Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

We had lots of fun sky-larking in our camp on Moore's Creek, but spring was coming on, and it was our wish to establish a permanent camp at the best possible place. Unconsciously, we were drawn to that place as other men, long, long before us, had been drawn, and which we reached by pulling right down the river bottom about twelve miles to what was then called West Adobe Walls Creek but which is now called Bent Creek. 

The latter is a beautiful stream, clear and swift. About a mile from its mouth stood the old ruins of the original Adobe Walls. Here we stopped and camped for the night. We had heard of these ruins ever since we had been in the Plains country. They were of great interest to us, and we carefully examined them, wondering what men in such a far-off day had ventured to establish themselves here, and why they had done so. We were not acquainted with the history of the place. We thought of Mexicans and different Indian tribes of the southwest. As a matter of fact, there are the remains of villages and old burial grounds on Wolf Creek in the Panhandle which men who claim to know about such things declare are the remains of the easternmost extension of the Pueblo civilization. I have no opinion in the matter.


"Billy" Dixon's Log Homestead on Site of Original Adobe Walls.

When we first saw Adobe Walls, there were parts of walls still standing, some being four or five feet high. The adobe bricks were in an excellent state of preservation. Many different stories have been told about this place and its origin. While I was hunting buffaloes in southern Kansas I met up with a man named Charley Powell who had been a soldier in the Third Cavalry. He told me that in 1863, when they were going from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Fort Bascom, New Mexico, the trail lay on the south of the Canadian, opposite Adobe Walls. The soldiers crossed over and looked at the ruins. Even at that time none of the buildings was standing.

Later, when I was serving as scout at Fort Elliott, Texas, I was talking with General Hatch one day, and we fell to discussing the Adobe Walls country. He told me that he passed up the Canadian in 1848 with a regiment of dragoons, going out west, and stopped to examine these ruins. He said that only the broken walls were to be seen and that there was much to indicate that the place long since had been abandoned. On this expedition he was a second lieutenant; at the time I talked with him he was Lieutenant Colonel of the Fourth United States Cavalry, and in command at Fort Elliott, an old, gray-haired man. He was shrewd and very industrious. He took pride in improving Fort Elliott, and had a mania for using adobe bricks in the erection of buildings. Employing Mexicans, who were past masters in the making of these bricks, Colonel Hatch built stables large enough to hold horses for three troops of cavalry. He put up so many adobe buildings at Fort Elliott that finally he was called "Doby" Hatch.

It is probable that old Adobe Walls was built by Major William Bent, in the first 40's or earlier, the year 1844 being possible. Major Bent's son, George Bent, now living at Colony, Okla., made this statement:

"Bent & Company built Adobe Walls, as it is called. I cannot find out when it was built. It was a trading post to trade with the Comanches, Kiowas and Prairie Apaches. Bent & Company traded for horses and mules from the Indians. They sent their traders in summer time to trade for this stock. The post was not occupied in winter, as the Company did not trade for buffalo robes, as the trading post was too far from Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River to haul the hides. These horses and mules were driven to Missouri and sold; also, to the Platte Rivers, to be sold to the emigrants. The Comanches, Kiowas and Apaches were rich in horses and mules. They stole many in old Mexico and traded off the wild ones very cheap. Bent & Company employed many Mexicans to break these wild animals, after which the latter were sold to the whites."

The noted plainsman and Indian trader, John Smith, told George Bent that together with five or six companions he made his escape from old Adobe Walls, after it had been attacked by Comanches and Kiowas.

Even though it be true that old Adobe Walls was established by Major William Bent and his associates, a tradition remains that they merely seized upon a site that had been occupied at an even earlier day by men of whom nothing is known, save that they are believed to have come from the Spanish settlements in New Mexico. There are traditions of buried treasure at Adobe Walls, and strangers have appeared there in search of it. One of these treasure-hunters was an old gray-haired man who came after the country had been settled. His story was that a pack train loaded with gold and silver bullion had been attacked at this place by Indians. In its extremity, the besieged party buried the bullion. Only one or two members of the expedition escaped massacre, among the slain being a Catholic priest.

The old man in search of the treasure was too feeble to do the physical work of digging, and tried to hire men to work for him. He was looked upon as slightly demented, and could get no assistance. He departed without finding the buried fortune. Subsequently, his story was revived, and men living in the locality made numerous excavations, but found nothing.

The day after we camped on Bent Creek, several of the boys rode northeast, to look over the country. Upon their return, they reported that there was an excellent site for a permanent camp on the next creek, about a mile and a half further on, so we pulled up the valley and began unloading our wagons on the bare ground in a broad valley where there was a pretty stream called East Adobe Walls Creek. This was to become a spot memorable to all of us.

Myers & Leonard built a picket house twenty by sixty feet in size. James Hanrahan put up a sod house, twenty-five by sixty, in which he opened a saloon. Thomas O'Keefe built a blacksmith's shop of pickets, fifteen feet square. Thus, a little town was sprouting in the wilderness--a place where we could buy something to eat and wear, something to drink, ammunition for our guns, and a place where our wagons, so necessary in expeditions like ours, could be repaired.

While all this hammering and pounding and digging was going on, I started with three companions and rode the country as far down as where the present town of Clarendon, Texas, now stands. We were absent about fifteen days, and upon our return we found the buildings about finished. We did not see many buffaloes on this trip. Maybe the buffaloes had scented Indians. We ranged as far east as Cantonment Creek, and on its east prong encountered a few scattering bulls. The season was too early for the cows and bulls to begin mating and running together.

On Cantonment Creek we stopped at some seeping springs. A lone cottonwood stood tall and gaunt among a few hackberries. I cut my name on this lone tree. One of the men who was with me at that time was a Frenchman, for whom we had no other name than "Frenchy," just as we had single names for many other men in the Plains country. He was an excellent cook, and I always thought he could broil buffalo steak better than any other man I ever saw.

In returning to camp, we crossed Red Deer about where Miami, Texas, now is, and camped at some water-holes. Heading northward we soon struck the brakes of Tallahone, and followed the Tallahone down to its mouth. This was a timbered creek with an abundance of running water. Perch and catfish were so plentiful that enough to feed the whole camp could be caught in a few minutes. Deer and wild turkeys were in sight all along Tallahone, and there were numerous signs of beaver and otter.

Here we crossed the Canadian at what for many years was the main crossing in this part of the country, and followed along the north side of the river to Adobe Walls.

During our absence from camp, Wright & Langton came down from Dodge City with another outfit and built a sod house sixteen by twenty feet. This firm bought buffalo hides and was engaged in general merchandising. The business was in charge of James Langton.

The buildings were finished as rapidly as possible, and every man at Adobe Walls who could be induced to engage in this kind of manual labor was given a job and paid well for his services. Each building had a big cottonwood ridge log, paralleled with smaller poles running down the roof. The poles were covered with dirt and sod. For safety and convenience in handling their stock, Myers & Leonard built a stockade corral. This inclosure was made by setting big cottonwood logs in the ground. The logs were hauled across the Canadian, from Reynolds Creek, a distance of about six miles, and was a laborious undertaking.

I had no liking for the monotony and restraint of camp life and was impatient to be about my own business, which was to find a good buffalo range and begin hunting. After remaining in camp two days, we saddled and mounted again, to go up the Canadian as far west as Hill's Creek. We crossed the river and followed the old Fort Bascom trail to Antelope Creek, where we crossed over to the Arroya Bonita, on which the LX Ranch afterwards established headquarters. The Arroya Bonita is one of the prettiest streams in the Panhandle country, with a good flow of water and lots of timber.

Here I struck the trail I had made during the previous winter, and which I now followed back across the Canadian and thence north to Grapevine Creek, where I camped two or three days. This was at the edge of the Plains. At intervals we struck small bands of bulls as we did all the way. Buffaloes were surprisingly scarce. Sometimes we killed them, and at other times did not molest them. Generally, there were from four to ten in a bunch. The scarcity of buffaloes rather discouraged us, and we redoubled our efforts to locate a big herd. We held to the east, keeping along the edge of the Plains and coming down to the Canadian between Bugbee Canyon and Big Creek. Bugbee Canyon received its name from the fact that Thomas Bugbee settled there in 1876. His was one of the first cow ranches established in the Panhandle of Texas. Charles Goodnight, whom I met first in the fall of 1875, brought his cattle that year from Colorado to Palo Duro Canyon. Mrs. Goodnight joined her husband in 1876.

We were in the Bugbee Canyon country in May, 1874. The season was delightful. The air was fresh and invigorating, the grass was green, flowers were blooming, the sky was clear, the sunshine pleasant, and a feeling of joy and happiness everywhere. Those were splendid nights, out there under the stars. The mornings came with dazzling splendor. At this season sunrise on the Plains presented a scene of magnificence. I always had the feeling that it came with a thunderous sound.

When we struck Big Creek I noticed a patch of lamb's quarter (wild greens), and I told the boys we would go into camp and cook a pot of green, which we did. We ate greens to our hearts' content.

Searching out every point in the country, next day we followed an old trail down to the Canadian valley, striking it at a high point, afterwards known as Dixon's Point, on account of its being opposite Dixon's Creek. We soon reached Adobe Walls.

All the buildings had been finished, and everybody was doing a good business. Quite a number of hunters had come down from the north, and a plain trail had been opened between Adobe Walls and Dodge City, a hundred and fifty miles away. Freight outfits were making regular trips between the two places.

All of us hunters acquainted with the habits of the buffalo knew that the herds would soon be coming north from the Staked Plains region where they had spent the winter. The spring had been unusually late, which held back the buffaloes in their migration. There was nothing for us to do but wait until the buffaloes were moved by that strange impulse that twice annually caused them to change their home and blacken the Plains with their countless, moving forms. We could lie around camp or vary the monotony by going to Adobe Walls and joining in the fun that was rampant at that place. Our amusements were mostly card-playing, running horse-races, drinking whisky and shooting at targets, the latter to improve our marksmanship.

All this soon got old to me, and about the last of May I pulled out again. Crossing the Canadian at the mouth of White Deer Creek, I followed the latter to its head and went out on the Plains, keeping along their edge until I came to Dixon Creek. Here I found an ideal camping place, with plenty of wood, grass and water. I decided to build our permanent camp, and was soon industriously at work. I knew by the signs that buffaloes had been through here, and it was certain that they would soon be coming back.

I had two men with me, "Frenchy," whom I employed as a skinner, and Charley Armitage, an agreeable fellow who had come from England. Those Englishmen certainly loved the life of the frontier.

We had been here two or three days, when the expected happened. Getting up one morning earlier than my companions, I chunked the fire for breakfast, and stood waiting for it to begin blazing. Then a familiar sound come rolling toward me from the Plains--a sound deep and moving, not unlike the rumbling of a distant train passing over a bridge. In an instant I knew what was at hand. I had often heard it. I had been listening for it for days, even weeks.

Walking out on a high point near camp, I gazed eagerly toward the horizon. I could see nothing save the vast undulating landscape. My ears, however, had revealed to me what my eyes could not see. The buffaloes were coming!

Hurrying back to camp, I shouted the good news to Armitage and "Frenchy," rousing them from their sleep and telling them to hurry breakfast. They lost no time in making coffee, frying meat and browning a cake of bread. I saddled my horse by the time breakfast was ready, and after eating hurriedly I sprang into my saddle and went south at a gallop.

After I had ridden about five miles, I began striking small bunches of buffalo bulls, all headed north and all moving. A further ride of eight miles carried me out on the Plains. My muscles hardened and grew warm at the sight. As far as the eye could reach, south, east and west of me there was a solid mass of buffaloes--thousands upon thousands of them--slowly moving toward the north.

The noise I had heard at early day-break was the bellowing of the bulls. At this time of year--the breeding season--the bellowing of the countless bulls was continuous, a deep, steady roar, that seemed to reach to the clouds. It was kept up night and day, but seemed to be deepest and plainest at early morning.

I was happy beyond measure, and turned my horse toward camp, hastening at full speed to let my men know what I had found. Already, the buffaloes were approaching the vicinity of my camp, and in sight of it I shot thirty-five or forty, all bulls; the boys were soon busily at work with their skinning knives. By night buffaloes were passing within gunshot of our camp.

Business had now begun in earnest, and we would soon be enjoying a steady income, to offset our winter's expenses. Where buffaloes were as plentiful as they were here I could easily kill enough in a day to keep ten skinners busily at work. I killed enough next day to keep "Frenchy" and Armitage employed for several days, and went down to Adobe Walls in a light wagon, to see if I could hire more skinners. I found one man who would go with me, but for only a few days, until his partner should return with a load of hides. All the other hunters had heard the good news, and had pulled out for the buffalo range. Adobe Walls was deserted, save for the merchants and their clerks. By offering this man twenty-five cents a hide for skinning, I induced him to go with me for a week or ten days.

On my way I had undertaken to pick out the most direct route from my camp to Adobe Walls. Keeping on the divide between Dixon Creek and Short Creek, I came to a stretch of very rough country late in the evening, and finally reached a place where it was impossible to travel further in a wagon. As darkness was falling, I unhooked my mules, Tobe and Joe, and jumped astride old Tobe, followed some buffalo trails down to Dixon Creek, near its mouth where grass and water were abundant.

As this particular locality was new to me and darkness at hand, I decided that I would camp there for the night. Picketing one of the mules, I turned the other one loose. With a single blanket for my bed and my coat for a pillow, I lay down for the night, and was soon sound asleep.

No mercy was shown the buffaloes when I got back to camp from Adobe Walls. I killed as many as my three men could handle, working them as hard as they were willing to work. This was deadly business, without sentiment; it was dollars against tenderheartedness, and dollars won.

When the man I had hired at Adobe Walls had worked his full time, I hitched up and started back with him. When we reached the Canadian we found her with her back up, smashing and banging things from side to side--so deep and swollen that it would have been the height of foolishness to attempt a crossing. We went on to White Deer Creek, hoping to find a wider crossing, and by reason of it a shallower bottom.

I waded the river in my search for a good footing, and decided finally that we could cross by swimming the mules fifty or sixty yards. It was our purpose to unhitch the mules and leave the wagon on the south side of the river until the water had run down.

Our plans were quickly changed. At that moment two men from Adobe Walls rode up and told us that two hunters had been killed by Indians twenty-five miles down the river, on Chicken Creek, several days past. Our informants were greatly excited, and were hurrying back to their camp at the head of White Deer.

If the Indians were on the warpath, we knew it would be foolish to leave our wagon, as they would destroy it beyond doubt, so we decided to risk trying to take it across the river regardless of the wide stretch of rolling water.

While men experienced in the trials of travel in the wilderness may grow indifferent to danger, yet they never quite forget that danger exists. This is especially true in crossing such streams as the South Canadian and the Cimarron. These streams make the odds in their own way and in their own favor. The man that ventures into them must rely solely upon his own nerve, strength and horse sense.

Choosing a point on the opposite side of the river where we wished to land, we drove in, hoping for the best. In a moment the swift current caught us, and both mules were swimming. In water a mule has less sense than a horse, and the ginger is soon knocked out of him if he gets his ears full of water. Having smaller feet, the mule cannot equal a horse in traversing quicksand.

After the mules had taken a few plunges, the current caught up our wagon and whirled it over and over like a top. When I saw that the mules would have to swim for it, I sprang into the water to help the frightened animals, getting on their upper side and seizing the mule nearest me by his bridle. In this way I was able to keep his head above water. The other mule, terrified by its surroundings, alternately rose and sank. We saw that if the wagon kept turning over, the team might get drowned, so we cut the harness, and after the greatest exertion got the mules ashore. The near mule lay down on the sand and died without a struggle. It seemed ridiculous that the mule should succumb after being taken from the water, yet there he lay. Old Tobe was saved. The wagon drifted down stream about sixty yards and lodged against the bank. We pulled it out of the river next day. Our greatest misfortune was the loss of our guns.

When we lined up on the north side of the river we were a sorry lot--two bedraggled, unarmed men and a water-logged mule three miles from Adobe Walls, in danger of attack by Indians at any moment. Ordinarily, I was not easily discouraged. This, however, was a jolt from the shoulder. I stood in greatest need of my gun, a big "50." We could dig out the wagon, but not the guns, and somewhere in the depths of the Canadian they are rusting this very day.

We were a sorrowful pair as we started up the valley for Adobe Walls, leading old Tobe and leaving old Joe to bleach on the Canadian sands. Unwilling to let the other walk, neither of us would ride. I had lost my hat in the river, and my clothing was plastered with mud and sand.

Upon coming in sight of Adobe Walls, we were quickly discovered, and our disordered appearance convinced the men that we had been attacked by Indians--possibly we were the only survivors of a desperate encounter. We found Adobe Walls buzzing with talk about Indians. The particulars of the killing of the men on Chicken Creek were now learned. Their names were Dudley and Wallace. They were camped on the south side of the creek near where the Ledrick brothers now have a ranch. Dudley, Wallace and Joe Plummer were hunting together from this camp. Plummer went to Adobe Walls for supplies. Upon his return he was horrified to find the dead bodies of his two companions. Through the breast of one had been driven a heavy wooden stake, pinning him to the ground. Both were scalped, and otherwise mutilated in a shocking manner.

Looking away from his camp, Plummer said he saw objects at a distance which he felt sure were Indians. Realizing that the next thing for him to do was to try to save his life, he cut the harness from one of his horses, mounted and dashed away toward Adobe Walls.

The news he brought caused much excitement, as these were the first men that had been killed since the building of Adobe Walls. When Plummer reached the Walls there were only a few men there, but he managed to get two buffalo-hunters to go back with him to bury the dead. A party of fifteen surveyors, employed by the State of Texas, and in charge of a man named Maddox, had just arrived in that section. I am told that this was the first surveying ever done in the Panhandle, and that the Maddox survey still holds good. The surveyors' camp was on Johns' Creek. Plummer had halted there on his way to Adobe Walls, to warn the men against the Indians. When Plummer returned, the members of the surveying party joined him to help bury the dead. No further indignities had been offered the bodies, which were buried on the spot. The horses, still in their harness were found grazing in the valley. Plummer gathered up the outfit and went to Adobe Walls--the surveyors kept going straight south, fully satisfied that soldiers, not surveyors, were what the country most needed.

Hearing all this, I was impatient to return to my own camp as quickly as possible, but was detained by the necessity of buying a mate for my mule, which was beset with difficulties. Finally, I managed to buy a horse. My next obstacle to overcome was to replace the gun I had lost in the Canadian. The best I was able to do was to buy what was called a round-barrel Sharp's. I had left camp in such a hurry that I failed to take my six-shooter, an oversight of which I was rarely guilty in those days. I had been absent three days when I got back to my camp.

The evening before I left Adobe Walls, another hunter came in with Indian news. His name was Moore. He said that two days previously two men had been killed by Indians in his camp on a tributary of Salt Fork of Red River, north of where Clarendon, Texas, is now situated. The names of the dead men were John Jones, nicknamed "Cheyenne Jack," a young Englishman, and "Blue Billy," a German. The camp was destroyed and all the stock run off.

"Cheyenne Jack" belonged to an influential family in England. His relatives, several years later, made inquiry through the British diplomatic service, in communication to the commanding officer at Fort Elliott, Texas, as to the whereabouts of the unfortunate man's remains. I was directed to find where the body had been buried. It was a week after Moore reported these murders before a party went from Adobe Walls to bury the dead men. Jones and his companion had fallen in the bed of a creek in a grove of timber, right in camp. While Moore was absent, a flood came down the creek and carried the bodies and the whole camp away. The bodies could not be found.

Before leaving the Walls to go to my camp, I got "Brick" Bond, now living at Dodge City, Kansas, to accompany me. I was fearful that the Indians had attacked my camp and possibly killed Albright and "Frenchy." Happily, I found them alive and ignorant of what had been going on in the country south of the Walls.

All of us agreed that a blind man could see that it was entirely too risky to stay in camp with Indians all around us, so we lost no time in loading our outfit and pulling into Adobe Walls, arriving there by noon the next day. The story of the Indian depredations had spread to all the hunting camps, and by the time we reached the Walls a large crowd had gathered in from the surrounding country. We remained here for about a week.

An odd thing about this Indian excitement was that none of the hunters had seen an Indian nor a sign of one. The Indians evidently had carefully picked their time, watching closely and waiting until only two or three men were in camp, whereupon they attacked and then slipped stealthily away. All of us felt that these murders had been perpetrated as a warning to the buffalo-hunters to leave the country--to go north of the "dead line."

Every man of us was dead set against abandoning the buffalo range. The herds were now at hand, and we were in a fair way to make a pile of money. Furthermore, the buffaloes were becoming scarcer and scarcer each year, and it was expedient that we make hay while the sun shone, for soon the sun would be no longer shining in the buffalo business. Its night was close at hand. We decided that the best and safest plan would be for three or four outfits to throw in together and all occupy the same camp. After all, it was not unusual to hear of two or three buffalo-hunters being killed and scalped every year, and perhaps there would be no further outbreaks by the Indians. It was agreed, however, that everybody should be very careful and take every precaution against surprise and attack.

When we started back to the range, most of us went west and north of the Walls, as the Indians were supposed to be camped on the headwaters of the Washita and the Sweetwater, south of us, their main summer camp grounds. But I was so in love with my location on Dixon Creek, southwest of the Walls, that I resolved to take the risk and establish myself at that point, and went there with three skinners I had hired.

We had left a lot of hides at this camp, and began hauling them to Adobe Walls, which took several days. I felt uneasy all the time. Something seemed to be wrong. There was Indian in the air, and I could not shake myself loose from thinking about the possible danger, so I told my men that it might be well for us to get over on the north side of the Canadian. We broke camp and went to Adobe Walls, to increase our stock of supplies for a stay near the head of Moore's Creek.

We were buying supplies to last us two months, and were ready to start next day. Late in the evening James Hanrahan came to me and said:

"Billy, where are you going?"

"Northwest," I answered.

Hanrahan then asked me how it would suit me for the two of us to throw in together. He said he had been having trouble in getting a man who could hunt fast enough to keep his skinners busy. Hanrahan owned a big outfit, and usually had seven skinners. I told him that nothing would please me more than to go into partnership with him, and that I could easily kill enough buffaloes to keep twenty skinners hard at work every day. Hanrahan offered to give me half of all the profits, which was as liberal as any man could wish for.

Our wagons were all assembled and loaded, in readiness for us to pull out next morning, June 27, 1874.

It might be well to describe the exact location of the buildings and the nature of their surroundings. All the buildings at Adobe Walls faced to the east, the main ones standing in a row. On the south was the store of Rath & Wright, with a great pile of buffalo hides at the rear. Then came Hanrahan's saloon, and fifty yards or so north of the latter was the store of Leonard & Myers, the building forming the northeast corner of the big picket stockade. In the southwest corner of the stockade was a mess house, and between the mess house and the store was a well. The blacksmith's shop was located just north of Hanrahan's saloon.

The adobe walls of the main buildings were about two feet thick. The door of Rath & Wright's store opened to the west, while that of Leonard & Myers looked to the east.

Bent's Creek, west of the Walls, flowed from the northwest in a southeasterly direction to the Canadian, passing close to the ruins of old Adobe Walls, about a mile and a quarter south of the new Adobe Walls. On the north side of Bent's Creek, southwest of the buildings, was a hill, north of which the land was smoother and afterwards a part of the Turkey Track Ranch pasture.

East of Adobe Walls lay the open valley of Adobe Walls Creek, terminating in a growth of willows, cottonwoods, hackberry, chinaberry, and stunted elms that fringed this stream, on the other side of which, at a distance of about twelve hundred yards from Leonard & Myer's store stood a butte-like hill of considerable height, with a more or less level bench near the summit, caused by the sliding and falling of debris from the crest. Several hundred yards southeast were the low sandhills of the Canadian, whose wide expanse of level sand was more than a mile away.

The season had advanced so slowly, and the buffaloes had been so long coming north, that we had done comparatively little hunting, and all of us were impatient to be up and gone. O'Keefe was doing a big business at his blacksmith's shop, pounding away hour after hour, repairing the wagons on which the buffalo hides were to be hauled from the hunting grounds to the traders at Adobe Walls. My wagon was in front of the shop, O'Keefe having finished repairing it.

I had been unable to replace my big "50," lost in the Canadian, with a gun that suited me in every way, but it was highly important that I should be well-armed if I expected to fulfill my promises to Hanrahan.

The only gun at the Walls that was not in use was a new "44" Sharp's, which was next best to a "50." This gun had been spoken for by a hunter who was still out in camp; he was to pay $80 for it, buying it from Langton who was in charge of Rath & Wright's store. Langton told me that if necessary he would let me have the gun, as he had ordered a case of guns and was expecting them to arrive any day on the freight train from Dodge City, and he probably would have them in stock before the owner of the gun came in from the buffalo range. News came in that night, the evening of June 26, 1874, that the freight wagons were camped on the flats north of the Walls and, of course, would show up in a day or two. Langton also heard that the man to whom he had promised the gun was not coming for several days, so he hunted me up and told me I might have the gun.

I went right over to his store and got the "44," together with a full case of ammunition. I was so tickled over my good luck, that I took the gun over to Hanrahan's saloon, to show it to him. After we had looked the gun over, I set it down in the corner for the night, intending to get it when we said good bye to the Walls next morning, headed for our camp on the buffalo range. For some reason which I can not explain, even to myself, I left the case of ammunition with Langton, little dreaming how greatly I would regret my carelessness.

By this time the excitement and talk about the fate of the four men who had been killed by Indians had subsided, and we paid no further attention to the matter, so busily were we engaged in our preparations for departure. Several hunters had come in that day, and we planned to stay up late that night, celebrating our return to the range, telling stories of past experiences and joking about how much money we would have when the hunt was over.

The night was sultry and we sat with open doors. In all that vast wilderness, ours were the only lights save the stars that glittered above us. There was just a handful of us out there on the Plains, each bound to the other by the common tie of standing together in the face of any danger that threatened us. It was a simple code, but about the best I know of. Outside could be heard at intervals the muffled sounds of the stock moving and stumbling around, or a picketed horse shaking himself as he paused in his hunt for the young grass. In the timber along Adobe Walls Creek to the east owls were hooting. We paid no attention to these things, however, and in our fancied security against all foes frolicked and had a general good time. Hanrahan did a thriving trade.