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General Carleton Received Orders from Mr. Moore to Send Soldiers' Pay Envelopes to Him.

In March of 1865 I made my last trip across the renowned Santa Fe Trail from Kansas City, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Somewhere on the route between Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Fort Union I met a Mr. Moore of the firm of Moore, Mitchel & Co. This firm owned a "sutler's store" at Tecolote, Fort Bliss and Fort Union. The store at Fort Union was the general supply station for the other named stores. The stock carried at the supply store amounted to something like $350,000 to $500,000. This stock consisted of general merchandise. It was to this store one went to buy coffee, sugar, soda, tobacco and bacon, calico, domestic, linsey, jeans, leather and gingham, officers' clothing, tin buckets, wooden tubs, coffee pots, iron "skillets-and leds," iron ovens, crowbars, shovels, plows, and harness. To this store the settlers came to buy molasses, quinine, oil and turpentine, vermillion and indigo blue. Everything used was kept in this one store. During those times there were no drug stores, shoes stores, dry goods stores, etc., but everything was combined in one large store. Calico was sold for $1 per yard, common bleached muslin sold for $2 a yard, domestic was from $1 to $1.50 and $2 per yard. Sugar sold for 75 cents to $1 per pound. Coffee brought about the same. Tobacco and cheap pipes brought stunning prices.

Mr. Moore rode on with us for an hour or two, then he asked me quite suddenly, "Aren't you Billy Ryus?" I told him I usually answered to that name. Then he asked me if I was acquainted with John Flournoy of Independence, Missouri. I answered, "Yes, we drove the stage over the Long Route together for six months." Then Mr. Moore said that he wanted to take me to one side and have a talk with me. Reader, you are well aware that some men are born to rule--Mr. Moore was one of those men. He never knew anything superior to his wishes. "What he said went" with the procession. He even went so far as to order General Carleton, commanding officer of the troops in that portion of the country, to make the payment to the soldiers and mechanics at Fort Union through him and let him pay off the soldiers. These payments would run up to $65,000 or $75,000 per quarter. Up to the time of his meeting with me no one had dared to thwart his wishes.

At his request I walked out a piece from the coach with him, and he said, "Billy Ryus, I have been on the lookout for you for a year!" I was astonished, and asked him what he had been looking for me for. His answer was that he wanted me to stop at Ft. Union on my way back from Santa Fe and go up to their store and clerk for them. I answered, "Mr. Moore, that is practically impossible; I can't do it." Then he said, "you've got to do it, I've spent too much time looking for you already, you've got to clerk for us." I am a little hot headed myself, and I answered him as tartly as he spoke to me. "Mr. Moore," says I, "I've got to do nothing of the sort." Then Mr. Moore cooled down and talked more like a business man and less like a bully.

"Now, Mr. Ryus," (I was young then and quickly noticed the Mr. Ryus) "this is our proposition: We will give you $1000 a year, board, and room and you can have your clothes at cost. And," he said, "I'll make you a check right here." I told him that his proposition did not make a bit of difference to me, for I was working for Mr. Barnum and could not leave his employ without first giving him thirty days' notice to get a man in my place. Mr. Moore was quick to respond, "Ah, let that job be da--ed"--. This side of Mr. Moore's character did not suit me, and I asked him what he would think of Mr. Barnum if he should stop over at his store and take one of his employees off without giving him a chance to get another in his place, and what would he think of the clerk that would do him that way. I told him that I would not do him that way. Mr. Moore said that he saw that I was "squeally" but that he saw my point, and supposed I was right. "Now, Mr. Moore," I said, "when I get into Santa Fe, if Mr. Barnum is there I will tell him about your proposition, and if he can let me off now, and will take the stage back to the States for me, I will take your proposition." He replied, "Well, that's all right, you come back to us, if you don't get here for sixty days, and we will pay your expenses here."

Mr. Moore put the spurs to his horse and galloped out of sight. What my impression was of Mr. Moore could hardly be expressed. I certainly had not the slightest feeling of awe--that one of the passengers said he felt for the man, but I do not know whether or not I felt any great confidence in him. However, when I came to know him, as I did by being in his society every day for a year, I found him to be a man of many sterling qualities.

Mr. Barnum returned with me from Santa Fe to Ft. Union and went up to the store with me. Mr. Barnum told me that he regretted that I wanted to leave his employ, but that if it was to my benefit, he would have to take the coach in for me and get a man in my place, "but," he added, "I do not think I will be able to find a man who can make peace with the Indians, as you have always done." Mr. Barnum told Mr. Moore that he had never lost a life since I had been doing the driving, and that I had not only saved the lives of passengers, but that I had saved him money and time.

When Mr. Barnum prepared to leave the store, he had the coach driven up and my things taken off and put in the store, then he turned to me and held out his hand, saying, "Billy, in making the treaties with the Indians, such as you have, you have not only saved the lives of many passengers and won the title of the second William Penn, but you have endeared yourself to me and to the other boys in this company, and to all the settlers between Kansas City and Santa Fe." I was greatly agitated and impressed by his impressive speech, and I thanked him for his kind words of praise for the services I had given in my small way.

The morning after Mr. Barnum left, I was feeling a little lonely among my new surroundings, and Kit Carson sauntered into the room. As soon as I looked into his kindly eyes I knew I had met a friend, and I also knew in a moment that it was Kit Carson, of whose fame as an Indian fighter I had often read.

I told him that I had heard many tragic tales of his wonderful heroism among the unfriendly Indians, and he told me that I had heard many a "da--er lie," too, he reckoned. He never killed an Indian in cold blood in his life. He told me that if the Indians had not been trespassed upon, that the great Indian wars would not have become a thing of history.

The enormous trade at the "sutler's store" kept us four counter jumpers continually on the jump for a year. There was no five cent picture shows to keep the clerks out with their girls there, and the only amusement we had was to either play cards or billiards, or to sit around and watch Kit Carson and the boss play. Kit was a fine card player and seldom ever lost a game, but he would not put up very much. To see him play billiards was one sport, every time he hit a ball, he would kick his foot up and say, "A boys, ay."

This store of Moore's was built like a fort. The walls a 150-foot square and built of brick. Every thing in New Fort Union was of brick. It was a two story concern with a rotunda or plaza in the center. Here the wagons drove in to unload and reload. The front of the store was near the big gate. It had a safe room, an office and the store room proper.

One trip per year was made to Kansas City with large mule trains to get goods to stock these three stores. These trips were sometimes full of suffering and hardships. Many a freighter left his wife and babies never to return to them more. They were often killed by Indians who had come to their trains to get food, but were repulsed by the poor policy of the wagon bosses who have often ordered the ox drivers to "pull down on the red devils" and so start trouble, which was often disastrous for the whites, in view of the fact that the Indians on those plains were numerous while the white men were few and straggling.

Sometimes the old Indian squaws would come to the store to buy sugar, candy, nuts, tobacco or coffee. She would come riding in on her pony as slowly as her quick footed pony would carry her, greatly interested in all her eyes beheld. She was greatly attracted by the bright colors of the calicos and I have often made treaties with the Indians by offering their squaws some bits of bright ribbon or calico.

The Mexican women were very fond of bright colors. Their dresses did not amount to much. They wore a short skirt and rebosa. Their head-dress covered their hair and came together in front under the chin and hung to the belt. What dress she wore must be very bright and gaudy and I have known a pretty Mexican girl with about $2.50 worth of dress on come in and purchase an $8.00 pair of shoes. If she wanted an extra nice pair of shoes she said she wanted a pair of shoes "made out of Spanish leather." Such a pair as would look nice on the dancing floors at their fandangoes. The serapa takes the place of the American woman's bonnet.

In 1866 when the war was coming to an end, trade began to get dull. I had been wanting to get out of the store and "try my wings" at something else. When I began to cast my eyes about for something different from the routine of store work, I met a certain Mr. Joe Dillon, who offered me the opportunity I was seeking.