The Indians made a raid through the country east of the present site of Greeley, stealing horses and cattle and killing the settlers.
Geary had a hundred and fifty horses stolen and a large number were taken from Kempton’s ranch at the same time.
Lieutenant J. L. Brush’s brother, William Brush, his cousin, J. L. Conway, and a friend, Carlson, were putting up hay on Geary’s ranch when they were surprised by the Indians. Next day John Patterson and some of the other neighbors found their bodies lying out in the hot sun. They were so badly decomposed that a door had to be taken down to carry them on. The bodies were placed in a wagon loaded with hay and conveyed to Brush’s ranch on Thompson creek for burial.
A group of three families lived within a quarter of a mile of each other. In one of these was a widow, who had the only sod house in the neighborhood. When a report of approaching Indians came to them, these families would all go to Mrs. Wiley’s sod house for protection. They went over nearly every night, returning to their homes in the mornings.
Owing to the sneaking and treacherous way the Indians had in coming down on them, the settlers had to use the utmost precaution. They would take turns about in going north of the Platte twice a day scouting for signs of Indians.
Little Geary lived down the river about five miles from this little settlement of three families.
Geary’s wife was a squaw, and was always ready to do anything for him or the settlers. Knowing that the Indians would not harm her, he would send her down in the river bottom to set fire to the grass and the smoke would warn the settlers above them to prepare for defense that the Indians were starting on a raid.
Finally the Indians began to come to Geary’s ranch so much that the settlers grew suspicious and thought that perhaps he was in league with the Indians. A few men gathered and went down to Geary’s one night and secretly surrounded his house, to see if they could find out why the Indians came there so much and if he was in league with them.
After waiting outside until the cold got beyond endurance, they left a guard and entered the house; they kept changing the guard so that it would not be too hard on any one person.
Geary was told what they were there for and why they suspected him.
He told the men the Indians were not there very much when he was home but did not know about it during his absence. He also told them that just before they came he heard a pole drop out at the corral and supposing it was Indians sent his wife out to see, but there was none in sight.
About midnight the dogs began to bark but the guard was unable to see anything. The dogs’ continual howling showed that something was wrong, and kept the guard on a sharp lookout. At last, piercing through the dark he could see an object, but was not able to distinguish what it was, so called out, “Who comes there ?” He repeated it three times and receiving no answer, he fired. The commotion brought the others out of the house and the flash of the shot revealed to them an Indian running away. They all shot at him but the guard’s first shot took effect and the Indian fell after running about twenty-five yards. In the timber below the house, Indians could be heard moving in the brush and seen flashing powder to their scout to signal if it was safe for them to come on, receiving no answer they surmised that something was wrong, so left.
Geary let the body of the Indian lay out by the house the rest of the night and the next morning they did not recognize it; he was of a new band in their vicinity. The men all got souvenirs from the Indian. I remember my brother, R. Patterson, got a little white stone in a scabbard. Gerry said that John Kimsey was entitled to the bow and arrows, since he was the guard who shot the Indian. John is living in Evans and I presume he still has the bow and arrows in his possession.
A bridle and several ropes hanging on the trees near the corral showed what the Indians’ intentions had been. The settlers saw that Geary was not in league with the Indians, so returned home, fully satisfied with his fidelity.
Grant Ashcroft, a citizen of one of the little settlements, gathered a small band of about ten men and started on a scouting trip. He led them down the river until they came upon a trail; they followed this back into the bluffs and came onto some Indians. The Indians retreated back down towards the river. It being high water season they had to follow the river quite a distance before finding a place to cross. Ashcroft gave them a chase for fifteen miles; about ten miles below Geary’s the Indians went over a high bank and the citizens fearing that there might be a village, hesitated. There were only a few Indians with pack horses and the others joined, and all swam across the river together. The white men fired at them but thought they only hit one.
Source: True History of some of the Pioneers of Colorado, by Miss Luella Shaw, Press of Carson Harper Co, Denver, Colorado, 1909