Wild Cat - Biography of Coacoochee, Seminole Chieftain

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Wild Cat - Biography of Coacoochee, Seminole Chieftain
The exact date nor location of Wild Cat's birth is unknown. Although challenged, it's believed that he was born in 1807 on an island in modern-day Osceola County's Lake Tohopekaliga. There's also information about Wild Cat having a twin sister that died at birth. Wild Cat became a prominent figure during the Second Seminole War at only around nineteen years old. His father was captured by military forces in 1837 and was imprisoned at Fort Marion. His father died some time in 1839 while being sent to Indian Territory alongside a mass amount of Seminoles and other tribes.

Wild Cat Coacoochee Seminole
By Joshua R. Giddings [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Later in 1837, in October, Wild Cat met up with American military forces in a peace headdress and said he was a representative of Osceola and he began talks and negotiations with Thomas S. Jesup. The military forces agreed to the peace talks but, once the Seminole arrived at the meeting, they were arrested and imprisoned by Jesup. The story goes that Wild Cat and nineteen other Seminoles escaped after fasting for six days. This was done so they could lose weight and slide between the bars of their cells, to escape.

In the aftermath of the escape, Wild Cat became a major commander of Seminole forces. He worked alongside Alligator (Billy Bowlegs) and Ar-pi-uck-i (Sam Jones) against Colonel Zachary Taylor in the Battle of Lake Okeechobee. This battle is thought of being a 'stalemate' but the Seminole forces successfully stopped Taylor's forces from a win that would've allowed them to advance southward.

In 1841, Wild Cat met with US authorities for another attempt at peace negotiations. After the "negotiations" were over, Wild Cat agreed (more likely pressured into) to be transported to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Along with him would be two-hundred of his people.

Two years later, in 1843, he was a part of Seminole delegation that traveled to Washington DC. He traveled there to secure money for Seminoles after sever floods and raids by Creeks on their settlements. Raids which led to the capture of Seminoles and freemen. Which the Creeks went on to sell to slavers. The situation became even worse for the Seminoles, including black Seminoles, over the years. So, Wild Cat left the reservation, along with around one hundred followers, and they moved on to Texas in 1849. They joined up with around one thousands members of the Kickapoo tribe along the way. It was from Texas where they moved on to Mexico and started a settlement. They were awarded in Mexico, by being given land, for their service against resisting Comanche and Apache raiders. Wild Cat earned a commission of Colonel in the Mexican Army. He would spend the rest of his life in Alto, Mexico, with his people, until his death from smallpox in 1857. After his death, he was succeeded by his by son Young Wild Cat.

Wildcat, the Seminole;: The Florida war (American heritage) 
- Rarer 1956 book, well worth the read

Buried Treasure At Skeleton Canyon in Southeast Arizona

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Buried Treasure At Skeleton Canyon in Southeast Arizona
Skeleton Canyon
Skeleton Canyon
By BAlvarius (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Skeleton Canyon is located in the far southeast corner of Arizona with side canyons leading into New Mexico.  It is located just a handful of miles from the Mexican border.  In the 1800's, it was used by Mexican smugglers and bandits to smuggle goods and riches into the U.S. for sale on the black market.  It was well known by American bandits as well.
  In July of 1881, in a small Mexican town, some Mexican bandits, known as the Estrada Gang, were resting after looting the town of Monterrey.  An American bandit named Jim Hughes overheard them discussing their plan to smuggle their treasure into the U.S. through the long narrow canyon, later to be named Skeleton Canyon.  Jim Hughes spent much of his time in some of the wild and lawless towns of the area frequented by many outlaws, such as Charleston (Arizona), Galeyville (Arizona) and Shakespeare (New Mexico).      
     Hughes went back to Arizona to tell his gang about the potential big score.  If they could ambush these Mexican bandits, they could steal all of their riches.  He first talked to William "Curly Bill" Brocius. Then he rode into Tombstone to meet up with Billy Clanton, whom he had met the previous year.  Billy Clanton was a member of the famous Clanton gang, involved in the shootout at the O.K. Coral in Tombstone three months later on October 26, 1881.   Newton Hayes Clanton, also known as "Old Man" Clanton, was impressed with the potential riches they could score.

William Curly Bill Brocius
William "Curly Bill" Brocius
By SeanMD80 - Own work by the original uploader, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link
     The gang was planning their ambush when some of their spies told them the gang was planning to smuggle their goods through the canyon sooner than expected.  Curly Bill was out of town, so Jim Hughes decided to take over the plans.  He recruited a couple of friends to help in the plot.  Their names were Zwing Hunt and Billy Grounds, real name William Boucher.
     The Estrada Gang was spotted about a mile or two into Arizona close to an area known as Devil's Kitchen.  The Mexican Gang stopped here to rest themselves, their mules,  have a meal and a afternoon siesta.  The American gang was in awe of the thirty heavily packed mules with the Estrada Gang.  The American Gang waited for them to all fall asleep, then gunfire interrupted the silence.  The narrow canyon didn't give the Mexican bandits a chance.  The ambush scared the mules and they started to scatter.  The mules had to be shot to keep the loot from getting away.

Devil's Kitchen
Devil's Kitchen
By SeanMD80 - Own work by the original uploader, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link
     When the smoke cleared, nineteen Mexican bandits and 26 mules lay dead.  It was among the worst massacres in Arizona history.  Legend has it that the gang gathered up over $75,000 in coins, jewels and artifacts, but with no mules, they had no way to pack it out of the canyon.  Also, their horses couldn't carry such a heavy load. So they divided up a small amount that they could easily carry and buried the rest nearby.  They returned to their hangouts in their outlaw towns to spend the loot that they had brought back.  
     While the others were out enjoying a little bit of their new wealth, Jim Hughes had other ideas.  He met with Richard Zwing Hunt and Billy Grounds and hatched a plan to double-cross the others.  Hughes was to stay in Galeyville, as to not rouse any suspicions. The other two would ride back to Skeleton Canyon and dig up the treasure and bury it in another spot.  Then only the three of them would know where it was buried. Zwing and Billy finally found a Mexican teamster who was willing to take his wagon and horses into the canyon.  They then dug up the treasure at the end of the canyon and reburied it further in the canyon or somewhere close by. Then the Mexican and his horses were killed and buried at the site.  They then burned the wagon over the mound concealing their treasure.  Now, only Zwing and Billy knew where the loot was buried.
    Fearing retaliation from their ex-partners, Zwing and Billy went into hiding.  They found a desert cave to hide out in for almost four months.  At this time, Billy wrote some letters to his sister Maggie Clinger in San Antonio, Texas.  He told her where the treasure was buried in case they would not make out alive.  Once a week, he came out of the canyon and flagged down a stagecoach driver and gave his letters to him.
     They finally came out of hiding on March 19, 1882 (some of the old gang had recently been killed in the shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone).  They rode into Charleston (near Tombstone) and on March 25, tried to rob the Tombstone Mining and Milling Company.  One man was killed, but the robbery didn't go as planned.  They fled the area, but not before being positively identified.  A sheriff's posse was out hunting down Zwing and Billy, who were hiding out at Jack Chandler's ranch near Tombstone.
     When the posse arrived at Jack Chandler's ranch, a shootout ensued.  Billy Grounds was killed and Zwing Hunt was wounded pretty bad. Zwing was taken to the hospital in Tombstone.  When Jim Hughes heard the news, he rushed to the hospital to find out where the treasure was.  When he had arrived, he discovered that Zwing was doing better than expected and had persuaded his doctor to let him take a buggy ride with a friend, which was presumed to be his brother Hugh Hunt in disguise.  Zwing was never seen  again.
    Later in Tombstone, Hugh claimed his brother was shot by Indians and killed after his escape from the hospital. Supposedly, a group of army scouts buried him in what is now called Hunt's Canyon.  The other story that had been heard was that Hugh and Zwing made their way back to their home in San Antonio, where Zwing later died of his wounds.  It is said that he gave his uncle a map to the treasure site before he died.  On this map, it is said that the treasure is at the base of Davis Mountain.  But the problem is that Zwing and Billy named Davis Mountain themselves after their friend Jim Davis, who they buried here.  It could be any number of peaks in the Peloncillo Mountains.  More clues provided by Zwing Hunt to his uncle were also of no help.  Zwing said that very close to the mountain, was a curving canyon with its east wall completely rocky and bare and the west wall covered in trees.  Through this canyon was supposed to be a small stream.  The stream had a ten foot drop where water cascaded down near two springs.  Twenty steps east of the treasure site was a square shaped rock about three feet high.  Over the burial spot there would be a burnt wagon.

An aerial view of Antelope Pass in the Peloncillo Mountains of southern New Mexico from the west.
An aerial view of Antelope Pass in the Peloncillo Mountains of southern New Mexico from the west.
By BAlvarius (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
     The Hunt family searched for years and never found the treasure.  They could never even find the two springs.  It is believed that the earthquake that shook the area in 1886 caused the springs and stream to dry up for good.  They may have only flowed after periodic heavy rainfall anyhow.  Remains of a burnt wagon were found in the canyon once, but no treasure was ever found under it.
     One of the letters that Billy wrote to his sister claimed, "the is a cave at the mouth of the canyon...from our lookout you can see the turf growing back over where we buried the treasure."  Numerous caves have been found that could be the one Billy talked about.  Even one cave had been found with remnants of old ropes in it, but no treasure ever found in the area.
     Through the years, many old Mexican coins have been found in the canyon.  And numerous human skulls and bones and bones of mules have been found in the canyon.  In 1891, a cowboy and a government official found a leather pouch with several thousands of dollars worth of Mexican coins in it.  It is believed that the treasure included a cigar box full of jewels, two figures of pure gold, $90,000 in Mexican silver dollars, 39 gold bars, and numerous bags of gold coins.  Enough evidence has surfaced to suggest that the treasure really does exist.


The First Seminole War - The Florida War

Wednesday, December 07, 2016
The First Seminole War - The Florida War
While the First Seminole War officially began in 1816, conflicts began years earlier. These early years had a great influence on the outbreak of the Florida War. After Andrew Jackson's forces began to enter regions of Florida controlled by Spain, Spain had no choice but to begin to hand Florida over to the United States. Florida was officially handed over in 1819 and after the Adams-OnĂ­s Treaty. This handover was mostly due to the Spanish seeing Florida as hard to inhabit and the climate created unhealthy conditions for the Spanish. Furthermore, Napoleon was active in Europe and Spain saw him as being more worthy of their attention than Florida.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Beginning around 1790, Spain, along with the British, helped to move Irish Catholics, English citizens, and citizens in the United States into Seminole territory. They gave land deeds to these "settlers" that agreed to stay on the land for a decade. After the decade, they'd be exempt from paying taxes and exempt from doing military service for Spain. Thomas Jefferson, at the time, made it known that he was in support of this plan and wanted U.S. citizens to take up Spain's offer.

In 1804, due to problems that U. S. citizens were causing the local authorities and Spanish citizens of the territory the invitation to settle was canceled (remind anyone of Texas prior to the Mexican War). In 1812, the Governor of Florida had encourage the Seminoles of the Alachua area to raid U.S. farms and settlements inside the territory. This date should sound familiar, yes thats right, same time frame as the War of 1812. Due to uprisings of the Seminoles and the war against England, the Governor of Georgia organized his state militia and decided he would take Florida before the British did and rid the territory of Georgia's troublesome neighbors to the south, the Seminole. The Seminoles were becoming extremely bothersome to Georgia. Since the war with Britain started, the British encouraged the Seminoles and Creeks to raid settlements along the Georgia-Florida frontier to draw forces from the Canadian border.

Great Indian Wars
The Great Indian Wars: 1540-1890

In Fall of the year 1812, the so-called Patriot army had already established a provisional government under President John H. McIntosh, with Col. Ashley as his Minister of War, and had its capital at St. Mary's, Georgia, in March, 1812, before the Georgia forces arrived. General Geo. Matthews of Georgia had charged of the movement, and was promised help from the U. S. regulars should he need it. Col. Daniel Newnan, of the Georgia Militia, who was at Fort Picolata was attacked by a party of Seminoles at the fort. After a fierce battle the forces under Col. Newnan defeated the besieging force. He soon started making plans to hit the Seminoles were they lived. On September 24th, 1812 a force of 110 men he undertook to penetrate the enemy's country over one hundred miles, and attack two formidable chiefs surrounded by their warriors on Spanish territory while the U. S. and Spain were supposedly at peace. Upon reaching the area near what is today Gainesville, Fla., Col. Newnan engaged the Alachua Seminoles. Over a period of about 10 days, Col. Newnan's force was under constant danger from attack while it retreated back to Fort Picolata, out of the original force he left with all but 50 were effectively out of action, and he had completely exhausted all supplies. After reaching the safety of reinforcements they hailed this action as a victory and celebrated their supposed triumph. The Patriots would soon give up their crusade to acquire the territory of Florida, but the United States would soon be back to try again.


Duncan Clinch
Duncan Clinch
General Gaines and Colonel (later general) Duncan Clinch in response to reports of a fort being manned by runaway slaves and a variety of Seminole and Creek warriors on the Apalachicola River, ordered the build up of armed camps in the vicinity. This in the eyes of the United States was many things; a beacon for slaves in Georgia to run to for safety, the possibility of Spain's collaboration and support of the hostile bands, and a base of operation for bands to raid U. S. settlements on the frontier. General Gaines ordered Col. Clinch to take provisions for Camp Crawford (north of the fort), which included cannons, powder and other war supplies. On the 17th of August Lieutenant Loomis, USN, arrived at the mouth of the Apalachicola River with two gunboats on the same mission. In order for the gunboats to get to Camp Crawford they had to pass the fortification. The orders to both commands was if any opposition was made by the Negro fort that it should be reduced to rubble. In one of the first combined arms attack made by U. S. forces the fort was decimated in short order. On the 26th of August the gunboats try to pass the fort, which was replied with cannon fire. Col. Clinch's and his forces at Camp Crawford heard the gunboats open fire upon the fort and headed for the Negro Fort by land. After only the 5th discharge from the gunboats, a round known as a "hot shot" (a round ball of iron heated over a fire till it is red hot) found the powder magazine of the fort. Around 100 men and 200 women and children were inside the fort for protection, only a sixth of the total occupants survived the horrible blast. A force was seen advancing by Col. Clinch's scouts, but it dispersed before engaging him. Florida from this time through 1816 was in a state of anarchy.


William McIntosh
The U.S. regular army had manned outposts and small forts all along the Florida Georgia line until mid 1817, which was successful in maintaining peace in that region. The army decided to pull its forces closer to the Alabama River which was west of the border areas. It is during this time that altercations between the Georgia settlers and Seminoles started to increase. General Edmund P. Gaines learned of the hostilities there and ordered Major Twiggs with a detachment of 300 men to take an Indian village named Fowl Town near the Florida line. During the initial attack an alarm was sounded and many Seminoles escaped into the swamps. This would start a series of events that would effectively start the war. Fowl Town was again visited by U. S. forces this time by Captain McIntosh with an equivalent number of men as the first time. This was to obtain the supplies that were left at the town after the first visit. Only this time the Seminoles were waiting for them. A small skirmish commenced and light casualties were felt by both forces engaged.

Edmund Pendleton Gaines
Edmund Pendleton Gaines
In retaliation to the attacks upon Fowl Town the Seminoles gathered support from other local clans and made an assault against Fort Scott. The garrison force at Fort Scott of 600 regular soldiers, commanded by General Gaines was confined to their post and the siege began. General Jackson upon hearing of the predicament faced by Gen. Gaines musters up a force of 1800 men comprised of regulars, Tennessee volunteers, and Georgia Militia, to relieve the besieged troops at Fort Scott. At the same time General Gaines is able to muster a force of 1600 Creek Indians to the service of the U. S. under Brigadier General McIntosh. McIntosh and Jackson joined forces on the 1st of April and proceeded to the besieged fort. The force of Seminoles only numbered from 900 to 1000 men and did not wish to contend with such a force. The Seminoles fled back into the swamps and Fort Scott was saved.

1818 - 1819

The force under Jackson then focused on Miskasuky towns, destroying them on their way to St. Marks. Jackson took St. Marks without firing a shot at the small Spanish garrison stationed there. Upon taking over control of St. Marks, April 7, 1818, he promptly arrested and held a trial against two British agents (Arbuthnot and Ambrister) in Florida and accused them of arming and inciting the natives to rise up in force against the U. S. The two British agents were found guilty and one was hung from the yardarms of the U. S. vessel that was in port at the time and the other shot. Gen. Jackson then proceeded to Pensacola. This move was according to Gen. Jackson to take control over territory that the Spanish could not control due to their weak military and political influence in the territory. If the Spanish couldn't control the natives he would. On May 24, 1818, Gen. Jackson's force was outside Pensacola and preparing to siege the town and the small Spanish garrison in the territorial capitol. Upon Jackson's arrival the Spanish governor fled to Santa Rosa Island and escaped capture by Jackson's forces. This according to Jackson was the only great failure of his campaign, his inability to capture, hold trial, and hang the Spanish governor for assisting the enemy of the U. S. In the following year the U. S. Army would build up the frontier fortifications to help quell the Seminole raids into Georgia. This would lead to the treaty of 1819 which would make West Florida officially the territory of the United States. Later in 1821, a treaty would be signed by the U. S. and Spain for the rest of Florida and the islands off the coast of Georgia and Florida.

Source Article

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana

Friday, November 25, 2016
Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana
The Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 7,802-acres. Founded in 1966, it became the state of Indiana's first wildlife refuge. The refuge takes its name from the nearby Muscatatuck River. In English, Muscatatuck means, "The Land of the Winding Waters". The refuge is not far from Seymour, in Southeastern Indiana. It spans across parts of three counties in the State of Indiana. Like many wildlife refuges, its creation was funded by Duck Stamps.

By The original uploader was Bedford at English Wikipedia [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges

When visiting the park, it is best to be prepared beforehand. While hiking through certain parts of the refuge, you will want to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect yourself from ticks and biting flies. Informational reading materials, with maps and refuge details, are available at the visitor center. Notices will also be available during the hunting season.

Wildlife of the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

Both wood ducks and bald eagles have nesting areas at the wildlife refuge. The bald eagles have a small but growing population at Muscatatuck. Each year they produce offspring and have been in the area for over a decade. They hunt fish from the marshes and other areas of the refuge. As for wood ducks, they're plentiful during the warmer seasons. The male ducks arrive in February in search of nesting places. The females arrive not long after and begin laying eggs in the nests in March and April. The nests are usually built inside tree spaces and cavities. They do so to protect the nests from the wind, other elements, and any predators. Once May comes around, the baby wood ducks begin to hatch. They spend the summer out of the nest and migrate with the rest of the ducks in late Autumn. On the refuge are great blue herons and many species of small birds.

River otters make up another noticeable population of wildlife on the refuge. They've seen their numbers dwindle around the state in the past due to hunting and habitat loss. In 1995, they were reintroduced at Muscatatuck. Which was the first ever reintroduction effort of river otters in Indiana. If you look to watch wildlife then it's best to visit in the morning around sunrise.

By Nyttend (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Land Features of the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge


The grasslands of Muscatatuck are maintained through mowing and burning of the grass. This is for the prevention of tree growth and overgrowth. Which allows wildlife to thrive better in the grassland areas. Along the trail areas, it is the grasslands that provide opportunities to spot wildlife.


Historically, Indiana had plenty of wetlands. Though, many were drained to make way for farmland by settlers. The drainage of much the area of Muscatatuck was unsuccessful though. In time, some of this former farmland has been developed further. Which includes the areas around Muscatatuck. The wildlife refuge has just one of the many wetland preserves across Indiana.

The water levels in the marshes, lakes and elsewhere on the refuge are maintained by refuge staff. Which includes flooding and draining some of the wetlands to keep the grounds healthy. This is done by pipes and water controls connecting sections of the wetlands. The water is moved routinely throughout the year. Which includes the marshy lower lands of the refuge that are filled in autumn and drained in the spring. The same thing occurs at the lowland forests. This is to aid waterfowl and, more specifically, the wood ducks. Two of these marshes are named the Endicott and MacDonald Marshes.

Forest Areas

Around 55% of the Muscatatuck refuge consists of forest. Of that, approximately 57% of the forest is bottomland hardwood forest and 43% is an upland forest. The rest of the land area is a mix of habitats, including those listed above. Workers at the refuge remove beaver dams to keep these bottomland forest areas healthy. In select areas of the refuge, trees are planted to provide for the wildlife and keep the forest continuous.

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge Hiking Trails

Muscatatuck has eight hiking trails ranging from 0.2 miles to 4 miles in length. The trails range from easy to moderate 'difficulty' for hikers. The trails near the river sometimes flood and will be impassable if flooding occurs.

Bird Trail (0.7 Miles)

Consists mostly of hardwood forest with some cedar forest make up the trail. Many birds, from songbirds and larger species of birds, are present here.

Chestnut Ridge (0.4 Miles)

This trail begins not far from the visitor center. It is wheelchair accessible and has benches along the trail. The trail consists of areas which send you through dense forest. You'll also pass a small lake where wood ducks, turtles, and other wildlife is sometimes seen.

East River Trail (3 Miles)

The East River Trail is located further south in the refuge. Parking is available at Persimmon Ponds. Along the trail, you'll come across the old pioneer cemetery and open meadowland.

Endicott Trail (0.2 Miles)

A short trail along the auto tour route. This is a route, also accessible by vehicle, that has an overlook at one of the refuge's lakes. Marshland, meadows, and forest make up this trail.

Richart Lake Trail (0.9 Miles)

The lake that this trail gets its name from is one of the large lakes at Muscatatuck. Along this trail is the Hackman Overlook, where you'll be able to spot plenty of waterfowl.

Turkey Trail (1 Mile)

Also near the auto tour route, this trail has hardwood wetlands and is another wood duck habitat. Also present are turkeys and sometimes other random wildlife.

West River Trail (4 Miles)

The West River Trail is located along more of the river than the East River Trail. Along this route, you'll find Myers' Cabin and Myers' Barn. Both of which were built around 1900. In the spring, the area is covered with wildflowers.

Wood Duck Trail (0.5 Miles)

Here you'll head through dense forest comprised of hardwood trees. If you head down the auto road you'll be able to view Stanfield Lake.


Spring Ranch, Nebraska and The Haunted Bridge - Nebraska Ghost Stories

Friday, November 18, 2016
Spring Ranch, Nebraska and The Haunted Bridge - Nebraska Ghost Stories

Spring Ranch - History of the Town and the Hanging

Spring Ranch, in Nebraska, more than likely received its name from the numerous springs in the area of the town. Spring Ranch's post office was established on December 14th, 1870 and stayed in operation until the year 1940. It was in 1910 when the town of Spring Ranch reached its highest population of 57 residents. During its years in existence, Spring Ranch was a stagecoach stop on the Overland Trail and the town was located on the north side of the Little Blue River. The Overland Trail being a section of the larger Oregon Trail. It was also Stop #9 of the Pony Express in the state of Nebraska.'

Besides being a stop for many travelers, it was also a farming and ranching town in its heyday. Today, there are still some buildings, mainly remnants of buildings, standing on the grounds which were once Spring Ranch. Some of the ruins include an old train depot and there's a historical marker for the former town on Highway 74 and a bit north of the old town site.

Directions to Spring Ranch

To get to Spring Ranch, you can start out in Hastings or Aurora (if visiting Kronborg and Witch's grave). From Hastings, take Highway 281 south about 10 miles to Highway 74. Take Highway 74 east (left turn) about 6 to 8 miles. When you cross into Clay county, it's just 2 miles into the county. When you get to the county road two miles in, take a right and go 1 1/2 to 2 miles to Spring Ranch. If you go a very short distance further east on Highway 74, you will see the historical marker telling the story of Spring Ranch.
If you come from Aurora, take Highway 14 south 6 miles past Clay Center to Highway 74 (about 33 miles to Highway 74). Take a right at Highway 74 and head west. It's approximately 10 to 12 miles to the historical marker on the south side of the highway (your left). At the next gravel road, past the marker, take a left and go 1 1/2 to 2 miles south to Spring Ranch. The haunted bridge is just a 1/4 mile south of the town's site.

Tale of the Haunted Bridge in Spring Ranch, Nebraska

In 1885, two of Spring Ranch's townspeople, Tom Jones and his sister Elizabeth Taylor (widowed), were at odds with their neighbors. This was due to their cattle getting into other neighbor's wheat and cornfields. This and a few other things had caused simmering tensions for quite some time. Most of their neighbors couldn't tolerate them anymore. Consequently, Tom and Elizabeth also started to not feel safe. So, they bought a shotgun. They were the only ones in town with a shotgun (others had rifles).  
One day a wagon of a few men were down on the Little Blue River cutting timber. Elizabeth claimed the land was hers, and sent her hired ranch hands to chase them down. All of a sudden, someone heard a shot, and Elizabeth was seen running toward her house. One of the wagon drivers was dead, with half his head missing (obviously from a shotgun blast).  

It would be many months before a judge would be by to conduct a trial, so the townspeople took justice into their own hands. They snuck into her house while she was away and took her shotgun. They came back later to get her and her brother, they wouldn't be able to shoot at them with no gun. They were captured and their hands were tied behind their backs. They were marched down toward the river, where hangman's nooses were hung from the bridge over the Little Blue River. They were put on horses on a sandbar in the river. The nooses were tightened around their necks, and a gun was fired to scare the horses. The horses took off and left Tom and Elizabeth hanging to die. Some say that the gun that was fired was Elizabeth's shotgun.  

Elizabeth was the only woman to ever be lynched in Nebraska. There is still a bridge over the Little Blue River in this same spot (just south of the town's site). It's old, but probably not all original.  The bridge is said to be haunted by their ghosts. If you're out on silent night on that Nebraska prairie, it is said you can hear some of the events that played out on and under the bridge that fateful day in 1885.


Long Walk of the Navajo - Facts and Timeline Documentary

Monday, November 14, 2016
Long Walk of the Navajo - Facts and Timeline Documentary
The Long Walk of the Navajo was a forced relocation of the Navajo people from Eastern Arizona to the area of Fort Sumner in New Mexico. The forced march was an act carried out under the command of the federal government. All together, there were 53 occurrences of forced marches that happened between August of 1864 and until late 1866. Over 200 individuals died while marching to New Mexico.

Burnsville, Minnesota Native American History and Burial Mounds

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Burnsville, Minnesota Native American History and Burial Mounds
Before the arrival of the white man, Native Americans had thriving cultures that much of the world had never seen. Regarding the burial mounds that were seen by the arriving people, the lack of artifacts in some burial mounds was thought to indicate ancient burial grounds. Since the early Native Americans had insufficient tools for digging graves in the frozen earth, they devised an alternative of securing the dead bodies to scaffolding high above the ground so that wild animals could not get to them. In the spring, mass burial took place. Shallow graves were made by scraping the earth off to the sides of the bodies as the bodies were interred. With primitive tools they were covered and sometimes surrounded with post fences, which in turn decayed making the mound higher. It was important to the Indians to choose elevated places (pahas) for the burials so they could be seen soon after.

The History of Dakota and Goodhue Counties states that there are mounds on the west side of the Credit River between Savage and Minnesota River. It's possible that these were the graves of Good Road's village which was at the mouth of Nine Mile Creek on the Bloomington side of the river. It is known that Good Road's village also inhabited the south side of the

Minnesota River
opposite Nine mile Creek. It is believed there were mounds fifty feet above Crystal Lake on the north shore, as well as seven mounds on the east shore of Earley Lake, which would have been the area of the Walsh homestead southeast of the Dakota County Library.

There are three known Indian grounds in Burnsville. The one unearthed in River Hills must have been very old because there were no artifacts found. The one unearthed in 1943 on the Tom Kenneally farm yielded four graves of more recent origin. The field reports of this discovery said it indicated some sort of Christian burial. Apparently each body was buried in a wooden box with glass panes. Objects found with the bones were glass beads (trade items with white traders), steel scissors wrapped in a quantity of red cloth, a copper object (indicating trade with the Michigan area), a catlinite pipe, a long ornament of the type worn in breast plates, umbrella ribs inserted in copper sockets. Glass beads were found around the neck and the clavicle area, three open rings of trade brass on one forearm, and black hair which had been preserved under a copper clasp. It is certain that this burial took place between 1834 and 1856 when the Pond brothers made wooden coffins for their Indian friends. In 1856 all of Black Dog's village was moved to the reservation near Morton, Minnesota.

The third burial site is Teepee Hill located south of a bluff east of the Credit River. When gravel was taken from the pit in that area for the road to Archie McColl's home, Indian remains were found. Before St. John's cemetery was consecrated, some white settlers were buried in the Indian burial mound.

Black Dog's village was on the isthmus of land between Black Dog Lake and the Minnesota River, the present site of the Black Dog Power Plant. There were perhaps as many as 250 Indians living there when the first white man came. Black Dog's people belonged to the Mdewankanton band of the Sioux, also known as the Dakota Indians. It is believed that this band moved from the Mille Lacs area around 1750. This piece of land appeared to be a wise choice since it provided water for drinking, travel, fish, water fowl, and other game animals. Black Dog's band was often referred to as "the people who didn't eat geese", because they found such a good market for geese at Fort Snelling. They also found a ready market for fish caught in Black Dog Lake among the Irish roman Catholic settlers who were the first Europeans to settle in the area. They were most anxious to trade the fish for fresh pork which was a staple among the Irish.

Indian Trails well worn from this village south toward the Red Wing village at the mouth of the Cannon on the Mississippi River and west to Good Road's village at the mouth of Bloomington's Nine Mile Creek. The trail continued to Shakpay's village from which Shakopee derives its name.

Catlin, the fine painter of the early 1800's said Black Dog, sometimes called Big Eagle, was an old man when he painted his picture in 1834. This picture hangs in the Smithsonian Institute. Undoubtedly the stone from which peace pipes were made was called catlinite because of associations with the painter, Catlin. Old Black Dog became a grandfather when little Black Dog bas born in 1827 to Grey Iron, sometimes called "My Headaches".

Indian treaties dealing with Minnesota are on display in the Archives in Washington D.C. However, the treaty with Zebulon Pike, giving nine square miles at the mouth of the Minnesota River for the building of Fort Snelling was not officially recorded. Part of this is in Eagan Township. It is interesting to note that the Prairie du Chien treaty of 1825 was signed by Black Dog, Good Road, Shakpay, and Eagle Head. It is possible that Eagle Head, whose name so often appears on treaties, resided near the mounds on Teepee Hill. By 1836 Grey Iron was the chief because he signed the Mendota Treaty along with Big Eagle and Good Road whereby the Indians relinquished the land north of the Missouri River to the southern part of Minnesota. Perhaps the most important treaties were made in 1851. In July, at Traverse des Sioux on the Minnesota River near St. Peter, the land east of Red River was relinquished, signed by Grey Iron with Governor Ramsey, Luke Lea, and General Le Duc in attendance.

Another treaty was signed in 1852 which amended the original, and was signed at the Sibley House. It said that the Indians could be moved in detachments in 1852. No wonder Grey Iron came to be called "My Headaches". He died in 1857, five years after the signing away of their very subsistence for 12 cents an acre for a total of $3,520,000 to be held in trust by the government. It seemed like a fair amount of money at that time, but most of the cash was designated to pay for farm implements, teachers, especially to teach farming, schools, and even to pay excessive claims of the traders for debts of Indians long dead. No wonder the Indians were disgruntled.

Hazen Mooers, who was married to an Indian, was hired to teach Black Dog's village farming. When the band moved out, Hazen's son-in-law, J.W. Brown, moved in and preempted the land. Young Black Dog, also called Great War Eagle, moved to the reservation with his father and his people. Under pressure from warriors he helped in the 1862 uprising, but was pardoned by Lincoln. He lived out his life as a farmer on the reservation near Granite Falls. More important, he dictated a book in 1894, titled The History of the Sioux War written from the viewpoint of the Indians. It is now in possession of the Minnesota Historical Society.

The Indians played a prominent role in the history of Burnsville and the eventual settlement of the area.

by Bea Nordstrom
Source: http://www.oocities.org/heartland/acres/6038/Indian_History_of_Burnsville.html

To dive deeper into Minnesota's history, consider exploring books like "A Popular History of Minnesota" by Norman K. Risjord or "Historic Photos of Minnesota" by Susan Marks, available on Amazon. These resources provide invaluable insights into the rich heritage and history of this state


Elba, New York Mucklands

Thursday, November 03, 2016
Elba, New York Mucklands
The swamps, from which the Elba mucklands were created, were the Tonawanda and Oak Orchard Marsh. When investors moved in, starting in 1910, past plans were being seriously considered to drain the swamp. The earliest plans to drain the swamp though began in 1902. Mr. Landers of Alabama, NY and Mr. Peter Belson of Oakfield, NY early promoters of the draining. Hearings were held so all towns affected by the draining could have a voice in the process. Most of which were all for it, citing the localized water damage and illnesses caused by the swamps.

Representatives involved in the hearings were the towns affected by the future drainage. These towns were the towns of Barre, Clarendon, Alabama, Shelby, Oakfield, and Elba. Elba's hearing was held on May 13, 1902 and was one that garnered the most interest. The arguments made for draining the swamps were like those made in other towns. The majority view that the swamps caused disease and flood damage. Spectators were in support of the idea too. So as long as the project wouldn't be too costly. It is after these hearings, in August of 1903, that the plans were created to drain the swamp. In the Commission's findings it was declared that a main drainage channel would be started in the eastern area of the swamp and continued in westerly direction and following a path to connect to the Oak Orchard Creek. The plans included widening and deepening the Oak Orchard Creek. Later surveying of the land was used to plan where the lateral channel would be dug. These lateral channels which are still clearly visible in Elba. Specifically within numerous areas of the woods between the eastern segment of Ridge Road and West Muck Road to the North.

Elba, NY

In April and May of 1904, the plans were further declared and the Commission said that all 25,760 acres to be drained could be reclaimed. It was on May, the 4th, that $5,000 would cover the costs of surveying and other initial work prior to drainage. In 1906, the surveyors began working on the early planning stages to drain the swamp. In the spring of 1909, the swamp experienced large scale flooding and looked like a lake at the time. Many roads were flooded under by the rise in water.

The opposite was happening by the fall. A drought over the summer had created conditions that were financially harming farms. Many farmers' properties, including hay and straw crops, were burned in an uncontrolled wildfire. Part of the swamp also ignited after drying out.

In 1910, Professor Carr, from Washington DC, came in to analyze the soil for its viability and quality. By 1911, local newspapers were reporting on the developments. An article in the Daily News, on February 27, 1911, reported that the Big Swamp was soon to be drained. After this, a lot of planning, land dealings, and business dealings occurred. Also, interest in the future mucklands increased. Deals which included companies who'd clear out timber from the drained swamp areas.

Of the acres reclaimed in the draining, 5,721 went to the Town of Alabama, 4,044 to Oakfield, 3,511 to Elba, 524 to Byron, 3,482 to Shelby, 6,117 to Barre, and 2,361 to Clarendon. The contract bidding for the drainage began in January of 1913. The contract was awarded to R.H. and G.A. McWilliams of Chicago. The contract was worth $110,000 and work was to start within 60 days.

Preparations began in April after the arrival of equipment via the West Shore Railroad. The railroad, which existed a short distance past ECS up until the latter 1980s. The dredge, once assembled, would only travel about a 1/2 mile a day. While its destination, at Transit Road, was roughly 6 miles away. The dredge, being so large, telephone wires had to be temporarily removed by telephone linemen. This was done as the machine passed through the Village of Elba. At one point, the dredge broke down at South Main Street. It needed replacement parts, from Evansville, Indiana, that took a week to arrive. After being repaired, the dredge took ten days to reach its Transit Road destination.

Work began on June 6, 1913. The dredges (Bucyrus dredges, i believe) were put into position at Transit Road, at the Oak Orchard Creek. The wooden dredge scow, constructed on the Oak Orchard Creek, that followed the dredges was 20 feet wide and 82 feet long. As the work commenced and the machine moved along many came to Elba to view the machine at work. So many visitors came to see the dredging operations that traffic, on Sundays, was non-stop. At this time, purchasing of land and properties increased in Elba in preparation for the new farmland. By August of 1913, the dredge work was going well and they were progressing by around 600 feet per day. New business kept coming into Elba throughout the rest of 1913 and throughout 1914. Which also brought new families into the area.

By the late summer of 1914, many new farms were in operation and growing crops on the rich mucklands. Others had planted orchards on their new acreage. After a little more than two years of dredging, in December of 1915, the drainage work was done. Dredging equipment returned to its 'home', being taken back along the West Shore Railroad. The efforts of the draining of the swamp contributed greatly to Elba's growth in those earlier days. Those efforts still contribute to the success of Elba's farms still in operation today.

Elba, NY

The downside is that, with every passing season, the Elba mucklands reduce in viability. Fires have occurred on the mucklands during times of drought going back to the 1930s. The Soil Conservation Service, since 1954, has done annual checks on the soil to measure how much has been lost, year-by-year.

Only time will tell how long the Elba mucklands will last before extensive muckland restoration is needed.

Photos from around Elba, Genesee County, New York.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Photos from around Elba, Genesee County, New York.
For those that don't know, Elba is a small town in Western New York that's about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. It's also a short distance away from Batavia, New York and a section of the NYS thruway. Elba is best known for its agriculture, its mucklands, and its well-developed community atmosphere. Find out more about the town by visiting this link here.

Smokestack and old, abandoned storage facility.

Elba, NY
Different shot of abandoned food processing and storage facilty, with smokestack.

Elba, NY
Old train depot that's now a pizza place. The tracks were removed in the late '80s.

Elba, NY
Elba Central School - Built in 1938

Elba, NY
Barn currently housing a business called, "The Mill".

sky 019 sky 013
Serene field landscape at sunset


Terry Redlin - South Dakota Artist Known for His Christmas Paintings

Sunday, October 30, 2016
Terry Redlin - South Dakota Artist Known for His Christmas Paintings
Heading Home Christmas by Terry Redlin
Heading Home Christmas by Terry Redlin
Terry Redlin
was a South Dakota artist best known for painting scenes of rural and natural American scenes. Some of my favorite works by him were his winter and Christmas themed paintings. He was born in Watertown, South Dakota, grew up there, and spent his life there. He had to retire in 2007 due to his progression of Alzheimer's disease and spent his latter years in a nursing home. On April 24th, 2016, he died at age 78 due to the effects of dementia. It is thought that the lead in the paints he used contributed to his Alzheimer's.

On the day of his funeral, South Dakota's state flags were lowered to half staff in memory of him. He was definitely an iconic, well-known, and well-respected artist and individual in Watertown, in South Dakota, and his work was appreciated by 'fans' of his art nationwide. Read about him here and check out his works below:

Terry Redlin Evening Frost Elite
Terry Redlin Evening Frost Elite

Terry Reddin Christmas

Cedar Hollow Drive Bowling Green, Kentucky - Interesting Google Street View Sights

Monday, October 24, 2016
Cedar Hollow Drive Bowling Green, Kentucky - Interesting Google Street View Sights
Bowling Green, Kentucky is a city that most of us have heard of. Located in South Central Kentucky, it's the location of numerous businesses, Western Kentucky University, and many natural attractions. Which includes the Lost River Cave. Though I'm talking about none of that here.

Instead, I'm talking about something random that i found on Google Street View when browsing around. On Cedar Hollow Drive, and in location with still-in-development 'cookie cutter' housing, i found this driveway with a personalized message. A message that is likely meant for the family that lives there, by another family member, and not meant for passersby. Though, those who pass by the location could very well feel uplifted by the message. I could be wrong but it looks like it's permanently "bleached" into the concrete driveway. Anyways, here's the Street View image. I've shared it here just for interest's sake.

A Legend of the the Exodus of the Wenrohronon Tribe

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
A Legend of the the Exodus of the Wenrohronon Tribe
Early Settlements in the Region of Elba, New York

The Wenrohronon, also known as the Wenro, were a tribe that had settlements all across Western New York. Ultimately, they were conquered and absorbed following disagreements and a split with the Neutrals. This split led to their downfall, as they were on their own and had no allies amongst other tribes. Ultimately, they were decimated by the Iroquois (specifically, the Senecas) during and after the Beaver Wars. From then, the Seneca took over territories of the Wenro, including those around Buffalo Creek.

Tribal territory of Wenro tribe about 1630
Tribal territory of Wenro about 1630 - User:Nikater [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It was either during the time of the Beaver Wars, or after, that remnants of the Wenro elsewhere in Western New York began to flee their former settlements. Legends, or rather unclear historical recollections, say that separated pockets of the Wenro, post-defeat, settled in more heavily wooded areas around modern-day Elba, New York and elsewhere in Western New York.  One such area in Elba was the Northwestern region of the town, around what is Ridge Road. Of course, Ridge Road didn't exist back then, neither did Elba, as the road began development some time in the 1700s.

The Wenro though, they found refuge from the attacks of the Iroquois in this uninhabited area, as they hadn't yet joined up with other pockets of their tribe, who'd found refuge with the Huron (Wyandotte). They made their way through the forests and found a natural clearing somewhere near the Ridge Road to set up a temporary camp. The year of this temporary settlement is unknown, but was likely around the late 1630s, very early 1640s.

The Wenro, they made their way to this area under the cover of the early evening, in the twilight, of an unknown winter month. Perhaps even during late autumn, as the ground was very sparsely covered with snow and frost. Their movements were particularly made during moonlit evenings, which made for cold nights, but they had no choice to travel during these times and not get lost. The tenseness of the situation, with a warring Iroquois seemingly everywhere, made the Wenro fearful at many moments and they went out of their way to avoid well-known areas in the wilderness. Their image, the looks on their faces, was one of being broken and saddened. Yet they were resilient and carried on for the survival of those left amongst them.

It's not known what happened to these people, these remnants of the Wenro that looked to join up with the rest, but the land in this part of Elba, around today's "dead end" of Ridge Road has long been thought to be 'cursed'. Though that curse may have been known to the Iroquois back in the 1600s, legends handed down through generations, and may have been a reason the Iroquois were hesitant to enter that area. A 'curse' which, in modern words, is just called haunted.

There are stories that the people, these few dozen or so isolated Wenro, never made it out of the Ridge Road area and were killed. Some recollections say they were found by the Iroquois, which could be likely, or confronted the curse of the woods and succumbed to the elements or something paranormal. Either way, it's said that they still haunt the area and people have had numerous paranormal experiences in this part of Elba, far away from the village. Experiences which include the sound of disembodied crying from the woods, strange lights seen at ground level, and many other peculiar events. It's definitely a great place for paranormal investigators to investigate, given the history alone. Like most places, there are many secrets and histories that we'll never know. Yet the feeling, the emotion, is still in the winds of these places. You can still sense the wars and battle that once were.

Little Beard's Town from "The Scouts of the Valley"

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Little Beard's Town from "The Scouts of the Valley"
Little Beard's Town was an influential and well-developed town that once existed on the western side of the Genesee River and stood in the area of where Cuylerville, New York is today. The town was named for the found, Little Beard, who was an influential and respected sachem in the late 1700s. The town was known for it's bountiful crops, which included numerous vegetables, large crops/ears of corn, and fruit orchards. The town had well over 100 dwellings, mainly well-built cabins,  that were built around a town square. It and two other nearby Seneca towns were burned down during the Sullivan Expedition in 1779. Altogether, 40 Seneca villages were burned down during this expedition.

The attacks on these villages were, in part, a reaction to the Cherry Valley Massacre, where British soldiers and their Seneca and Mohawk allies attacked the Cherry Valley fort and town. Around 30 citizens were killed and an equal amount were taken into captivity. Along will lower losses and captures of soldiers of the 7th Massachusetts Regiment and militia members.
Incident in Cherry Valley - fate of Jane Wells
By Engraver: Thomas Phillibrown from the original picture by Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Read a historical fiction recount of the story of Little Beard's Town. From the book The Scouts of the Valley, by Joseph A. Altsheler, published in 1911. At that link you can also read the whole book or view it on Amazon here.


The trumpets called early the next morning, and the five rose, refreshed, ready for new labors. The fires were already lighted, and breakfast was cooking. Savory odors permeated the forest. But as soon as all had eaten, the army marched, going northward and westward, intending to cut through the very center of the Iroquois country. Orders had come from the great commander that the power of the Six Nations, which had been so long such a terrible scourge on the American frontier, must be annihilated. They must be made strangers in their own country. Women and children were not to be molested, but their towns must perish.
As Thayendanegea had said the night before the Battle of the Chemung, the power beyond the seas that had urged the Iroquois to war on the border did not save them. It could not. British and Tories alike had promised them certain victory, and for a while it had seemed that the promises would come true. But the tide had turned, and the Iroquois were fugitives in their own country.
The army continued its march through the wilderness, the scouts in front and heavy parties of riflemen on either flank. There was no chance for a surprise. Henry and his comrades were aware that Indian bands still lurked in the forest, and they had several narrow escapes from the bullets of ambushed foes, but the progress of the army was irresistible. Nothing could check it for a moment, however much the Indian and Tory chiefs might plan.
They camped again that night in the forest, with a thorough ring of sentinels posted against surprise, although there was little danger of the latter, as the enemy could not, for the present at least, bring a sufficient force into the field. But after the moon had risen, the five, with Heemskerk, went ahead through the forest. The Iroquois town of Kanawaholla lay just ahead, and the army would reach it on the morrow. It was the intention of the scouts to see if it was still occupied.
It was near midnight when the little party drew near to Kanawaholla and watched it from the shelter of the forest. Like most other Iroquois towns, it contained wooden houses, and cultivated fields were about it. No smoke rose from any of the chimneys, but the sharp eyes of the scouts saw loaded figures departing through a great field of ripe and waving corn. It was the last of the inhabitants, fleeing with what they could carry. Two or three warriors might have been in that group of fugitives, but the scouts made no attempt to pursue. They could not restrain a little feeling of sympathy and pity, although a just retribution was coming.
"If the Iroquois had only stood neutral at the beginning of the war, as we asked them," said Heemskerk, "how much might have been spared to both sides! Look! Those people are stopping for a moment."
The burdened figures, perhaps a dozen, halted at the far edge of the corn field. Henry and Paul readily imagined that they were taking a last look at their town, and the feeling of pity and sympathy deepened, despite Wyoming, Cherry Valley, and all the rest. But that feeling never extended to the white allies of the Iroquois, whom Thayendanegea characterized in word and in writing as "more savage than the savages themselves."
The scouts waited an hour, and then entered the town. Not a soul was in Kanawaholla. Some of the lighter things had been taken away, but that was all. Most of the houses were in disorder, showing the signs of hasty flight, but the town lay wholly at the mercy of the advancing army. Henry and his comrades withdrew with the news, and the next day, when the troops advanced, Kanawaholla was put to the torch. In an hour it was smoking ruins, and then the crops and fruit trees were destroyed.
Leaving ruin behind, the army continued its march, treading the Iroquois power under foot and laying waste the country. One after another the Indian towns were destroyed, Catherinetown, Kendaia, Kanadesaga, Shenanwaga, Skoiyase, Kanandaigua, Honeyoye, Kanaghsawa, Gathtsewarohare, and others, forming a long roll, bearing the sounding Iroquois names. Villages around Cayuga and other lakes were burned by detachments. The smoke of perishing towns arose everywhere in the Iroquois country, while the Iroquois themselves fled before the advancing army. They sent appeal after appeal for help from those to whom they had given so much help, but none came.
It was now deep autumn, and the nights grew cold. The forests blazed with brilliant colors. The winds blew, leaves rustled and fell. The winter would soon be at hand, and the Iroquois, so proud of what they had achieved, would have to find what shelter they could in the forests or at the British posts on the Canadian frontier. Thayendanegea was destined to come again with bands of red men and white and inflict great loss, but the power of the Six Nations was overthrown forever, after four centuries of victory and glory. Henry, Paul, and the rest were all the time in the thick of it. The army, as the autumn advanced, marched into the Genesee Valley, destroying everything. Henry and Paul, as they lay on their blankets one night, counted fires in three different directions, and every one of the three marked a perishing Indian village. It was not a work in which they took any delight; on the contrary, it often saddened them, but they felt that it had to be done, and they could not shirk the task.
In October, Henry, despite his youth, took command of a body of scouts and riflemen which beat up the ways, and skirmished in advance of the army. It was a democratic little band, everyone saying what he pleased, but yielding in the end to the authority of the leader. They were now far up the Genesee toward the Great Lakes, and Henry formed the plan of advancing ahead of the army on the great Seneca village known variously as the Seneca Castle and Little Beard's Town, after its chief, a full match in cruelty for the older Seneca chief, Hiokatoo. Several causes led to this decision. It was reported that Thayendanegea, Timmendiquas, all the Butlers and Johnsons, and Braxton Wyatt were there. While not likely to be true about all, it was probably true about some of them, and a bold stroke might effect much.
It is probable that Henry had Braxton Wyatt most in mind. The renegade was in his element among the Indians and Tories, and he had developed great abilities as a partisan, being skillfully seconded by the squat Tory, Coleman. His reputation now was equal at least to that of Walter Butler, and he had skirmished more than once with the vanguard of the army. Growing in Henry's heart was a strong desire to match forces with him, and it was quite probable that a swift advance might find him at the Seneca Castle.
The riflemen took up their march on a brisk morning in late autumn. The night had been clear and cold, with a touch of winter in it, and the brilliant colors of the foliage had now turned to a solid brown. Whenever the wind blew, the leaves fell in showers. The sky was a fleecy blue, but over hills, valley, and forest hung a fine misty veil that is the mark of Indian summer. The land was nowhere inhabited. They saw the cabin of neither white man nor Indian. A desolation and a silence, brought by the great struggle, hung over everything. Many discerning eyes among the riflemen noted the beauty and fertility of the country, with its noble forests and rich meadows. At times they caught glimpses of the river, a clear stream sparkling under the sun.
"Makes me think o' some o' the country 'way down thar in Kentucky," said Shif'less Sol, "an' it seems to me I like one about ez well ez t'other. Say, Henry, do you think we'll ever go back home? 'Pears to me that we're always goin' farther an' farther away."
Henry laughed.
"It's because circumstances have taken us by the hand and led us away, Sol," he replied.
"Then," said the shiftless one with a resigned air, "I hope them same circumstances will take me by both hands, an' lead me gently, but strongly, back to a place whar thar is peace an' rest fur a lazy an' tired man like me."
"I think you'll have to endure a lot, until next spring at least," said Henry.
The shiftless one heaved a deep sigh, but his next words were wholly irrelevant.
"S'pose we'll light on that thar Seneca Castle by tomorrow night?" he asked.
"It seems to me that for a lazy and tired man you're extremely anxious for a fight," Henry replied.
"I try to be resigned," said Shif'less Sol. But his eyes were sparkling with the light of battle.
They went into camp that night in a dense forest, with the Seneca Castle about ten miles ahead. Henry was quite sure that the Senecas to whom it belonged had not yet abandoned it, and with the aid of the other tribes might make a stand there. It was more than likely, too, that the Senecas had sharpshooters and sentinels well to the south of their town, and it behooved the riflemen to be extremely careful lest they run into a hornet's nest. Hence they lighted no fires, despite a cold night wind that searched them through until they wrapped themselves in their blankets.
The night settled down thick and dark, and the band lay close in the thickets. Shif'less Sol was within a yard of Henry. He had observed his young leader's face closely that day, and he had a mind of uncommon penetration.
"Henry," he whispered, "you're hopin' that you'll find Braxton Wyatt an' his band at Little Beard's town?"
"That among other things," replied Henry in a similar whisper.
"That first, and the others afterwards," persisted the shiftless one.
"It may be so," admitted Henry.
"I feel the same way you do," said Shif'less Sol. "You see, we've knowed Braxton Wyatt a long time, an' it seems strange that one who started out a boy with you an' Paul could turn so black. An' think uv all the cruel things that he's done an' helped to do. I ain't hidin' my feelin's. I'm jest itchin' to git at him."
"Yes," said Henry, "I'd like for our band to have it out with his."
Henry and Shif'less Sol, and in fact all of the five, slept that night, because Henry wished to be strong and vigorous for the following night, in view of an enterprise that he had in mind. The rosy Dutchman, Heemskerk, was in command of the guard, and he revolved continually about the camp with amazing ease, and with a footstep so light that it made no sound whatever. Now and then he came back in the thicket and looked down at the faces of the sleeping five from Kentucky. "Goot boys," he murmured to himself. "Brave boys, to stay here and help. May they go through all our battles and take no harm. The goot and great God often watches over the brave."
Mynheer Cornelius Heemskerk, native of Holland, but devoted to the new nation of which he had made himself a part, was a devout man, despite a life of danger and hardship. The people of the woods do not lose faith, and he looked up at the dark skies as if he found encouragement there. Then he resumed his circle about the camp. He heard various noises-the hoot of an owl, the long whine of a wolf, and twice the footsteps of deer going down to the river to drink. But the sounds were all natural, made by the animals to which they belonged, and Heemskerk knew it. Once or twice he went farther into the forest, but he found nothing to indicate the presence of a foe, and while he watched thus, and beat up the woods, the night passed, eventless, away.
They went the next day much nearer to the Seneca Castle, and saw sure indications that it was still inhabited, as the Iroquois evidently were not aware of the swift advance of the riflemen. Henry had learned that this was one of the largest and strongest of all the Iroquois towns, containing between a hundred and two hundred wooden houses, and with a population likely to be swollen greatly by fugitives from the Iroquois towns already destroyed. The need of caution—great caution—was borne in upon him, and he paid good heed.
The riflemen sought another covert in the deep forest, now about three miles from Little Beard's Town, and lay there, while Henry, according to his plan, went forth at night with Shif'less Sol and Tom Ross. He was resolved to find out more about this important town, and his enterprise was in full accord with his duties, chief among which was to save the vanguard of the army from ambush.
When the complete darkness of night had come, the three left the covert, and, after traveling a short distance through the forest, turned in toward the river. As the town lay on or near the river, Henry thought they might see some signs of Indian life on the stream, and from this they could proceed to discoveries.
But when they first saw the river it was desolate. Not a canoe was moving on its surface, and the three, keeping well in the undergrowth, followed the bank toward the town. But the forest soon ceased, and they came upon a great field, where the Senecas had raised corn, and where stalks, stripped of their ears and browned by the autumn cold, were still standing. But all the work of planting, tending, and reaping this great field, like all the other work in all the Iroquois fields, had been done by the Iroquois women, not by the warriors.
Beyond the field they saw fruit trees, and beyond these, faint lines of smoke, indicating the position of the great Seneca Castle. The dry cornstalks rustled mournfully as the wind blew across the field.
"The stalks will make a little shelter," said Henry, "and we must cross the field. We want to keep near the river."
"Lead on," said Shif'less Sol.
They took a diagonal course, walking swiftly among the stalks and bearing back toward the river. They crossed the field without being observed, and came into a thick fringe of trees and undergrowth along the river. They moved cautiously in this shelter for a rod or two, and then the three, without word from any one of them, stopped simultaneously. They heard in the water the unmistakable ripple made by a paddle, and then the sound of several more. They crept to the edge of the bank and crouched down among the bushes. Then they saw a singular procession.
A half-dozen Iroquois canoes were moving slowly up the stream. They were in single file, and the first canoe was the largest. But the aspect of the little fleet was wholly different from that of an ordinary group of Iroquois war canoes. It was dark, somber, and funereal, and in every canoe, between the feet of the paddlers, lay a figure, stiff and impassive, the body of a chief slain in battle. It had all the appearance of a funeral procession, but the eyes of the three, as they roved over it, fastened on a figure in the first canoe, and, used as they were to the strange and curious, every one of them gave a start.
The figure was that of a woman, a wild and terrible creature, who half sat, half crouched in the canoe, looking steadily downward. Her long black hair fell in disordered masses from her uncovered head. She wore a brilliant red dress with savage adornments, but it was stained and torn. The woman's whole attitude expressed grief, anger, and despair.
"Queen Esther!" whispered Henry. The other two nodded.
So horrifying had been the impression made upon him by this woman at Wyoming that he could not feel any pity for her now. The picture of the great war tomahawk cleaving the heads of bound prisoners was still too vivid. She had several sons, one or two of whom were slain in battle with the colonists, and the body that lay in the boat may have been one of them. Henry always believed that it was-but he still felt no pity.
As the file came nearer they heard her chanting a low song, and now she raised her face and tore at her black hair.
"They're goin' to land," whispered Shif'less Sol.
The head of the file was turned toward the shore, and, as it approached, a group of warriors, led by Little Beard, the Seneca chief, appeared among the trees, coming forward to meet them. The three in their covert crouched closer, interested so intensely that they were prepared to brave the danger in order to remain. But the absorption of the Iroquois in what they were about to do favored the three scouts.
As the canoes touched the bank, Catharine Montour rose from her crouching position and uttered a long, piercing wail, so full of grief, rage, and despair that the three in the bushes shuddered. It was fiercer than the cry of a wolf, and it came back from the dark forest in terrifying echoes.
"It's not a woman, but a fiend," whispered Henry; and, as before, his comrades nodded in assent.
The woman stood erect, a tall and stalwart figure, but the beauty that had once caused her to be received in colonial capitals was long since gone. Her white half of blood had been submerged years ago in her Indian half, and there was nothing now about her to remind one of civilization or of the French Governor General of Canada who was said to have been her father.
The Iroquois stood respectfully before her. It was evident that she had lost none of her power among the Six Nations, a power proceeding partly from her force and partly from superstition. As the bodies were brought ashore, one by one, and laid upon the ground, she uttered the long wailing cry again and again, and the others repeated it in a sort of chorus.
When the bodies-and Henry was sure that they must all be those of chiefs-were laid out, she tore her hair, sank down upon the ground, and began a chant, which Tom Ross was afterwards able to interpret roughly to the others. She sang:
The white men have come with the cannon and bayonet,
Numerous as forest leaves the army has come.
Our warriors are driven like deer by the hunter,
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!

Our towns are burned and our fields uprooted,
Our people flee through the forest for their lives,
The king who promised to help us comes not.
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!

The great chiefs are slain and their bodies lie here.
No longer will they lead the warriors in battle;
No more will they drive the foe from the thicket.
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!

Scalps we have taken from all who hated us;
None, but feared us in the days of our glory.
But the cannon and bayonet have taken our country;
Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!
She chanted many verses, but these were all that Tom Ross could ever remember or translate. But every verse ended with the melancholy refrain: "Fallen is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee!" which the others also repeated in chorus. Then the warriors lifted up the bodies, and they moved in procession toward the town. The three watched them, but they did not rise until the funeral train had reached the fruit trees. Then they stood up, looked at one another, and breathed sighs of relief.
"I don't care ef I never see that woman ag'in," said Shif'less Sol. "She gives me the creeps. She must be a witch huntin' for blood. She is shore to stir up the Iroquois in this town."
"That's true," said Henry, "but I mean to go nearer."
"Wa'al," said Tom Ross, "I reckon that if you mean it we mean it, too."
"There are certainly Tories in the town," said Henry, "and if we are seen we can probably pass for them. I'm bound to find out what's here."
"Still huntin' fur Braxton Wyatt," said Shif'less Sol.
"I mean to know if he's here," said Henry.
"Lead on," said the shiftless one.
They followed in the path of the procession, which was now out of sight, and entered the orchard. From that point they saw the houses and great numbers of Indians, including squaws and children, gathered in the open spaces, where the funeral train was passing. Queen Esther still stalked at its head, but her chant was now taken up by many scores of voices, and the volume of sound penetrated far in the night. Henry yet relied upon the absorption of the Iroquois in this ceremonial to give him a chance for a good look through the town, and he and his comrades advanced with boldness.
They passed by many of the houses, all empty, as their occupants had gone to join in the funeral lament, but they soon saw white men-a few of the Royal Greens, and some of the Rangers, and other Tories, who were dressed much like Henry and his comrades. One of them spoke to Shif'less Sol, who nodded carelessly and passed by. The Tory seemed satisfied and went his way.
"Takes us fur some o' the crowd that's come runnin' in here ahead o' the army," said the shiftless one.
Henry was noting with a careful eye the condition of the town. He saw that no preparations for defense had been made, and there was no evidence that any would be made. All was confusion and despair. Already some of the squaws were fleeing, carrying heavy burdens. The three coupled caution with boldness. If they met a Tory they merely exchanged a word or two, and passed swiftly on. Henry, although he had seen enough to know that the army could advance without hesitation, still pursued the quest. Shif'less Sol was right. At the bottom of Henry's heart was a desire to know whether Braxton Wyatt was in Little Beard's Town, a desire soon satisfied, as they reached the great Council House, turned a corner of it, and met the renegade face to face.
Wyatt was with his lieutenant, the squat Tory, Coleman, and he uttered a cry when he saw the tall figure of the great youth. There was no light but that of the moon, but he knew his foe in an instant.
"Henry Ware!" he cried, and snatched his pistol from his belt.
They were so close together that Henry did not have time to use a weapon. Instinctively he struck out with his fist, catching Wyatt on the jaw, and sending him down as if he had been shot. Shif'less Sol and Tom Ross ran bodily over Coleman, hurling him down, and leaping across his prostrate figure. Then they ran their utmost, knowing that their lives depended on speed and skill.
They quickly put the Council House between them and their pursuers, and darted away among the houses. Braxton Wyatt was stunned, but he speedily regained his wits and his feet.
"It was the fellow Ware, spying among us again!" he cried to his lieutenant, who, half dazed, was also struggling up. "Come, men! After them! After them!"
A dozen men came at his call, and, led by the renegade, they began a search among the houses. But it was hard to find the fugitives. The light was not good, many flitting figures were about, and the frantic search developed confusion. Other Tories were often mistaken for the three scouts, and were overhauled, much to their disgust and that of the overhaulers. Iroquois, drawn from the funeral ceremony, began to join in the hunt, but Wyatt could give them little information. He had merely seen an enemy, and then the enemy had gone. It was quite certain that this enemy, or, rather, three of them, was still in the town.
Henry and his comrades were crafty. Trained by ambush and escape, flight and pursuit, they practiced many wiles to deceive their pursuers. When Wyatt and Coleman were hurled down they ran around the Council House, a large and solid structure, and, finding a door on the opposite side and no one there or in sight from that point, they entered it, closing the door behind them.
They stood in almost complete darkness, although at length they made out the log wall of the great, single room which constituted the Council House. After that, with more accustomed eyes, they saw on the wall arms, pipes, wampum, and hideous trophies, some with long hair and some with short. The hair was usually blonde, and most of the scalps had been stretched tight over little hoops. Henry clenched his fist in the darkness.
"Mebbe we're walkin' into a trap here," said Shif'less Sol.
"I don't think so," said Henry. "At any rate they'd find us if we were rushing about the village. Here we at least have a chance."
At the far end of the Council House hung mats, woven of rushes, and the three sat down behind them in the very heart of the Iroquois sanctuary. Should anyone casually enter the Council House they would still be hidden. They sat in Turkish fashion on the floor, close together and with their rifles lying across their knees. A thin light filtered through a window and threw pallid streaks on the floor, which they could see when they peeped around the edge of the mats. But outside they heard very clearly the clamor of the hunt as it swung to and fro in the village. Shif'less Sol chuckled. It was very low, but it was a chuckle, nevertheless, and the others heard.
"It's sorter takin' an advantage uv 'em," said the shiftless one, "layin' here in thar own church, so to speak, while they're ragin' an' tearin' up the earth everywhar else lookin' fur us. Gives me a mighty snug feelin', though, like the one you have when you're safe in a big log house, an' the wind an' the hail an' the snow are beatin' outside."
"You're shorely right, Sol," said Tom Ross.
"Seems to me," continued the irrepressible Sol, "that you did git in a good lick at Braxton Wyatt, after all. Ain't he unhappy now, bitin' his fingers an' pawin' the earth an' findin' nothin'? I feel real sorry, I do, fur Braxton. It's hard fur a nice young feller to have to suffer sech disappointments."
Shif'less Sol chuckled again, and Henry was forced to smile in the darkness. Shif'less Sol was not wholly wrong. It would be a bitter blow to Braxton Wyatt. Moreover, it was pleasant where they sat. A hard floor was soft to them, and as they leaned against the wall they could relax and rest.
"What will our fellows out thar in the woods think?" asked Tom Ross.
"They won't have to think," replied Henry. "They'll sit quiet as we're doing and wait."
The noise of the hunt went on for a long time outside. War whoops came from different points of the village. There were shrill cries of women and children, and the sound of many running feet. After a while it began to sink, and soon after that they heard no more noises than those of people preparing for flight. Henry felt sure that the town would be abandoned on the morrow, but his desire to come to close quarters with Braxton Wyatt was as strong as ever. It was certain that the army could not overtake Wyatt's band, but he might match his own against it. He was thinking of making the attempt to steal from the place when, to their great amazement, they heard the door of the Council House open and shut, and then footsteps inside.
Henry looked under the edge of the hanging mat and saw two dusky figures near the window.

Katelyn Nicole Davis ? Forever Missed