Around 9,500 B.C. Paleo-Indian peoples initially occupied the Northern Plains, hunting mammoths, giant bison, and other mega-fauna.
Near 5,500 B.C.Archaic peoples based their lifeways on hunting and gathering of essentially modern fauna since the previous era's mega-fauna were now extinct. The atlatl, a dart throwing device which drastically increased the range, effectiveness, and safety of hunting, came into use.
By 700 B.C. Ceramics were first used in North Dakota for cooking and food storage.
During the years 550-410 B.C. Early Woodland peoples living along the James River in Southeastern North Dakota built a log and brush house.
In 100 B.C. Middle Woodland peoples began building burial mounds in North Dakota, including complex ceremonial centers. The bow and arrow were introduced during this period.
Starting around 30 A.D. The Jamestown mounds, a complex burial and ceremonial site, were occupied.
By 900 A.D. Late Woodland peoples used the bow and arrow extensively, produced ceramics resembling the later Plains Village wares, and gardened intensively.
Starting in 950 A.D. Plains Village peoples raised corn and other crops in sufficient quantities to store seed and trade for other goods. Seasonally occupied, permanent villages of earthlodges were built.
By 1200 A.D. The Early Indian tribes or Mound Builders, left evidence of their work on the top of the Hawksnest. A serpent shaped mound several hundred feet long, with five connecting mounds or ridges is seen there and stands as a monument to those pre-historic people.
Around the late 1300's-1400 Jamestown mounds site was abandoned. A drought reduced agricultural production and fewer living sites were established on the open prairies. Plains Village peoples abandoned the lower James River area by
The Cheyenne, living in earthlodges, occupied the Sheyenne River valley; the Hidatsa moved west from Devils Lake to the Missouri; the Sioux moved onto the plains from the woodlands of Minnesota around 1610
The Lakota were originally part of the seven council fires or 7 bands: 4 Dakota, 2 Nakota (3 later counting the Assiniboin), and one Teton or Lakota band. The Dakota were the predominant people in this arrangement. First recorded contact with the Dakota was by Jesuits in 1640 and 1658, in the area of present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin, and in the forests in southern Minnesota. These people had lived in this area for many generations.
In 1680 the Teton or Lakota were identified as living further west, on the upper Mississippi in central Minnesota. But the continuing wars between the eastern tribes over the fur trade had driven the Chippewa westward to this area. They were well-armed by the French, and gradually forced the Oceti Sakowin westward, out of their forest-and-lake range, and onto the Great Plains west of the Mississippi.
In 1738 La Verendrye, a French explorer, visited Mandan villages near the Missouri River. This is the first known Euro-American expedition into what is now North Dakota.
In 1781 the first known business enterprise, a fur trading post, was briefly established near the Souris River, but was soon abandoned as a result of pressure from unfriendly Indians.
By 1800 the fur traders from Canada were frequent visitors to this region and a trade route had been established between posts near Lake Winnipeg and the Missouri River Indian villages. The Prairies had numerous buffalo paths worn deep and wide leading to the watering places or salt licks.
Explorer Alexander Henry traveled in the region in 1800 and described buffalo herds in great numbers about the Turtle, Park, Goose and Sheyenne rivers. In places small timber had been destroyed and great piles of wool lay at the foot of the trees, where the buffalo had rubbed against them.
An expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark entered North Dakota in 1804 and wintered near the present town of Washburn on its way to the Pacific Coast. This temporary post, Fort Mandan, was frequently visited by nearby Indians.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1806 returned down the river on its way back to St. Louis.
By 1812 an agricultural colony was established near Pembina by settlers from Canada under the authority of a royal grant to Lord Selkirk.
The Yellowstone, the first steamboat on the upper Missouri, reached Fort Union in 1832.
With several notable exceptions, contact between the Native peoples and American traders, explorers, and military personnel in the Northern Plains remained peaceful during the early 19th Century. Indians became instrumental in the fur trade; major trading posts at Fort Union and Fort Clark, and others of lesser significance, catered mainly to Native trappers and hunters. In exchange for their meat and furs, the Indians received guns, metal tools, cloth and beads, and other trade goods. This exchange forever altered Indian cultures, and it often brought dangers; in 1837, for example, smallpox virtually wiped out the Mandan people at Fort Clark.
In 1840 Alexander Ross, a Canadian trader, witnessed a buffalo hunt on the Sheyenne River by a party of professional hunters. He counted tongues of 1,375 buffalo that had been killed in one day. Very little else was salvaged from the slaughtered animals in that hunt.
As early as 1845, thoughtful observers protested the wasteful, wholesale slaughter of buffalo. That it continued until there were less than nine hundred buffalo left alive on the entire North American continent is a matter of record. The buffalo was the backbone of the economy of the Plains Indians. "Uncle Buffalo," as they called him, was used as a commodity and venerated as a symbol. They fed on the flesh, either fresh or dried and preserved as pemmican. Sinews were used for thread. The skins, as one observer pointed out, served as "tepees, raiment, bedding, carpets, canvas, bullboats, baskets, buckets and cases for pemmican and fat, strings for their bows, ropes for tethering animals, lariats for catching young buffalo and at the end were used for shroud and coffin." Dried and made into pemmican, the meat would keep for years, early historians wrote. The loss of the buffalo impoverished the Indians and forced them to accept the terms imposed upon them.
Issac I. Stevens crossed the state in 1853 surveying the "Northern Route" for the proposed transcontinental railroad. At Lake Jessie east of present day Binford a herd of buffalo estimated at two hundred thousand crowded about the lake. But huge as the herds were, the end was beginning. For several years, 90,000 hides a year were handled by trading companies. These were only from animals killed from November to March, when the hides were prime.
Around this time, as ledgend has told there was a large band of Dakota Souix camped at the Hawksnest. Huyawayapaahdi (huya-waya-pa-a-hdhi) the Dakota Indian name for the Hawksnest. Interpeted this means "where the eagle brings something in its beak." With displacement of the indian came compition between tribes. The Dakota suspecting that a camp of Chippewas was nearby. Souix scouts were about searching for the compeating tribe with no sign of them. Then they saw an eagle fly into the trees with something peculiar in it beak and which they soon after discovered to be a piece of buffalo meat which had been cut off with a knife. On further inquiry with their scouts they were able to indicate from what direction the eagle had come. The warriors went out and located the enemy camp and chased them off their hunting grounds.
In 1863, Dakota Territory was opened for homesteading. Campaigns intended to punish Santee Sioux who participated in the Minnesota Uprising pushed through northern Dakota and were led by General Henry H. Sibley and General Alfred H. Sully. On September 3, Sully's forces attacked a peaceful hunting camp of Yanktonai Sioux at Whitestone Hill; this was the last major battle of the Indian Wars period to be fought east of the Missouri.
Camp Kimball located just N.E. of the Hawksnest on the Pipestem River. This was one of the stops made by General Sibley July 22, 1863. In Longview township there were found the remains of breastworks. These trenches were thrown up and shallow holes dug to prepare for an attack by Indians. Pickets were posted every night. This plot of ground has been purchased by the State Historical Society and the D.A.R. of Carrington and they have placed a marker on the area. Indians would cross near this same spot on their way to the Hawksnest.
From Mr. Brackett's diary, one of Genral Sibley soldiers.
"We crossed the James River and its branch now known as the Pipestem. Very little water in either stream. Mail today with St. Paul papers to July 11, but there was no word of the great victories won at Gettysburg and Vicksburg some days before." While at Camp Kimball the Indian scout with Sibley got extremely nervous, sensing the nearness of the Sioux although the Indians had not seen any of the Sioux warriors. It turned out that the Sioux were camped just south of Pettibone. It was while they were at this camp that some wagons were sent to the Hawksnest for wood for cooking purposes. The cooks did not like using the buffalo chips if at all possible. The teamsters were badly deceived as to the distance and found it nearer five miles than two which they had estimated it to be. There is in Carrington an old cavalry saber which was found a short distance north of this camp site and which was probably lost by one of these cavalry men.'
As late as 1877 dried buffalo meat and pemmican were sold at Pembina, but the era of "Uncle Buffalo" had ended.
By the early 1880's, when the first homesteaders began to arrive in the buffalo were long gone, and Indians were rare and infrequent visitors. But though the living beasts were gone, the prairies still carried marks of their passing. Deep trails through the grass, and basin-shaped wallows gave evidence of their presence a quarter century before. Bleached, dry buffalo bones lay all over. (Though the bones are now gone, many trails remain today.) For many early settlers, buffalo bones were their first cash crop. The bones were shipped to Detroit, Michigan, to be ground into fertilizer. In 1884 the Cooperstown Courier reported, "A leading industry between seeding and the breaking season is the gathering of buffalo bones. It was reported that 250 tons of buffalo bones at $6 a ton had been purchased and were awaiting shipment. This represented bones from at least 10,000 animals! Next year, the price went up to $13 a ton and later that year it climbed again to $18 a ton. It was estimated that $8000 was paid out for buffalo bones in Cooperstown that year. This figures out to somewhere near 500 tons, or bones from 20,000 animals.
(Independent, April 2;1925) John G. Grems of Maryville, Mo. who was a member of the Sibley expedition met F.M. Trullinger of Carrington at a Masonic Lodge meeting. When he found out Mr. Trullinger was from North Dakota they began talking about his experiences while with Sibley. Mr. Trullinger told him about the sword that was dug up on the Kallberg land by John Imler, who was breaking up the land, in 1902. Mr. Grems believed that the sword once belonged to Lt. Beaver. The true story of the sword has never been known but it laid on the prairie probably 40 or more years and it was over a year after it was found before soaking in kerosene permitted removing the sword from the scabbard. Mr. Trullinger had described the sword as best he could and the old veteran of the expedition felt confident that it was the extra fine sword that had been carried by Lieut. Beaver. (The sword is now in the museum of the Masonic temple at Fargo.) Beaver was ambushed near Apple Creek by the Indians and riddled with arrows. His fine horse was also killed. Captain William H. Kimball, whose name was used on the camp was assistant quartermaster for Sibley. He had charge of the pontoon train, which was equipped to lay temporary bridges over streams. They had little to do that dry summer. Little is known of the officer's personal history. That camp now has a marker stating that it is a Historic Site.
1864 A second military expedition led by Sully battled Sioux at Killdeer Mountain and in the Badlands. This diminished Dakota resistance, forcing many onto reservations to avoid starvation.
A chain of military outposts, beginning with Fort Abercrombie in 1857, continually increased Federal power, and the great slaughter of the northern bison herds after 1870 eventually caused the nomadic tribes to submit. Some bands of Dakota resisted into the 1880s, but their old way of life on the plains was lost.
Seventh Cavalry, Company C., of Fort Totten, with Captain Tom Custer as commander, following the long established trail from Devils Lake, up over Hawksnest and to Fort Lincoln. That Company C was made up of young farmers eager for patriotic duty. They continued on with General George Custer and his company on to the Little Big Horn massacre.
Every year the Indians travled between Standing Rock Reservation and Fort Totten. Their travel was as near a bee line as possibble, especially southwest of the Hawksnest. The trail came right over the Hawksnest hills out of the southwest, then circled over to a line which is about the Wells-Foster county line. Then they continued almost due north , angling a little east to reach Fort Totten. The Indians traveled with travois, and later wagons. Their ponies were piebald or calico type. They carried a full cargo of entrails, tainted meats, green or untanned skins and dried roots. They often stopped to dig brown cat-tails and other roots, pick buffalo peas, indian beans, berries, wild mustard, and many other plant specimens for dyeing clothing, medicinal purposes and feathering the nests of their papooses. They traveled with many dogs.
In 1873 the Hawksnest was named by John H. Porter. A survey team from the rail road near present day Melville, needing more wood for stakes, sent a party of men to the wooded hill in the west. Upon there return the men said the hills were invested with hawks, it's a reaglar Hawksnest. Other names include "Chief Hill," "Great Coteau," and "Pilot Knob" In 1874 The G.G. Beardsley surveying team saw a heard of over 200 buffalo that grazed all that summer between the Hawksnest west to Wagon Wheel Hill. In October 1878 J.J. Nichols made a bufflo hunt to the Hawksnest, and killed a choice young bull near the springs a half mile east of the timber there.
The pioneers in stories told to their descendants described the miles and miles of open prairie covered with a very thick native grass. The only landmark for miles was the Hawksnest hills. There was not a tree in sight! In some areas the ground was white with buffalo bones, a grim reminder of the animals that had been slaughtered years earlier.
Bufflo bones, were scattered everywhere over the prariries. When new trails were blazed, the pioneers would mark the way with large bones at frequent intervals and in passsing over the highest points, would pile up stones or spade up some sod and place a buffalo skull on the top. This marking of the trails helped them from being lost in the tall grasses of the prairies. Bones were also used as markers to plow fields in straight furrows.
Another account of the Dakota Indian travels between Standing Rock and Fort Totten. There was a large flat rock at the east end of the ridge just south of Cathay which was used as a nesting place by a pair of Amercian eagles and which was something of a sacred stone to the Indians. Often found it bedecked with bits of red cloth pieces of colored glass, shiny stones and kinnekinnick (indian tobbaco).
In the fall of 1881 an group from Jamestown made out for a bufflo hunt to the vicinity west of Hurdsfield, ther hunt bagged them 3 young bufflo bulls. There return trip on the east side of the Hawksnest and in the central part of the timber they found and Indian burial site. Four dead Souix were wrapped in blankets and placed up in the trees while the body of a woman was hanging nearly half out of the blanket and about to drop to the ground. On a Sunday in late July, 1882 is called last buffalo hunt in Wells Co. Sunday services were being held at the Sykes & Hughs ranch dining hall. Just as the sermon was begining a hearder came riding in at a fast gallop and announced that a buffalo was grazing with the oxen. A note was hastily written telling the fact and passed through the congregation. Soon a party of bufflo hunters mounted there mustangs and soon had the bufflo, an old male, singled out from the oxen. Then the sport was on in earnest, even the ponies seemingly entering into the spirt of the chase. The first shot at the bufflo was on the present townsite of Sykeston. This greatly infuriated the beast, and when they reached a firebreak the bufflo suddenly stopped and carged back at the hunters and succeeded in unhorsing several of the party. The bufflo was finally killed some 2 miles SW of Sykeston. Ewen Grant who shot the bufflo sent the hide to his brother in Scotland, where today is on display in the library in the town of Inverness, Scotland. The head and horns long hung over the office door of the Sykes & Hughs bussiness headquarter in Jamestown. Richard Sykes has been quoted "If there had not already been a town of Bufflo in Dakota Territory , when he founded Sykeston, that he would have betowed the name of Bufflo on his town in commemoration of this hunt".
During the summer of 1883 or 1884 the railroad tracks were laid as far as Sykeston 12 miles to the west. Settlement of the land in that area had begun through the promotions of the Richard Sykes Land Company. Already there were enough settlers and homesteaders on hand to petition for the organization of another county. Dispute over the location of the county line arose from the rivalry of the Carrington and Casey Land Company and the Sykes interests farther west.
Early homesteaders Ben Holcomb, Jack Bort, Li Holcomb, Van Vleet, Meton and Crayton Sherk thought this area was a good place to stop. The prairie grass was rich green and miles and miles of it stretched unbroken in all directions as far as the eye could see. The Hawksnest Hills, some 18 miles southwest, were clearly visible; otherwise all was green prairie grass in every direction. They tested the soil and found it rich and fertile, ideal for their purpose of raising wheat on a large scale. The weather was cool, the sunsets gorgeous, and the distances made Ben feel like the man who said, "Gosh, I didn't know there was so much outdoors." Buffalo trails ran all through the country, some of them deep ruts. Buffalo bones lay all over the prairie, bleached white by many suns. It was a grand country and a grand life for husky young men eager for adventure and unafraid of hard work.
The country was in its original prairie state with numerous large sloughs and plentiful game. Trees were scarce with only two small clumps visible on the whole countryside. The new group of settlers was eager to begin farming operations at once.
The land was not yet surveyed and it was necessary to know where to take their squatter's rights, so they would not be on railroad and school land when it was put on the market later.
Each of the men,picked his quarter of land and they began work on a sod shanty on Li's land.
While the shanty was being built they also dug a well. They had been using slough water which would be strained to remove the wigglers and then boiled. The well was some 14 feet in diameter and when they got down about 16 feet "hard pan" was struck. One of the men was in the well at the time and called attention of those above to the hollow sound when he struck on this hard clay. He then struck it a hard blow with his pick and the water shot far into the air. He was quickly helped out of the hold, even forgetting to take the pick with him; and in an hour the well was completely filled with water and very good water it was. The well was used for a good many years.
Mrs. Ben Holcomb was intensely afraid of Indians when she first came to the west in the summer of 1883. The Indians from Fort Totten followed a trail to the Sheyenne River, then down the Jim River, cutting off at what was known as Bowman's Crossing and then crossing Foster County to the Hawksnest. Many of them stopped at the Holcombs asking for food and drink and often for tobacco. Sometimes they were fed and sometimes they weren't according to the provisions at hand. During the early years there was one Indian who came to the Holcombs quite often and often stayed there overnight. He lived north of Devils Lake and had been educated at the Carlisle Indian School. He was the son of Chief Ironheart, who was said to be a most cruel looking Indian and who lived up to his name. However, his son whom Mrs. Holcomb believes was called Charlie, was very nice in appearance, talked English fairly well and always was polite and mannerly. He dressed well and upon his visits to the Holcombs the children were fascinated with him. He rode a beautiful horse which had a beaded saddle and always wore highly polished black boots. He amused Mrs. Holcomb very much when he would leave in the early morning as he walked very gingerly through the wet grass in order to protect his boots. Mr. Holcomb said his chief impression of Indians was that they always had a lot of dogs following them for which he had much pity.
In the summer of 1885, Mrs. Jennie Laughlin saw Indians for the first time and she was very frightened. The trail from Fort Totten to the Standing Rock Reservation passed through the very farmyard of the Laughlins and the Indians did not change their course just because there were settlers located there. They seemed to follow their instincts in most things and did not change their habits easily. Often Indians stopped at the home of the Laughlins for food and drink which they never refused. Mrs. Laughlin hoped to be rid of them sooner by complying with their wishes. However, vicious looking many of them were. They did not steal or molest anything belonging to these pioneers. Mrs. Laughlin says that most of the Indians dressed in native garb to some extent, wearing shawls or blankets wrapped around them and tied in below the waist with a cord or piece of rope. Their hair was usually parted in the middle and hung over their shoulders in two thick braids, the part painted a bright red and often a feather for an ornament. Occasionally there would also be an Indian with a full feather headdress. If they had beads or other ornaments they would be bedecked with them.
Mrs. Laughlin remembers well her first experience with the Indians. A Lesson in Etiquette One day in the summer of 1885, Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin and their children had just finished their noon meal when Mr. Laughlin noticed two Indian bucks carrying guns, riding toward the house from the north. His wife begged him not to leave the house until the Indians were out of sight and they stood at the window watching the two men as they rode up to the house and dismounted. Mr. Laughlin then went outside to waylay them, but they held out their hands in friendly fashion and asked in their sign language if they might have food. They then stood their guns against the house and followed Mr. Laughlin inside where he asked his wife to feed the men. She quickly set the table with their simple dishes and silverware and was glad that she had on the stove a large kettle of cabbage and another of potatoes, also plenty of bread which she had baked that morning. She heaped serving dishes with food and the Indians sat down at the table. However, they completely ignored the plates and silverware and ate from the serving dishes, one eating by handfuls of the cabbage and the other handfuls of the potatoes and then exchanging. The bread disappeared like magic; Mrs. Laughlin kept replenishing the bread plate but all would soon be gone. When she had given them almost three loaves of bread she decided she would watch and see if they were actually eating it; surely two men would not consume that much food. It was then that she saw that they would empty the plate and tuck the bread in their blankets. She decided she would give them no more and was chagrinned that she had given them as much as she had, for there was little left for the family. Later she learned that it is "Indian manners" to take all that is set before them and that this showed appreciation. Smoke Pipe of Peace When the two men had finished their meal, the Laughlins breathed a sigh of relief, but in vain, for they sat by the stoves and drew out their pipes, which had stems one foot and a half long. They sat there and smoked contentedly, every so often offering a pipe to Mr. Laughlin who was unable to smoke without becoming ill. He finally made them understand that he could not smoke, and they seemed reconciled and took their leave. The offering of their pipes had been their way of showing their thanks for the meal and friendship toward their benefactors. Mrs. Laughlin afterward berated her husband for not smoking as the Indians might have become angry. These Indians had not been gone more than fifteen minutes when a lone Indian rode into the yard and up to the house. He was very different in appearance then the other two had been; being clean and well dressed in a navy blue suit with brass buttons which looked like a uniform. He told them partly in English and partly in sign language, that he would like some food. There was nothing left now from dinner, but Mrs. Laughlin set the table as before and gave him bread and butter, and tea. He ate with the manners of a white man, using the plates and silverware in the approved manner. He then asked the Laughlins regarding the direction the other two men had taken and was quickly on his way also. Often the Laughlins wondered what his interest in the other two Indians had been and whether or not he was some kind of officer but they were never able to find out.
In another early setlers account, Mrs. F.N. Chaffee said that Indians were the bone of her life the first summer that she lived in Dakota, in the year 1885. Sometimes they would go through the country in large bands and again in two's and three's. Mr. Chaffee was friendly with the Indians and believed in treating them with kindness, telling his wife to let them have what food they wished and all the water they, needed. As a result of Mr. Chaffee's kindness, their homestead became a regular camping ground for the Indians, much to his wife's disgust. Sometimes they would buy all the food she had on hand and once a group of Indians drained their well dry, watering some hundred head of their stock. The first night the Indians camped on their place, Mrs. Chaffee sat up all night and watched them much to her husband's amusement as he had become accustomed to the Indians in his two years in Dakota. However, the Indians did not touch anything belonging to the Chaffees and often asked to buy food rather than to beg it. There was a stipulation made to the Indians camping on the homestead of the Chaffees. They must make their camp on the plowing so that the house and barn would not be endangered by their fires. The Indians usually traveled in wagons, but sometimes were on horseback or afoot. The women carried the luggage and small children and if anyone walked, they did.
During one of the many seasonal trips between Standing Rock & Fort Toten starting on Thanksgiving Day, 1896 a 3 day blizzard trapped a large group of Souix in the valley of the Hawksnest. Some of the Souix managed to reach neighboring farm of Jack Middleton (the caretaker of the Hawksnest for Carrington & Casey Land Co.) to get help. Word was brought to Carrington of the indians fate. The indian agent and first sheriff of Foster Co. Maj. Ralph Hall orginized a group of wagons and sleighs to go rescue the Souix and bring them back to town. Upon arivial to the Hawksnest the Souix had lost about 50 horses to the blizzard. The stranded were packed up with most having to walk, returning to Carrington and were housed in the liver stable till they were rested up for the journey to Fort Totten.
Jack Middleton caretaker had the job to keep people from taking hordes of wook from the Hawksnest. One winter two English friends of Jacks decided the would camp the winter in the Hawksnest, but were found frozen to death in the spring.
Mrs. John Connolly Sr. had many experiences with Indians in the early 80s. She spent the first three years of her life in Dakota at Fort Sisseton and Fort Totten, and at both places Indians were numerous. They seemed very frightful to her at first as she judged them by stories she had heard from her father and mother who were settlers in Minnesota in 1862, the time of the great massacre that was recently commemorated. Soon she became accustomed to the Indians and really interested in their customs and language. She learned to speak "Indian" quite fluently. Even after Mr. Connolly left the army in the fall of 1884 and took a homestead on the Sheyenne River some 15 miles northeast of New Rockford. Indians were constantly at their door. The reservation was just across the river from them and often the Indians were real pests.
"The wagon trains sometimes stretched out for a mile or more. In spring and fall, the farmers along the trail would occasionally see as many as 50 wagons moving in single file across the prairie. They rolled along with haste, at a slow trot, passing by and then vanishing into the south or north. ? The travelers were the Indians? Sioux tribesmen moving between Fort Totten and the Standing Rock reservation. For many years, they used a trail that took them along the western edge of Foster County. Traces of their wagon tracks still remain in the untouched sod of the Hawksnest. The exact route of the trail is not remembered? it paralleled the Wells?Foster county line coming south from New Rockford and then circled toward the Hawksnest, meandering between favorite camping spots on the Pipestem Creek. Farmers also used the trail. Portions of the Indians' route later were included in the Green Trail and still later, in the North Star Trail. Old?timers will remember these as the first marked trails running through the area. They were dirt trails but also the first highways. To the farm children, the Indians in the wagon trains looked little different from the farmers. Usually, two Indian men sat in the front of the wagons. The women, wrapped in blankets, bounced along on the wagon floors, facing the back. They wore white?man's clothing? everyday work clothes for the men, long dresses for the women. There was nothing fancy about what they wore or their equipment. Their horses were generally thin; their harnesses were of the simplest kind. "The things I remember more than anything else was the dogs? there was always a bunch of dogs and four or five loose horses following along," Tom White recalled. His memories go back to around 1910, when he was a boy living along side the trail. The Indians passed by barely noticed by the farmers: 'We never paid any attention to them, ' he said, 'They were just travelers.' Farther down the trail to the south, Emil Smith lived, near a grassy meadow on the east bank of the Pipestem. His family called it Pleasant Valley. It is a sheltered spot and was a regular stopping place for the Indian Travelers. "I have seen that plot of ground nearly covered with tents? at least 20, maybe more", Emil reminisced. His earliest memories are from the 1890s? a time when the prairie was being transformed into farmland, with amazing speed. From the farmyard, about 40 rods from the meadow, Emil would watch them set up camp. He watched, but because he was just a young boy, he never visited camp. The Indians were not hard travelers. 20 miles a day is about what they averaged although miles probably did not much concern them. They moved in accordance with the sun. "They made camp early," Emil said, "so they would be all settled in before sunset. And when I would get up in the early morning, they would be gone." Their tents were canvas. Neither Tom White nor Emil Smith can recall ever seeing the Indians use the traditional teepees. However, Toady Zimmerman presents a considerably different picture. He grew up in the Hawksnest, just east aways, on what is now the Ray Klein farm. Looking back to about 1910, he remembers that a spring to the northeast of the Hawksnest was another favorite campground. (The spring still flows; its approximate location is marked by a motel unit from the old Rainbow Gardens.) This was apparently known as a spot for trading horses. The Indians usually stayed there four or five days, living in teepees, and many farmers would come to compare horseflesh and dicker on a trade. Toady recalls that the men did wear the fringed leather clothing and beaded moccasins. The long hair was, however, no longer worn by the Indian men. Emil also remarked on this point that "It was not shoulder length, as I can recall; if it had been our folks would have said something about it." Other than horse?trading, it seems that there was very little personal contact between the Indians and the white settlers. There were older settlers who were apparently accustomed to receiving the Indians as friends. Emil mentioned the names of Jack Middleton, Tom Crow and Joe Buell as men who were on familiar terms with the Indians. Tom White's grandfather, James Sweeney, had fought in the Indian Wars in Florida and Texas before eventually homesteading in Foster County. "He had quite a little respect for Indians," Tom remembered. Many Indians knew Jim Sweeney or knew of him: "If you happened to be along the road, they would stop and want to talk to the older people? my granddad was an old man then". "My grandparents were not the least bit afraid when the Indians came", Emil said. "The Indians were very quiet? they didn't speak more than a few words of English." When they camped at Pleasant Valley, Indian women regularly walked to the farm to ask Emil's grandmother for milk for their ailing infants. "Me papoose sick, " they would say. As there was no firewood on the prairie, they would also go to his grandfather for wood. The firewood was purchased in Carrington in cord lengths and stove lengths for the cook stove. Ties were also available from the railroad. There was no fuel oil in those days, according to Emil. "My grandmother was always glad to give them milk, and some bread, too. It was sort of a courtesy on the part of the Indians because they knew it would be given in a courteous way. They were always friendly? just like anybody else? and thankful for the milk and bread and wood", Emil said. Not everyone, however, had a high regard for the Indians. Tom White speculated that one reason that they avoided towns was the possibility of harassment. A mistrust and bitterness towards the Indians was still present at the time of settlement here although the Sioux had long since ceased hostilities. Tom White commented: "I think that maybe quite a few people had a little fear of the Indians, they just didn't know what they were going to do; however, nobody ever tried to antagonize them". Emil Smith has one memory of the Indians celebrating at Pleasant Valley: "One evening they danced in the ravine with bells clanging. They kept on until midnight? I thought the Indians were going on the warpath." He laughed at his childish thought because in 1895, or thereabouts, there was no likelihood that they would ever attempt to fight the white men again. In 1890 according to government figures there were 8,174 Indians living in North Dakota. By the same year, the number of white men had swelled to 191,000. There was a leap of more than 1,000 percent from 1878 when there were only 16,000. In 1873, the William Larrabee family settled near Lake Juanita, becoming the first permanent white family in Foster County. In that year, there was more than one soldier for every adult Indian male in the state. The Indian way of life was already a part of the past when the white settlers began breaking up the sod here. The buffalo had disappeared? none of the pioneers in this area saw a wild bison although the prairie was littered with buffalo bones. The picture of the proud Sioux warrior was almost as much a memory for the pioneer generation as it is for us. The Indians who journeyed across the prairie in wagon trains were a conquered people. At the time when the earliest childhood memories of Emil Smith, Tom White and Toady Zimmerman were formed, only the oldest Indians could look back to the time when these grasslands were their hunting grounds, thus, it is hardly surprising that the settlers took the Indians for granted. Like the grass and the hills, they had always been here. But the settlers' attention was elsewhere? focused on their own changing world. , The wagon trains continued until horses were phased out by automobiles.
Before 1900, the home owned by Mrs. W.Y. Quarton, eight or ten miles southwest of Carrington was known as the "Half Way House'' where chilled and hungry travelers could stop on their way over the snow covered prairies for a dinner or a night's rest, and find a word of cheery welcome from its mistress. Halfway between the town of Carrington and the Hawksnest Hills it was also used as an overnight stop by the Hawksnest farmers on their three?day trips into Carrington. Making the trip with horses and a sled, they would spend the night at the Half Way House, starting out early in the morning on the second lap of the trip into Carrington, returning late at night for a second stop before starting on the long drive back home. In the summer the round trip across 40 miles of prairie could be made in a single day.
Tom White local pioneer remembers the last group he saw: four young fellows who stopped for water while driving a bunch of horses north to Fort Totten. That was in 1925. "We can't say they were happy, but they were gentle people? there was a dignity about them", Emil Smith another pioneer remarked. He discerned a special feeling in the Indian while they were free to travel and camp on the still?open prairie. "The remnants of their joy", he called it.
The Foster Co. Independent, January 5, 1928 The first Boy Scout Troop was organized by the Congregational Church with 12 boys and the Methodist Church with 16. Membership was open to all boys that were interested. There were plans for hikes to the Hawksnest area and Arrowwood Lake during the summers. They learned the scout laws and instruction in the easier phases of camping life, woodcraft and other related arts.
1935? Hawksnest Eagle Preys on Lamb: An eagle, believed making its headquarters in the Hawksnest Hills, is causing considerable losses among the sheep flocks in that neighborhood. During the past few weeks the eagle killed 14 lambs at the William Biloff farm and six at the Adolph Huff farm. It is said that the sheep, being accustomed to barnyard fowls at home, do not become frightened by the eagle and scatter and run as they do when attacked by dogs or coyotes. The killer has an easy time of it striking down one lamb after another, picking out their eyes, eating a small part of the flesh, and seemingly killing just for the sport of it. The eagle had been seen several times but never close enough to use a shotgun. The bird is small. One farmer, who saw it sitting on a fence thought it was a turkey until it flew away. Eagles have been seen off and on, for several years at the Hawksnest. One Longview farmer reports that he has lost at least $100 worth of lambs from this one over a period of years.
Source: A History of Foster County 1983, Foster County Independent, History of Wells County, Coperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial, Historical recollections of Walter E Spokesfield