This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

23 September 1856:

Started half past 7 o’clock, crossed over sandy bluffs and sandy roads. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock, started again, continued over the sandy bluffs until 6 o’clock, when we came to Sandy Bluff Creek, where we camped for the night. Traveled 11 3/4 miles today, and it is, I think, the hardest day we have had on account of deep sand. We had to pull Eliza all through them. Saw Babbitt’s buggy burnt.

From John Jacques:

On September 23rd, about six miles east of Bluff Creek, and about seventy yards to the left of the road, a little harness, two wagon wheels and the springs of a burnt carriage or buggy and few other things were seen. These were supposed to be relics of Almon W. Babbitt‘s outfit. The company brought the springs along, but what became of them, I don’t know. Babbitt had left Kearny about the 2nd of September, with Thomas Sutherland and a driver. Two miles further on Captain Hodgett, Moses Cluff and Nathan T. Porter, were busy with a dead buffalo, which they had run our of a herd and killed for the handcart company, having previously killed on for their own wagon company. Some of the handcart people stayed to skin and quarter the buffalo, and bring it along on four handcarts. At night, it was divided among the company. This was the first buffalo beef the company had obtained. Buffalo beef, the lean part of it, is good eating on the plains, but is is courser than ox or cow beef.

The next day, September 24th, the company passed the place where it was supposed Thomas Margetts and others were killed by Indians, there being a quantity of feathers strewn about, a blood stained shirt and a child’s skull. The company camped at Duckweek Creek that night and after dark, all the men were called out to form a line aroudn the camp, as it was supposed that Indians were lurking around. About 11 o’clock, the men were called in, a double guard was set for the night and the rest of the men were seriously talked to for half and hour or so, by one of the company who was fond of preaching, on the necessity of vigilance in Indian country. Then the men were dismessed to their tents, except the double guard.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

24 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock this morning. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock, started again. Saw the blood stained garments of Thomas Margetts wife and child, who had been murdered by the Indians. They are committing depredations behind and before. In fact, they made an open attack in day light upon Fort Kearny, on the twenty second of August, the soldiers killed a great number of them, which has stirred them up against the white man, but they keep out of our way. Camped at the Platte.

25 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock. Still continued over the sandy bluffs. Saw several Indians on horseback, which are the first that we have seen since the above mentioned. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock at the Platte River, started again. The road is rather better, camped near the Platte at 6 o’clock.

From John Jacques:

In the afternoon of the 25th, five Indians, some of them squaws, on ponies, rode past the company and near to it, carefully scrutinizing it, but had nothing to say, and then they rode off towards the Platte. These were the first Cheyenne Indians the company had seen.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

26 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock, continued until 12 when we stopped for dinner. For several days, we have crossed through a great many creeks and forks of the Platte, which gave us plenty of opportunity to wash our feet.

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