Gold Miners Returning form Montana

In the fall of 1865, twenty-five miners from Alder Gulch, Montana, came down the Platte River on the overland trail, returning to their homes in the states, with a pack train. The least amount of gold dust any one of them had was sixty pounds, and some of them had as much as two hundred pounds; and when one stops to think that four pounds makes approximately one thousand dollars when coined, we can see that they were pretty well fixed. They were well armed with two revolvers and rifles, besides each carried a big hunting knife. They camped on the bank of the Platte River, near my place, one night, and during the night the Indians set fire to the dry grass and made an attempt to kill the men and capture the horses and camp. They were not surprised, however, as they kept a guard out every night. After a pitched battle they succeeded in making their way to my large sod corral. The Indians then gave it up and left, after capturing three fine horses belonging to me, which were tied to a wagon just inside of one of my stables, where I had spread my blankets and was sleeping within thirty feet of my horses and never woke up until the miners were all inside.

There was a man by the name of Black, who had a contract to put up fifteen hundred tons of hay for the government at Julesburg or Fort Sedgwick at one hundred dollars per ton, and the government furnished a company of soldiers to keep the Indians off while he filled the contract.

The Indians cared very little for the regular soldiers and took great delight in decoying them away after two or three Indians, while the balance raided the haymakers, each one of whom carried two revolvers in his belt and a repeating rifle swung to his back. When the men concentrated for self protection, the Indians would amuse themselves by burning the hay and shooting the men off the mowing machines and capturing the horses. Mr. Black had been so much annoyed by these depredations that he was very much discouraged, and in conversation with the writer a few days before the miners came along, he told him that unless he could get men to protect him he would have to throw up the contract. In the morning I told the miners how the Indians were continually making raids and what Mr. Black had told me a few days previous. After consulting together they said if he would make it an inducement and pay them enough they would guarantee to keep the Indians off while he filled his contract. They at once saw Mr. Black and closed a contract with him for two hundred and fifty dollars per day or ten dollars each. One of their number was appointed cook and the others kept twelve men in the saddle on six hour shifts night and day. When the Indians came in sight they would all mount their horses and raise a yell and go after them. The Indians soon found that they were not fooling with regular soldiers, and Mr. Black went on and filled his contract, and for the forty days these miners were employed he paid them ten thousand dollars, which added to their already nice stake of gold dust from Montana. They then resumed their journey to the states and their homes, and I never heard of them afterwards.

Some of the Pioneers of Colorado

Source: True History of some of the Pioneers of Colorado, by Miss Luella Shaw, Press of Carson Harper Co, Denver, Colorado, 1909

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