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Seth Bullock

   BullockIn the Old West there were men who seemed to be everywhere and do everything. Today you’re going to be introduced to one of those men. His name is Seth Bullock.
In 1867, at the age of twenty, Seth Bullock left Canada to come down to the Montana Territory and do some gold mining. Four years later he was elected to the territory’s state senate. Next Seth took a horseback ride around the Yellowstone area, and sent back reports that helped influence its becoming our first National Park.
Then he became a county sheriff and proceeded to face down a lynch mob, as well as legally hang the first man in the Montana Territory.
Deciding to move on to new territory, he went to Deadwood in 1876. With no law, and no official process of selecting a sheriff, by popular demand, he became the town’s first lawman.
Also being a good businessman, he served as the president of a mining company and a bank.
As a lawman, while trailing an outlaw named Crazy Steve, he ran into a posse led by a deputy U. S. Marshall from the Dakota Badlands who had just caught Crazy Steve. The U. S. Marshall and Seth became lifelong friends. Incidentally, the marshal’s name was Theodore Roosevelt.
Although Seth became a captain in Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, he was never sent to Spain.
After Roosevelt became the President, he sent for Seth, and told Seth that he was needed in Washington. Seth responded that, “There’s just one job that would get me to live in this town, and you’re filling it just fine.” Seth settled for the job of a U.S. Marshal.
Seth served with distinction until his death on September 23, 1919. Roosevelt had called Seth Bullock the ideal American. But he wanted only one word on his tombstone…Pioneer.

A STRONG MAN & HORSE

Horse Ride

In the Old West men and horses were called upon to perform great feats.  But no man and horse did more in a short period of time than John Phillips and a big gray thoroughbred.

It was a cold December in 1866. Fort Phil Kearny was being harassed by Red Cloud and his band of Sioux.  On the 21st of December Captain John Fetterman and 80 men left the fort to chase after a small group of Indians.  The Indians were decoys, and Fetterman’s command was ambushed.  Within minutes everyone was killed.

It was necessary for someone to travel to Horseshoe Station, 190 miles away, and telegraph Fort Laramie for reinforcements.  That responsibility fell on John Phillips.  He wasn’t a member of the military, but a local prospector who had brought his family to the fort for protection.

Riding a big gray thoroughbred, given to him by the fort commander, John started on the trip wearing a buffalo coat to protect him from the severe cold spell they were having.

Hiding during the daylight hours, John still ran into war parties, but the long legged thoroughbred was able to outrun the smaller Indian ponies.  On December 24th John arrived at Horseshoe Station, but they were unable to send a telegraph to Laramie, because the line was down…either the result of Indian activity or the weather.  Jumping back on his horse, he rode the remaining forty miles to Fort Laramie.  A Christmas party was in progress when John arrived.  A half frozen John Phillips entered the hall, told his story, and collapsed on the floor.  Early Christmas day a column headed for Fort Kearny.

Although, at the time no one thought the 230-mile ride from Fort Kearny to Fort Laramie was anything more than a long cold ride, but shortly afterward it reached the level of myth…a man and horse enduring devastating weather and wild Sioux to save a beleaguered garrison.

SLOW

Sitting Bull copyAs a young boy his father gave him the name “Slow”.  But during a raid against the Crow, at the age of 14, Slow raced ahead of his fellow warriors, and made the first kill.  His father immediately changed his name.  You may be surprised when you learn his new name.

His father gave him the name of “Slow”…not because he wasn’t bright…but because he was deliberate.  But his “deliberateness” never stood in the way of him taking action.  At the age of 14 he made his first kill, and his father changed his name to…Sitting Bull.

 Sitting Bull is best known for his victory at Little Big Horn against George Armstrong Custer.  As strange as it may seem, his victory directly resulted in his defeat.  But I get ahead of myself.

 Because of his braveness in battle Sitting Bull was soon made the leader of the Strong Hearts, a special society of warriors…and later he became the chief of his Hunkpapa division of the Sioux.

Sitting Bull had special abilities as a leader and organizer.  Even though the Federal Government had ordered the Indians to relocate to a reservation, Sitting Bull was able to convince more than 10,000 Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne to leave the reservation, and band together…and it was a part of this group that defeated General Custer.

Because of Little Big Horn, the government made an all out effort to defeat the Plains Indians.  Finally, with less than 200 followers Sitting Bull and his ragged band surrendered.

On December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull was living on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.  Because of fears of an Indian insurrection, about 40 Indian policemen rushed Sitting Bull’s home to arrest him while he was asleep.  In the confusion a fight broke out and the great Sioux Chief Sitting Bull was shot twice…by a Sioux Indian policeman.  Incidentally, the 59-year-old Sitting Bull had previously indicated he had no interest in the insurrection.

OLD WEST NEWSPAPER

PrinterWith frontier towns springing up over night, and disappearing as fast, an Old West newspaper had to be on the move to keep customers. This week’s story is about one such newspaper.

Following the Civil War two brothers, Legh and Fred Freeman, were hired to publish a newspaper out of Fort Kearney, Nebraska.  During this time the railroad passed through the area.  While the railroad was being built in the area things boomed.  As the railroad moved on, taking the workers with it, there was a bust.

 The Freeman brothers hit on the idea to create a newspaper that would move along with the railroad.  So, they bought a hand press, type, ink and paper, named their newspaper the Frontier Index, and hired wagons to take them to the next town where the railroad was to arrive.  As the crews arrived with men anxious to read the latest news, they did a booming business.  Merchants were willing to pay outrageous prices for advertising, and marked their goods up accordingly.

The masthead of the Index changed each time they moved to a new town.  During its existence the Index was published in 25 different cities.  Sometimes the Freeman brothers moved so fast that they outran their supplies.  One time they had to print the newspaper on wrapping paper.

 The Index came to an end in Bear River City.  As the population of the city grew, the lawless element started arriving along with the railroad workers.  The Index wrote an editorial stating, “Bear River City has stood enough of the rowdy criminal element.”  The next day, November 15, 1868, some of “the rowdy criminal element” grabbed a rope, and headed to the tent that headquartered the Index newspaper.  The Freeman brothers were able to escape, but when they returned nothing remained of the Index but ashes.  The lifespan of the Frontier Index was but two years.  Which, incidentally, was a long time for a frontier newspaper.

BATTLE OF BEECHER’S ISLAND

Beecher's IslandThe summer of 1868, Indians were conducting major raids on railroad work camps and homesteads. Major George Forsyth was ordered to put together a detachment of 50 volunteer frontiersmen to teach the Indians a lesson.

The first part of September they arrived at Kansas’ Fort Wallace, and immediately took after a group of Indians who had stolen some stock. On September 16, Forsyth and his men, low on rations, camped on the banks of the Arikaree River.

Unknown to Forsyth 4,000, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux had been following him for three days. The morning of September 17 Major Forsyth and his men were awaken by the sounds of war cries. The 50 volunteers, with their animals, retreated and dug into a 40-yard by 150-yard sandbar.

By 9 A.M. the Indians had killed all of the volunteers’ horses and mules. Now there was no way of escape. A half hour later 300-mounted warriors, headed directly for the 50 volunteers. But, what the Indians didn’t realize was that all of Forsyth’s men were equipped with Spencer seven-shot repeating rifles and Colt pistols. Waiting until the last second to start firing, the charge was broken.

For eight days the Indian attacks continued, and the Spencer rifles kept them away from the volunteers. Two of the volunteers were able to get away and make it to Fort Wallace for help. By the time reinforcements arrived, the bulk of the Indians had left, with only a small contingency staying to starve out the volunteers.

Technology had made it possible for 50 men to face and essentially defeat a force of 1,500 warriors. During the battle, 10 of the volunteers were killed, and 20 wounded. But Indian causalities were estimated to be around 50 killed and as many as 200 wounded.

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