In Lincoln County, Kansas, 1864 and 1869
Story of Those Killed, With a History of the Monument Erected to Their Memory in Lincoln Court House Square, May 30, 1909
LINCOLN, KANSAS THE LINCOLN SENTINEL PRINT
THE COMING OF SETTLERS TO DENMARK.
In the month of February, 1869, the following settlers came to what is now called Denmark, Lincoln county Kansas, on Spillman creek: Lorentz Christiansen and wife, Peter Christiansen and wife and their three children, Helena, Christian and Hans. The Christiansens were brothers. Eskild Lauritzen and wife and one boy, Otto Petersen a single man, were the first settlers around the Denmark neighborhood. Fred Meigerhoff, and George Weichell and his wife came two months later. Lorentz Christiansen filed on the southeast quarter of section twenty-three, now owned and occupied by Martin Rasmussen. His brother Peter Christiansen filed on the southwest quarter of section twenty-four, now owned and occupied by H. P. Jensen. Eskild Lauritzen filed on the north-east quarter of section twenty-five now owned and occupied by Peter Larsen. Otto Petersen filed on the east-half of the south-east quarter of section twenty-five (All of this land is in what is now Grant township), and the west half of the south-west quarter of section thirty now owned and occupied by Mrs. C. Andersen. George Weichell and Fred Meigerhoff filed on the north half of section thirty-one in Marion township. I am unable to find out which quarter was filed on by Weichell and which by Meigerhoff but they filed on those two quarters just before they were killed.
As stated before, these settlers came here in February 1869, and started to build log houses, or partly "dugouts". The Christiansen brothers had their log house dug in a bank in a bend of Spillman creek. Their house was on the south side of the creek. A bend in the creek runs so much to the north there that the house was very near the center of the quarter section. This house was on Peter Christiansen's land and it is certainly the first dwelling erected in that neighborhood. Lorentz and his wife lived with them. Eskild Lauritzen had a log house on his land in the bend on the south side of Spillman, not far from where the present dwelling of Peter Larsen is now located. Otto Petersen lived with the Lauritzens. Weichell and wife and Meigerhoff, when they arrived, also lived with Lauritzen. This made a crowd of six adults in this one house. We might presume that this was a very small log house, and this was one of the hardships that the pioneer had to contend with,-no place to seek shelter until some rude and cramped affair could be erected. When new arrivals came to the settlement the latch string was always found hanging out and they were given as good as the settlers had for themselves.
The first accident that might have ended fatally, happened when they were cutting logs for the log house of Peter Christiansen. Lorentz had the misfortune to miss the log with his ax and cut a terrible gash in his foot. It bled profusely and there was danger of his bleeding to death and no doctor within thirty or more miles, and no house to place him in. It looked bad for the small band surrounding him. What to do was a puzzle, as none of them could speak fair English. Lorentz himself was the best in that respect, and he was out of commission, they therefore decided to send out Christian Christiansen the oldest son of Peter Christiansen. He could speak good English, so he was dispatched down to the Saline river where a few Irish had settled. Arriving there he failed to get the desired help so he returned that evening. The next day he was dispatched down the river again for help, and kept going until he reached the house of John S. Strange not far from the present site of Lincoln Center. When Mr. Strange heard what had happened to one of his fellowmen he yoked up his ox team and drove up to Denmark and loading Mr. Christiansen in the wagon, proceeded to take him homeland nursed him for six weeks or until he was well again. This incident may perhaps in a measure account for the lack of a house on the Lorentz Christiansen land. When spring opened each one got busy to get a little breaking done so as to grow as least a little to help out.
The above has been written to introduce each of the characters in this drama, in order to better understand what did follow.
Along in March or the first part of April, Mr. and Mrs. George Weichell and Fred Meigerhoff, a single man, came to Spillman creek. They had staid some two or three weeks on Bullfoot creek, making their home with Ferdinand Erhardt. These people have been very hard for me to trace. But enough is known about them to convey the idea that they were highly educated, and well fixed in a financial way. It is said that they had an instrument something like a butter or cheese tester. They would run this instrument from three to five feet in the ground, and cut and pull out a plug of the subsoil for examination. They did not buy the cat in the sack, for they picked out two as good pieces of land as you will find anywhere.
At the beginning of my work the names of Meigerhoff and Weichell were not complete. No one seemed to know their initials, and I desired to have their names correct on the pioneer monument, so I set about to find their full names, and reasoned that if they had taken land they would have been obliged to have had citizen's papers, and to file on the land they would have had to go to Junction City. I made a trip to this place and examined the records from January 1st to June 1st, 1869 and I found there that on May 10th, 1869, George Weichell and Fred Meigerhoff took out their first citizen papers and they also show that the two men were from Switzerland and not from Hanover, as some have it. The names are now correct on the monument. It will be noticed that they were in Junction City on May 10th, and it is certain that they took land while there. When we consider the crowds that applied for and during those days, and the slow mode of traveling, it is safe to say that the two men barely had time to return from Junction City to beat home on the 30th day of May.
On the 30th, day of May, 1869, about two o'clock, p. m., a party of Indians consisting of about sixty, came down Spillman Creek committing all kinds of depredations and killed Eskild Lauritzen and his wife, and Stine and Otto Petersen. The Lauritzen boy was saved. He was over at the Christiansen home, playing with Hans Christiansen. The place where the killing occurred was on the north side of the creek, and west of "Little Timber,'' on the south west quarter of section twenty-four, on the north line of the Peter Christiansen farm, near to the south line of the present Morgenson farm. Otto Petersen was killed some distance from where the Lauritzens were killed, on the same side of all the creeks, but was not found till some days after the massacre. It might be well to state here, that Little Timber and Trail creek empty into Spillman creek on this quarter section. Some of the writers, including Eli Ziegler, who makes the statement very positive, say that Otto Petersen was killed and buried on the south side of the creek. Reverend Thomas Strange was one of the parties that went up on the Spillman and found and buried the dead body of Petersen. He was rolled in a blanket and buried where he was found; and Rev. Strange is positive that it was on the north side of the creek, and from other sources I have the same statement. So I accept that as being the true fact.
This thirtieth day of May, 1869, is said to have been one of those lovely days that only Kansas can produce at that time of the year; and being on Sunday the Lauritzens and Petersen turned out to enjoy the Sabbath day; and at the same time investigate their own, and the Christiansen prospects for a crop. They had a little breaking done and a little sod corn put in. The Christiansen breaking was north of the creek, and about directly north of his house, and the Lauritzen boy was at the Christiansen house; so it is easy to understand that his parents were on the way to visit the Christiansens; but went across the creek to see the Christiansen crop first, and that was what cost them their lived. The Indians tried very hard to burn the Christiansen house after they had finished their fiendish act on the north side of the creek; but the brothers escaped injury, and kept the Indians far enough away to prevent firing the house. If Lauritzen, his wife and Otto Peterson had gained the house, they would have been saved. During the night the Christiansen brothers with their families escaped down the river to the Schermerhorn ranch on Elk horn creek. They took with them the Lauritzen boy. He was afterwards sent to some relative in Chicago. If rumors are right, he is now farming in Iowa.
This will prove that they knew at the Schermerhorn ranch, early the next morning, from two different sources, that the Indians had done some mischief, and at least three settlers had been killed. There was a detachment of soldiers there, but they did not stir to protect the settlers, nor to punish the Indians. But I will come to that later on.
Mr. and Mrs. Weichell and Meigerhoff at their home evidently saw the Indians coming, heard the shooting and their war whoops and ran down the creek to the Saline river. They were certainly trying to get down to the Schermerhorn ranch. But the Indians discovered them in their flight and started in persuit of them, and they had a running fight all the way. Weichell and Meigerhoff had as good fire arms as money could buy at that time. But the ammunition gave out, so they were an easy prey for the Indians, and they were overtaken on the north line of the southeast quarter, of the northwest quarter of section two, Indiana township. That makes it about one mile and one-half west of Lincoln Center. Here Meigerhoff and Weichell were killed and Mrs. Weichell taken prisoner. It was also near here that Mrs. Alderdice was taken prisoner and her two children killed and one wounded. The latters name is Willis Daily. He was picked up and carried to Mr. Mart Hendrickson's house, the next day after the battle, where the arrow that had wounded him was extracted by Mr. Washington Smith assisted by Phil. Lantz. One of Mrs. Anderdice's boys that was killed, was a full brother to the wounded Willis Daily, they being sons of Mrs. Alderdice by a former husband. This killing took place some time about six o'clock, on Sunday evening, May 30th, 1869.
Mrs. Alderdice was taken prisoner and her children killed about a quarter of a mile southeast of where Weichell and Meigerhoff were killed, on the Nick Whalen farm. The southwest quarter of section one.
The Indians then crossed the Saline river and went about due south to Bullfoot creek, where they camped on the Opplinger farm at a stone cave before described. Here the Indians took Mrs. Alderdice's three months old baby, choked it to death and then hung it in a tree.
At one of Mrs. Weichell's visits here, she gave another version of the killing of Mrs. Alderdice's baby. She was allowed to have her baby for three days, but it was crying a good deal, which annoyed the savages so much that they then wrung its head off and threw the several parts of the body into the stream. Either version is hard for us to read about now. What heart rending agonies for the poor mother, that was so utterly unable to prevent the cruel act. That made three of Mrs. Alderdice's children killed, and one wounded. The wounded boy is still living in Blue Rapids, Kansas. The Indians left the next day May 31st without hindrance from the soldiers.
I have tried to make it as clear as I can what happened to each one of the victims so as to be understood. We know how Mrs. Weichell got down to the Saline valley, but how and why Mrs. Alderdice was there is something of a mystery. Her husband, Thomas Alderdice, together with a few other citizens was at Junction City at the U. S. land office, which was located there at that time, for the purpose of contesting a piece of land in the Saline valley that had been filed on by a minor, hence there were not many men in the neighborhood, and in all probability the Indians knew that and for that reason they raided through the valley. The letter here submitted from Eli Zeigler, of Salem, Oregon, a brother of Mrs. Alderdice, seems to state for a fact that he got his dinner that day with her, but he is not able to state whether it was at her own house or at some other house; but it is supposed that she went with her children to visit Mrs. Timothy Kine and they went together to Nicholas Whalens house. Mrs Kine was alone also with a small baby and when the Indians came she escaped to the river and the Indians failed to find her. She was saved but she got so scared at the time that she has been a mental wreck ever since and is now in an asylum. She managed, however to cross the river and make her way to the farm of Ferdinand Erhardt, on Bullfoot during the night or early in the next morning. The child in her arms at that time is now Mrs. John Linker and resides in Lincoln Center.
It has been told quite often but has never yet been put on paper that the settlers when they got home and heard what had happened to Mrs. Alderdice and Mrs. Kine and the children, they held a council of war and decided to inflict capital punishment on Nicholas Whalen and Tom Noon for deserting the women and children in that way. Mrs. Kine, however, interfered promptly and said that there had already been too much trouble and said that Mr. Whalen and Tom Noon had done the right thing under the circumstances as they could not have protected them against so many Indians. It seems that when the men left the settlement for Junction City, they had requested Mr. Whalen to take care of the women and children, and he had promised to do so. The two women and all of the children were evidently on their way to the Whalen house as it was getting close to evening when they were overtaken and the Alderdice children were killed on the Whalen farm. Naturally Mr. Whalen could not be held responsible for what happened out on the prairie. This is the only theory that can be advanced why the two women and the five children were there at that time. They simply failed to reach the Whalen house before they were overtaken by the Indians. Mrs. Kine escaped and concealed herself and the baby in the brush in the river bed.
After the copy for this book was ready for the press I visited Mrs. Kine at Leaven worth, and was able to obtain from her a very clear statement corroborating the above, except as modified by her story. She says "Mrs. Alderdice and I, and Tom Noon and wife were visiting at Nick Whalen's house on the day the Indians came into the valley. When we heard the shooting and shouting, at the time Weichell and Meigerhoff were killed, about five p. m., Whalen left the house and went off to corral his horses and take them to a place of safety; while Noon and wife mounted their horses and fled, leaving Mrs. Alderdice and myself and our five little children alone in the house. We women took our children and ran to hide ourselves. I reached the brush, but Mrs. Alderdice and her four children were overtaken."
Mrs. Alderdice and Mrs. Weichell were carried to the south fork of the Platte river in Colorado, between Julesburg
and Sterling. Here they were kept captives by Tall Bull, the Souix chief, until the eleventh day of July 1869,
when during the battle Captain Cushing under General Carr, found the two white women in Tall Bull's tent. Mrs.
Alderdice was mortally wounded and breathed her last, as the soldiers entered the tepee. Mrs. Weichell was also
badly wounded, but was able to sit up. The Indians evidently meant to have killed both of the women, but were taken
by such a sudden surprise that they did not have time to complete the dastardly deed. Mrs. Alderdice was buried
there, and Mrs. Weichell taken care of and lived to tell the tale of their hardships during that one month and
twelve days of their captivity. The story can perhaps be better imagined than described, so I shall not attempt
to describe it. This rescue is known as the battle of Summit Springs.
The same day, May 30, 1869, two or three stray Indians came as far east as the north half of the northeast quarter of section eighteen, Elkhorn township, near the home of John S. Strange., and found two boys about fourteen years old. One was John Harrison Strange, a son of Reverend John S. Strange, and the other Arthur Schmutz. The Indians professed friendship, but the boys evidently did not take it that way, as one Indian rode up and raising to his full height dealt young Strange a terrible blow with a club. He died without a struggle. The Schmutz boy started to run when he saw what had happened to his playmate, whereupon he was shot with an arrow. The arrow shaft was extracted all except part of the arrow head, and the boy was taken to Fort Harker and placed in the government hospital where he died, and he was buried at Fort Harker. He lived and suffered for ten weeks before death relieved him.
The Alderdice children were buried on their grandfather's farm, (M. Zeigler), on the northwest quarter of section 22, Colorado township, near where the Monroe school house now stands. The Strange boy was buried on the Schermerhorn ranch, and afterward removed to the Lincoln cemetery.
When the funeral of the Strange boy took place everybody was armed as that was customary in those days. A buffalo came from the south and as the settlers were in need of a little meat they gave chase as soon as they had the body lowered in the grave. The buffalo was overtaken at the Saline river and it was killed and divided. This will show that the settlers were always ready for an emergency. If it had been a party of Indians they would more than likely have given battle to them as well as to a buffalo.
Weichell and Meigerhoff were buried about a mile and one half west of Lincoln Center just where they fell. The bodies still rest there, and the exact spot is now uncertain.
From there the funeral party went up to Denmark and found Mr. and Mrs. Lauritzen and buried them. They were also buried where they were found, and they still rest there as they were never moved. The civilians that buried the dead (there were no soldiers), were J, J. Peate, A. Campbell, of Salina; Lon Schermerhorn, Volney Ball, Ed. Johnson, Isaac DeGraff, D. C. Skinner, R.'B. Clark, William E. Thompson, George Green, Z. Ivy of Tescottand a few others. Those men came up the valley to perform the last sad rites. Otto Petersen was not found until some days later when Bev. T. M. Strange, and others came up the valley and found his body, and he was buried where he was found. The three are certainly buried on or close to the southwest quarter of section 24, one half mile south of the Lutheran church at Denmark.
Peter and Lorentz Christiansen and their wives were saved. Helena, the daughter, was working at Wilson, Ellsworth county, and Christian, the oldest son, was working at the Schermerhorn ranch at that time, so there were only the two brothers and their wives and Hans, the youngest son of Peter Christiansen and the Lauritzen boy to move down to the Schermerhorn ranch. They arrived there early in the morning of May' 31st and told what had happened on Spillman creek the day before. A government wagon hauled the two families to Fort Harker from the ranch, but not being able to find any work there the two families went to Junction City, where the men secured work at their trade as blacksmiths. There they remained until December, 1870, when they again moved back to Spillman, arriving there on the first day of January 1871. There were quite a number to come on that day, and two or three families had come a short time before so there was more security felt among them, but it took them a long time to get over the Indian scare. When the Christiansen brothers again returned to their land they found the graves of Lauritzen and his wife. Her hoop skirt was sticking out of the ground, which was all that the Indians had left on her body except her stockings; otherwise she was nude. I often wondered why she was killed, as the Indians were seldom known to kill women, and I sometimes think that she killed herself, or that her husband killed her, rather than have her go into the hands of the Indians. They evidently knew what her fate would be if that had happened.
Eli Zeigler, the brother of Mrs. Susanna Alderdice, has written the following account of the Spillman creek
raid, and it is here copied from the Lincoln papers of November, 18, 1909.
Dear Friend and Comrade-At your present request I will tell you about the Indian raid on Spillman creek as I saw it May 30, 1869.
"It has been a long time and I have seen no one to talk with about it for years. I have seen John Alverson a few times but do not remember that we talked about those days, but will try to tell the tale without exaggeration. There were but few settlers on Bacon creek, and hearing of an abandoned claim near Bacons, and that there were eight or ten acres broken on it, I concluded to take it. I understood that the man who did this breaking, fearing an Indian raid, had left the country.
"John Alverson, my brother-in-law, took his team, which we loaded with corn and oats to plant, also provisions for two weeks for ourselves and horses, expecting to be away that length of time. We started from father's place (near where Beverly now is) Sunday, May 30, 1869, and got up to Thomas Alderdice's at noon and ate our dinner there. Thomas Alderdice, I think was in Salina. I do not remember of talking with any man in that settlement. Report said that the Indians had been on the Solomon river a few days before, but they had been driven off by a company of soldiers. My sister, Mrs. Alderdice, mentioned that and told me to keep a sharp lookout. After eating dinner with my sister, I bade her good bye little thinking that she would be in the hands of the Indians before sundown, her children killed or wounded, and that I would never see her again. After going a short distance I saw a man on horse-back up toward the head of Lost creek, riding fast toward the west. John thought he looked like an Indian spy, but I thought it was some one looking for cattle. We kept close watch on him to see where he was going, but he gained so rapidly on us that we could soon see him only on the highest hills. He was still riding at full speed the last we saw of him on the hill east of Trail creek, and the course he was taking he would cross Trail creek about where the wagon road crossed, or a little above We kept on going on across Trail creek when John made the remark that he did not like the appearance of things. After we left this creek going towards Spillman creek, as we approached the highest ground we could look up the bottom on the south of Spillman and there we saw a party of horseman quite a way up the creek, and coming down the bottom quite rapidly. We stopped a moment to look at them, and John thought they were Indians, and that was their spy who went ahead of us, but I thought that they were soldiers, returning from the Solomon river. They deceived me the way they rode, riding like a company of soldiers in uniform line, and coming at a fast gallop. The sun glistened on their guns so plain that I still thought they were soldiers, but John would not have it that way, but said they were Indians, and I had about made up my mind that they were. They were getting by this time about opposite us and we bad tried to count them several times. As near as we could make out there were between 45 and 60 of them. At this time they were still south of Spillman creek and a little above the Dane settlement.
"We had made up our minds that there was no way of avoiding an attack. Just when we stopped, and we stopped a moment; the distance between us being about one-half mile. Then they all started for us on the run, except ten or fifteen who went down the creek toward the Dane settlement. There was a knoll just north of us, and I thought best to get on that and tight them, thinking that we would have time to unhitch the horses and tie them to the wagon before they got to us. So we drove to the knoll. I jumped out to unhook the horses, but John thought it would not do to stop there, there being so many Indians he thought best for us to get to the creek. I jumped back into the wagon and we started toward Trail creek, going in a northeasterly direction to the nearest point. We came to the creek about half a mile above the crossing. As we were not very well armed we talked the matter over while going to the creek. I having a needle gun and about forty rounds of cartridges and John an old muzzle loader, we concluded that I would do the shooting and John would hold the load in his gun as a reserve shot.
When we got to the creek the Indians were close behind us. I looked across the creek and thought there was a little bank on the other side that would protect us some. So I drove across, but John misunderstood me and jumped out into the creek and I drove up the bank. John ran along under the bank on the side I was on; the Indians were coming across the creek within a few yards of us, shooting and yelling. John was calling for me to get out of the wagon, when I got to that little bank, I stopped the horses, seeing nothing more could be done to save the team and that we must defend ourselves, I dropped the lines, grabbed my gun and jumped out on the off side of the wagon. Reaching in the box for my cartridges, I could get only the box, about 20 rounds. While I was getting the cartridges the Indians were close all around. One of them rode up and picked up the lines just as I had laid them down and he held the horses. I thought sure I'll put a hole through you, but before I could get my gun around he jumped off his pony down beside the wagon, and still held the horses. The Indians were shooting all this time. John was calling for me to get under the bank. Just then another Indian darted up right close to the wagon and I thought I would get him, but before I could cover him with my gun he jumped his pony on the opposite side of the wagon, so I could not get him.
"John was still begging me to jump over the bank and I had about made up my mind to. As I stepped out from the wagon I looked toward the rear and behind the wagon and saw three Indians standing about four rods away, having me covered with their guns. I had no time for a shot, so made a spring for the creek bank; my foot slipped and I fell just as they fired. I think they over shot me. I also think that the slip is what saved me. I kept going on my hands and feet over the bank. As they were pouring the shots right at us at short range we saw a log lying up the bank a little below us, we ran to that, thinking that would protect us on the side. We expected a good, long, hard fight, but as we ran to the log and jumped over, getting ourselves into position, the Indians I guess saw that we were going to try to protect ourselves. They kept back on the bank out of our sight, and drove the team away just after we got behind the log, and the Indians quit shooting at us. Then we could hear shooting down the creek near the Dane settlement, when John said, "My God! They are tighting down at the Dane settlement.'' This firing did not last long, and we thought it was the small band that went down that way, and that there would be enough of the whites there to stand them off and get in position by the time the band that had attacked us concluded to withdraw and go down and re-enforce their comrades.
"We kept waiting behind the log for some time, expecting the Indians were going to slip upon us in some way around the creek banks, and we were prepared for them. If John had had a good repeating gun when we were under the creek bank, he had plenty of opportunity to make a few good Indians, but did not dare to shoot that one load out while by himself. We lay there by the log quite a little time in readiness. We did not hear any more of the Indians, and did not see anything of them. I then crawled up the creek bank to take a look. Away down on the east side of Spillman creek I saw two or three horseman, which I thought were Indians. Concluding that the Indians had left us, we decided to try and go down to the Dane Settlement.
"We expected the Indians to lie in the ambush for us along the creek, therefore we worked our way slowly and carefully, every little ways going up the bank to see if we could see anything of the Indians.
"Seeing no signs of foes, we could keep on going, and we passed the Dane settlement before sundown. We could go up the bank watching closely and listen, expecting to hear somebody or see where the Indians had been. We knew there were settlers near there, but did not know where their house was located. Not seeing their house, we passed on. Continuing our journey along the creek slowly and cautiously, we thought that the Indians had not gone farther than the Dane settlement, and that they had probably gone back, as we could not see or hear anything of them. It was now growing dark, and we thought best to keep on the safe side and keep close to the creek, so in case they had gone farther down, and were on their way back, we would meet them in a place where we could have the advantage.
"We followed Spillman creek down to its mouth, then down the Saline. I do not know what time of the night it was, but it was several hours after dark. We had not seen or heard anything since leaving our log on Trail creek, and concluded that the Indians had not passed down Spillman creek farther than the Dane settlement, that they had not been in the settlement on the Saline river. We were about a mile west of where the depot, now stands at Lincoln, when the stillness of the night was broken by a loud war song northeast of us and down the valley. John said, "My God, Eli, they have been down' to the settlement." We heard more singing farther down and nearer the river. "Yes John, I fear it is a big party, and think it is a different party from the one we ran into."
"I thought this was a larger party that had come down the Saline, probably dividing on Wolf creek. We could tell they were moving up the Saline bottom by the noise the v made, sounding like a large party or else they were scattered out. They did not seem to be coming very fast, some were singing and others talking loudly.
"We got to the bank of the river, one of the bends which points to the north. When they got opposite and .close enough we were going to fire towards them, we were going to fire together and I was to keep on firing; while John loaded again. If the Indians came toward us, we would cross the river, but we did not think they would attack us in the dark. By this time they were pretty well north of us, but quite aways out of the bottom. All at once they commenced hallooing and fired several shots. As the last shots were fired, we heard a woman scream one loud piercing scream more of horror than of agony, then all was still.
We could not imagine who it was that had fallen into the hands of the Indians, there being no one living in the direction from which the scream came. We almost held our breath while we listened, wondering what the Indians were doing, and which way they were moving, waiting and listening, and waiting for the sound of their ponies, walking through the grass, a voice, a sigh, or a moan, but not a sound reached us. In a few moments which seemed hours to us, we heard them east of us down the river. John thought it best to get down the river ahead of them, but I could not see how we could head them off if we were to follow them directly down the river. Being sure that they were now down in the settlement, we crossed the river in the direction of Bullfoot creek, by so doing we could travel faster and get ahead of the Indians.
"Starting a little east of south, when we got on high ground between the Saline and Bullfoot we saw several fire signal arrows shooting up into the sky, from up Bull-foot west and south of us. Thinking then that there must be three bands of Indians, one coming down the Spillman, one down the Saline, and the other down the Bullfoot, we feared that when daylight came, all we could see would be Indians, Indians every where.
"Wishing to get ahead of them we turned a little east, getting to the creek as soon as possible; when, thinking we were below them we hurried down the creek as fast as we could under the circumstances, keeping our guns ready to fire at the first sight of a moving Indian.
"We had made up our minds that if we ran into them again we were going to do shooting at the first one we saw, without waiting for good one or fat one. Traveling on down the creek, dawn was fast approaching, we were still hugging the creek for protection in case of need. We had not heard a sound or seen a signal light since those mentioned.
"About sun up or a little after, we were near Fred Erhardt's place, where we found a company of United States cavalry in camp. We reported to the captain what we had seen-told him what we had heard in the night, out on the Saline river bottom, and of the fire arrows we had seen just a little above on Bullfoot. I begged him to saddle up at once-to furnish me a horse and I would lead them right to the Indians' camp, where I thought we could catch them if we moved at once and moved quickly. He replied, "I cannot move any farther until I get orders to do so. The Indians were in the settlement over the river yesterday afternoon, but I do not know how much damage they have done." He had sent a dispatch to Fort Harker for orders and would wait there until he received an answer. We were disgusted with his reply, drank a cup of coffee, ate a hard tack and started on home, keeping on the south side of the river, and just before noon got home.
"I got up my pony, intending to go back up the river, but as we had told the folks the story, they would not let me go until next day, when I went up. But the dead, except one, had been found, and all the wounded. My sister, Mrs. Alderdice, had been captured.
"The next day, A. M. Campbell and some others came up from Salina, with whom I went up on Spillman creek to look the ground over, and to see if we could find Petersen, the missing Dane. Finding his body, we dug his grave where he fell, on the south side of the Spillman. We also saw the graves of the others that the Indians had killed. They were buried by the party that were there May 31, 1869. We also saw where the Indians had been at the dug-out, where the Danes lived. I knew now that we were wrong in thinking there were three parties or bands of Indians. There was but one band; we were following this party around, that made us think we were seeing different bands.
"The shooting on the Saline river was where the two men, T. Meigerhoff and C. Weichell were killed, and Mrs. Weichell was captured. They must have crossed the river after killing these two men near us, and went over to Bullfoot, and not down the river as we thought at that time, but we following them over caused us to think them another party.
Yours very truly,
The place where Eli Ziegler and Alverson were when the Indians overtook them, according to his letter, must be just where the Denmark school house now stands. This corresponds better to his description than any other place on Trail creek. The horses and harness were all that the Indians took, and it seems that they spoiled the harness badly by cutting the tugs, which was done very neatly. This is the place where Waldo Hancock, of Beverly, says they found the wagon. The Indians, after cutting the tugs, left the ends hanging on the singletree hooks, and in this shape they were found a few days later when they went up to look for the wagon. This wagon did good service for the settlers during that fall. They came up to the abandoned farms to gather what had been planted by those who had been killed by the Indians. Mr. Hancock informed me that they got some extra fine potatoes Off of the Lauritzen farm. The potatoes grew down near the water edge of Spillman creek. They were obliged to go up there several times to clear the patch.
The Schermerhorn ranch has been often mentioned, in connection with the old history of this section of Lincoln county but I never saw a description given of its location; nor what it was composed of or was represented to be. It was located on the northeast quarter of section 28, range 7, in what is now Elkhorn township. Mr. Schermerhorn kept a general store there where the settlers could get a few of the most needed things necessary to sustain life. It was about two miles due south of the present Rocky Hill bridge, where the Moffitts had their dwelling in 1864, and about three miles east of where Ferdinand Erhardt had his home. Gen. Alfred Sully had headquarters at this place in 1868 and investigated the conditions in this part of the country.
Here is a story not exactly a part of this book, yet it has some bearing on the tragedy, enacted here on the 30th day May. On the 28th day of May the same party of Indians tore up the track and ditched the train on the railroad and had a battle with the railroad gang that built the road. Two white men were killed and four were wounded in that battle. That was the time and place where our townsman A. Roenigk received a very serious wound from an Indian's rifle. He was shot through the lungs and for several days it looked very serious for Mr. Roenigk. It seems very much like he was on the road to the New Jerusalem, but he rallied, got well and is still hale and hearty, and has just completed a trip around the world, which included the Old Jerusalem. He, together with the others that were wounded, was taken to the government hospital at Ft. Harker. Here he saw the Schmutz boy after he was brought there for treatment.
In the early summer of 1868 three women by the names of Bacon, Foster and Shaw were take prisoners on Bacon creek about seven or eight miles northwest of Denmark. They were sadly mistreated by the Indians. Some authorities have it that they were kept prisoners for a week and then released; others say that they were let go the next day, anyway none of them were killed. When found they were more dead than alive but for the reason they were not killed, their names do not appear on the Pioneer monument. Mrs. Alderdice was both captured and killed and Mrs. Weichell was captured and very badly wounded, therefore they are represented on the monument.
About the same time of that year 1868 the Indians did some killing around Beloit in Mitchell county, and took two little girls prisoners and carried them over here on the Saline river. They were about five and seven years old, and were worn out from hanging on the bare backs of the Indian ponies. For that reason, or perhaps for other reasons, they were dropped on the edge of the bluffs northwest of Lincoln Center. The little girls evidently thought that the Saline river was the Solomon, and that they were not far from home. They went down to the river and found an abandoned log house; here^ they were for two days without food. Ferdinand Erhardt and Martin Hendrickson were out on a scouting tour and happened to see one of the little girls with a red shawl on her head. They first thought that it was an Indian, so they drew their revolvers and advanced, but they soon found that instead of Indians they were two little white girls. The first thing they asked for was bread as they had not had anything to eat for two days. The girls were picked up and carried to the home of Mr. Hendrickson, and there they were cared for until their parents in Beloit could be notified of their whereabouts. The father, Mr. Bell came over from Beloit to Mr. Hendrickson's and took his daughters home. The soldiers did not rescue those girls; in fact the soldiers did not see them, yet the good people over in Mitchell county have it that the soldiers did the rescuing. I simply desire to correct the statement as it is seemingly incorrect.
General Sully by his presence did some good work here that summer, in preventing Indian depredations, but that is about all that the United States soldiers did here.
There are said to have been four stockades or camps in what is now Lincoln county, built by the federal or state governments for the protection of soldiers and settlers. One was at or near the Schermerhorn ranch; one near what is now Lincoln Center; one on Spillman creek located about where Fred Sheldon's house now stands. But the most prominent of these camps was the one located at the junction of Spillman and Bacon creeks, on the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 8, township 11, range 9, in what is now Grant township and is owned at the present time by Lars P. Larson. This was built more like a fort than any of the others and consisted of a two story log house, as near as I can find 24x24 feet, a large stockade for the horses, and a mess built of rock for cooking purposes. The remains of the mess building are still visible and can be easily traced but the stockade and the log house were burned by a prairie fire a few years after their erection. It is at this place that J. J. Peate, of Beverly, began his service as a government scout. It has been suggested that the place be suitably marked with a substantial stone, and the author of this book is willing to donate the stone for this purpose, the only cost will be for the lettering. It is asserted that soldiers were stationed at these points at that time for the protection of the few settlers who were then here. It is further stated in Miss Barr's History of Lincoln County that there were no soldiers here on May 30, 1869, This seems to be a serious mistake, as Ferdinand Erhardt is positive that soldiers camped on his place between May 30th and 31st., 1869, and Eli Ziegler is equally positive that he requested the captain to give him a horse, and he would lead them to where the Indians were, but the officer declined to move, stating that he had sent a courier to Fort Harker to get permission from headquarters to give battle to the Indians. Furthermore that officer had information on the morning of the 31st, or the next morning after the massacre, from three different parties of what had happened the day before. The three parties who brought information were Mrs. Kine, the Christiansen brothers, and Eli Ziegler. By consulting the map it will reveal the fact that the Indians and the soldiers camped within less than a mile apart. It looks like the case of the lion and the lamb sleeping together that night, and neither of them getting hurt. In all the documents and records that I have presented in this book, I fail to find where the soldiers did any protective work. General Ouster and General Forsythe are the only ones who made the Indians come to time in this part of Kansas. The scouts in the Saline valley and the settlers were the ones who were always ready to turn out and give battle.
Ferdinand Erhardt and Martin Hendrickson were neither scouts nor soldiers, yet they were always there if anything was doing. The regular scouts from the Saline valley were: J. J. Peate, Chalmers Smith and E. E. Johnson. These three may be put down as commanders of the volunteers. D. C. Skinner, Fletcher Vilott, Lewis Farley and his son Hutchinson, Thomas Alderdice, Thomas Boyle, Eli Ziegler, George Green, John Lyden, and John Haley. Those men were all in what is now Lincoln county. George W. Culver, Frank Herrington, Howard Morton, H. H. Tucker, G. B. Clark, A. J. Eutsler, E. G. Tozier, William Stubbs, and J. E. Green, were mostly from Ottawa county. These men and a score of others less conspicious were the heroes of the Saline valley at that time. They did not do their fighting for money or glory; they fought for Betsy and the baby, and I am willing to predict that a monument will be erected here some day in memory of their bravery.
The letter that opened this book, written by Robert Moffitt, to his sister in 1864, and the letter written by Eli Ziegler, show positive proof that the pioneers were thrown on their own resources. If they got through with their lives they were lucky; if they were killed, they had to bury themselves; if they were taken prisoners or crippled for life, they had to get along as best they could. There was no government aid extended. If they lost all they had, they would sometimes get a little money out of it after they had gone through a lot of red tape and long delay. Therefore the pioneer monument on the Lincoln county court house square is a fitting recognition from the present generation to future generations, of the hardships the pioneers had to endure in order that we of the present time may live here in safety. What happened in Lincoln county in pioneer days has happened all over the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Our country has been one great battle field between whites and Indians and whites against whites.
The settlers who were killed herein 1864 and 1869, were fifteen in number, and mostly foreigners, hence innocent parties as far as doing harm or provoking the Indians was concerned. There were among them five children ranging in age from a few months to fourteen years. There were five foreigners who had not been here in the state more than from three months to two years. Lauritzen and wife, and Otto Petersen, those three came from northern Germany, from that strip of land ceded from Denmark to Germany in 1865. They were born Danes and emigrated to escape being German soldiers. Their birth place was in the neighborhood of Haderslev. Meigerhoff and Weiehell came from Switzerland. The Moffitt brothers were born in Ireland, but came to the United States as young children, so they may be classed as Americans. So we find that there were five Americans, five foreigners, and five children killed by the Indians.
As near as I can ascertain Lauritzen and his wife were farmers from the old country; Otto Petersen was a jeweler, and is said to have had a good deal of small jewelry with him; the Christiansen brothers had been blacksmiths all of their lives, so it is readily understood that they were not so very well fitted to fight all of the battle incident to subduing the wilderness. Weichell and his wife were evidently of a class of people higher up in the social world of Europe. They had not only plenty of money and the finest of garments, but they had a lot of costly pictures, the like of which the common people in Europe have not. Mr. Weichell was evidently trained for agriculture or he would not have examined the subsoil so particularly as stated before. Meigerhoff as near as I can find it was here with Weichell in the capacity of a scientific farmer and servant; or perhaps in the capacity of a good friend from the old country, but he is supposed to have been rather poor financially. The old settlers never could understand why a man of wealth and refinement should go so far west. The chances are that Mr. Weichell meant to have become a second Lord Scully if he had been spared. It is however a question why Mrs. Weichell after she was cured did not return to her native land, as she had plenty to take her there. There are very many questions from that time that neither records nor traditions can clearly solve.
The Weichells were reported to have had $1,500 in gold which was supposed to have been stolen by the Indians. The solders found a little over half of this amount among the Indians and turned it over to Mrs. Weichell. She was also said to be the proud possessor of twenty-four silk dresses. Mrs. Weichell has visited some of the old settlers here a few times since this trouble occurred. She again married, and is supposed to live on a farm in eastern Kansas. She is at the present time negotiating with the old settlers around Salina for evidence through which to secure damages from the government for losses sustained at that time.
The letters and other reports in regard to the character of the Moffitt brothers will show that they were here to make a home, and that they were industrious, and of a good, gentle disposition. They have one sister now living in Philadelphia, and in her letter in my possession she says that the boys were agreeable and tender hearted; more like girls in their choice of play, no rough and tumble play for them. The letter which opened this book seems to indicate that such was their character until they met their death. Of Houston and Tyler nothing good nor anything bad is known; as they were only visitors here at the time of their death. So my judgment would be that they were good citizens.
There were a good many funny things that happened during those days to mix up with the more serious things. While it is the purpose of this little book to have much of anything in it except what concerns the pioneer monument or the victims that it represents, yet there are a good many things which the survivors did do at that time that will throw a little light on the way of: living, in this, at that time barren country. Here is one as told by Waldo Hancock of Beverly. He was a member of the state militia and was stationed at a camp a little southwest of Lincoln, on the southeast quarter of section one, near the present mill site. Some one had planted a good size water melon patch and had dug a lot of post holes. They were no doubt planning to build a fence. The militia boys went after the water melons before they were ripe, and got nothing out of them. Mr. Hancock saw what was going on and determined to save some of them if possible so he slipped off to the patch and gathered as many melons as were full grown; but not ripe, (there were none ripe) and put as many as he could get into each post hole and covered them with fine earth sealing them up for good; sometime after this some of the boys expressed the desire for a good water melon and Mr. Hancock told them that he could get for them what they wanted and he took them down to the patch. Of course there were no melons on the vines but Hancock was equal to the occasion; he dug down into one of his "cold storage" plants and produced as fine a water melon as they had ever eaten. This was evidently the first cold storage plant in Lincoln county and Waldo Hancock of Beverly was the originator of it.
I have all names and dates accurate, and I am sure that I have the character of each individual correct, and every place where everything happened is truly laid out on the map, so there is only one more thing to point out that made pioneer life hard for an average of twenty-five years if they were fortunate enough to escape being killed. They had to contend with floods and droughts, hot winds and blizzards, cyclones and windstorms, grasshoppers and chinch bugs; two or three well developed panics also occurred during that time; when a man had money in the bank he could not get it; all of these things helped to make pioneer life the next thing to a burden and also to retard a more rapid development of the country. When a crop was good it generally brought nothing. Eggs were from three to six cents per dozen; butter five or six cents a pound; corn from eight to eleven cents per bushel; wheat not worth more than the hauling; fat hogs two and one half per pound; and cattle and horses in proportion. But this is not the worst of it all. As late as 1876 sugar sold in Lincoln Center at eighteen cents per pound; coffee from forty to fifty; tobacco eighty cents; boots, shoes and clothing were entirely in proportion to these prices, so it is the next thing to a miracle that the pioneers lived through it, A good many left as it was to much hardship for them.
In 1874 when the grasshoppers cleaned out the country and the panic cleaned out the banks, the government and the eastern people tried to aid and give us some sort of relief in our distress; the eastern people sent mostly food stuff; the government mostly clothing, which was all discarded soldiers uniforms. In 1875 when a stranger came here he would easily have considered everybody a soldier as all were dressed in uniform. When the Indians did the killing that was the period when we were bleeding; when the grasshoppers cleaned us out, that was the time when we were needing; when we erected by free gifts a monument in memory of all of these hard trials, that was the time when we were leading. Hence the monument stands for bleeding, needing and leading.
I have been asked the question how long it would take a man to build up a fairly good comfortable home from a homestead. My answer is every time from twenty five to thirty years; and it had to be accomplished by hard steady work and rigid economy. A very few arrived with a good deal of money, but they were not so well fixed in the long run as the fellow who was obliged to borrow a part of the money required to file on his homestead, as it required a sum of fourteen dollars to homestead, and I know of a few who did not have that much money. The rich man's trouble was that he had the cash and tried to push ahead. He would hire to get crops in, that in most instances were utter failures; so he constantly spent-while the poor man hired out to him, and thus earned his living, making his own little improvements and planting his own patches with his own hands, and if he lost his crops, he was out nothing but his labor.
None of the surrounding counties have lost so many from Indian depredations as has Lincoln county, and that is what induced me to begin agitating the erection of the pioneer monument and place it on the court house square. It stands there today to remind the younger and coming generations that there was not always the same security and comfort in Lincoln that we of the present day enjoy. When we consider all of the improvements and luxuries which we have created in forty-one years, with nothing but the naked hands to work with, the question naturally arises what will the result be in forty-one years hence. Will the coming generations produce as big a change as the pioneers have produced ? They have the advantage of a true knowledge of the country gained from the pioneers and have vast wealth to work with.
(Since chapter two was written I have found another version of what happened on Spillman on May, 30th 1869. This is told by Mrs. Helena Errebo. She is the daughter of Peter Christiansen and she states that she was not working in Wilson at the time of the massacre on her father's land but that she was at home on that day. She further states that her father had no dwelling at that time but that they all lived at the Lauritzen place. This does not correspond with what her father told me on several occasions while he was living, and it would seem impossible for all to live at the Lauritzen home as there were fifteen altogether. I give this second version for the purpose of showing how difficult it has been for me to ascertain the true facts as, in many cases, no two have told the same story alike. It is possibly owing to a faulty memory. The name "Meigherhoff" has been run through this book as "Meigerhoff" as this comes nearer the proper pronunciation.
On page 28, the ninth line should read as follows: "killed, Eskild Lauritzen and wife, Stine; and Otto Petersen.")
Southwest View Pioneer Monument
C. BERNHARDT, Chairman of the Pioneer Monument Committee.
C. Bernhardt was born February 18, 1847 at Vellerup, pr Skibby, Denmark, Europe. He came to the United States
June 1st, 1867 and settled in Chicago. From there he came to Kansas in 1869 and settled in Junction City, Kansas
on the 27th. day of November. On September 1st., 1875 he came to Lincoln county, Kansas and located on a homestead
at Denmark, and has resided in this county ever since.
REV. H. C. BRADBURY. REV. JOHN S. STRANGE.
Members of the Pioneer Monument Committee. Henry Chase Bradbury, the second son of Mary and Elbridge Bradbury who was then pastor of the 1st, Presbyterian church ofWil-liamsport, Pa., was born August 15, 1844. He was born again in Christ in 1862. Was educated in a Christian home and at his father's school. In 1866 he graduated from Amherst college and in 1871 from the Union Theological Seminary, New York City, where he too was engaged in Sabbath school and city missions. Came to Ottawa county, Kansas in 1872 as a Home Missionary. Preached first at Lincoln in 1873. He is a kind of a circuit rider and a sod-plow preacher, and at first roved up and down the Solomon and Saline valleys to hunt places in need of sabbath schools and churches and the gospel. He is now 66 years young.
Rev. John S. Strange was born near Elizabethtown, Kentucky in 1831. He was raised in Indiana and lived there
until he enlisted in the 49th. Indiana Infantry and served a little over three years. In 1866 he came to what is
now Lincoln county, Kansas. In 1870 he was appointed one of the first county commissioners and took part in the
organization and naming of the county. At the first election he was elected as one of the county commissioners.
He has made Lincoln county his home ever since. He is a minister of the Christian Connection of America, and is
a member of the Kansas State Christian Conference.