A Trip to the Missouri River

A man by the name of Pease and I happened to run across each other, while on our way to the Missouri river. We were freighting and had several wagons and a large number of oxen with us. On the main traveled side of the river the grass was poor, so we forded the river and made camp on the opposite side.

Right after we had turned the cattle out to graze, we noticed a large and dark cloud coming up over the horizon. We gave the boys orders to prepare a corral, by chaining all the wagons together in a circle, while we gathered up the oxen. Just before we got them to the corral, the storm struck us and the cattle stampeded. Pease and I followed them all that night. Fourteen head got down in a gutter and were stamped to death by the others running over them.

We failed to get them turned back that night, so in the morning we went back to camp for something to eat and to get a new start. The ground was covered with snow and the boys we had left in camp had got up and scraped the snow off a small place so they could build a fire, made some coffee and went back to bed and that is where we found them about noon, when we drifted into camp. We went after the cattle again, but there were sixteen head that we could not find, and we were unable to spend much time in looking. While hunting we were on a sharp lookout for Indians, for there were plenty around us. As I was looking over the country through my field glasses, I saw an object and had Pease to look at it. We both decided that it was an Indian and started after it. As we drew nearer we were sure it was one. When within firing distance, I shot several shots at it, but it did not offer to return the shots or to run. I went still closer and shot again, with the same results. I finally concluded that it was fooling me and was working a scheme. I thought possibly it had something under its robe that prevented the bullets from striking it, and there might be come others hidden in the brush, who would spring out on me when I got near enough.

At last I screwed up courage and took my two revolvers, remounted my horse, and went on a dead run towards it, emptying both revolvers right on to it as I went. Yet it just stood and never offered to fight. When within about twenty feet, I saw that it was not an Indian. Some one had killed a buffalo and cut the meat out, leaving the head and horns on the hide. The meat side had been turned up to the sun and the heat drew it together; then we figured out that the wind must have blowed it up on end and the horns stuck in the sand and the dirt had packed around them, thus holding the hide erect, and at a distance it appeared like an Indian holding his buffalo robe around him.

We took what cattle we had found and went back to camp, rigged up teams enough to take our loads on to the Missouri river.

On the return of our second trip we passed the Malalie ranch, and one of our boys noticed eight head of oxen in their corral, that looked like the ones we had lost on the first trip.

I went in and saw that they were my cattle and asked Malalie about them. He said they were not mine, for they did not have my brand on, and that the commanding officer at Julesburg gave him permission to take in and dispose of all stray stock on the range around his place.

I told him that was all right and I was willing to pay him for the feed and trouble they had cost him, but he would not make any terms, so I went on and made camp a short distance from his place. That evening I took my men and some whiskey and went to call on the Malalies. I treated them all to a drink or two and spent a few sociable minutes; then I went to the corral. The cattle were in a sod corral and it had big strong gates fastened with padlocks. I told Malalie that I was going to take my cattle home, and proceeded to break the lock, opened the gate and ordered the boys to drive the cattle out, while I stood the Malalie bunch off. I had the advantage over them ; all my boys were armed, and the others thinking all was friendly and peaceable, had gone out of the house to see us start for home and did not get to their guns before we had ours leveled and saying: “If you make a move we will shoot.” We took the cattle on home without any more trouble, but when we got into Julesburg we were arrested and Malalie appeared against us with the complaint that we were stealing his cattle.

They thought they had the cinch on me, for my brand was not on the cattle. Malalie offered to let me go without being prosecuted if I would turn over the cattle and some money to buy him off. I refused and showed them a K on the horns and hoofs of the oxen and also explained how the Malalie brand was made out of my brand, K, on the side. Then I had turned the tables and told him if he would pay me a hundred dollars for damage done to my goods on account of the delay, I would take my cattle off his hands and go on without troubling him anymore. He was willing to get rid of me, and since he had made a little off my other eight head he had sold, he consented to let me go on my own terms.

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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