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My First Buffalo
It was no Ghost
Updated May 25 2012
Copyright by Kansas State Historical Society on
Library of Congress Website.
Western Kansas World
August 16 1890
By Newton H. Ivins
During the summer of 1884 I was canvassing for fruit trees for a celebrated Eastern nursery. The territory over which I had worked lay in the southwestern part of Missouri. Although the country, generally speaking, is mountainous in some portions, yet I found it a very good field for canvassing for nursery stock of all kinds.
Having affected a successful canvass, and the season for delivering the stock having arrived, I now made preparatory arrangements to further that end by securing the services of some man and his team in each locality to haul and deliver the stock throughout the vicinity in which he lived.
In a remote part of the territory over which I had canvassed, some fifteen miles from the railroad, lived a man by the name of James Pratt. While canvassing through that section I had made arrangement with him to deliver all the stock which I had sold in the country contiguous to him; and having now come to that part of the delivery, I, one morning, found myself ready to set out from the point on the railroad where my stock had been shipped to his place of residence, to acquaint him of that fact.
There was a stage running through the country, which passed within about two miles of Pratt’s place, but as it did not start until about ten o’clock in the morning, I determined not to wait for it, and accordingly set out afoot.
That I regretted this rash proceeding, the reader will undoubtedly agree with me, if he takes the trouble to peruse this short recital to the end. The country was rough and hilly and I soon became aware that it would be a long and tedious journey to make on foot. Besides it was a warm day, although in the month of October and the roads were dry and dusty.
I had not made more than four or five miles of my trip, when I found I was getting well warmed up, and I began to feel considerably fatigued. I now saw what a blunder I had made in not waiting for the stage, and was half tempted to sit down by the roadside and wait for it to overtake me.
I was about to seat myself upon a comfortable looking log which lay alongside the road, when, glancing back, I described in the distance a cloud of dust, from amidst which a moment later emerged a span of horses and carriage coming up the road at a lively pace. I gazed for some moments with curiosity at the approaching vehicle, for such outfits as that were rarely seen in that part of the country then it suddenly occurred to me that here might be a chance to get a ride. With this idea I leisurely resumed my journey, that I might accept a ride in case it was proffered.
I had but a few moments to wait. The team was coming on at a pace that showed them to be good travelers, and before I was fairly aware of it they were abreast of me. The next instant they came to a stand and the cheerful voice of the occupant of the carriage called out.
“Howdy, stranger?” Have a ride?”
With grateful “thank you” I sprang into the carriage and a moment later we were whirling along the dusty road at a break neck pace that seemed much more cheerful to me than my fatiguing walk had been.
Although I was somewhat struck by the uncouth appearance of my new friend I dismissed it from my mind in a moment, for I felt so grateful for the exceeding good luck that had chanced to overtake me that I was not choice as to the source whence it came. He was ababblily dressed in a suit of clothes of the commonest material, and his peculiar drawling; slangy way of expression was in fit keeping with his dress. His face seemed to have an unusually anxious expression upon it, and occasionally he would glance back over his shoulder as though fearful of something or somebody in pursuit.
He inquired of me where I was traveling and asked why I did not hire a horse or take the stage. I replied by stating substantially what the reader already knows.
The horses he was driving were high spirited animals yet, at short intervals he plied the whip vigorously causing them to leap forward each time with increased speed. And anon he would cast that suspicious glance backward, till at length I began to feel that something was wrong, and with some anxiety I inquired;
“Why to do you keep looking back?”
With a sinister smile and another glance backward, he replied;
“I’m looking for some friends that I wouldn’t be surprised to see following me!.”
“There is little danger of their overtaking you if you keep on at this pace.”
“I don’t know about that!”, he rejoined with a dubious shake of the head.
I observed that the horses began to show signs of fatigue, and still he urged them forward as though life depended upon their utmost exertions. And such indeed, proved to be the incentive that caused him to so cruelly urge the willing animals on.
It seems singular to me now as I look back and recall to memory the event, that my suspicious were not sooner aroused to the fact that the man was driving a stolen team. His mistrustful glance behind him, and his eager haste to get over the ground as rapidly as possible, were suspicious circumstances, to say the least; and when I recall all the details of the event, I am surprised that I did not sooner comprehend the situation in which I was placed.
We had gone some five or six miles at this reckless pace, the horses keeping the same speed, uphill or down.
Suddenly, upon gaining the summit of a hill, my companion, with a glance over his shoulder, gave utterance to an expression of surprise. I glanced hurriedly back, and as I did so I described a party of horsemen, comprising a dozen or more individuals, first appearing upon the crest of the hill we had left in our rear.
Instantly the truth dawned upon my mind. The horsemen were in pursuit of the stolen team! What should I do? If I remained in the carriage, what would be the result when overtaken by the horsemen? Ah, too well I knew! Horse thieves, when captured in that region, were dealt with summarily, and there was little mercy to be expected if caught in such company, unless, indeed the thief should prove magnanimous enough to clear me of all blame, which I very much doubted.
As the truth of my perilous situation flashed upon me, I was for a moment completely dumbfounded; but, regaining my self-possession. I sternly addressed the man beside me.
“You scoundrel! This is a stolen rig is it not?”
“You needn’t guess again,” coolly replied the thief, and he now plied the whip more vigorously than ever, causing the horses to leap forward with increased speed. “Oh, you’re in for it, so you needn’t squeal!”
“I’ll show you that I’m not in for it!” and the next instant I sprang from the carriage, turning a complete somersault as I rolled upon the ground.
As I gathered myself up I saw it would be useless to try to conceal myself, as the pursuing horsemen were in full view, coming up the hill on a gallop, and accordingly, I quietly awaited their approach. As they came up, the leader of the posse ordered three of the men to stop and take me in charge while the balance swept on like the wind after the retreating carriage.
One of the three men ordered me to mount behind him on his horse. I undertook to protest, but it was useless. Drawing a glistening revolver from his belt, the man again ordered me to mount behind him and I obeyed without another word.
We followed on after the retreating cloud of dust, and in about half an hour we came up with the party, where they had overtaken the thief in the carriage. They were gathered in a group by the side of the road, evidently having some dispute as to the disposal of their prisoner. The majority appeared to be in favor of hanging the man to the limb of a tree at once, while a few thought it best to take him back to town and let the law deal him justice.
“What is the use fooling any more about it?” growled one of the crowd.
“We caught him with the rig and he’s owned to it that he stole 'em. Why not stretch him up and be done with it? There’ll be no more trouble about it then.”
As these words fell from the lips of the man a number of others cried out:
“That’s the talk! Let’s swing him! Here’s the rope! And a rope was flourished about by one of the men.
“Here’s a splendid limb on this tree to throw the rope over!” cried another. At this juncture the leader of the party said:
“Gentlemen, before we proceed further we will see what the other prisoner has to say for himself.”
The crowd instantly turned their gaze upon me and for a moment perfect silence reigned.
The from the lips of the other prisoner came these words;
“Of course he’s guilty! He helped me steal ‘em!”
I was dumb with astonishment. Up to this time I had hoped the man would tell the truth of the matter, although I had some misgivings on that score.
“What have you to say to that young man?” Call out the leader.
“Gentlemen!,” I answered in as steady a voice as I could command “I think I can prove to you that I am innocent.”
With that I produced a number of papers and letters, showing the nature of the business I had been engaged in the preceding summer. The leader took them and after looking them over a few moments he observed,
“There‘s no proof in these, young man, that you didn’t help steal the horses! Have you no better proof to offer?”
My heart sank within me. I was obliged to confess that I had not, but I asked that I might be permitted to tell my side of the story. Upon giving his consent, I related in as concise a manner as possible what the reader is already acquainted with. I told it in such a sincere, straightforward manner that I perceived with joy that I had won the sympathy of at least the leader and I thought a few of the rest of the party. That I might press the advantage that I had already gained I continued:
“If you will take me over to Mr. James Pratt’s who lives about two miles from here, I am sure he will corroborate what I have said”.
“Well,” resumed the leader we’ll dispose of this other scoundrel first.
At this shouts of “Hang him Let’s hang him to this tree! Yes, here’s a boss limb!” emanated from all parts of the crowd and immediately one end of a large rope was thrown across the limb spoken of, and the other end was unceremoniously tied about the wretched man’s neck.
“Give him five minutes for prayer,” shouted a voice in the crowd.
The leader now stepped forward and in a voice of command addressed the prisoner:
“If you have any request to make, out with it! and if not, command your soul to god for in five minutes more you will die!”
The face of the doomed man assumed an ashen hue, and there was a perceptible trembling of his lips as he spoke:
“I have a sister living in ____” mentioning a town in Missouri; “I wish you would send her this!” and he produced a golden locket and gave it to the leader.
Then sinking upon his knees, he tremblingly uttered an utmost unintelligible prayer. Upon rising to his feet he looked me calmly upon those around him as he said:
“Gentlemen afore I die, I want ter right one wrong I’ve done to this ere gentlemen,” pointing to me and that is that he is innocent. “What he’s told you air the truth. I am ashamed that I tried to bring him in as my pardoner and I hope God will forgive me.” At this I sprang forward and seizing him by the hand, I profusely thanked him again and again. A moment more and the leader call out:
“Time’s up! One, two, three,” as the last word fell from the lips of the leader, the rope suddenly became taunt and the next instant the body of the thief was dangling in mid air.
Then turning to me the lead observed:
“Young man you’ve had a mighty narrow escape. Be more careful in the future and choose better company.”
After waiting some twenty minutes, until the swinging body had become nearly motionless the party mounted their horses, the leader driving the stolen outfit and in a few minutes they had disappeared in a bend of the road.
I now proceeded on my way with a fervent feeling of thankfulness to God for my miraculous preservation from an ignominious death.
Library of Congress website.
Western Kansas World Newspaper
Saturday October 25 1890
Besieged by Wolves
A stirring Adventure in a Michigan Forest
By Newton H. Ivins
Twenty years ago the region contiguous to Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, was little else than a vast wilderness. Traverse City, situated at the head of the bay, was but a village; indeed, it had but a faint semblance of its present size and beauty. A few settlers had taken up homesteads here and there, and a considerable settlement had started on what is known as the Peninsula, a narrow strip of land twenty miles long lying between East and West Bay, about half a mile north of Traverse City.
But the tide of emigration had set in and ere long those mighty forests were destined to give place to fertile fields and happy homes for thousands of pioneers who had become disgusted with being crowded in pent up cities or towns of the older States in the East.
The lumbering interests had just begun to develop, and offered a great incentive to take up homesteads, as they could work in the lumber woods in the winter, and thus get something ahead to improve their claims through the summer. Thus, many a poor man had secured himself a home, and today the face of the country had changed so much that one would scarce recognize it, as compared to what it was then.
I have a medical friend residing near Silver Lake, a beautiful sheet of water lying about seven miles south of Traverse City, on what is known as the “Old State Road.” This friend of mine moved to this region from the southern part of the state at about the time I am speaking of, when the settlers were “few and far between,” and taking advantage of the homestead act, he secured a piece of Government land, where he now resides. He did not expect much practice at his profession, nor did he wish to have, as he preferred hunting and fishing and the quiet of a country home.
Another thing that induced him to locate in a new country was that he preferred to bring his family up on a farm, where he could give his boys (of whom he had three) some employment that would be healthful exercise, and at the same time be making for themselves a future home.
He would help the boys some about clearing the land, going, however, when he had a call in case of sickness, and little by little they removed the great forest trees, till they soon had cleared land enough to raise nearly their entire living.
Not long since I was up in that region, and, of course, called on my old friend, and made a visit of several days with him.
On one of our pleasure and fishing excursions on Silver Lake, the conversation turned on the subject of wolves inhabiting the swamps of that region in the early days, when the doctor told me the following interesting experience he once had with wolves in that region.
The North American wolf is naturally shy and generally like all his congeners, is a great coward. He never attacks a man singly; indeed, a pack of them will never molest a man while the least glimmer of daylight remains.
I once entertained the idea that they could be scared off, no matter how many their numbers, that it only required a little pluck and a bold front to daunt the hungriest pack of them and put them to flight. But I had a little experience with them one night which has radically changed my mind in that respect.
I had been accustomed to travel through these wild regions at all hours, by day and by night, but never had been in any way molested; nor had I ever had the slightest apprehension of danger from the wolves that were known to infest the surrounding woods and swamps.
On the night in question I had been called to see a sick child about eight miles from home, and it was near dark ere I got to my destination, consequently it was quite late in the night before I started on my return home. It was in the winter time, and the night was exceedingly frosty, but clear and starlight. I had not proceeded far on my homeward journey when, in passing through a swampy piece of ground through which my road lay; I became aware that the clatter of my horse’s feet on the frozen snow had aroused a gang of wolves that were roaming the adjoining swamp.
I continued my journey, paying no attention whatever to the howling of the wolves, until I came to a steep descent where the water from an adjoining spring had overflowed the snow, which was consequently formed into a continuous sheet of ice all the way down the declivity. My horse being smooth shod, I deemed it safer to walk. Accordingly, I dismounted, and taking the bridle rein in my hand, endeavored to lead the way down the slippery path. Before, however, I had got half way to the bottom away slid both my feet and down I came. My horse was so startled at the suddenness of my fall that he made a spring to one side of the track, lost his footing and came down close beside me. In the spring he made when I fell, from my hand being fast in the bridle, I was jerked back up the hill some distance with such force that when I recovered a little from the shock, I felt fully persuaded that my shoulder was dislocated.
We both, however, gathered ourselves up as best we could; and there we stood in no condition to protect ourselves from the wolves, should they see fit to attack us; for, from the way in which my horse stood. I was afraid that he had suffered still more damage than myself.
I did not, as yet, have any fear of the wolves, although I knew they were still following us, for I could clearly distinguish the howling of five or six of them, apparently within less than twenty rods of us.
When the pain in my shoulder had somewhat subsided. I examined it more minutely, and convinced myself that it was not dislocated, but the severe wrench had injured it so much that I had no hope of making use of that arm during the remainder of my ride. As regarded my horse, I was pleased to find that he still possessed the use of his four legs, although one of them moved as though he were suffering considerable pain in it. Having contrived to get to the bottom of the descent, I again mounted with extreme difficulty. I found on proceeding that one of my horse’s hind legs was severely sprained, and I began to entertain some fear, by this time, that the wolves meant mischief, for on looking back, I discovered three of them, not a dozen yards behind my horse’s heels, and a few rods further back were three or four leisurely trotting along in the road. I gave an unearthly yell, and flung my left arm out to try and scare them back; they simply stopped a moment, gazing at me with a hungry look, and then leisurely resumed their trot, and were soon almost within reach of my horse’s heels.
The road was in bad condition for a horse to make any speed and more especially so with one with a sprained leg and I found it was impossible to leave the wolves; so I made up my mind to quit my horse and ascend the first tree that appeared favorable for such a purpose. It was not long before such a one offered, and, permitting my horse to go loose, I was amongst the branches of a large beech tree in a few seconds, and quite out of reach of my hungry pursuers. I never doubted for a moment but that they should continue in pursuit of my horse which I thought would be able, now that he was relieved of his load, to make his escape.
But to my surprise I beheld no fewer than eleven large wolves come around the tree on which I had taken shelter, and instead of pursuing my horse, took up their positions and quietly awaited my coming down. Although I had no wish to descend under such circumstances, I was fully aware of the fate that awaited me should I be obliged to remain until morning in my present situation.
The cold was intense; and although I was comfortable dressed, I knew it was next to impossible for me to remain there through the night and not freeze to death. The situation was anything but pleasant. I gawked down upon the upturned faces of my hungry assailants and I saw plainly by their movements that they meant to entertain me there the rest of the night. I tried to think what I might do to scare them off. If I but had my trusty rifle, I thought and plenty of ammunition, I would soon clear a path through them; but as it was, I had nothing except a small pocket knife, and that was of no use whatever. Then I thought of fire, for I was already getting quite chilly. Suddenly the thought occurred to me that I had noticed, before leaving the back of my horse, that the tree in which I was espoused, had a dead top, and glancing quickly upward, I saw that as much as fifteen or twenty feet of the topmost part of the tree was dead and bare. It occurred to me at once that I could set fire to that portion of the tree and thus save myself somewhat from the effect of the intense cold.
To think was to act, and having plenty of matches with me, I immediately ascended the tree till I came to the dead portion of it, which I found sufficiently dry to ignite. Feeling carefully around the old dead body, I soon discovered that it was hollow, at least a part of the way up, and thrusting my hand in the opening I was delighted to find it nearly full of dry leaves and other combustible material.
I at once applied a match, and to my intense satisfaction I soon had the flames writhing and curling about that old dead body until it produced such a heat that I was forced to climb down a little. But the warmth was genial to my body, and I began to feel more comfortable. I was obliged to work with caution among the branches of the tree, for each awkward move of my right arm caused a pain to shoot through it.
On descending the tree to get a little away from the head of the fire, I cast my gaze down for the first time since I had conceived the novel plan of building a fire in the old dead tree top to ascertain what my besiegers were doing. To my surprise I saw nothing of them beneath the tree; but casting my eyes a little way down the road, I beheld them huddled together gazing at the flaming tree top in a dazed sort of fashion, though failing to comprehend the new foe. The old tree top was now all ablaze, and was throwing a bright light far out into the surrounding gloom.
I was wonderfully elated at the unlooked for result of my unique plan of keeping myself from freezing to death, for I saw that the wolves were becoming terribly frightened at the momentarily increasing brilliancy of my fireworks. I felt that the climax was near at hand, for I saw with pleasure that the old tree top would soon burn off at the point where I had started the fire, and would necessarily go crashing to the ground. I observed the way that it would fall, and, getting upon the opposite side, I crawled as far out on the large limb as I deemed save and anxiously awaited the result.
Not long had I to wait. Suddenly the dead top of the tree gave way, and with a tremendous crash went tearing through the lower branches, throwing shower of sparks and branches directly towards the now retreating wolves.
I scrambled down to the ground as hastily as my lame arm would permit and yelling at the top of my voice seized a firebrand and swinging it aloft I started after the now thoroughly frightened wolves.
It was a ludicrous sight to see those cowardly whelps scramble as if for dear life at the top of their speed; for in their fright they frequently ran afoul of each other and tumbled indiscriminately in the deep snow. Soon, however, they disappeared from my view, and turning about I now made vigorous strides towards home. It was something like three miles to the nearest settler from the scene of my adventure. When I arrived at his house I saw by the faint flush in the east that daylight was near at hand. The man was already up and had a cheerful fire, for which I felt exceedingly grateful, after my walk in the crisp morning air. He was greatly surprised and incredulous at the narration of my night’s adventure.
Upon arriving at home I found that my horse had preceded me, and had created considerable fear in the minds of my family, for the boys were just upon the point of starting in search of me.
That night’s adventure caused me to change my views regarding the innocuousness of wolves, and ever afterward the howling of them in the distant swamps brings with a shudder the recollection of how near I came to making a supper for them.
Copyright by Kansas State Historical Society on
Library of Congress website
Western Kansas World
July 12 1890
My First Buffalo
By Delbert S. Ivins
Shortly after the Texas Pacific was completed to Dallas, Texas, accompanied by Frank Goode, an old chum, one fine morning in June, I started from Shreveport LA., to that lively town. We had both been employed as clerks in one of the largest retail houses in Shreveport. At this particular time of the year business always grew dull, and we knew that there would soon be a reduction of force, and so we concluded not to wait and take chances of being discharged, and therefore told the proprietor that we were going to quit. At that time Dallas was having quite a boom and we thought we would try our luck there. We had been in Dallas two days, but as yet had not found a situation. On the morning of the third day after our arrival, we came across a party who were fitting out to go in pursuit of buffaloes, which were reported to be very numerous on the great plains about thirty miles southwest of Fort Worth. We happened to be acquainted with two of the party, who were old schoolmates of ours in the North and as they extended us an invitation to accompany them on their hunt, we decided to do so.
Six strong mule teams, attached to good wagons, were taken along to bring back the spoils of the chase, besides good saddle horses for every member of the party except Frank and myself.
At the close of the second day out from Dallas we saw considerable sign of buffalo and about noon of the next day we came to some fine springs which issued from the bank of a small creek, and as it was a good point for camping, and as buffalo signs were numerous, our guide thought it best to take a stand there for a day or two at least.
Frank and I were astir on the following morning by the first streak of day and we began eagerly to scan the horizon in every direction for the coveted game. We were not long in discovering a vast herd quietly grazing on the plains, about two miles to the southwest of where we were camped. Frank suggested that we take our Winchesters and quietly slip away from camp, for no one else was yet astir and surprise the boys with a buffalo steak for breakfast. This was the very thing I was about to propose to him, and as both of us were in the same notion, twenty minutes later we were nearing the vast herd.
That was the first herd of buffalo I had ever beheld. I saw many big ones afterward, but never encountered one that could compare in vastness with this mighty bison herd. The prairie seemed filled with them. They formed one dark unbroken, undulating mass that seemed bounded only at the horizon and
stretched southward as far as the eye could follow.
We proceeded cautiously across the prairie, half creeping, half crawling, keeping ourselves obscured by the tall broom weeds, which grew luxuriantly between us and the herd, until we had succeeded in approaching to within about thirty rods of the advance guard of the mighty host.
As we lay there watching the systematic arrangement and conduct of the vast herd, its divisions and subdivisions, and line of outposts, our attention was attracted by the peculiar actions of various number of one of the division which was grazing nearest to us.
First one buffalo would give a sudden jump, run a few steps, stop and look back and then, giving his body a thorough shaking would resume his feeding again, only to repeat his strange maneuvers a few seconds later. Others became affected in the same way, and one after another, they finally fell abruptly to the ground and lay motionless at full length.
“It seems to me” said I, in a whisper to Frank “that rattlesnakes must be the cause of this.”
“No.” said he, “I have heard it said that the prairie rattler can’t kill a buffalo, and even if they could, not as quick as these fellows have gone down anyhow. I never saw anything like that before in my life, and can’t understand it.”
To solve the mystery we concluded to fire into that particular bunch, which would cause them to stampede up to the main herd. We each selected a buffalo and fired. The one I had chosen was a magnificent spike bull. He fell the instant the gun cracked. The one which Frank shot at fled with his immediate companions. The alarm spread along the herd, and soon the vast body was thundering away to the southwest, shaking the earth by their mighty tread.
Followed by Frank I rushed up to my trophy in great glee. I put my foot on his massive neck and felt proud of my achievement.
Suddenly I looked back at Frank. He was standing stock still a few feet behind me, staring at something beyond me, in a frightened manner. I turned to see what he was looking at, and my eyes instantly became as staring wide open as his were.
There at the other side of the dead animal stood an Indian. He was at least seven foot tall, was entirely naked, except that he wore a strip of chamois around his loins, and a quiver of arrows at his side.
His eyes flashed wickedly as he drew himself up to his full height, placed his foot on the buffalo, and smiting himself on his bare breast, exclaimed in a haughty and imperious tone ”Mine boofloo!”
Before the Indian had finished making his positive claim to the buffalo, we became painfully aware that he was not alone, but that no less than eight Indians, nearly as big and ugly as himself, had appeared on the scene, as quietly and mysteriously as he had.
I had no intention whatever of disputing the red thief’s claim and I knew Frank had not. I took my foot off the dead buffalo. The Indian folded his arms and looked contemptuously as us and then exclaimed: “Tobacee?”
We interpreted this to mean that the savage wanted tobacco. Simultaneously each of us produced a big plug and reached it toward him. He took both plugs bit a chew from one, and stowed them both away somewhere in his breech cloth. Then, with a wicked leer, he waved his hand towards our white covered “prairie schooners” which could be plainly seen from where we were standing and we interpreted this motion to mean that we had better go; and we went!
The mystery of the strange actions of the buffaloes we had seen fall was now plain to us.
The Indians were provided with a complete disguise made of buffalo skins, and they were hiding in the tall broom weeds on the edge of the herd, and were picking off the choicest of them with their noiseless and deadly arrows.
We did not look back until we were half way to camp; then we saw the Indians squatted in an excited group upon the ground.
“They are gambling for our tobacco,” said Frank.
We had several days of fine sport hunting and killing the buffalo and when all the wagons were loaded our caravan made a safe return to Dallas.
I have often thought of the way I shot and lost my first buffalo, and I have often congratulated myself since that I did not lose my scalp, and always wondered why that villainous redskin happened to let me keep it.
It was no Ghost
Thrilling Adventure in a Michigan Forest
By Delbert S. Ivins
It was near the close of day, the fourth of July, 1860 that I found myself by a spring brook that crossed the old "Traverse Trail," about four or five miles south of Pine River, and about thirty miles south of Grand Traverse Settlement, in Michigan.
I had parted with my wife and babe at the settlement that morning, and, wearied by my long walk, I was rejoiced to find this beautiful bubbling brook of crystal, cool water with which to slake my thirst and bathe my heated brow.
I was on my way to Kalamazoo, and had about fifty miles more of this lonely, desolate wilderness to traverse before reaching the next settlement; or, as the Traverse people would have said, "Before I could get outside."
As it was near sundown, and water was an object along this trail, I decided to camp here for the night, I accordingly went a few yards up the brook and discovered a little log hut covered with bark, which had probably been the winter quarters of some trapper or hunter the previous winter.
"This is the very place I have been wishing for,” thought I, and I soon began to gather some dry fuel with which to smoke away the ravenous mosquitoes, which hovered about like swarming bees. After fixing a, snug little pallet of hemlock boughs in one corner of the cabin on which to repose, I took from my pocket a paper and tried to read, but could not; the letters would all run together. After several attempts and failures, I put the paper in my pocket, then filled and lighted my pipe. A strange, indescribable feeling came over me; I began to grow restless and uneasy, when a strange whisper came to my ear, distinctly calling my name. "Don't stop here; this cabin is haunted!"
I confess that I was startled; I looked about and tried to discover from whence the strange whispers came, but no clue could I discover. I stepped out of the cabin and looked around; the birds were warbling their evening carol; the sun, which was just setting, looked like a great ball of fire, and the wind made a dreary, lonesome noise among the tall pine and hemlock trees, which stood thickly about on all sides. I meditated only a moment; my resolve was quickly taken. I stopped back into the hut, picked up my carpet sack and started. It was only a few steps to j the trail, and as soon as I reached it stopped and meditated a moment, and risk the phantoms and stay here."
After returning to the cabin I procured more fuel, and then tried to read again, but could not concentrate my mind long enough upon any article to finish it. I flung the paper down, filled and lighted my pipe again, and in the course of an hour or so I was pretty well composed.
Wearied with my long walk, it was scarcely dark when I sought my hemlock couch, and prayed fervently that sweet Morpheus might take charge of me and release my mind from worldly care till the incoming of another day.
A half hour later I had fallen into a gentle slumber of five or ten minutes' duration, when a fearful scream aroused me from my lethargy.
In an instant I was brightening up my fire, which by this time had nearly died out. In a few moments it was burning brightly.
For perhaps a minute I remained in breathless, silence, as if paralyzed, striving to catch the slightest sound, but the dull, dreary rustling of the leaves with an occasional sought and moan of the breeze as it was swept with a varying current through the tall pines and hemlock, was all that I could now distinguish with the sense of hearing. My reverie was soon disturbed by a sound entirely different from the preceding, but so frightful and unearthly that I fairly sank down paralyzed with fear! There immediately arose a succession of the most horrible noises I ever heard, sounds as of a desperate struggle just below me by the brook, with snarling, growling, and gnashing of teeth, co-mingled with yells and groans, bellowing of pain, terror, and despair.
"Great heavens”, thought I, "what can it be?” I have been in the woods hunting and trapping for months at a time, have camped out many a night all alone fifty miles from any habitation, and never before heard y noises. I am unarmed and some monster of the woods is about to devour me. Oh, God! What a thought! What would become of my dear wife and babe? My blood fairly curdled in my veins; but, thank God, I have a good pocket knife and a stout cane and if I must die I will not give up without a desperate struggle.
My fire now burned brightly and looked rather cheerful within, but without those unearthly groans and screams and frightful growls, made it dismal enough indeed.
Presently I ventured to the doorway, with my pocket-knife in one hand, my cane in the other, and addressed my intruder as follows:"If you are a man”, (I thought it might be possible that some hunters were trying to play a joke on me) "come forward and make yourself known and you shall share my humble couch with me and be forgiven for your little joke and treated with courtesy in every respect."
Before I had finished the sentence I saw something creeping toward me, and when within about fifty feet of me it commenced a round of those horrid noises again. It nearly paralyzed me by this time, for I was satisfied now beyond a doubt that it was a panther!
I seized a fire-brand and hurled it at him; but he only moved back a little farther in the thicket, growling savagely, as he did so. He circled the cabin a half-dozen times during the night, and would in-variably come back and take his stand
growling savagely. I do believe if I had not "lectured" him several times during the night, and threatened him with instant death, he would have come in and given me battle! He watched me as close as a cat would watch a mouse, and every time I would stir or move he would growl savagely, which caused me to shake as if in an ague.
Oh, how I wished for my trusty rifle, which I had left at home, little dreaming I would so soon need it so badly!
"Oh, that long, dismal, dreadful night would that I could forget it! For even now I can only recall it with feelings of horror.
About two hours before day my fuel began to get scarce and the panther began to grow bolder.
"My God!” thought I, "if my fuel gives out I will surely be torn to pieces and devoured by this carnivorous beast!"
I scraped up all the loose rubbish I could find, such as chips; pieces of bark and leaves, and put them on the fire, but they only lasted a few moments; the fire began to die out again, and this time the panther ventured to the very door, his eyes glaring like two bulls of fire, while he growled furiously!
Happy thought! I can brighten up the fire with the bark which covers the hut! No sooner said than done. I began pulling down the bark and putting it upon the fire, and in a few moments it was burning brightly again, which caused the panther to retreat a little from the doorway.
As the first streak of gray appeared in the east, the panther set up a round of heart rendering, hair-raising noises as he retreated to the eastward, and then all noises ceased, and that was the last I heard of him.
I left the cabin at the first dawn of day, and for the first two or three miles of my journey, it would have taken a good horse to have kept up with me. At sunrise I stopped long enough to eat a cold breakfast, and then on again, and before the sun went down that evening I reached the Dry Prairie Settlement which was fifty miles from the "Haunted Cabin," or, as I afterwards christened it, the "Panther's Den." I cannot explain the strange presentment, but must say it was the most horrible night I ever experienced.
A NOTEWORTHY ESTABLISHMENT.
One of the most widely and favorably known retail establishments in any line of trade in this city is the boot and shoe house conducted by N. K. Ivins, at 19 North Greene Street. Established by the present proprietor fifteen years ago the first of the present month, this house not only enjoys the distinction of being one of the first enterprises of the kind established here, but is, doubtless, the oldest one in existence to-day, and it is worthy of mention to add that the business has always been carried on at the present desirable and central location. At the start, however, the business was content to occupy a much smaller storeroom than is necessary to accommodate the demands of trade to-day, and, although the capacity of the salesroom has been enlarged from time to time, until there is no available space left for further enlargement, the trade of the house has steadily increased to that extent that it has been found necessary, of late years, to secure additional room elsewhere for storing surplus stock. Owing to the proximity of the location of the house to the corner of Greene and Hanover Streets, the establishment, by reason of its having an "L" extension in the rear, is provided with a double entrance on both streets, an arrangement that greatly adds to its facilities and conveniences. The main salesroom, entrance on Greene Street, is 22x60 feet and the "L" extension 15x40 feet in dimensions, and both are fitted up in a neat and convenient manner and stocked from floor to ceiling with a carefully selected assortment of the latest productions of the leading boot and shoe factories throughout the country.
A MASSIVE SHOW WIND0W.
Not the least prominent of the improvements added to the establishment by the enterprising proprietor is the massive French plate show window that, adorns the Greene Street front, which affords the best of facilities for displaying to advantage choice grades of stock, which never fails to command a fair share of the attention of shoppers that daily throng this busy thoroughfare. Before calling the reader's attention to the more prominent features of the stock of the house it is worthy of mention to call attention to the perfection attained in the manufacture of fine, readymade boots and shoes, and at the same time pause to note that while this class of work has attained such a high state of perfection that it is a rare exception to find anyone wearing custom made work nowadays, the system of manufacture by which this perfection has been brought about has reduced the cost to the consumer fully one-half compared with the prices of custom-made work. There is no other branch of business that deals with readymade wearing apparel occupying such a position of prominence in commercial circles as that devoted to the boot and shoe trade, and it is the only one dealing in goods of this character that commands the trade of all classes. It is a noteworthy fact in this connection that the finest class of trade is the best patrons which goes to show the superiority or the work. This is clearly shown in the case of ladies fine shoes, as is proven by the fact that it is a more common occurrence to find men wearing custom made work than womankind, although the latter demand the finest class of material and workmanship.
ONE OF THE GREAT FEATURES.
A prominent feature of the stock of the house consists of a full line of ladies' fine shoes, manufactured by such well and favorably known concerns as Morrow, of New York, and Gardiner, of Philadelphia, two of the leading houses in the country engaged in the manufacture of women’s shoes.
A very creditable Business House
It is safe to say that the history of no other branch of business in this city furnishes as many notable examples of eminent success as is recorded in the grocery trade, both wholesale and retail. One of the most remarkable instances of substantial and deserved success achieved in this branch of business is recorded in the development of the wholesale and retail establishment conducted by the Messrs. Ivins Brothers, at the northeast corner of Greene and Academy Streets. This well and favorably known firm, originally composed of M.H. and Elwood Ivins another brother, George C. has since been admitted into partnership. Made their debut in business circles in this city in 1869 as the proprietors of a small store at 202 and 204 Perry Street, formerly conducted by Warren Kimble. The modest beginning of the firm is aptly illustrated in the fact that their sales, the first Saturday, which is the day of all days in the grocery trade, amounted to less than $25.00 while the rapid growth of the business is shown in the remarkable statement that the trade of the house for the year recently ended footed up $70,000. And from present indications the current year’s sales will reach nearly $100,000.00 a remarkable sowing this and one that has few equals in any line of trade represented in Trenton.
TAKING NEW QUARTERS
In 1881 finding the trade of the house had overtaxed the capacity of the Perry Street location; the firm purchased and took possession of their present commodious and centrally located establishment, which is a three story brick structure, 34 X 70 feet in dimensions, with finished basement. The main salesroom is provided with two entrances on Greene and one on the Academy Street side near the rear, where the two delivery wagons run by the firm receive their loads, an admirable feature in connection with a house doing so extensive a trade. Facing the Academy Street entrance is the department where dressed beef and cured and smoked meat are sold and adjoining this counter, occupying a prominent position in the center of the store near the rear end, is a large refrigerator, modeled after ones constructed by dealers in Chicago dressed beef for the safe keeping of fresh meats, which was added to the establishment last September. The ice box will hold about one and a half tons of ice and the refrigerator chest has a capacity for hanging the carcasses of three dressed beeves. This branch of the business has rapidly developed into prominence as is shown in the statement that the trade of the house consumes from six to eight sides of dressed beef each week, besides a large quantity of fresh pork sausage and cured and smoked meats. All the smoked meats handled by the house are cured and smoked by West, Clark & Case, of this city. Recognizing the importance of this branch of the business the house has placed it in charge of William Bensel, of this city, who has had an experience of thirty nine years in dressing and curing meats.
CHOICE BRANDS OF LARD
In this connection it would be well to add that the house handles none but Kettle rendered lard, and a sufficient quantity is purchased and stored away at this season of the year to supply the demands of trade until the following fall. Another important article
With the house is good butter and to obtain this they make a specialty of genuine creamery make. The house does an extensive trade on the wholesale and retail in canned goods, and carries a large stock constantly, which is purchased direct from the packers. A specialty is made of Cooper’s celebrated canned tomatoes, put up at Stevensville, this state, and Baker’s and McMurray’s canned corn. The house prides itself on its stock of coffees and teas, and claims to be the only one in the city that handles genuine Mocha coffee. All grades of coffee are purchased in the green state in original packages and cleaned and roasted in this city. ‘A specialty is made of an excellent grade known to the trade as “washed carracus” which retails for twenty five cents per pound, and its popularity is attested by the fact that the trade of the house consumes 1000 pounds a month. As it is well known that coffee while in the green state improves with age, it is an established rule of the house to carry large quantities in stock and it not infrequently happens that large sales of choice lots are made to coffee brokers in Philadelphia. A sale of this character, involving a ton of coffee was made several months ago, and a tempting offer to buy a much larger quantity was refused quite recently. Sugars, of course, are extensively handled, as is shown in the statement that last year, during the canning and fruit preserving season, covering a period of six months, it required nearly 6000 pounds to supply the demands of trade. Another highly important article which the firm prides itself on is the quality of the flour handled, and all will agree that they rest their reputation on a first class article when it is known they make a specialty of the famous Spring wheat roller process flour, manufactured by Pillsbury Bros. Minneapolis.
An Excellent Grade of Prunes
For some time past the house has been enjoying an extensive trade in an excellent grade of prunes, which retail at the rate of twenty five cents for four pounds. Within thirty five days they disposed of one ton of these goods. It is a well known fact that the firm display unusual enterprise in securing early spring vegetables of southern growth, and were the first to supply the Trenton people with new peas last spring. If there is any branch of the business more than another the house is particularly noted for it is the extensive produce commission trade it commands during the summer season. A specialty is made o f Burlington county produce from which source. It is received fresh daily throughout the entire season. An idea of the immense trade of the house is this class of goods may be gathered from the statement that the sales last season included among other articles of this nature 20,000 quarts of straw berries and in one day the sales included 296 baskets of citrons and 100 crates of blackberries. A prominent feature of the business is the packing of sweet potatoes, Burlington county growth, for preservation during the winter. Besides packing from six to eight hundred baskets every fall for the regular demands of trade about five hundred baskets are packed to order and delivered to private families throughout the city. At present it requires the services of eight people including the three members of the firm, who are constantly in attendance on the wants of patrons. To attend to the demands of trade, an extra delivery wagon, in addition to the two now in daily use, will be put on the road this spring. The force of clerks includes William Hall, formerly of the grocery firm of Hall & Warren of this city. The secret of the success of the house, according to one of the firm, “consists in selling good goods at low prices, an extended experience in the trade strict attention to business, together with a force of competent clerks, whose instructions are never to misrepresent an article for the purpose of making a sale. The Messrs, Ivins Brothers, who are natives of New Jersey, are numbered among Trenton’s most enterprising merchants and the immense business they have built up is the best evidence of the truth of this last statement.
by Delbert S. Ivins
Jack Biddle, the subject of this sketch, in dress, looks, and general outline, is the typical character of the early hunter and trapper in the far west, and glories in the fact that the onward march of civilization has failed to make any impression on his frontier moods and habits of life. his hair and beard are long and shaggy and for wearing apparel he still clings with the greatest tenacity, to the skins of wild beasts, like the untutored savage.
some of the adventures and hairbreadth escapes of this strange individual are, without doubt, among the most wonderful that has ever occurred in the west, and yet, strange as it may seem, they have never yet appeared in t for the reason, perhaps, that Biddle though he cannot read, has a superstition that if his name was to appear in print it might bring him into disrepute among his old acquaintances.
The "old-timers" have a peculiar reverence for Biddle, and whenever his name is mentioned they shrug their shoulders and give up that his record of perilous deeds and thrilling adventures excel those of any other settler in the Yellowstone region.
Biddle was one of the very few white men who followed the occupation of hunting and trapping, from away back in the '50s, right in the midst of the Sioux reservation grounds, and while they were the most deadly enemies of his race. but somehow he always managed to elude their most crafty efforts at capture. In his fights with the Indians he always came off victorious, and one or more of the copper-colored race was sure to bite the dust, through the unerring aim of his rifle.
Of course, he was eagerly sought after by the Sioux, and every hour of his existence his life was in jeopardy, because of their determined hostility. However, he had the pure "grit" and made a vow to be a mortal enemy of the tribe, a vow which he invariably kept, nor did he lay down his arms and smoke the pipe of peace until the last Sioux was driven from beyond the hunting grounds of his vicinity.
The chief cause of his hatred for that tribe was because the warriors of sitting bull and other chiefs molested his beaver and otter traps, stealing his game and interfering with his chances of securing pelts and other trophies of a hunter's prosperity.
In those days, to use Biddle's expression, he slept with "one eye open," and was ready at all times to meet any emergency that might arise. chaparral and swamp were his principal places of concealment, and the highest hilltops he used for observatories. "Jerked" meat was his chief food, and when he was tempted to build a fire it was done with the greatest caution. He kept a strict account of every Indian that he killed, but the number grew so large that his acquaintances, though they did not doubt his claims, laughed so heartily at the idea of one man slaughtering so many Indians of one tribe that he never forgave some of them for their apparent unbelief of his statements; and now lie invariably avoids going into numerical details, but is fond of relating stories of how he played tricks on the crafty savages.
At one time he occupied a small block-house full of port-holes, and in a commanding position, from whence he kept numerous war parties at bay, slaying so many of them, that they finally withdrew in disgust, leaving our hero the victor. Once, however, they surrounded this little fortress of Biddle's in such overwhelming numbers, and sent such a shower of lead and arrows, that defense was useless, hot arrows setting fire to his block house in many places.
The red demons, on observing the progress of the flames, howled with the most keen and fiendish delight, supposing that their pale-faced enemy would now surely perish.
But Biddle was prepared for just such an emergency. He had skillfully constructed a secret underground passageway, and into this he crawled and remained until darkness came on, when he came forth unharmed.
The Indians never forgave Biddle for this trick, and ever after called him "Fire Devil," and a great many ponies and numerous wives were offered by the chief to the warrior who would slay him.
Biddle played another trick on them which they did not soon forget. One day he constructed a good-sized wigwam and after arranging things as though he had made a hasty departure, left some poisoned pieces of meat on his table in the tent, which some of the Indians discovered and ate, and in consequence died immediately. They were some of the bravest warriors of the Sioux and the tribe went into mourning for months afterwards. Biddle was practically besieged, and the only way he could obtain food was by slipping out at night and if he failed to kill any game he would gather a quantity of berries and herbs.
On returning from one of these excursions late one night he was greatly surprised to discover signs which indicated that his home was occupied by the enemy. How many Indians were inside he could not tell, but he determined to investigate. As usual he had prepared a secret passageway to enter his abode, the existence of which no one else knew, or would be likely to discover. Into this passageway he crept stealthily to make explorations. Through a crevice he soon ascertained that there were four Indians, all well armed, and watching for his return. Biddle could not depart from his usual custom of shooting a Sioux whenever such a good opportunity was presented. He drew a bead, through the crack, on the one he thought to be the leader, and fired. The Indian jumped high in the air, described a circle, and fell dead, shot through the heart. The other three Indians were so astonished at the noise and sudden death of their companion that they snatched up the latter's body and fled in the wildest consternation. Biddle threw the secret door open and sprang after them. Again he fired, and another Indian fell mortally wounded, which caused the remaining two to relinquish their hold upon their dead companion and flee for safety.
For a long time after this incident Biddle was left almost undisputed master of this portion of the Yellowstone Valley. The Indians regarding him with that fear inspired by an evil spirit.
Biddle had a terrible adventure about two years later. He and two companions were out hunting. They had killed quite a quantity of game and had just made preparations for camping, when all at once they were set upon by a dozen Sioux, who raised a tremendous war whoop, with the expectation of frightening the trappers away from their prize. The latter, however, were experienced in Indian cunning and warfare, and stood their ground bravely. At the moment when the affray began Biddle was returning from, the brush with a load of fire-wood. Six Indians sprang in front of him, hoping to cut him off from his companions and kill and scalp him at their leisure.
Seeing that they had the advantage in numbers, Biddle threw down his wood and, snatching his large navy revolver from his belt, where he always kept it for just such emergencies, he darted into the brush. The Indians followed, but Biddle, being fleet of foot, gained on his pursuers and was soon secreted behind a dense chaparral thicket. Three of the Indians turned to join their six companions who were, waging war upon the other two trappers, but the remaining three rushed on after Biddle. He was now ready for them, and no sooner had they shown themselves around the edge of the thicket than he fired twice, killing two of them.
The leader of the party, who was a perfect Hercules, snapped his gun at Biddle, but it did not go off. Instantly he threw it down, and, drawing a long gleaming knife, with a frightful yell he dashed at his antagonist.
By a dexterous stroke of his revolver, Biddle, in warning off the blow of the knife, belabored the right arm of his enemy so severely that he let the knife fall to the ground. Both now grappled, and a desperate struggle ensued to get possession of the weapons, the revolver also having fallen beyond Biddle's reach.
Down a steep bank rolled the two combatants, both unarmed, but each endeavoring to prevent the other from breaking away and thus securing one of the weapons first. The advantage in strength was with Biddle, and he held his enemy firmly, determined that he should not get away.
At last, by a desperate effort, Biddle raised his antagonist in the air and threw him to the ground violently. Before the Indian had recovered from the shock, Biddle had dispatched him with his own hunting knife. Returning to camp he found that his companions had driven off the war party, and they were once more victorious.
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