Adventure In The Dakotas: Story of the Old Hunter Who Rode the Frontier in 1850.; Days of Hardship, Economy and Sport That Are No More., Daily Racing Form, 1918-12-04


view raw text

ADVENTURE IN THE DAKOTAS Story of the Old Hunter Who Rode the Frontier in 1850 Days of Hardship Economy and Sport That Are Xn So you came from North Dakota did you John I asked Ycs I lived there a good many years on its frontier and many a hard time I had fighting the wolves and Sioux which inhabited that terri ¬ tory was Johns reply I did a good lot of trappliR and hunting there in my time but when the gold rush started in California of course like the rest of my tribe I left for the west to seek my fortune and here I am today an old broken down birthdayWhat miner past my eightyseventh birthday What is your last name John if I may ask Well in the mining days I went by the name of John Been but my proper surname is Clark Sounding strange tt me for a man to change his name in mining days it got my curiosity aroused so I asked What was the object of your changing your name John In those days that was the custom repliedI he replied I went to Dakota in the fall of 1850 took up a piece of land on the west shore of Red Lake in the northern part of North Dakota Then I lived for ten years my closest neighbor an old bachelor of tlie name of Sam Woodcock lived six miles to the east of inc so you see I livea a hermits life lifeYou You certainly did John says I IJohn John by this time was beginning to get wound up and was ready to tell his past experiences on the Dakota plains Filling his corncob pipe with some homegrown tobacco which lit had raised in his garden below his house he then leaned back in his old homemade rocker took a few puffs and started in inI I remember the fall of 180 when I started out to make myself a home Lumber was as scarce as hens teeth and furthermore if it had been plenti ful I could not have bought any as my purse vim mighty empty so I had to do as nature taught me and that was to build myself a sod shanty which I did Day after day I carried sod from the lake shore until J had built as nice a sod shanty as ever stood on Dakota soil Having the cabin completed I then built myself an oldtime fireplace on the north side as I knew well it would come in handy to warm my shack up with as well as beinrr company for me Now I suppose you will ask What did you burn in the fireplace as wood was so scarce Well thats an easy question to answer Buffalo chips could be found in large quantities any place on the plains as buffalo still ranged in that territory territoryHOME HOME FOR THE HARD WINTER WINTERHaving Having my home completed I gathered enough buffalo chips to last me through the winter The only thing I possessed besides my home was my dog Fido some blankets cooking utensils a bunch of steel traps and an old muzzleloader rifle which had plenty of ammunition for I felt then as hough 1 was well heeled with my new shanty and elongings to endure a long siege of cold weather which we certainly had in that state stateOne One morning 1 was surprised as I stepped from my shanty to see some jreese on the lake I thought by this time of the year the month of October that they had left for the south to find a warmer climate But by chance they were there and as I was a fair marksman I killed enough to ast me for a few days until I could kill some rabbits The weather at this time of the year had jegun to get chilly so I had no difficulty in ceeping them until I could eat them themTlie Tlie following morning I was again surprised as I stepped from my cabin door to find the world about me wrapped in snow and still falling Trom that time on I never saw bare ground until t melted off in the spring After that I had fine Weather for trapping and did fairly well The second fall I trapped until the snow got so deep had to stop on account of my traps freezing up The varmints would eat up ihy bait but not one did I catch Up to the time when the snow got so deep I caught a great many muskrats beaver mink and quite a few bear Their hides after aunlug them I used for blankets to keep my ¬ self warm when the blizzards were frolicking out of doors The small strips I trimmed off the edges of the hides I used for straps on my snowshoes You see a man had to be economical in those days My catch would have been much better but I had to contend with the measly Sioux Indians They would steal everything they found in my traps and sometimes I think they found them all allBut But as soon as winter started in they housed up mostly They are a class of people that never migrate when the snow is deep deepThey They are a jealous tribe of Indians and they certainly hated to see the pale face as they called us settle on what they called their hunting grounds which extended between the southern part of Min ¬ nesota to the most northern part of Dakota DakotaAs As soon as tlie snow disappeared they were seen in large hunting parties all over the Dakota plains hunting the buffalo And to be honest with yon a white mans life wasnt any too safe when they were at large Many a time I have had them take a shot at me from behind a swell when they thought they were hid but by good fortune they missed their mark markWAYS WAYS OF THE EARLY INDIANS INDIANSOne One cold stormy night when a blizzard was screeching outside I sat in front of my fireplace smoking my pipe my dog Fido lay at my feet Jumping up he stood and watched the door then began to growl and show his teeth A knock came walking over to the door I opened it expecting to see my neighbor standing there when in walked a stalwart Sioux with an Indian maiden Walking across the room he threw down a blanket in front of the fire then sat down and motioned for the maiden to sit down also Then turning to me he said in broken English Coii1 I knew what he meant as it was certainly cold and stormy out ¬ side Then taking out a long hunting knife from its scabbard he ran his fingrcs across its edge then layed it down on the floor Then my eyes witnessed a painful operation Turning to the maiden lie took her moccasins off and I saw her feet were badly frozen Then sitting there for a few seconds with a dignified expression he took her foot and placed it in his lap then picking up his knife he began pricking her foot all over with the point of it Having this done he performed the same operation on the other foot She sat there through it all never flinching or batting an eye Having this done he put his hand in his shirt pocket and brought forth some kind of bark which he powdered up and sprinkled on her feet then wrapping her feet up in some furs he made her lie down where lie wrapped her up snug and warm I had killed a deer tlie day before and had some roasting over the fire so I pointed it out to the Indian and told him to help himself He cut off a piece bit into it then threw It into the fire exclaiming ng ng Getting ngGetting up from where he sat he walked across the room to where the deer was hanging suspended from a rafter Cutting off a large piece lie roasted it himself giving the maiden some of it and he ate tlie balance then lay down and went to sleep be ¬ side the Indian girl I knew now what the trouble was with my meat I had salted it and that is something an Indian cant stand They eat their meat fresh without salt saltAs As things had quieted dovin I also retired for the night not awakening until daybreak Looking up I saw the Sioux roasting some more meat for his breakfast in front of my fireplace After he and the maiden had eaten enough to satisfy their appetites the warrior came over to where I sat putting his big sinewy hand on my shoulder lie exiaimed Heap good big whiskers Then turn ¬ ing to the maiden he motioned for her to follow then left my cabin I stood and watched them from my window until they disappeared over the ad ¬ joining swell It was some time before I found out what that Sioux meant by calling me Big Whiskers but I finally solved the mystery I had a full growth of whiskers on my face and that was wiiat he was referring to toHOW HOW THE WOLVES GOT HIS BEAR BEARI I had a big bear trap at the south end of the lake in a swamp where an old bear had been coming occasionally to feed so I put on my snowshoes and left my shanty crosscountry in a direct line with it rifle in hand Coming to the top of a swell I came face to face with three large hungry buffalo wolves There they stood as though they meant to attack me but by the time I had placed a couple of bullets between two of their eyes the third thought it time to move and he certainly did before I had time to reload Taking the pelts from the two wolves I headed on for my bear set Coming up to where I had it set I found something had been in it and carried away trap and clog but tlie blizzard of tlie night before had wiped out all traces of it so I turned toward home I found iny bear trap the next spring with a bone out of a bears leg in it Tlie hungry wolves which roam those prairies probably had a fine feed on old bruin bruinOn On a stretch of ground between myself and smnty I spied a large mink waddling through the snow headed for the lake and I took after him and soon had his pelt on my belt beside the wolves hides I had by this time quite a number of dif ¬ ferent pelts of different animals but I intended to get a large bunch before I went overland to sell them The winter was cold and stormy sometimes weeks passed at a time that I never left my shanty except on odd errands But when tlie spring came the sutiw began melting off a warm south wind took off the balance of the snovv in a few days I felt like a lion who had been caged up all winter and had just got my freedom I would stand and logk with pleasure at the green rolling prairies around me Then thank God for my safekeep ¬ ing and the beautiful sunshine and warmth He had sent north The Indian summer had come around by now Prairie fires were on all sides of me The weather was warm The buffalo fed on his way from one swell to another feeding on the choicest grasses which lay at his feet An occasional party of Sioux would pass my shanty in search of buffalo Occasionally one would come up to my shanty for some tobacco They were always friendly while at my shack They all called me big whis ¬ kers as the chief of the tribe had called me some winters before beforeBUFFALO BUFFALO MEAT IN PLENTY PLENTYOne One day I had returned from a buffalo hunt Having killed a nice bull I sat on the north side of my shanty in the shade cutting up some of its choicest moat when I saw an Indian warrior riding toward me on a fast gallop Coming up to me he reined up his hor e I saw at a glance that it was Long Hair the Indian I had sheltered a few winters ago through a blizzard Ho so he ex ¬ claimed Indian boy heap mad come some day killie you I was not long in obeying his words I had now lived ten years on these plains so I gathered up what pelts I had shouldered my rifle called my dog then bid my old sod shanty goodbye and struck across the country for Duluth a small burg on the east end of Luke Superior I had plenty to eat on my way as game was plentiful in those days The second week I was out I ran into a hunting party of Indians but I managed to keep out of sight until they passed by laying low in the prairie grass The third week I was out a lone Sioux saw that I had a nice bunch of furs and tried to take them away from me but I soon sent him to the Happy Hunting Grounds Mounting his horse I rode away like a general It certainly seemed good to ride for I certainly was legweary and footsore At the end of the twelfth week I ar ¬ rived in Duluth and although there was not much there I found friends and a place to market my furs I realized a check for 000 for my ten years labor but I felt good to think I had made enough to take me to California CaliforniaTaking Taking a steamer from there I landed in Sun Francisco after six weeks voyage but my troubles were not ended The California Indians were making a little disturbance so I helped fight them till tlie gold rush started in full blast then I took my pick and shovel and went to work I made enough by being careful to last me until these old Junes of mlhe are carried away torest Earl II Latteuiorc in UunterTraderTrapper

Persistent Link:
Local Identifier: drf1918120401_5_5
Library of Congress Record: