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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 13, No. 4
December, 1935
A FRAGMENT OF HISTORY

Page 481

The Chronicles has received a letter from Mr. Fred S. Perrine of 1215 Seventh Street, Oregon City, Oregon, enclosing some interesting articles copied from Niles Register printed in 1834-35 in regard to the military expedition of the Dragoon Regiment under Colonel Dodge in 1834. A copy of the "Journal of Hugh Evans" was furnished the Society by Mr. Perrine and it is regarded as one of the most authentic and historic stories that has ever been printed relating to the Dodge Expedition from Fort Gibson to southwestern Oklahoma, including the Wichita Mountains.

The original of this diary of Hugh Evans is in the archives of the Historical Society of Oregon and a copy was transcribed from the original and edited by Fred S. Perrine and published in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 3, No. 3, with additional notes by Grant Foreman.

These articles throw additional light upon the Dodge Expedition but, in the main, verify the diary of Hugh Evans and also that of George Catlin, the artist who accompanied this expedition. The writer gives a very graphic picture of the scenery in the Wichita Mountains which he refers to as the "Pawnee Peaks." He makes the common mistake of early explorers who thought the Wichitas, Ionines, Keechies and affiliated Indian tribes were a branch of the Pawnees.

—D. W. P.

Mr. Perrine writes: "If you consider these items of enough interest to your readers, I would be glad to see them in print."


From NILES WEEKLY REGISTER, September 20, 1834.

"We have the following account of the return of the dragoons from the Arkansas Gazette of the 26th ult.

"'By a gentleman direct from Fort Gibson, we are happy to learn that the detachment of the U. S. dragoons, under Colonel Dodge, returned to that post on the 15th inst., from their expedition into the country of the Pawnee, Comanche and other Indians,

Page 482

inhabiting the vast expanse of territory several hundred miles south and west of our frontier, without the occurrence of any unpleasant collision with the various tribes with whom they opened an intercourse. They have brought in about twenty Indians, comprising delegations from the Pawnee, Comanche, Waco and one or two other tribes, with all of whom, we understand, treaties of amity have been concluded by Colonel Dodge. Some of these delegations have come in with the intention of proceeding to Washington city. Colonel Dodge, we understand, procured the release of a little boy about 10 years of age, son of the late Gabriel N. Martin of Miller County, who was carried off by the Indians some months ago at the same time that his father was murdered by them. A negro man belonging to Mr. Martin, who was captured at the same time, has also been restored.'"


FROM NILES WEEKLY REGISTER, AUGUST 8, 1835.

From the Illinois Register.

"We have been politely furnished by O. H. Browning, Esq., with the following interesting extract from a letter addressed to him from Cantonment Leavenworth, by a gentleman who accompanied the United States dragoons, in the summer of 1834, in their expedition to the Pawnee villages. The extract contains some new and entertaining historical facts, as also a graphic description of the scenery presented at the Pawnee Peaks; and we doubt not will be perused with interest by our readers.

" 'On the 19th of July we again resumed our march under the guidance of the above named Pawnee Mohaw, who, to my mind, proved himself to be a treacherous villian; for he led us a circuitous route of three days, over an excessively rugged and rocky country, and amid inconveniences of every description, when, on our return to the encampment, we traversed a beautiful prairie, and found the distance not to exceed forty-five miles. Yet I, for one, did not regret it, for our way led through scenery not exceeded—I hardly believe equalled. I have read of the Alps, and have seen paintings of the most celebrated portions of Alpine scenery. The Alps are higher; but in sublimity, grandeur and general effect, they must, and in time will, yield the palm to the

Page 483

hitherto unknown, unvisited Pawnee Peaks. Here the gradual swell, the beetling precipice, the castellated battlement, the solitary tower, the glittering, roaring cascade, the shady vale and opening vista, disclosing in turn distant views of new grandeur—all, all the rich combinations of mountain scenery are here thrown together, forming an unrivaled whole, which, in years to come, will be the goal of all travellers on earth.

" 'On the evening of the 21st we reached the goal of our enterprise, the long-sought Pawnee village. Here was a new matter of wonder. We approached a sweep of perpendicular mountains, whose tops are wholly inaccessible to the human foot from this side, and reached the village through the passage which leads to it, a narrow defile which one hundred good men, with a proper armament, and a good engineer, could keep against the countless legions that Napoleon led to Moscow.

" 'After passing through this defile, we immediately entered the village situated in a beautiful bottom, on the margin of a river, supposed, by some, to be main Red River, but which is only a principal fork of that stream.

" 'Like others of the southern rivers, its bottom is a flat bed of fine sand that maintains nearly the same level all the way across, the water now but a few inches deep, yet unlike the water of other rivers, this is nearly as salt as the water of the Kanawha saline. When this stream is full, it is 500 yards wide, and about ten feet deep. The natives say that the salt taste proceeds from great beds of rock salt about twenty miles above, and exhibited to us, quantities that they had procured there. Our arrival here was timely; for we were hungry, and had nothing to eat. They had plenty of corn just in good eating order, pumpkins, squashes, water and musk melons, together with dried buffalo and horse meat. For swaplies of these articles we gave them tobacco, tin cups, buttons, the yellow stripes from our pantaloons, &c. but when we offered them money, they laughed at us, for these unsophisticated beings knew not its value. When we could explain to them the use of any thing, they would trade for it; but as we could not make them sensible of the use of money, none of it would they have.

" 'They call themselves Towea Indians, and appear amiable and industrious. The women are beauties, yes, real first rate, light

Page 484

copper beauties, for the devil take the ugly one that I saw, that was less than a 'centurion,' which word a school mate of mine once defined to be a person a hundred years old, and got flogged for his pains.

" 'On the 22nd and 23rd, the Kiowa, Waco and Comanche Indians arrived, and our little band was surrounded by between three and four thousand warriors, yet we trembled not. On the 24th the treaty proceeded and by it, among other things, we recovered from them a little white boy, the son of Gabriel Martin, a wealthy planter of Louisana. He had gone up, with some friends, early last spring, on a hunting excursion to the False Washita and, whilst separated from the rest, was attacked by the Indians and killed, and his son taken prisoner. They concealed the boy on our approach, and he probably would never have been liberated had it not been for a negro, likewise a prisoner, who informed us where he was concealed. He was seven or eight years old and unusually intelligent.'"

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