the great wheat-growing plains of Western Canada, which now offer such fine opportunities to men of energy, and I soon made up my mind it was no country for me.

To Texas I must go, and "the Colonel," as I had by this time christened Thompson, would fain go with me, though I pointed out, as forcibly as I could, the roughing and the risk he would probably encounter in a wild land like that.

The die was cast, and on the 13th February we took train for New York, en route to the sunny south. At New York, where we had to wait a few days because the Colonel's luggage had gone astray, I remember seeing the ss. Great Eastern, then newly arrived from her first voyage from England. From New York we took passage by steamer to Savannah in Georgia, en route to New Orleans, and curiously enough met on board a cousin of poor Madison Molesby who was killed by my side at Monticello.


142 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS

Travelling in the States in tho far-away days of which I write was very different from what it is now, but at last, by stage coach and finally by steamer, we did reach New Orleans. That very evil-smelling "Queen of the South" was, as is usual at that season, in the grip of "Yellow Jack," and we were glad to embark on the boat for Galveston and Indianola the morning after our arrival.

Running down the broad Mississippi, how lovely the scene was, with waving cane-fields on either bank, and then miles of orange groves coming close down to the Levee. Years after this, all these latter were destroyed by one fell swoop of King Frost. He laid his icy hand on their green beauty, and blasted them into dead, bare trunks in one night.

Amongst the passengers was ex-Governor Houston, late Governor of the State of Texas. I soon made his acquaintance, and found him a fine specimen of the Southern gentleman, without affectation or "side" of any sort. He had been all through the war of Texan independence, and had seen much Indian fighting on the frontier. The old gentleman was said to be the wealthiest man in the State, owning much land and some fine cotton plantations, and about three hundred negroes.

He had been to South Carolina to buy slaves, and had seventy of them on board with him. All were well clad and well fed, and in all my experience I never saw a jollier lot of darkies. But then, the Governor was the best of masters. It was quite a pleasure to see how the old gentleman and his son treated them. Coming on deck in the morning, they would gather round him, and he would have a kindly word for all, men, women and children, and it was evident that already master and slaves were on most friendly terms. If all masters had been like Governor Houston, little would have been heard of the miseries of slavery; but of course the trouble was that they were only chattels after all, and when they


MAKING ENQUIRIES 143

passed into other hands the lot might be as wretched as it was then happy.

Whenever I met any one from Texas, either on the cars or on the steamboats, I tried to glean all the information I could about the country, which was entirely new to me, except that of course I had picked up what knowledge I could from the books available. From Governor Houston and from others, but especially from the former, who most kindly answered all my many questions, I gathered much valuable information.

The gist of it was that on some parts of the coast cottongrowing was a very paying industry, but required more capital than we could command. That in Galveston, Indianola, and other coast towns there were fair openings for business, but the climate was unllealthy and Yellow Jack a not infrequent visitor. That for cattle-ranching the best region was in Western Texas, about the Nueces and Pecos Rivers, wllere the pasture was excellent, and practically unlimited in extent. That, owing to the drought, stock and land too would be cheap.

Of course there wore drawbacks, amongst them distance from markets, and Comanche Indians; in fact it was not quite a country for a timid man, or one nervous about his scalp. But what would you? You can't have everything you want in this troublesome and perverse world, and I was much tempted to try my luck in the West country, risks notwithstanding.

Galveston seemed a busy place, though not much to look at, for most of the houses were frame, and many unpainted.

The heat was more intense than ever, if possible, and most of the folks were walking about under umbrellas! I delivered a letter of introduction to a Mr. Mills, a wealthy cotton-broker, who in his turn kindly gave me introductions to Indianola and San Antonio. He fully collfirmed what I had heard of Western Texas.

By 5 p.m. we left Galveston for Indianola, by steamer,


144 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS

and landed at the latter place at five the following morning. Here we were then, after all our travels' landed on the threshold of our Eldorado. All that wide land was before us to choose from. Where should we go, and what should we do'?

The Colonel clung rather to the idea of a town, and business of some kind; my inclinations drew me to the open country, and the free ranching life. At any rate we would have a good look before deciding.


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