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FIRST OVERLAND MAIL.
 
 
 
 On the summit of one of the highest plateaus bordering the Missouri
 River, surrounded by a rich expanse of foliage, lies Independence,
 the beautiful residence suburb of Kansas City, only ten miles distant.
 
 Tradition tells that early in this century there were a few pioneers
 camping at long distances from each other in the seemingly
 interminable woods; in summer engaged in hunting the deer, elk, and
 bear, and in winter in trapping.  It is a well-known fact that
 the Big Blue was once a favourite resort of the beaver, and that
 even later their presence in great numbers attracted many a veteran
 trapper to its waters.
 
 Before that period the quaint old cities of far-off Mexico were
 forbidden to foreign traders, excepting to the favoured few who were
 successful in obtaining permits from the Spanish government.  In 1821,
 however, the rebellion of Iturbide crushed the power of the mother
 country, and established the freedom of Mexico.  The embargo upon
 foreign trade was at once removed, and the Santa Fe Trail, for untold
 ages only a simple trace across the continent, became the busy highway
 of a relatively great commerce.
 
 In 1817 the navigation of the Mississippi River was begun.  On the 2d
 of August of that year the steamer _General Pike_ arrived at St. Louis.
 The first boat to ascend the Missouri River was the _Independence_;
 she passed Franklin on the 28th of May, 1819, where a dinner was given
 to her officers.  In the same and the following month of that year,
 the steamers _Western Engineer Expedition_ and _R. M. Johnson_ came
 along, carrying Major Long's scientific exploring party, bound for
 the Yellowstone.
 
 The Santa Fe trade having been inaugurated shortly after these
 important events, those engaged in it soon realized the benefits
 of river navigation--for it enabled them to shorten the distance
 which their wagons had to travel in going across the plains--and
 they began to look out for a suitable place as a shipping and
 outfitting point higher up the river than Franklin, which had been
 the initial starting town.
 
 By 1827 trading-posts had been established at Blue Mills, Fort Osage,
 and Independence.  The first-mentioned place, which is situated about
 six miles below Independence, soon became the favourite landing,
 and the exchange from wagons to boats settled and defied all efforts
 to remove the headquarters of the trade from there for several years.
 Independence, however, being the county seat and the larger place,
 succeeded in its claims to be the more suitable locality, and as
 early as 1832 it was recognized as the American headquarters and the
 great outfitting point for the Santa Fe commerce, which it continued
 to be until 1846, when the traffic was temporarily suspended by the
 breaking out of the Mexican War.
 
 Independence was not only the principal outfitting point for the
 Santa Fe traders, but also that of the great fur companies.  That
 powerful association used to send out larger pack-trains than any
 other parties engaged in the traffic to the Rocky Mountains;
 they also employed wagons drawn by mules, and loaded with goods for
 the Indians with whom their agents bartered, which also on their
 return trip transported the skins and pelts of animals procured from
 the savages.  The articles intended for the Indian trade were
 always purchased in St. Louis, and usually shipped to Independence,
 consigned to the firm of Aull and Company, who outfitted the traders
 with mules and provisions, and in fact anything else required by them.
 
 Several individual traders would frequently form joint caravans,
 and travel in company for mutual protection from the Indians.  After
 having reached a fifty-mile limit from the State line, each trader
 had control of his own men; each took care of a certain number of
 the pack-animals, loaded and unloaded them in camp, and had general
 supervision of them.
 
 Frequently there would be three hundred mules in a single caravan,
 carrying three hundred pounds apiece, and very large animals more.
 Thousands of wagons were also sent out from Independence annually,
 each drawn by twelve mules or six yoke of oxen, and loaded with
 general merchandise.
 
 There were no packing houses in those days nearer than St. Louis,
 and the bacon and beef used in the Santa Fe trade were furnished by
 the farmers of the surrounding country, who killed their meat,
 cured it, and transported it to the town where they sold it.
 Their wheat was also ground at the local mills, and they brought
 the flour to market, together with corn, dried fruit, beans, peas,
 and kindred provisions used on the long route across the plains.
 
 Independence very soon became the best market west of St. Louis for
 cattle, mules, and wagons; the trade of which the place was the
 acknowledged headquarters furnishing employment to several thousand
 men, including the teamsters and packers on the Trail.  The wages
 paid varied from twenty-five to fifty dollars a month and rations.
 The price charged for hauling freight to Santa Fe was ten dollars
 a hundred pounds, each wagon earning from five to six hundred dollars
 every trip, which was made in eighty or ninety days; some fast
 caravans making quicker time.
 
 The merchants and general traders of Independence in those days
 reaped a grand harvest.  Everything to eat was in constant demand;
 mules and oxen were sold in great numbers every month at excellent
 prices and always for cash; while any good stockman could readily
 make from ten to fifty dollars a day.
 
 One of the largest manufacturers and most enterprising young men in
 Independence at that time was Hiram Young, a coloured man.  Besides
 making hundreds of wagons, he made all the ox-yokes used in the
 entire traffic; fifty thousand annually during the '50's and until
 the breaking out of the war.  The forward yokes were sold at an
 average of one dollar and a quarter, the wheel yokes a dollar higher.
 
 The freight transported by the wagons was always very securely loaded;
 each package had its contents plainly marked on the outside.
 The wagons were heavily covered and tightly closed.  Every man
 belonging to the caravan was thoroughly armed, and ever on the alert
 to repulse an attack by the Indians.
 
 Sometimes at the crossing of the Arkansas the quicksands were so bad
 that it was necessary to get the caravan over in a hurry; then forty
 or fifty yoke of oxen were hitched to one wagon and it was quickly
 yanked through the treacherous ford.  This was not always the case,
 however; it depended upon the stage of water and recent floods.
 
 After the close of the war with Mexico, the freight business across
 the plains increased to a wonderful degree.  The possession of the
 country by the United States gave a fresh impetus to the New Mexico
 trade, and the traffic then began to be divided between Westport
 and Kansas City.  Independence lost control of the overland commerce
 and Kansas City commenced its rapid growth.  Then came the discovery
 of gold in California, and this gave an increased business westward;
 for thousands of men and their families crossed the plains and
 the Rocky Mountains, seeking their fortunes in the new El Dorado.
 The Old Trail was the highway of an enormous pilgrimage, and both
 Independence and Kansas City became the initial point of a wonderful
 emigration.
 
 In Independence may still be seen a few of the old landmarks when
 it was the headquarters of the Santa Fe trade.
 
 An overland mail was started from the busy town as early as 1849.
 In an old copy of the Missouri _Commonwealth_, published there under
 the date of July, 1850, which I found on file in the Kansas State
 Historical Society, there is the following account of the first mail
 stage westward:--
 
           We briefly alluded, some days since, to the Santa Fe line
           of mail stages, which left this city on its first monthly
           journey on the 1st instant.  The stages are got up in
           elegant style, and are each arranged to convey eight
           passengers.  The bodies are beautifully painted, and made
           water-tight, with a view of using them as boats in ferrying
           streams.  The team consists of six mules to each coach.
           The mail is guarded by eight men, armed as follows: Each man
           has at his side, fastened in the stage, one of Colt's
           revolving rifles; in a holster below, one of Colt's long
           revolvers, and in his belt a small Colt's revolver, besides
           a hunting-knife; so that these eight men are ready, in case
           of attack, to discharge one hundred and thirty-six shots
           without having to reload.  This is equal to a small army,
           armed as in the ancient times, and from the looks of this
           escort, ready as they are, either for offensive or defensive
           warfare with the savages, we have no fears for the safety
           of the mails.
 
           The accommodating contractors have established a sort of
           base of refitting at Council Grove, a distance of one
           hundred and fifty miles from this city, and have sent out
           a blacksmith, and a number of men to cut and cure hay, with
           a quantity of animals, grain, and provisions; and we
           understand they intend to make a sort of traveling station
           there, and to commence a farm.  They also, we believe,
           intend to make a similar settlement at Walnut Creek next
           season.  Two of their stages will start from here the
           first of every month.
 
 The old stage-coach days were times of Western romance and adventure,
 and the stories told of that era of the border have a singular
 fascination in this age of annihilation of distance.
 
 Very few, if any, of the famous men who handled the "ribbons" in those
 dangerous days of the slow journey across the great plains are among
 the living; like the clumsy and forgotten coaches they drove,
 they have themselves been mouldering into dust these many years.
 
 In many places on the line of the Trail, where the hard hills have not
 been subjected to the plough, the deep ruts cut by the lumbering
 Concord coaches may yet be distinctly traced.  Particularly are they
 visible from the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe track, as the cars
 thunder rapidly toward the city of Great Bend, in Kansas, three miles
 east of that town.  Let the tourist as he crosses Walnut Creek look
 out of his window toward the east at an angle of about thirty-five
 degrees, and on the flint hills which slope gradually toward the
 railroad, he will observe, very distinctly, the Old Trail, where it
 once drew down from the divide to make the ford at the little stream.
 
 The monthly stages started from each end of the route at the same time;
 later the service was increased to once a week; after a while to
 three times, until in the early '60's daily stages were run from both
 ends of the route, and this was continued until the advent of the
 railroad.
 
 Each coach carried eleven passengers, nine closely stowed inside
 --three on a seat--and two on the outside on the boot with the driver.
 The fare to Santa Fe was two hundred and fifty dollars, the allowance
 of baggage being limited to forty pounds; all in excess of that cost
 half a dollar a pound.  In this now seemingly large sum was included
 the board of the travellers, but they were not catered to in any
 extravagant manner; hardtack, bacon, and coffee usually exhausted
 the menu, save that at times there was an abundance of antelope and
 buffalo.
 
 There was always something exciting in those journeys from the
 Missouri to the mountains in the lumbering Concord coach.  There was
 the constant fear of meeting the wily red man, who persistently
 hankered after the white man's hair.  Then there was the playfulness
 of the sometimes drunken driver, who loved to upset his tenderfoot
 travellers in some arroya, long after the moon had sunk below
 the horizon.
 
 It required about two weeks to make the trip from the Missouri River
 to Santa Fe, unless high water or a fight with the Indians made it
 several days longer.  The animals were changed every twenty miles
 at first, but later, every ten, when faster time was made.  What sleep
 was taken could only be had while sitting bolt upright, because there
 was no laying over; the stage continued on night and day until
 Santa Fe was reached.
 
 After a few years, the company built stations at intervals varying
 from ten miles to fifty or more; and there the animals and drivers
 were changed, and meals furnished to travellers, which were always
 substantial, but never elegant in variety or cleanliness.
 
 Who can ever forget those meals at the "stations," of which you were
 obliged to partake or go hungry: biscuit hard enough to serve as
 "round-shot," and a vile decoction called, through courtesy, coffee
 --but God help the man who disputed it!
 
 Some stations, however, were notable exceptions, particularly in the
 mountains of New Mexico, where, aside from the bread--usually only
 tortillas, made of the blue-flint corn of the country--and coffee
 composed of the saints may know what, the meals were excellent.
 The most delicious brook trout, alternating with venison of the
 black-tailed deer, elk, bear, and all the other varieties of game
 abounding in the region cost you one dollar, but the station-keeper
 a mere trifle; no wonder the old residents and ranchmen on the line
 of the Old Trail lament the good times of the overland stage!
 
 Thirteen years ago I revisited the once well-known Kosloskie's Ranch,
 a picturesque cabin at the foot of the Glorieta Mountains, about half
 a mile from the ruins on the Rio Pecos.  The old Pole was absent,
 but his wife was there; and, although I had not seen her for fifteen
 years, she remembered me well, and at once began to deplore the
 changed condition of the country since the advent of the railroad,
 declaring it had ruined their family with many others.  I could not
 disagree with her view of the matter, as I looked on the debris of
 a former relative greatness all around me.  I recalled the fact that
 once Kosloskie's Ranch was the favourite eating station on the Trail;
 where you were ever sure of a substantial meal--the main feature
 of which was the delicious brook trout, which were caught out of
 the stream which ran near the door while you were washing the dust
 out of your eyes and ears.
 
 The trout have vacated the Pecos; the ranch is a ruin, and stands
 in grim contrast with the old temple and church on the hill; and both
 are monuments of civilizations that will never come again.
 
 Weeds and sunflowers mark the once broad trail to the quaint Aztec
 city, and silence reigns in the beautiful valley, save when broken
 by the passage of "The Flyer" of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe
 railway, as it struggles up the heavy grade of the Glorieta Mountains
 a mile or more distant.
 
 Besides the driver, there was another employee--the conductor or
 messenger, as he was called.  He had charge of the mail and express
 matter, collected the fares, and attended generally to the requirements
 of those committed to his care during the tedious journey; for he
 was not changed like the driver, but stayed with the coach from its
 starting to its destination.  Sometimes fourteen individuals were
 accommodated in case of emergency; but it was terribly crowded and
 uncomfortable riding, with no chance to stretch your limbs, save for
 a few moments at stations where you ate and changed animals.
 
 In starting from Independence, powerful horses were attached to
 the coach--generally four in number; but at the first station they
 were exchanged for mules, and these animals hauled it the remainder
 of the way.  Drivers were changed about eight times in making the trip
 to Santa Fe; and some of them were comical fellows, but full of nerve
 and endurance, for it required a man of nerve to handle eight frisky
 mules through the rugged passes of the mountains, when the snow was
 drifted in immense masses, or when descending the curved, icy
 declivities to the base of the range.  A cool head was highly
 necessary; but frequently accidents occurred and sometimes were
 serious in their results.
 
 A snowstorm in the mountains was a terrible thing to encounter by
 the coach; all that could be done was to wait until it had abated,
 as there was no going on in the face of the blinding sheets of
 intensely cold vapour which the wind hurled against the sides of
 the mountains.  All inside of the coach had to sit still and shake
 with the freezing branches of the tall trees around them.  A summer
 hailstorm was much more to be dreaded, however; for nowhere else on
 the earth do the hailstones shoot from the clouds of greater size or
 with greater velocity than in the Rocky Mountains.  Such an event
 invariably frightened the mules and caused them to stampede; and,
 to escape death from the coach rolling down some frightful abyss,
 one had to jump out, only to be beaten to a jelly by the masses of
 ice unless shelter could be found under some friendly ledge of rock
 or the thick limbs of a tree.
 
 Nothing is more fatiguing than travelling for the first day and night
 in a stage-coach; after that, however, one gets used to it and the
 remainder of the journey is relatively comfortable.
 
 The only way to alleviate the monotony of riding hour after hour
 was to walk; occasionally this was rendered absolutely necessary
 by some accident, such as breaking a wheel or axle, or when an animal
 gave out before a station was reached.  In such cases, however,
 no deduction was made from the fare, that having been collected in
 advance, so it cost you just as much whether you rode or walked.
 You could exercise your will in the matter, but you must not lag
 behind the coach; the savages were always watching for such derelicts,
 and your hair was the forfeit!
 
 In the worst years, when the Indians were most decidedly on the
 war-trail, the government furnished an escort of soldiers from the
 military posts; they generally rode in a six-mule army-wagon, and
 were commanded by a sergeant or corporal; but in the early days,
 before the army had concentrated at the various forts on the great
 plains, the stage had to rely on the courage and fighting qualities
 of its occupants, and the nerve and the good judgment of the driver.
 If the latter understood his duty thoroughly and was familiar with
 the methods of the savages, he always chose the cover of darkness
 in which to travel in localities where the danger from Indians was
 greater than elsewhere; for it is a rare thing in savage warfare
 to attack at night.  The early morning seemed to be their favourite
 hour, when sleep oppresses most heavily; and then it was that the
 utmost vigilance was demanded.
 
 One of the most confusing things to the novice riding over the great
 plains is the idea of distance; mile after mile is travelled on
 the monotonous trail, with a range of hills or a low divide in
 full sight, yet hours roll by and the objects seem no nearer than
 when they were first observed.  The reason for this seems to be that
 every atom of vapour is eliminated from the air, leaving such an
 absolute clearness of atmosphere, such an indescribable transparency
 of space through which distant objects are seen, that they are
 magnified and look nearer than they really are.  Consequently,
 the usual method of calculating distance and areas by the eye is ever
 at fault until custom and familiarity force a new standard of measure.
 
 Mirages, too, were of frequent occurrence on the great plains;
 some of them wonderful examples of the refracting properties of light.
 They assumed all manner of fantastic, curious shapes, sometimes
 ludicrously distorting the landscape; objects, like a herd of buffalo
 for instance, though forty miles away, would seem to be high in air,
 often reversed, and immensely magnified in their proportions.
 
 Violent storms were also frequent incidents of the long ride.
 I well remember one night, about thirty years ago, when the coach
 in which I and one of my clerks were riding to Fort Dodge was
 suddenly brought to a standstill by a terrible gale of wind and hail.
 The mules refused to face it, and quickly turning around nearly
 overturned the stage, while we, with the driver and conductor,
 were obliged to hold on to the wheels with all our combined strength
 to prevent it from blowing down into a stony ravine, on the brink
 of which we were brought to a halt.  Fortunately, these fearful
 blizzards did not last very long; the wind ceased blowing so violently
 in a few moments, but the rain usually continued until morning.
 
 It usually happened that you either at once took a great liking for
 your driver and conductor, or the reverse.  Once, on a trip from
 Kansas City, nearly a third of a century ago, when I and another man
 were the only occupants of the coach, we entertained quite a friendly
 feeling for our driver; he was a good-natured, jolly fellow, full of
 anecdote and stories of the Trail, over which he had made more than
 a hundred sometimes adventurous journeys.
 
 When we arrived at the station at Plum Creek, the coach was a little
 ahead of time, and the driver who was there to relieve ours commenced
 to grumble at the idea of having to start out before the regular hour.
 He found fault because we had come into the station so soon, and
 swore he could drive where our man could not "drag a halter-chain,"
 as he claimed in his boasting.  We at once took a dislike to him,
 and secretly wished that he would come to grief, in order to cure him
 of his boasting.  Sure enough, before we had gone half a mile from the
 station he incontinently tumbled the coach over into a sandy arroya,
 and we were delighted at the accident.  Finding ourselves free from
 any injury, we went to work and assisted him to right the coach--
 no small task; but we took great delight in reminding him several
 times of his ability to drive where our old friend could not "drag
 a halter-chain."  It was very dark; neither moon or star visible,
 the whole heavens covered with an inky blackness of ominous clouds;
 so he was not so much to be blamed after all.
 
 The very next coach was attacked at the crossing of Cow Creek by
 a band of Kiowas.  The savages had followed the stage all that
 afternoon, but remained out of sight until just at dark, when they
 rushed over the low divide, and mounted on their ponies commenced
 to circle around the coach, making the sand dunes resound with echoes
 of their infernal yelling, and shaking their buffalo-robes to stampede
 the mules, at the same time firing their guns at the men who were
 in the coach, all of whom made a bold stand, but were rapidly getting
 the worst of it, when fortunately a company of United States cavalry
 came over the Trail from the west, and drove the savages off.
 Two of the men in the coach were seriously wounded, and one of the
 soldiers killed; but the Indian loss was never determined, as they
 succeeded in carrying off both their dead and wounded.
 
 Mr. W. H. Ryus, a friend of mine now residing in Kansas City, who was
 a driver and messenger thirty-five years, and had many adventures,
 told me the following incidents:
 
           I have crossed the plains sixty-five times by wagon and
           coach.  In July, 1861, I was employed by Barnum, Vickery,
           and Neal to drive over what was known as the Long Route,
           that is, from Fort Larned to Fort Lyon, two hundred and
           forty miles, with no station between.  We drove one set of
           mules the whole distance, camped out, and made the journey,
           in good weather, in four or five days.  In winter we
           generally encountered a great deal of snow, and very cold
           air on the bleak and wind-swept desert of the Upper Arkansas,
           but we employees got used to that; only the passengers did
           any kicking.  We had a way of managing them, however,
           when they got very obstreperous; all we had to do was to
           yell Indians! and that quieted them quicker than forty-rod
           whiskey does a man.
 
           We gathered buffalo-chips, to boil our coffee and cook our
           buffalo and antelope steak, smoked for a while around the
           smouldering fire until the animals were through grazing,
           and then started on our lonely way again.
 
           Sometimes the coach would travel for a hundred miles through
           the buffalo herds, never for a moment getting out of sight
           of them; often we saw fifty thousand to a hundred thousand
           on a single journey out or in.  The Indians used to call
           them their cattle, and claimed to own them.  They did not,
           like the white man, take out only the tongue, or hump, and
           leave all the rest to dry upon the prairie, but ate every
           last morsel, even to the intestines.  They said the whites
           were welcome to all they could eat or haul away, but they
           did not like to see so much meat wasted as was our custom.
 
           The Indians on the plains were not at all hostile in 1861-62;
           we could drive into their villages, where there were tens
           of thousands of them, and they would always treat us to
           music or a war-dance, and set before us the choicest of
           their venison and buffalo.  In July of the last-mentioned
           year, Colonel Leavenworth, Jr., was crossing the Trail in
           my coach.  He desired to see Satanta, the great Kiowa chief.
           The colonel's father[28] was among the Indians a great deal
           while on duty as an army officer, while the young colonel
           was a small boy.  The colonel said he didn't believe that
           old Satanta would know him.
 
           Just before the arrival of the coach in the region of the
           Indian village, the Comanches and the Pawnees had been
           having a battle.  The Comanches had taken some scalps,
           and they were camping on the bank of the Arkansas River,
           where Dodge City is now located.  The Pawnees had killed
           five of their warriors, and the Comanches were engaged in
           an exciting war-dance; I think there were from twenty to
           thirty thousand Indians gathered there, men, women, and
           children of the several tribes--Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes,
           Arapahoes, and others.
 
           When we came in sight of their camp, the colonel knew, by
           the terrible noise they were making, that a war-dance was
           going on; but we did not know then whether it was on account
           of troubles among themselves, or because of a fight with
           the whites, but we were determined to find out.  If he could
           get to the old chief, all would be right.  So he and I
           started for the place whence the noise came.  We met a savage
           and the colonel asked him whether Satanta was there, and
           what was going on.  When he told us that they had had
           a fight and it was a scalp-dance, our hair lowered; for we
           knew that if it was in consequence of trouble with the
           whites, we stood in some danger of losing our own scalps.
 
           The Indian took us in, and the situation, too; and conducted
           us into the presence of Satanta, who stood in the middle
           of the great circle, facing the dancers.  It was out on an
           island in the stream; the chief stood very erect, and eyed
           us closely for a few seconds, then the colonel told his
           own name that the Indians had known him by when he was a boy.
           Satanta gave one bound--he was at least ten feet from where
           we were waiting--grasped the colonel's hand and excitedly
           kissed him, then stood back for another instant, gave him
           a second squeeze, offered his hand to me, which I,
           of course, shook heartily, then he gazed at the man he had
           known as a boy so many years ago, with a countenance
           beaming with delight.  I never saw any one, even among
           the white race, manifest so much joy as the old chief did
           over the visit of the colonel to his camp.
 
           He immediately ordered some of his young men to go out and
           herd our mules through the night, which they brought back
           to us at daylight.  He then had the coach hauled to the
           front of his lodge, where we could see all that was going on
           to the best advantage.  We had six travellers with us on
           this journey, and it was a great sight for the tenderfeet.
 
           It was about ten o'clock at night when we arrived at
           Satanta's lodge, and we saw thousands of squaws and bucks
           dancing and mourning for their dead warriors.  At midnight
           the old chief said we must eat something at once.  So he
           ordered a fire built, cooked buffalo and venison, setting
           before us the very best that he had, we furnishing canned
           fruit, coffee, and sugar from our coach mess.  There we sat,
           and talked and ate until morning; then when we were ready
           to start off, Satanta and the other chiefs of the various
           tribes escorted us about eight miles on the Trail, where
           we halted for breakfast, they remaining and eating with us.
 
 Colonel Leavenworth was on his way to assume command of one of the
 military posts in New Mexico; the Indians begged him to come back
 and take his quarters at either Fort Larned or Fort Dodge.  They told
 him they were afraid their agent was stealing their goods and selling
 them back to them; while if the Indians took anything from the whites,
 a war was started.
 
 Colonel A. G. Boone had made a treaty with these same Indians in 1860,
 and it was agreed that he should be their agent.  It was done, and
 the entire savage nations were restful and kindly disposed toward
 the whites during his administration; any one could then cross the
 plains without fear of molestation.  In 1861, however, Judge Wright,
 of Indiana, who was a member of Congress at the time, charged Colonel
 Boone with disloyalty.[29]  He succeeded in having him removed.
 
 Majors Russel and Waddell, the great government freight contractors
 across the plains, gave Colonel Boone fourteen hundred acres of land,
 well improved, with some fine buildings on it, about fifteen miles
 east of Pueblo, Colorado.  It was christened Booneville, and the
 colonel moved there.  In the fall of 1862, fifty influential Indians
 of the various tribes visited Colonel Boone at his new home, and
 begged that he would come back to them and be their agent.  He told
 the chiefs that the President of the United States would not let him.
 Then they offered to sell their horses to raise money for him to go
 to Washington to tell the Great Father what their agent was doing;
 and to have him removed, or there was going to be trouble.
 The Indians told Colonel Boone that many of their warriors would be
 on the plains that fall, and they were declaring they had as much
 right to take something to eat from the trains as their agent had
 to steal goods from them.
 
 Early in the winter of the next year, a small caravan of eight or ten
 wagons travelling to the Missouri River was overhauled at Nine Mile
 Ridge, about fifty miles west of Fort Dodge, by a band of Indians,
 who asked for something to eat.  The teamsters, thinking them to be
 hostile, believed it would be a good thing to kill one of them anyhow;
 so they shot an inoffensive warrior, after which the train moved on
 to its camp and the trouble began.  Every man in the whole outfit,
 with the exception of one teamster, who luckily got to the Arkansas
 River and hid, was murdered, the animals all carried away, and the
 wagons and contents destroyed by fire.
 
 This foolish act by the master of the caravan was the cause of a
 long war, causing hundreds of atrocious murders and the destruction
 of a great deal of property along the whole Western frontier.
 
 That fall, 1863, Mr. Ryus was the messenger or conductor in charge
 of the coach running from Kansas City to Santa Fe.  He said:
           It then required a month to make the round trip, about
           eighteen hundred miles.  On account of the Indian war
           we had to have an escort of soldiers to go through the most
           dangerous portions of the Trail; and the caravans all
           joined forces for mutual safety, besides having an escort.
 
           My coach was attacked several times during that season, and
           we had many close calls for our scalps.  Sometimes the
           Indians would follow us for miles, and we had to halt and
           fight them; but as for myself, I had no desire to kill one
           of the miserable, outraged creatures, who had been swindled
           out of their just rights.
 
           I know of but one occasion when we were engaged in a fight
           with them when our escort killed any of the attacking
           savages; it was about two miles from Little Coon Creek
           Station, where they surrounded the coach and commenced
           hostilities.  In the fight one officer and one enlisted man
           were wounded.  The escort chased the band for several miles,
           killed nine of them, and got their horses.