Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Big Lonely

I discovered an amazing song today written by a Canadian singer/songwriter by the name of Rodney Brown. In the same tradition as Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers, Rodney has a keen ear for history and has brought the Northwest to life in this song.

Although it doesn't mention our area per se, it does touch who we were, and are. I think you'll really enjoy the lyrics, but go here to actually hear the song. Hearing Rodney sing the song will put chills down your spine!

The Big Lonely by Rodney Brown

Beautiful but terrifies, bountiful but bleak
Make you high, exhaust your mind make a strong man weak
The year is 1783, spent thirty days at sea
Gotta cross this mighty ocean

The highlanders have fled New York for a Montreal canoe,
The Great Lakes, the Black Spruce, the Northwest Rendezvous
The voyageurs, the coureurs de bois, the Ojibway and the Cree
They know how a man can fall ... for the big lonely1

A gentleman, a partner, beaver pelts I trade,
Fort Kaministiquia will soon bear my name,
From a highland farm in the Scottish hills to a prince on an inland sea
The ice is gone, the lakes are free

Spring like hope with its blossoms and rain
Gives way to summers of passion and play
I long to see my summer love again

We bring you silk and ribbons, London hats and beads
Tobacco twists and violins, Irish linen, threads and seeds
Four point blankets for the winters, kegs of rum to keep you warm
We'll dress like kings and dance till dawn

"A la facon du nord", my beautiful Anishnawbe
My Métis sons will love the land and work the fur trade
We'll win those battles in 1812 but they'll give it all away.
In the Treaty of Ghent, the government and the big lonely ...

It's the beauty that my heart will never hold
Brings a shelter of sadness on my soul
This land of plenty this land we bought and sold

My summer wife is buried now outside these fortress walls
My sons inscribe her headstone with a tribute to them all
"The mother of the country, the daughter of the land"
We leave you poor with beggars hands ...

In London town the deal was signed in 18212
The Hudson Bay Company had finally won
The Ojibway chiefs and all the tribe marched into the Great Hall
Hunger and death were the blackbird’s call

In the Big Lonely
My schooner sails to my Montreal Canoe
I’ll not return to a Northwest rendezvous
To the whisper of a blackbird and the vision that came true

Sailin' back to Inverness to live there once again
I dream of my dark eyed Susan and my blue eyed Magdellan
Gave a lifetime to the New World and the Northwest Company
My heart I gave to the land they call The Big Lonely

1 - A very Canadian term, generally referring to 'the North'
2 - 1821 was the year HBC merged with the North West Company

Monday, September 22, 2008

Freemasonry in Pembina: The Northern Light Lodge

The first Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons to organise in what is now the Province of Manitoba was authorised by M. W. A. T. C. Pierson, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, under a Dispensation dated September 13, 1863. It reached Canada by way of Pembina, Dakota Territory, and Fort Garry, now Winnipeg, in what was then known as the Red River Settlement in the Canadian Northwest. In his address to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota at the eleventh Annual Communication held at St. Paul on October 2, 1863, M. W. Bro. Pierson, Grand Master of Minnesota, made the following statement: "About the middle of last month I received an Application signed by W. Bro. C. W. Nash, Bro. J. L. Armington, Bro. A. T. Chamblin, Bro. Charles H. Mix, and eight others, who were en route for Pembina, Dakota Territory, for a Dispensation authorising them to open and Work a Lodge.
Pembina is the most northern point in the territory of the United States, a great central point where concentrates a large amount of emigration and of travel between the two oceans. The want of a Lodge at that place has been long felt and often expressed; and as the Brethren named were active, well informed, and discreet Masons, the first two, former Masters, and the latter, Wardens of Lodges within this jurisdiction, and as they expected to remain in that hyperborean region for at least two years, I granted a Dispensation to establish a Lodge at Pembina." Prior to holding the first meeting, it was discovered, however, that no name had been given the Lodge in the Dispensation. "How it was settled," says M. W. Bro. William G. Scott, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, in his article " Early Masonry in Manitoba," " I will leave Bro. Nash to describe." The following description was then given " I wrote to the Grand Master calling his attention to the omission, and took occasion to suggest what I thought would be a proper and very appropriate name, and in case it met with his approval to so advise me and direct that I insert it in the Dispensation. The name that was suggested met with his cordial approval and was thus named. It came about in this way: It was at night that I was writing the Grand Master, and going out of my quarters I observed the grandest display above me that it was ever my pleasure to behold. I never witnessed such grandeur of this character before, and I never expect to again. It was an exhibition of Northern Lights. The celestial globe was grand and beautiful in the extreme, and for a long time my eyes feasted upon the sight with delight. It was witnessed by many in our cantonment. On returning to my quarters to complete my letter to the Grand Master, I narrated the circumstances; hence the name, Northern Light Lodge, was given." The Lodge held its first meeting about the middle of January 1864. During the few months that it remained active in Pembina, several residents of Fort Garry and the vicinity made applications for membership, were accepted, and received the Three Degrees of Freemasonry. Among those who became members at that time were Bro. A. G. B. Bannatyne, Bro. W. B. Hall, and Bro. William Inkster. Then, in the early part of that year, application was made to M. W. Bro. Pierson, Grand Master of Minnesota, for a continuance of the Dispensation and for authority to transfer it to Fort Garry. This request was granted. In his address to the Grand Lodge at the twelfth Annual Communication held in St. Paul on October 12, 1864, the M. W. the Grand Master reported as follows: " I also renewed the Dispensation of Northern Light Lodge, removing it to the Red River Settlement." The first meeting of the Lodge in Fort Garry was held on November 8, 1864, in a room over the trading‑house of Bro. A. G. B. Bannatyne. In a letter to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, written in 1895, W. Bro. Schultz described that meeting in the following words And a novelty it was, indeed, in this country at that time! It was spoken of far and wide, and the descriptions, which did not decrease in detail or increase in accuracy, as to what was done therein were listened to with much curiosity, and in some cases, with awesome wonder, which was enhanced by the jocoseness of Bro. Bannatyne's clerks, who spoke knowingly of the whereabouts and propulsive propensities of the goat, and who pointed out from the room below (to wit, the trading‑house), exactly in what part of the upstairs room the W. M. hung his hat while the Lodge was at Work. The Lodge Room itself was made as tasteful as the circumstances of that day would admit, and it may interest the curious to know the exact cost of some of its furniture, as given in a memorandum which I happen to have near me, in the sterling money of the day, namely: tables, 19/6; inner door, 15/; altar, 19/6; wall‑paper, 39/, 24 black beads, 1 /6; 24 white beads, i /; 100 copies of the by‑laws, 40 /. And it may be inferred that the Craft were not always at Work, for I find the following on the same list: 15 tin plates, 15 iron tablespoons, 15 teaspoons, 12 cups and saucers, 1 tin pan, 4 cans of pickled oysters, 1 pound of butter, 1 pound of coffee, and 2 pounds of sugar. This would seem to show that there were intervals for refreshment. The jewels were borrowed ones from the Pembina Lodge; they were used until the following January, the Lodge having commenced Work in November 1864. They were then replaced by finer ones from Chicago, through the good offices of N. W. Kittson.

From Manitoba Historical Society

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter 24

Walking downstairs to the saloon, Charley found John busy sweeping and rearranging tables and chairs in the rear of the bar. Turning toward Charley, John noted the troubled look on Charley's face. He suddenly said, "You must have heard Marguerite has left."

Charley was slow to answer, "Well, I've heard she left town."

"My daughter Flossie told me at supper last evening. Then Ian dropped by the bar about 8 p.m. last night, saying Marguerite left to marry that salesman, Evans." He hesitated for moments, and then added, "Charley, I hate to say it. You may be older than I am, but you've really blown it! You've let that grand girl get away; she would have made a wonderful wife for you." Seeing the stolid look on Charley's face, he added, "Guess you've enough problems on your mind with those prisoners on the loose without me rubbing it in."

"John, it's over and done with. I've lost her and it's my fault. I'll live with it!"

His partner walked to the icebox to open the lower door. Reaching inside he retrieved a paper bag containing the previous night's receipts. Turning to the cash drawer he slid it open and began sorting coins and bills. Looking to Charley who appeared to be daydreaming, he shook his head wonderingly, "Say, did that woman who is visiting your mother have something to do with Marguerite leaving?"

"Not that I know of. Criminy! Marguerite and I weren't at odds. Just three nights ago we had supper together; there was no indication that anything was amiss."

"Well, repeating what Ian said, she's left town to marry that Evans."

"Something had to set her off. I'll see Ian sooner or later. Maybe he can tell me why she left." Charley was beginning to have a suspicion. Is my Mother behind this?

His thoughts turned to Murray. No doubt he was well on his way to Winnipeg and safety, but he might have knowledge of the whereabouts of the other two men.

"John, I'll take the train north tomorrow. Murray shouldn't be too hard to find. When I locate him, I'll shake the information out of him; he'll know where LaRose and Godon are."

"How come you don't take the stage. It'll put you in the city by supper time. The train gets you there at midnight, and worse, you'll be on the wrong side of the river, over in St. Boniface."

Charley seemed pensive, and then broke into a smile, "Maybe you're right. I'll probably find Murray celebrating in one of the saloons; it'll be dark and he won't be expecting me. Sure hate to leave you stuck; you may have to hire someone Monday night."

"No problem! There won't be any big crowd." He glanced out the window, "Judas, its slack, only a couple of wagons on the street."

Upon leaving Mason's livery, and after purchasing his stage ticket Charley almost collided with Josey who was passing by on the narrow boardwalk. She stepped back in confusion, as she smiled uncertainly.

"Oh, Charley, I was on my way to see you. I'm looking for a favor. The women are giving a social to raise money for a library. I'm told that mostly couples will be attending. I'd feel out of place going alone; could I prevail upon you to escort me?" She had an entreating smile.

Charley looked at her with a wry grin, thinking, this is the old Josey, twisting my arm again as she did long ago. "When is this momentous occasion to take place?"

It's to be held at the Wardwell school1 on Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m. Supper will be served."

"I'm not sure if I'll be back by then; I'm leaving for Winnipeg early Monday morning. It all depends upon my finding a certain party. Hopefully I'll be back by Wednesday. If so, we'll go together."

She took his arm possessively, all the while looking up at him with a mischievous smile, "You've time to have coffee with me haven't you?"

He hesitated momentarily, suspecting something in the wind. "Sure, I've time. Wilkens drugstore is just across the street."

She made a face, "There must be somewhere with more privacy. That woman listens in on every conversation."

"Then we can stop at Bradshaw's Hotel, it's just a bit farther." He looked puzzled, "What's so private all of a sudden? Has my Mother been up to her old tricks?"

Josey knew well what he meant since his mother had admitted her plan to unite she and Charley. "Yes, she schemed to bring me here with the children in hopes you and I would get together again." Stopping on the boardwalk she turned to face him with a wistful look, "Would that be so bad, Charley?"

For long moments he failed to respond as she wanted -- she could have bitten her tongue.

He seemed resigned when he finally answered, "There's a lot more at stake than just the two of us. I'll admit we have a lot to talk over, but I don't want to make a decision based on my Mother's scheming."

Painful memories were coming back, reminding him of his anger and frustration at Josey's sudden marriage. Now the situation had come full circle with Marguerite leaving him. Arriving at the hotel he reached for the screen door handle, "Let's go in, we can have coffee or tea in privacy. Maybe we can settle some of the issues."

Finally seated with refreshments, Josey could feel the gulf between them, and was uncertain how to begin the conversation. She had heard Charley was having an affair with a Métis girl, but she wondered how far that had gone. Also, how far she could go without risking total rejection herself.

Dropping a sugar lump into her coffee she stirred it stoically while Charley sipped cautiously at his steaming cup. Feeling as though she was walking a tightrope, she finally said, "The children have both taken to you. It was good of you to take George out to your farm to entertain him, also to have the Kabernagel girls come over to visit Lucy. The girls have become fast friends. Gene has taken George under his wing too. He has him interested in the apiary business."

"They're both fine children Josey. You've done a wonderful job raising them."

She reached over to cover his hand. "Yes, but they need a man's guidance. Charley, wouldn't it work out between us? I'm not a poor woman. I'm well fixed financially. We could live comfortably together."

Charley looked both embarrassed and confused, "Josey, as it stands now,I'm hardly able to think clearly. My first priority is to recapture my escaped prisoners, perhaps then we can discuss the future. I truly don't know about the morrow.”

As she sat beside him she had a nagging fear that something was settling heavily on his mind. Something she knew nothing about. She feared he was retreating into lonesome channels, seeking something lost to him.

After a brief time lag, Josey attempted to draw him out. "You must live a lonesome life; does bachelor life really appeal to you?"

Charley failed to take the bait, but finally said, "Josey, why don't we let bygones be bygones and see how things work out between us. There is no reason for either of us to make a hurried decision."

1 - FRANCIS A. WARDWELL (1844-1928) Taught first public school in North Dakota 1876. Editor Pembina Pioneer Express. Was a seaman in his youth, serving in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. Trivia: Ship named after him - SS Francis A. Wardwell Liberty ship 1944-1962 World War II

Friday, September 19, 2008

"If Day" - February 19, 1942

Nazi soldiers acost citizens of Winnipeg on the streetI went to see My Winnipeg recently. I was very excited, because it's about 'my city', the city that I always considered 'mine', because I visited it often, knew people from there, and loved it for many reasons (parks, zoo, museums, theatre, pubs, and much more...)

I knew I would be amazed and enchanted and cry and be upset and feel very moved. He makes that kind of film...and I was. It was...AMAZING. I so understand where he was coming from. I have the same surreal relationship with St. Vincent, but in my case, I left it and I never went back. But it never left me...

One of the stories covered in the film was about something called If Day. "If Day" was conceived by leaders in Manitoba as part of a larger effort to raise war bonds during a period of February and March 1942. Manitoba's idea was to fake a Nazi invasion of the province, to get the attention of the public imagination...and their wallets. The invasion took place on February 19, 1942...

Participation in the event was excellent. Both the active and reserve forces, as well as numerous volunteer organizations, were involved in making If Day as realistic as possible. Col. D. S. McKay was the commander of the “defence” forces. RCAF planes were used as Nazi dive-bombers. Trucks, anti-aircraft guns and other military equipment were used during If Day.

Nazi aircraft came in from the north, first sighted at Norway House. Selkirk was the first to fall prey, but by no means the last. The Nazi war machine was converging on Winnipeg. At 6 a.m., the sirens sounded and troops were stationed along a line five miles from city hall. By seven o’clock, the Nazis arrived at the first line of defence. Artillery opened fire in East Kildonan, and the fighting began. Forty-five minutes later, the defenders were forced to retreat. They blew up the main bridges, but the Nazis were not to be stopped so easily. They were forced to retreat twice more, the last line but a mile from city hall.

By 9:30, there was nothing left to do, and Winnipeg unconditionally surrendered. Brandon, Flin Flon, Selkirk and many other small towns, comprising most of Manitoba, had also been captured by this time. Manitoba was now a German province.

Ironically, February 19, 1942 was also the day that the infamous Executive Order 9066 was made, suspending civil liberties of Japanese Americans.

NOTE: A documentary was made about this event that is definitely worth checking out!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fort Pembina Revealed

Click to enlarge
Dear Readers, some of you may wonder, where in the world does this woman find this stuff? Well, let me tell you, I find this stuff in the most unlikely places sometimes. I'll give you a hint - I search just about every available database and under about every subject related to our area. You just never know what you will find. Such was the case with today's post.

I found a book on the forts of the frontier in our area, that had a very detailed description of Fort Pembina when it was located near the confluence of the Pembina and Red Rivers (see recent post about that...) Normally I jot down my sources but for whatever reason I did not do so in this case, much to my shame. It was an old book, and that's all I can tell you. That's what happens when you do the research but don't look at it until months or years later!

One thing I'm curious about that is mentioned below, and that is the post's cemetery, which sounds like it is somewhere in what is commonly known as South Pembina. Has anyone ever located it...?

Fort Pembina, Dakota Territory, is located at the extreme northeast point of the Territory; latitude, 48 degrees, 56' 46". 3 north; logitude, 20 degrees, 10' west. It is about two hundred miles north of the watershed which divides the Mississippi Valley from the valley fo the Red River of the North, and is situated on the west or left bank of the river. It is one mile south of the village of Pembina, Dak., and about three and one-half miles south of the boundary-line between the United States and the Dominion of Canada, as established by the International Boundary Commission in September, 1872. Sixty-six miles north of the fort is the town of Winnipeg, (Fort Garry,) a rapidly growing place, with a population of three thousand. Thirty miles westward is a range of tableland extending irregularly north and south for many miles, with an abrupt front of several hundred feet in height on the eastern border, called the Pembina Mountain. This is the nearest high land to the post. Eastward, in Minnesota, is a prairie region with many swamps, and impassable except during the winter.

There is no mineral formation, no stones or sand in the vicinity. Sand is brought from the base of Pembina Mountain, and limestone is found near Fort Garry. The surface soil consists of a black clayey loam from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet deep, and very fertile. Beneath this is a white clay slightly mixed with marl, but which makes good brick of a cream color, like the Milwaukee brick. This stratum is underlaid by a stiff, moist, blue clay, at least sixty feet in depth.

There are no springs or ponds on the reservation. Water is generally found by digging wells to the depth of 10 to 25 feet, but is not universally distributed at that depth. It seems to flow in veins among the strata of blue clay; and will sometimes be met at a depth of 12 feet, while at no great distance it is not found at the depth of 40 feet.

The site of the fort is 30 feet above low water in the Red River, and is subject to overflow at irregular intervals. In 1826 there was a very destructive flood, which carried away houses and barns, and again in 1852 and 1861 there were great freshets.

The climate is dry and cold, and severe gales of wind are not uncommon. Winter begins in November, and spring in May; and by the 15th of the latter month the grass is fairly started on the prairie.

Planting is done in May and the first ten days of June. The hardy Indian ponies, and even mules, live through the winter without shelter. They reach the dead prairie grass by pawing away the snow, and quench their thirst by eating the latter.

Cattle cannot endure the exposure, and require to be fed eight months of the year. Sheep thrive well, and are raised in considerable numbers near Fort Garry. The climate is too cold for swine, which are unprofitable except where they have access to oak woods.

The principle indigenous plants of the vicinity are the following: The wild strawberry ripens the second week in June, continues in season three weeks, and is immediately succeeded by the wild raspberry. The wild black currant and high bush blueberry ripen in July; the wild red plum and chokecherry in August. The hazel-nut, wild grape, and bush cranberry ripen in September. These fruits form the principal food of the Indians during the summer.

The chief forest trees are the oak, ash, elm, basswood, cottonwood, and willow.

The wild animals of this region are the moose, elk, red deer, black bear, wolf, red fox, cross fox, silver fox, raccoon, black marten, prairie gray squirrel, ground-squirrel, flying-squirrel, rabbit, skunk, beaver, otter, milk, and muskrat. The buffalo, which a few years ago roamed in vast herds over the plains of Dakota, has not been seen in this vicinity since 1867. Hunters still start from Pembina to follow them to their retreats; and at Wood Mountain, five hundred miles westward, there is a settlement of nearly one hundred families who still live by hunting the buffalo.

Of birds, the bald-headed eagle, kestrel, hawk, shrike, whip-poor-will, woodpecker, chimney swallow, and martin spend the summer in this region, arriving in April and May, and returning southward in October and November. The crane, loon, cormorant, swan, pelican, wild goose, white brant, ducks, mallard, widgeon, blue and green winged teal, and muganser are also summer visitors. The wild pigeon arrives in April, hatches in July, and departs in September. The prairie-chicken remains all the year. They are hatched in July, and are large enough to kill in the latter part of August.

Sturgeon are caught in the Red River weighing from fifty to two hundred pounds. Their flesh is highly esteemed; and the oil is a favorite domestic remedy for contusions and sprains. The pickerel, wall-eyed pike, (a species of salmon,) the cat-fish, and the gold-eye, (a small species of white-fish,) are also caught in great quantities for food.

Reptiles are few in number, small and harmless. Not so are the insects. The horse-fly is extremely numerous and troublesome in July and August. A large fly, called here the "bull-dog," caused great annoyance to the stock of the boundary commission near the Lake of the Woods; but is not very numerous near this post. The mosquitoes swarm in myriads in summer both day and night. They have been known to kill cattle by filling the trachea and causing suffocation. The hardy Canadian voyageurs have been so prostrated by the torture of their bites in crossing the prairies, that they have lain down and wept.

Every year, since the establishment of the post, vast swarms of winged ants have been observed about the 20th of August moving northward. They presented the appearance of dark quivering masses several hundred feet from the ground, were several hours in passing, and the sound of their wings was like the hum of innumerable swarms of bees. They never alighted in the vicinity of Pembina, but occasional stragglers reached the ground. In each instance there was found a large brown female ant one-third of an inch in length, heavy with eggs. Upon her back was mounted a small black male ant, in the act of impregnation.

Grasshoppers have been observed in the Northwest ever since the first settlement of the country, and, although sometimes absent for several years, their reappearance is only a question of time, and is looked for with dread.

The inhabitants above Saint Joseph's, Dak., and a large portion of the settlers in Manitoba, refrained from planting seed in 1873, fearing the their labor would be in vain. The grasshoppers hatched in immense numbers in Manitoba, and began flying south in July, and on twelve different days were observed at the post in the air. They alighted in the vicinity on several days and destroyed a quantity of growing grain by eating off the stalks near the head; but they soon resumed their flight southward.

On the 25th of March, 1870, a special order (No. 43) was issued from headquarters Department of Dakota, detailing Companies I and K, Twentieth Infantry, to establish a new military post at or near Pembina, Dak. In compliance with this order, Company I, commanded by Capt. Loyd Wheaton1, and accompanied by Asst. Surg. Ezra Woodruff, as medical officer, left Fort Abercrombie, then an extreme frontier post, in May, embarking on two flat-boats, to float to their destination by the current of the Red River. The region to be traversed was a wilderness with only three small settlements. Twenty-two miles from Abercrombie was passed the Mission of the Holy Cross, where a few Indians and half-breeds were gathered under the care of a priest. Twenty-eight miles farther appeared Georgetown, a Hudson's Bay trading post of two or three houses; and thence to Grand Forks, one hundred miles from Abercrombie, there was not a single habitation. Grand Forks, where the principal affluent of the Red River entered, had but a single hut, occupied by one Mick Hoffman, and used by the mail-carriers as a station. The wide prairie, clothed with young grass, showed not a sign of life, except an occasional bird and millions of minute grasshoppers just hatched. Thence to Pembina there was not a single house. At that time the trade of Fort Garry, singular vehicles were composed entirely of wood, and consisted of two wheels near six feet in diameter, with very broad tires, and a small body resting on the axle and shafts. Both ponies and oxen were used to draw them, attached by a peculiar harness of raw-hide. Those carts would carry from six hundred to eight hundred pounds, and one man could drive five or six of them in a train. No grease was used, and as a long train crept over the prairie and indescribable noise was made by the creaking of the wheels. It was estimated that three thousand of these carts passed south through Pembina in one season, carrying furs as freight, and returned loaded with various supplies. The broad felloes of the wheels prevented their sinking in the soft ground, and the driver, with only the most primitive tools, could at any time or place repair a broken cart or even construct a new one. When progress was interrupted by a swollen stream, the cart could be taken to pieces and floated across. The irregular mails were transported on these carts during the summer, and through the long winter they arrived by dog-trains, or on the back of a hardy half-breed voyageur.

During the past four years the Red River country has vied with any other portion of the West in the rapidity of its progress. There are now thousands of swellings where in 1870 there were not more than half a dozen, and every lot of land along the river from Grand Forks to Pembina is said to be taken up by actual settlers. Five steamboats ply upon the Red River, reaching Moorhead, the crossing of the Northern Pacific Railroad, during high water, but are unable to ascend so far during the direst part of summer.

In September, 1871, the Minnesota Stage Company established a line of stages, running thrice a week from Fort Abercrombie to Fort Garry. The Saint Paul and Saint Vincent Railroad was, in the spring of 1874, graded within nine miles of Pembina, but the rails were not then laid beyond the crossing of Red Lake River. A telegraph line was completed in the autumn of 1872, crossing the parade at Fort Pembina. Thousands of Canadian emigrants have within the last few years passed this place to settle in the bleak regions of the Assinaboine and the Saskatchewan, and are rapidly populating the country between this point and Winnipeg.

Captain Wheaton, with Company I, Twentieth Infantry, arrived at Pembina on the 19th of May. They were joined soon after by Company K from Fort Totten, under command of Capt. A.A. Harbach. The site selected was within the angle formed by the confluence of the Pembina and Red Rivers. The reservation extends three miles along the former and one mile on the latter. It is a level prairie, except the northwest corner, crossed by the Pembina River, which is skirted with Timber.

The fort is four miles south of the boundary-line between the United States and the British possessions, as established by Capt D.P. Heap, United States Engineers, in May, 1870, and three miles south of the old and still-recognized line surveyed by Major Long in 1823. The fort is located in the northeast angle of the reservation, about two hundred yards from the bank of the Red River, from which it is subject to overflow at irregular intervals.

The buildings are arranged in the form of a rectangle and face the parade-ground, 386 by 280 feet. The whole is surrounded by a wooden palisade fence, and has capacity for two companies of infantry. All the buildings are of wood, except the magazine, which is of brick. The other buildings consisted of four double sets of officers' quarters; two company barracks, with separate kitchens; guard house, hospital, bake-house, storehouse, and stable.

The hospital and buildings for quarters are constructed in the same manner. Planks three inches thick are laid upon the ground, on which are placed oak posts. Upon these a balloon frame is erected.

The outside is covered with inch boards, tarred felt, and pine sheathing; the inside is lathed and plastered with two coats, the officers' quarters and hospital being also hard-finished. The roofs are covered with inch boards, tarred felt, and shingles; the floors are double, with tarred felt between the courses.

The officers' quarters are four double frame buildings, for the accommodation of eight officers. They are situated on the south side of the parade, and face the north; are one and a half stories high, 46 1/2 by 30 feet, each traversed by a hall in the center from front to rear, 7 feet wide. From this hall the stairway ascends to the attic. The ceiling of the first floor is 11 feet high; of the attic 4 1/2 at the sides and 9 feet in the center. The lower story is divided in parlor, 12 by 16 feet, sitting room 14 by 15 feet, dining room 11 by 15 feet, and kitchen 10 by 13 feet. The attic contains two large bedrooms and two closets.

There is an open fire-place in the parlor; the other rooms have flues for stoves. The rooms are well lighted, and ventilation is secured by registers in the flues.

The company barracks, two in number, built on the plan above described, are located on the north side of the parade. Each building is 178 by 25 feet, and 14 feet from the floor to ceiling. Along the south front is a piazza eight feet in width. The center of the building is occupied by two orderly-rooms, 14 by 15 feet. The remainder consists of two dormitories or squad-rooms. Each squad room is lighted by six windows; ventilated by the chimney-flues and cold air boxes opening in the floor. In contains one open fire-place and a flue for stove. One 35-inch box heating-stove, with drum, is found sufficient to warm the room. Iron bedsteads are used. There is no wash-room or bath-room. The sinks are in rear of the barracks, and are pits 10 feet deep covered with houses. Fifteen feet in rear of each barrack is a commodious and well-furnished building, 53 by 20 feet, comprising the company kitchen, mess-room, and two pantries.

A substantial log building, 60 by 212 feet, and divided into three equal rooms, is used as quarters for laundresses.

The guard-house is located north of the company kitchens, and consists of a wooden building 38 by 25 feet. A hall, 5 feet wide, passes through the center north and south, from which doors open into the guard-room and prison-rooms. The former is 15 by 24 feet, and of the latter, one is 14 by 16, the other 9 1/2 by 16 feet. The height of the ceiling is 10 feet. In the guard-room is an open fire-place, and in the prison rooms flues for stoves. The former has two windows and each of the latter, one. Registers are placed in the flues for ventilation. The average occupancy in 1873 was 10.51.

The hospital, situated in the southwestern corner of the garrison, consists of an administration building and a ward. The former is one and one-half stories high, 37 feet square, with an L on the western side, 21 by 14 feet, for kitchen and pantry. The first floor is crossed by two halls at right angles, having four rooms, viz: dispensary, office, store-room, and dining room. A stairway with one landing, ascends to the attic; which contains four rooms, entered from a central hall 7 feet wide. One of these rooms is assigned to attendants, one as steward's room, and a third for a dead room. It had no special fixtures for post-mortem examinations. The ward is one room, 45 by 25 feet, outside measurement. Attached to the southwest corner of the ward, is a room 10 by 13 feet, built for a bath-room and water-closet. It has no furniture save one tin bath-tub. The ward is lighted by ten windows, four on each side and two in the south end. All the windows in the hospital on the first floor are hung with weights. The ventilation of the administration building is by flues containing registers, and is ample. The ward is ventilated by a cold-air box opening in the center of the floor, over which is placed a ventilating-stove. A special ventilating-chimney is built at the south end of the ward, with a register near the ceiling. There are also registers in the chimneys at the north end of the ward. The extreme coldness of the climate renders these provisions sufficient, it being extremely difficult to keep the cold air out. The hospital is warmed entirely by stoves. Two 31-inch box heating-stoves suffice to keep the air in the ward at a proper temperature. The ward is an airy, cheerful-looking apartment, the dispensary neatly fitted up and well furnished. The sink is a double apartment built over a pit 12 feet deep, and is neatly policed. It is in rear of the southern end of the ward, and is reached by a door from the bath-room.

The bakery is in the northeastern portion of the fort, twenty-five feet north and in rear of the company-kitchen. It contains two large ovens and is in good order.

There is no school-room, chapel, or laundry.

The stable is situated about three hundred yards southeast of the fort, near the river-bank. It is a frame building, 140 by 30 feet, raised 2 feet from the ground on posts, and contains stalls for fifty-six horses. It is covered with inch boards and sheetings, and roofed with shingles. No tarred felt is used. The floor is of 2-inch pain plank.

Water is hauled from the river in barrels in winter and in a tank in summer. The supply is ample and the quality good. There are twelve galvanized-iron cisterns, each of a capacity of one hundred and ten barrels. They are sunk into the ground, one at each set of officers' quarters, one at each barrack, one at the hospital, and one at the storehouse. They are useless in winter.

An examination of the Red River water was made in December, 1874, by Asst. Surg. V. Havard, U.S.A., at a time when the river was covered with thick ice. The result showed (grains per gallon):

Organic matters as obtained by incineration, 4.90
Oxidizable organic matter, as obtained by the permanganate of potassa test, 4.12
Carbonate of lime, 10.09
Chloride of sodium, 1.92
Sulphates (approximate), 2.00
Phosphates, a trace
Magnesia, a comparatively large quantity, no precisely determined

The suspended matters, mostly sand and clay, with some organic impurities, estimated from 2-4 grains per gallon.

The water when shaken has a reddish-yellow tint, but after settling is, at this season, perfectly clear. It is without taste and no complaint has ever been traced to its use.

There are no facilities for bathing at the post in winter. The river is used in summer.

Slops, offal, and excreta are carted away in barrels and emptied on the bank of the river at a distance from the post.

The cemetery is one-third of a mile south of the post, on the Fort Abercrombie road. It is two acres in extent, inclosed by a wooden fence, and thus far contains three graves.

A plat of eight acres in extent, lying southeast of the post, has been enclosed with a rail-fence, and plowed for a post garden. This piece of ground, owing to unskillful management, has yet produced but little. A smaller tract has also been cultivated. The principal products have been potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, green peas, and beans. The supply has never been sufficient for the wants of the garrison. A hospital garden was to be commenced in 1874. There are no officers' gardens. Summer vegetables can be procured in limited quantities from the settlers in the vicinity.

The soldiers have an out-door gymnasium for summer practice, and have started a dramatic association, which furnishes much amusement, and is a source of relaxation to the men.

Lloyd Wheaton1 - Colonel Lloyd Wheaton was born in Calhoun County, Michigan, July 15, 1838. He came to Llinois at the age of fifteen, and settled at Peoria. he learned civil engineering from his father, and followed his profession until the breaking out of the war, when he joined the first company of volunteers raised in Peoria. The company was mustered into the 8th infantry on its original organization at Springfield. When the regiment was mustered for three years' service he was made First Lieutenant. At the battle of Shiloh, where he was seriously wounded, he won his promotion to the captaincy, and from that passed step by step to the colonelcy of the regiment; gaining his promotion through every grade by gallant and meritorious conduct. He was one of the first men to enter the rebel works at Fort Blakely, and was always in the front when danger was near. That was Lloyd Wheaton leading up to establishing Fort Pembina; later in life, he would become Brigadeer General Wheaton, and play a major role in the Spanish-American War in the Philipines...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Park Map Reveals Parts of Old Pembina

The map above is from a booklet called Pembina: North Dakota's Oldest Settlement. Its contents are a collection of writings from some of the oldest residents of the town over many years.

Take, for instance, this map. It reveals some very interesting facts about Pembina's past...

NOTE: I advise you to click on the image above to get the larger view

In middle of the upper portion, near the top of the image, you will see on the north side of the east end of Rolette Street, near the river, a notation of 'Site of Old Fort Pembina'. Indeed, one of the versions of the fort was there. Just to the east and slightly south of that site, directly at the end of Rolette, you'll see the site of what was once known as Steamboat Landing. The first ferry took people back and forth between Pembina and St. Vincent at this site, as well as it being the embarkation/disembarkation point for travellers going by steamboat at one time, thus the name.

Upstream (south) there is another ferry crossing of later date, that meets up with the Pembina side of an old trail once used as a main road into Pembina from St. Vincent.

Inbetween, just south of Rolette Street on the east end, the map indicates where a trading post built by Alexander Henry, Jr. (aka Alexander Henry the Younger) once stood. As I recall, that area has grown over with trees, but I might be mistaken. Such is the case with the soldiers monument in the park, once out in the open, now shaded in trees.

Anyone reading this blog will recall reading about the Ferry, and Steamboat Landing, from various posts on this blog, including the ongoing seralization of Charles Walker's Sheriff Charley Brown. It is indeed gratifying to see documentation of these very real places that existed in our past!

Friday, September 12, 2008

High Water

Alice, one of the Gamble descendents, shared this scan of an original print. I've seen this before, but never the original. It was taken during the 1897 flood, one of the worst on record. She stated in her email how clearly you can see the faces of some of those in the photo, and it is true. The man in the boat, sitting in the middle, for instance, looks to be African American. Here is a larger, closeup view (click on it to enlarge...):

Speaking of which, I recently came across new evidence that the first non-native child born in St. Vincent/Pembina was not a white child as has been contended in some places. No, it was a child of a black woman, an ex-slave. This was well before the Civil War. But more on that later...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ricard Bros vs US/Turtle Mountain Chippewa

...they got nothing from the Government and they took those goods in order save themselves from starvation.
Below is a fascinating case in the public record of a claim made by two brothers against the United States and the Turtle Mountain Chippewa. The case involves local (St. Vincent/Pembina) and area residents and locations. A little window, into the past...

NOTE: Source of this information are the William Michael O'Keefe papers (1859-1911), Minnesota Historical Society - O'Keefe ran a well-known, successful general store in St. Vincent during the time this case originally took place.

Statement of Claim.

The claimant, in his petition presented to the court on September 15, 1891, avers that he is a citizen of the United States and is a resident of York, North Dakota, and is the surviving partner of the firm of Ricard Brothers, comprising Theodore P. Ricard and Sceillem A. Ricard; that the following property belonging to members of said firm, who were at that date citizens of the United States, was taken or destroyed by Indians of a tribe or nation then in amity with the United States, the date, place, and tribe being particularly stated below:

In Olga, Pembina County, Dakota Territory, on or about the 28th of December, 1880, by Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians,

(1) Clothing; hats and caps, gloves and mittens, dry goods, ginghams, prints, jeans, cotton, etc.,
(2) Hardware; nails, axes, tools, grind-stones, shelf goods, etc.,
(3) Groceries; sugar, pork, bacon, salt, canned, goods, coal oil, crackers, flour, etc.
Total worth $2,500.00

That no claim for said property was over made to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs; that no action was taken upon it in Congress or by any of the Departments; that he is the sole owner of the claim and the only person interested therein; that no assignment or transfer of any part of this claim, or interest therein has been made; that he is justly entitled to the amount herein claimed, after allowing all just credits and offsets, and he believes the facts as stated in his petition to be true.

Abstract of Evidence Under Rules

Deposition filed November 19, 1892

Theodore P. Richard: Age, 35 years; resident of York, North Dakota; merchant; I am the claimant in this case; I am a citizen of the United States; native born, born in Vermont; have lived in North Dakota 12 years, since June 1880 when I first came here I located at Pembina, Pembina County; I was clerk in the store of Flynn & O'Keefe of St. Vincent, Minn., for 18 months; I was a member of the firm of Richard Bros.; in the month of October, as near as I can remember, 1880, we first started our goods on the way to St. John, N.D. to establish a store there, under the name of Ricard Brothers, and two months after opening of said firm we had an invoice of goods on the road from St. Vincent, Minn., to St. John, N.D., and while in transit to St. John, at a place called Walhalla, N.D., the Indians stopped our train of goods and took the goods - consisting of general merchandise, such as dry goods, hats, caps, boots, shoes, hardware, tinware, groceries, etc.; all the goods I had in transit at that time from St. Vincent to St. John were taken by the Indians; I had ten loads, more or less; I know they consisted of a general stock such as I have mentioned and the goods were sold by myself individually to Ricard Brothers and I also packed and loaded the same; I sold them as clerk for Flynn & O'Keefe; I know the value was between $2,200 and $2,500, that is as near as I can remember and I feel confident that the freight and goods contained in said invoice was to the amount of $2,500; Theordore P. Ricard and Sceillem A. Ricard were the owners of the property at the time it was taken; I became the survivor of that firm as the senior member of Ricard Brothers and the money invested by the firm was invested by my brother and myself in purchasing the goods taken; my brother, Sceillem A. Ricard, left North Dakota in 1884, going to reside at Toledo, Ohio, where he met his death by an accident which occurred in the machines shops of Richard Brothers of that place and by his death I became the sole survivor of the firm and the owner of this claim; the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians took the property and they have themselves acknowledged it in my presence; I had the goods loaded at St. Vincent by my freighters under my superivison; they started in the direction of the Turtle Mountains; as soon as it became known to me to be a fact that the goods were taken, I procured the help of Chas. Brown, Deputy U.S. Marshal of Pembina, with a posse of men to go to the scene of the robbery and get the goods; they were replused by the Indians under the cover of guns and after Chas. Brown came back he made his affidavit before Major Collins of Pembina Fort, stating that the Indians had repulsed him under cover of guns; he procured an order from General Terry, Commander of the Northwest, to send out troops to obtain the goods and there being smallpox in that territory where the goods were taken, Major Collins made a report to General Terry stating that smallpox was in the distrct and the order was countermanded to be held until the quarantine was over; I continued in business there for a year or so; this is the only action I have taken to recover for the value of this claim; I do not know whether these Indians were under the supervision of any Indian agency at that time; they were full-blooded Indians; I have talked with them several times in regard to the matter in St. John and at Bellcourt in North Dakota; to my personal knowledge they were starving, for just before the robbery they came to me and had me write, or rather translate, for them before Major Collins at Fort Pembina, asking him to obtain relief for them from the Government; the articles taken were so many and of so many different varieties that it is impossible for me to fix the amount of each article, and the firm of whom the goods were bought, Flynn & O'Keefe, have since gone out of business and their whereabouts is unknown to me and I am unable to procure the books, but John C. Florence, the bookkeeper of this firm, now of Grand Forks, N.D., will testify as to the amount; the depredation occurred in the Pembina Mountains in the then Territory of North Dakota, near a place now called Walhalla.

Cross-Examination: At the time I obtained the goods I was living in St. Vincent, Minn.; the firm of Ricard Brothers was formed in October, 1880, at St. Vincent, Minn., and existed until 1884; the first bill of goods was obtained in December from Flynn & O'Keefe of St. Vincent, Minn.; it consisted of general merchandise, such as dry goods, clothing, hats, caps, boots, shoes, hardware, groceries, etc.; they were to be taken to St. John, now called, in the Turtle Mountains which was 115 miles straight across the country; we shipped the goods, about December 1 or 2, across the country to St. John by teams; we had ten teams I think, there might have been more; we shipped the goods in sleighs, no bob sleds, one horse to each sleigh; the sleigh boxes were about 10 feet long and I should judge they were about 3 feet wide; there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground I should judge when the goods were taken by the Indians on the Turtle Mountains; I did not see them taken by the Indians; I know the goods were loaded into sleighs to go to St. John, then Turtle Mountain, and that is the last I saw of them; the bills for these goods have become lost, it is hard for me to say when they were lost; they were last in charge of Chas. Brown, of Pembina, and were in his possession 3 years ago; they were given into his possession and have not been found since; they were given to him to show that it was a bona fide case that the goods were taken; giving him the bills would show that the goods were taken; I gave the bills to Gaffney & Kneeshaw, a firm of attorneys at Pembina because were trying to present the claim for this loss to the U.S., and I gave the bills into their hands as proof that the goods claimed for were really taken; I did not present this claim up to this time; they did not act upon it; they did not succeed in getting the claim admitted and I took it out of thei hands; I have no recollecton as to the exact amount of each of the different articles taken and have no means of ascretaining the exact amount of each kind of goods; by a notice sent from my brother I found out that we had lost the items of clothing mentioned; the exact amount of which I cann not fix; I can not state the amount of caps and hats; I do not know the number of pairs of gloves; I can not fix the amount of any particular items; I arrived at the total sum by the invoice, I remember the exactly amount of the total invoice; in my petition I stated that the loss amounted to $2,200, and in my complaint I claimed that the loss amounted $2,500; in my complain I made the amount for the goods and the freight also; in explaining this difference between the invoice for the goods and the amount claimed by me I wish to say that the difference between these two amounts is the amount I paid for freight on the goods; I did not pay cash for these goods at the time I bought them but have paid for them since then; the firm of Ricard was dissolved in the fall of 1883 or the spring of 1884, one of the two, I don't just remember now; it was mutually agreed between my brother and myself that if this claim was ever allowed, if we both survived we should each have an equal share; my brother is dead; I paid for these goods previous to my brother's death; I employed half-breeds to transport the goods; one was named Augustine Bellguard and his two sons, and Peter Peltier and his sons, and a party by the name of Boneau, his first name I do not remember; it might have been 8 or 10 days after the goods had started before I received a message from my brother, then on the Turtle Mountain, now called St. John, to the effect that the goods had been taken; we then sent Chas. Brown, U.S. Deputy Marshal, of Pembina after the goods; he did not recover the goods, he was repulsed by the Indians; I know that Mr. Brown went to the place with a posse of men and was repulsed, but I only know it by hearsay; I did nothing more to recover my property; I remained in St. Vincent about 16 months after that; we found out what band they belonged to; the exact name of some of those who took the property; I did not have them arrested because I did not think it would bring back the goods and besides that they threated to rob our store and I thought it would only cause further hostilities to have any of them arrested; there were not many whites in the country the time the goods were taken.

Direct Examination: I do not know the exact number of Indians in the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians staying in the Pembina Mountains at the time the goods were taken; I do not know about how many.

Theodore Bellguard: Age 67 years; resident of Turtle Moutain Indian Resevation, N.D.; I am acquainted with claimant and known him about 12 years; no relation; no intereste in claim; I know his property was taken by Indians; I saw them rob him of dry goods and croceries and other things; I can not tell the exact time it was, maybe 11 or 12 years ago and it was somewhere in the Pembina Mountains in North Dakota; I was there at the time; the Indians belonged to the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians; I can not tell how much goods were taken from claimant; they took them from little sleds outside of a house; there were about 10 sleds, maybe more, maybe less, so long ago I can not remember; they were small, on-horse sleds; they took the goods and divided them among the Indians; I was living where they took the goods; at Pembina Mountain, North Dakota, between St. Vincent and St. John; there were some print and calico and tobacco, raisins and sugar and differnet things, one cook stove, blankets and clothing; the goods beloned to Mr. Ricard; they were taken in the daytime; I don't know whether claimant ever did anything to recover the goods; the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians were starving at that time, they got nothing at all to eat; they got nothing from the Government and they took those good in order save themselves from starvation.

Cross-Examination: I was present and saw them take the goods; this was about 12 years ago; Mr. Poitras was with me at the time; I was standing right by, within 5 or 6 feet, when the goods were taken, I did not help take them; I know they were thieves, I know they were robbing; I was not one of those thieves, I never put my hand to them; they were pure Chippewa Indians; the half-breeds did not steal anything; the full-blooded Indians did the stealing; I am a half-breed and our tribe or nation of half-breeds never did any stealing or robbing at that time; I was there with the indians who took the goods; they were taken from what was called St. Joseph, now called Walhalla; about 12 years ago; do not know the month, I never marked the month; it was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon; it was in the fall about the first snow, I believe it was in December, I think it was about the middle of the month; the Indians of the Turtle Mountain took the property; the names of thee of them are: Carshune (meaning in English, Wolverine), Connette and Caushion, he was named after the Governor and is now dead; they were living on the Pembina Mountain, Dakota, and I was living there myself at the time among the Indians; I was there the time the goods were taken; Pembina Mountain is on the road between St. Vincent and St. John; among those who drove these wagon loads was my brother, he is now dead, of the others two of them are dead that I know, another of them is in Montana; I can not state the exact number of wagons, about 10, probably more or less; the goods were taken to my door after they were stolen; they came there to camp for the night; I did not get any of the goods; I do not know of any one but the Indians who got the goods, they were taken by the Indians and taken to their teepees or tents; they took them off the sleds and divided them there and took them away; the goods were in sleds; the drivers took the sleds and teams and brought them here; they had no fight with the Indians; there were about 15 or 20 Indians and about 7 or 8 men, boys, and 3 men driving; the drivers tied to prevent talk but they made no forcible resistence, - they made no trouble; the goods in the sleds belong to Mr. Ricard, I know it because the driver told me, I asked the driver whose goods those were and he told me they belonged to Mr. Ricard; the loads consisted of merchandise, there were calico and cotton and raisins, teas and sugar, groceries; I don't know as to the boots and shoes, but there were pants and caots and clothing; these goods were packed in boxes and bundles; the boxes were torn open in front of my house; some of them they carried away from my door on their backs and some on one of those jumpers1; there was a horse attached to the jumper and there was also a pair of oxen that they had and they loaded it to carry the goods away; they carried the goods about one half a mile; I don't know how long it took them to transport them from my house to this place, I did not mark the time; they were at it until late, after dark; they opened all the bundles and boxes before they took them away, they had to break the packages in order to divide them; they divided them among the 20 Indians; my mother belonged to the Assiniboine tribe of Indians and my father was a white man, - French; I am what is called a half-breed; I draw rations from the Government; I am at the Turtle Mountain Agency; John Waugh is the agent in charge, those goods were not on an Indian Reservation when they were taken; Pembina Mountain was Indian land, unceded land, but not on a reservation; I was not living on a servation because were living together, the Indians were living there and I was living with them; I cano not state when the reservation was formed, i might be ten years ago; the land where the goods were taken from is not an Indian reservation at this time, I never knew it to be named a reserfation; it was claim by the Indians as Indian Country and still is; when the goods were taken from the front of my house I did nothing and said nothing; I have talked it over casually with my people since; I have had no talk with Mr. Ricard about it; he knew the things were taken in front of my door; if my hat is in front of your door and somebody takes it why certainly I would hear of it; I suppose he heard of it.

Re-Direct Examination: These Indians who took the goods are now living; they live the other side of the Big Coolie; it is on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, now known as Bellcourt; those who were driving the sleds were half-breeds like myself.

Henry Potrat: Age, 67 years; live upon the Turtle Mountain Reservation; my eyesight is bad and so I have no occupation; I am a mixed-blood, being half Chippewa Indian and half white, the white blood being French; I know Theodore Ricard; I did not keep account of all the winters but it is quite a long while since I have known him; I am no relation to him; I know he has a claim for Indian depredations; I have no claim; have lived on the Turtle Mountain Reservation six years; before I moved there I lived at Pembina Mountain, N.D.; I knew of the depredation committed upon claimabnt's property; I was not present at the time the goods were taken, but I was called by the Indians and came on the next day and I observed the goods piled there, the goods they had taken from Mr. Ricard; the Indians were going to divide the goods; they were already piled there; I was not called to distribute the goods but only to witness the distribution of them and I saw the goods there; the goods were at Theordore Bellguard's place; I can name a few of the goods, - I did not see all the goods - calico, cotton and dry goods, clothing, pants, and coats and shoes, - I only name those I saw; I saw a great quantity of calico, - I can not say how much; the pile of clothing was big - I did not count them; when I saw the boots and shoes and other things they had been taken out of the original packages and were piled on the ground; I can not tell whether or not they were in boxes at first, - they are not when I saw them; it is impossible for me to say the quantity of shoes, but the pile was quite large; I saw tea, sugar and raisins, etc., there; I saw a large quantity there, - can not state now much; I did not notice any hats or caps; I saw some hardware, - I saw one cooking stove; I did not see all the goods; I saw pork or bacon there; I saw large quantitites of coal oil, crackers and flour and I saw a barrel of syrup; they said the goods belonged to Mr. Ricard; the drivers said so; the drivers were there the next day when I was there - they were half-breeds, - I did not count them; I don't know, but I suppose the Indians came and got the goods because they were in a starving condition - they wwanted something to eat; they were not getting any spport at that time from the Government; this happened close to the holidays, in the winter time; it was in the fall, as near as I can remember; I have sworn to state what I know, and tell without knowledge I can not; I tgell what I am positive of, what I saw; I can not remember the time; I agree with the witness just before me, Mr. Bellguard, about the time; he said it was eleven or twelve years ago, - I think it was about that time.

Cross-Examination: At the time of the depredation I was residing on Pembina Mountain, which was about two miles from the place where the goods were taken; the day before the goods were taken I was sleeping, - resting; an Indian came after me to tell me to come see the goods distributed, - I don't know his name now; he said "the head man of the tribe wants you to come and see the goods that have been taken"; I wnet on foot, - I started from home in the forenoon - I got there near noon, - that was on the day after the goods were taken; the goods were all stacked up inside of Mr. Bellguard's house; what happened at the time the goods were taken Bellguard saw; what happened the day after, I saw and he did not; he said the goods were taken into his house, and the goods were in his house when I got there; I got one shirt, - I don't know whether Mr. Bellguard got anything; after they were distributed into piles the Indians bundled up the goods and carried them away in the sleds, each one taking his own pile of goods; there was a pair of oxen, and about ten Indians or so took their share and loaded it into this ox team; they divided the syrup by buckets full; the Indians had some buckets; when they saw the barrel of they took the trouble to go after the pails and buckets; - I saw them do it; they were living there; they opened the barrel with an axe - broke the head in; they divided the sugar with pint cup, dividing it to one man say 100 cups,; the tea was also divided that way, - there was no written account kept among themselves; one shirt was not my share especially, but they gave it to me and I took it; I know nothing about what the drivers got; this was all divided up among the full-blooded Indians; I don't know that the half-bloods got anything; I did not see any after the division among the full-bloods, - the mixed-bloods might have received some as a present, - they might have had some of the goods, but I got my shirt right there and then; I was called to Bellguard's house to view the goods by the Indians, not to witness the division of the goods but to witness the goods that they had there, that is all, - to witness the goods that had been taken; I hold tribal relations; I am one of the councilmen, and the Indians having committed a wrong, they wanted me to witness, fearing some consequences, and depending upon me as one of the councilmen to see what had occurred; it is the custom among the Indians that the head men, braves, or councilmen be notified and acquainted of the fact; it is the custom among the Indians when they have committed any depredation, such as in the case of claimant's goods, that they notify the braves of the fact, - it matters not whether the braves get any goods or not, but it is their duty to notify the head men of what has occurred; the driver told me it was Mr. Ricar's shirt which they gave me; I did not pay claimant for the shirt, - it was mine, - they stole it and I had it given to me; I did not commit this depredation against his goods, and it was given to me and I accepted it as a present. I owed nothing, - I did not consider that I owed anything to Mr. Ricard; I do not talk or understand English; I am speaking to you through the aid of an interpreter, who is John Babtiste Bittneau; he is a Chippewa half-breed, by occupation he is a lawyer and he is said to reside in Minneapolis, Minn.; the Indians who were in possession of the goods which they dvidied at Bellguard's house were of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians.

John G. FLorence: Age, 35 years; resident of Grand Forks, N.D.; merchant; the firm of Ricard Brothers was in existence in 1882, when I first became acquainted with them; the names of the members of the firm are Theodore P. Ricard and Sceillem A. Ricard; Sciellem A. Ricard is, as I understand, dead and has been for some years; Theordore P. Ricard, my brotherin-law, is a merchant and now resides at York, in Benso County, N.D. I first became acquainted with them at St. Vincent, Minnesota; I know that in 1882 I was employed by the firm of Flynn & O'Keefe and had access to their books; the books showed that Ricard Bros. previous to that time had purchased a bill of goods of Flynn & O'Keefe, consisting of dry goods, croceries, clothing, boots, shoes, and hardware; this bill amounted to in round numbers from $2,200 to $2,500 and was, as I understood, purchased by Ricard Bros. for the purpose of starting a store at St. John, N.D.; I can not give the amount of any particular kind of goods that were purchased at that time, but give the general total of the amount of goods purchased at that time and for the purpose I have mentioned, from the firm; I was in no manner interested in Ricard Bros.' business; have no interest in their claim and know only from hearsay that the goods I have mentioned were the ones that were stolen by the Indians and is embraced in Mr. Ricard's claim against the Government.

Cross-Examination: I don't know whether these goods were ever paid for; I know that while I was employed by the firm of Flynn & O'Keefe I saw certain charges on their books against Ricard Bros. which I think amounted from $2,200 to $2,500 and that is all of my own knowledge that I do know.

John Vandal: Age 45 years; resident of Bellcourt; farming and working on a reservation; have lived in Bellcourt 7 years; before that I lived in Walhalla, Cavalier County, on the Pembina Mountains, North Dakota; I know claimant; have known him for 10 years; I know he has a claim for Indian depredations; have no interest in this claim; I can not remember the exact date the goods were taken but I was present at the time they were taken; myself and an Indian named Anarkarsay were apointed delegates by the tribe to apply to the military post at Pembina for supplies; it was at a time of great sickness in the tribe and the Indians were without subsistence; on our way when we got to the Little Devil's Lake as it was then called, between Walhalla and Pembina, it being about 6 miles from Pembina, we met the team with the goods belonging to Mr. Ricard; we dined there at that place with them; the Indian, Anarkarsay then said to the teamsters, "take those goods up to our place and tell our folks to take it"; the route to their destination lay through that place, they had to go through that place, and as they passed there the Indians arrested the teams and took the goods; during our absence they had arrested the teams and taken the goods and held them until our return; I and the other Indians continued our route to Pembina to carry our mission; two days after we left them we returned to the place where the depredation had been committed, and we saw the goods there then on our return; the Indians then said, "we will divide these goods," and I was appointed to assist in the division of the goods among them; I told the Indians that it was wronging this man to take his goods, who was pursuing his livelihood and that they should not take his goods; I state what I know of it; they then said they had taken it and were going to divide it among themselves and the goods were divided and this was in the house of Theodore Bellguard; some of the things I can name, there was dry goods, such as calicoes, cotten and clothing, groceries and provisions consisting of pork, flour, bacon, and all kinds of groceries; I can not state the quantity, all I can say is that it consisted of about 10 loads of such merchandise as I have mentioned; I know they belonged to the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians who took the goods; I knew before the goods reached there and subsequently that the goods belonged to one Mr. Ricard; I think he is the same man who is the claimant in this case; the owner of these goods is there today; I can point him out (here witness points towards plaintiff); I know that the band of Indians who took these goods now reside at Bellcourt on the Turtle Mountain Reservation.

Cross-Examination: I heard that these good were taken from Mr. Ricard's house; myself, Henry Potrat, Theodore Bellguard, Carkascheau and his son and another Indian named Conette were present when the goods were divided; this was two days after we met them and we came back in two days; we met them at noon, they arrived at that place that day; I can not say at what time they arrived as we were going in an opposite direction; I can not say at what time they would have got there; I know they arrived that day; when I returned the goods were in the house of Theordore Bellguard, I know they were in his house; I can not state the exact number of piles the goods were divided into; they were divided among those who were present there; Mr. Potrat got a cooking stove; Mr. Bellguard got a share of dry goods and provisions; I got some syrup and some calico and a shirt; I tried to prevent the Indians from taking the man's goods but after they had taken them I took my share; I did not pay for them because the man ws not present; if he had asked me for payment for those goods I might possibly have paid him; when we returned Mr. Potrat was there in the house and he remained there until the goods were divided and taken away; I can not state that what Mr. Potrat said in regard to the goods being taken away from the house the next day is true or false; he might not have received anything else but a shirt but I did, while assiting in the division of the goods, place a stove there for him; it was in Mr. Bellguard's house the goods were taken and it was from the outside of his house that the Indians carried the goods away; it is a fact that he did receive some of the goods because I myself gave him some of them; we had heard beforehand that the goods belonged to Mr. Ricard.

Deposition filed September 24, 1906.

Theodore P. Ricard: Age, 56, resident of Emerado, North Dakota, and the claimant in the case; states that his brother Sceillem A. Ricard, was born in the village of Champlain, Vermont; he knows this because he is two years older than his brother; was present at the time of his birth and remembers that both his father and mother said that both he and his brother Sceillem were born in Champlain, Vermonth.

On Cross-examination he says that Sceillem A. Ricard and himself constituted the firm of Ricard Brothers, of which he is the surviving partner; that his brother Sceillem was born in 1858 in Champlain, Vermont, and that to the best of his recollection after leaving there he went to Toledo, Ohio, and remained there from 1861 to 1874; then he went to Waterville, in the State of Kansas, and remained there from 1874 to 1877; then he went from there to Dakota Territory and remained there from 1877 to 1884; in 1884 he left St. John, Dakota Territory, and went back to Toledo, Ohio, where he was killed in 1887 or 1888; he gives the names of Joseph N. Ricard, proprietor of Ricard Boiler and Engine Company, and Dr. William Alfred Ricard, of Toledo, Ohio, as two persons who could testify as to the date and place of Sceillem A. Ricard's birth; that he often heard his father and mother and older brothers state that his brother Sceillem A. was born in Champlain, Vermont, and that he was a native born citizen of the United States, and further that at the time of his birth, his father was a citizen of the United States.

Report of the War Department.

September 4, 1906, the court issued a call on the War Department for the following information:

1. Whether the records of the post of Fort Pembina, Dakota Territory, for December 1880, and January and February, 1881, contain any reference to a depredation alleged to have been committed on the property of Ricard Brothers by the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Indians, on or about December 28, 1880, and if so, a copy of all records relating to same.

2. Information as to whether the records of the headquarters of the Department of Dakota contain any information relative to the said depredation, and whether there is a record of an order issued by direction of Brigadier-General Terry directing troops to be sent to recover said property from the Indians, if possible, and if so a copy of such record and any information as to the result of such action.

Under date of October 19, there was filed a reply of the War Department, as follows:

"Respectfully referred to the Commanding General, Department of Dakota, St. Paul, Minnesota, for report, with the return of these papers, of any information afforded by the records of the Department relative to the matter referred to within.

"Nothing has been found of record in this office relative to the alleged depredation in December, 1880, nor has any record been found of an order issued by the Commanding General, Department of Dakota, directing troops to be sent to recover the property from the Indians.

"There is on file in this Department a letter dated Fort Pembina, Dakota, December 23, 1881, addressed to the Adjutant-General, Department of Dakota, in which the commanding officer of the post (Captain Edward Collins, 17th Infantry), reported that supplies were sent to the relief of the Indians at the Pembina Mountains. He also stated that, -

" 'Some time before the supplies were ordered these Indians took a trader's outfit, en route for Turtle Mountain, away from the drivers and distributed the goods among themselves. They appear to have acted under the impression that as the trader entered their (Indian) country to trade without a license and had been by them, as they considrered, regularly warned to keep off, they had the right to take the goods.

" 'A rival trading firm had, it is thought, something to do in the matter.

" 'The United States Commissioner has issued warrants and the marshal has applied to the post commander for assistance in making arrests as soon as the aquarantine is raised. Instructions in this matter are respectully requested from superior authority.'

"By order of the Secretary of War:
"F.L. Ainsworth,
"The Military Secretary."

Under date of October 24, 1906, the brigadier-general commanding the headquarters of Department of Dakota, filed the following reply:

"Respectfully returned to the Military Secretary, War Department. The records at these headquarters afford no information relative to the alleged depredation referred to within.

"The supplies sent to the relief of the Chippewa Indians at Pembina Mountains referred to in preceding endorsement were ordered by the President in a telegram from the War Department December 16, 1881, because said Indians were reported to be in a starving condition owing to smallpox quarantine.

"Nor do the records show any further information concnerning the taking by the Indians of a trader's oufit enroute for the Turtle Mountains than that contained in the communication quoted in the preceding endorsement.

Request for Findings of Fact.

The claimant, considering the facts hereinafter set forth to proven, and deeming them material to the due presentation of this case in the findings of fact, requests the court to find the same as follows:

1. The claimants, Theordore P. Ricard and Sceillem A. Ricard, at the date of the depredation hereinafter set forth, were citizens of the United States. (Brief of evidence, pp.2, 16, 17).

2. Indians of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe took property from the claimants in Pembina County, Dakota Territory (now North Dakota), of the aggregate value of $2,500. Said depredation was without just cause or provocation on the part of the owner or agent in charge, and none of the property has been returned or paid for. See references to proof in brief following.
3. The Indians by whom the property was taken were members of a tribe in amity with the United States at the date of the depredation.


The claimant, Theodore P. Ricard, is, and his brother, Sceillem A. Ricard was, a native born citizen of the United States, having been born in the state of Vermont (pp. 2, 16, 17).

Taking of Property.

The claimant has no personal knowledge of the depredation. He knows that the property was loaded on sleighs and started in the direction of Turtle Mountain; that the taking of the property was reported to him and that he sent the Deputy Marshal to recover it, (p. 3) but that it was not recovered, and the depredation was reported to the Military Commander at Fort Pembina, North Dakota; that the Indians charged acknowledged in his presence the taking of the property (p. 3).

Theodore Bellguard, a half-breed says that he knows that the property was taken by the Indians; that he saw them rob the claimant and divide the property (pp. 7, 8).

Hentry Potrat knows of the depredation of the claimant's property; was not present at the time the goods were taken but was called in the next day to winess the distribution of the property (pp. 10, 11). He was one of the councilmen of the Indians, and they wanted him as a witness fearing some consequence (p. 12).

John Vandal was present at the time the claimant's goods were taken (p. 14); he assisted in the distribution of the goods among the Indians (p. 15).

Official Corrobration.

The report of the War Department, filed October 30, 1906 (p. 18) corroborates the claimant to this extent: It shows that these Indians took a trader's outfit from the drivers and distributed the goods among themselves. It also shows that under date of December 16, 1881, relief was given the Indians who were reported to be in a starving condition owing to smallpox quarantine. It appears that the court call was forwarded to the Headquarters of the Department of Dakota in conformity with paragrph 2 of the call, but there is nothing to indicate that it has been sent to Fort Pembina for report. Doubtless had it been forwarded to Fort Pembina, some additional information might have been found from the Post records. However, the case seems dully established without further information from the official records and there does not seem to be the least doubt that the depredation was committed on the claimant's property by the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Indians.

Quantity and Value.

Theodore P. Ricard testifies that the Indians took the goods consisting of general merchandise, dry goods, hats, caps, boots, shoes, hardware, tinware, groceries, etc., which he had purchased from Flynn & O'Keefe. The value was between $2,200 and $2,500 (p. 3). The articles taken were so many, and of so many different varieties that it is impossible to fix the amount of each article. The firm of whom the goods were bought have since gone out of business and their whereabouts are unknown, and he has been unable to procure the books (p. 4).

On cross-examination, he says that the goods were shipped by teams; ten teams, or there might have been more. The goods were in sleighs, not sleds, one horse to each sleigh; the sleigh boxes were about 10 feet long and 3 feet wide (p. 4). The bills for the goods are lost. They were last in charge of Charles Brown of Pembina. They were given to him to show that this was a bona fide case. Claimant says he can not fix the exact amount of caps, hats and gloves, but when he arrived at the total sum of the invoice he remembers the exact amount of same, i.e., $2,200 to which he has added the freight, bringing the amount up to $2,500 (p. 5). He calls as a witness John G. Florence, who was employed by Flynn & O'Keefe, and he says:

He had access to the firm's books, which showed that Ricard Brothers had purchased a bill of goods consisting of dry goods, groceries, clothing, boots, hardware, tinware, etc., amounting in round numbers to $2,200 to $2,500; that he knows that these goods were purchased by Ricard Brothers for the purpose of opening up a store, and it was reported that the Indians had taken the stock.

The eye-witnesses to the depredation do not attempt to fix quantities, but they testify as to the character of the property taken as follows:

Bellguard says: That he saw them rob the claimant of dry goods, groceries, and other things; there were about 10 sleds (p. 7). There were some prints, calico, tobacco, raisins, one cook stove, clothing, and different things (p. 7).

Potrat says: That the things were piled at Bellguard's place, and can name a few of the goods, but he did not see them all; calico, cotton, and dry goods, clothing, pants and coats and shoes; He saw a great quantity of calico, but he can not say how much; the pile of clothing was big; the pile of boots and shoes was large, and when he saw them they had been taken out of their original packages and were piled on the ground; the pile of shoes was quite large; he saw tea, sugar and raisins, etc., there in large quantitites; saw some hardware, - saw one cook stove; saw a large quantity of coal oil, crackers and flour and one barrel of syrup (p. 10, 11); the Indians divided the goods and carried them away on sleds, each one taking his own pile, except ten Indians who loaded their shares on an ox team. They divided the syrup by bucketfuls; they divided the sugar with pint cups, each man receiving about 100 cups; the tea was also divided in this way (p. 12).

This last statement gives some idea of the quantities that were being shipped. This property was divided among from 15 to 20 Indians (p. 8); as a pint is a pound, each Indian got about 100 pounds of sugar, making a total of from 1,500 to 2,000 pounds. The Indian Service paid $8.35 a hundred pounds for sugar in New York (Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1880) - page 296), so that sugar was easily worth ten cents a pound in North Dakota; bids for delivery at Yankton, which was as far north as the place where this was taken, surgar was $10,74 a hundred pounds (ibid, p. 297).

It can be readily seen that in the claimant's ten sleighs $2,500 worth of miscellaneous merchandise could be readily transported, so that we see no reason, in view of the testimony in this case, why the court should not award judgement for the cost price of the goods, $2,200 plus the cost of the freight, $300.

George A. & William B. King,
Attorneys for Claimant.

William E. Harvey,

1 - A jumper is a sleigh made from green wood, cut in the forest for the occasion.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Buffalo Hunt - PART II

Minnsota Buffalo Hunt - Butchering
Camping amongst the Slain. — Wholesale Slaughter. — A Sick Guide. — Parting from the Half-breeds. — A False Alarm. — Dismal Night's Lodging. — Dreadful Position. — Stinking River. — Death of the Guide. — Paternal Government. — The Fire - Water Curse.

OUR camp was now moved to the field of slaughter, for the greater convenience of collecting the meat. However lightly I wished to think of my fall, I found myself the next day suffering considerably from the effects of it, and the fatigue I had undergone. The man whom I had brought with me as a guide was also suffering much from an attack of the measles. Next day our hunters sighted and chased another large band of bulls with good success. At night we were annoyed by the incessant howling and fighting of innumerable dogs and wolves that had followed us to the hunt, seemingly as well aware of the feast that was preparing for them as we could be ourselves. The plain now resembled one vast shambles : the women, whose business it is, being all busily employed in cutting the flesh into slices, and hanging them in the sun on racks, made of poles tied together.

In reference to the immense number of buffaloes killed, I may mention that it is calculated that the half-breeds alone destroy thirty thousand annually. Having satisfied myself with buffalo hunting amongst the half-breeds, I was anxious to return to the settlement, in order to prosecute my journey. On proposing to set out I found my guide so unwell, that I feared he would not be able to travel. I tried to procure one of the hunters to take his place and return with me, but none of them would consent to travel alone over so large a tract of country, from fear of the Sioux, in whose territory we then were; and who they dreaded, from the late occurrence, would be watching to cut off any stragglers. Being unable to procure a fresh man, I was about to start alone, when my guide, who thought himself better, proposed to accompany me, on condition that he should ride in the cart, and not be expected to attend to the horses or cooking. This I readily agreed to, as his services as guide were of the utmost importance.

We started next morning for the settlement, a distance which I supposed to be somewhat over two hundred miles. A party of twenty of the hunters escorted us for eight or ten miles, to see that there were no Sioux in the immediate vicinity. We then parted, after taking the customary smoke on separating from friends. I could not avoid a strong feeling of regret at leaving them, having experienced many acts of kindness at their hands, hardly to be expected from so wild and uncultivated a people. We found a great scarcity of water on our return, most of the swamps that had supplied us on our way out being now dried up by the heat of the season.

We fell in with a great many stray dogs and wolves, which appeared to be led on by the scent of the dead carcases. After hobbling the horses, putting up my tent, and cooking the supper, I then turned in for the night, not without some apprehensions of a hostile visit from the Sioux, as we were still on their hunting grounds, and in the territory of the United States, being still a few miles south of the boundary line. During the night my guide, who was very ill and feverish, cried out that the Sioux were upon us. I started up with my gun in my hand, for I slept with it by my side, and rushing out in the dark, was near shooting my own horse, which, by stumbling over one of the tent pins, had alarmed my companion.

We travelled on the next day with as great rapidity as the ill health of my guide would permit, and on the evening of the 30th of June, we encamped on the bank of the Pambinaw. I lost considerable time next morning in catching the horses, as they are able from habit to run a considerable distance, and pretty fast, in spite of their hobbles. In the afternoon we arrived at the Swampy Lake, about fourteen miles across. A little before sunset we reached about the middle of it, but my guide complained so much that I could not proceed further.

I succeeded in finding a small dry spot above water large enough for me to sit on, but not affording room for my legs, which had to remain in the water, there being no more room in the small cart than was necessary for the sick man. Having no means for cooking, I was compelled to eat my dried meat raw. I tried to compose myself to sleep, but found it impossible, from the myriads of mosquitoes which appeared determined to extract the last drop of blood from my body. After battling with them until 4 o'clock next morning, my eyes almost blinded by their stings, I went in search of the horses, which had strayed away to some distance into deeper water, tempted by some sort of flags growing there. I had to wade up to my middle in pursuit of them, and it was not until 9 o'clock that we were able to proceed.

After leaving this dismal swamp we were within a day's march of the settlement ; and my guide, believing himself to be much better, insisted upon my leaving him to drive the cart, whilst I proceeded at a more rapid rate on horseback. This, however, I would not do until I had seen him safe across Stinking River, which the horses had almost to swim in crossing.

Having got him over safely, I left him, and proceeded onwards in the direction of the fort. But I had not gone far before I encountered one of the numerous swampy lakes that abound in this region, and render travelling extremely difficult. I had no doubt got on a wrong track, for in endeavouring to cross, my horse quickly sank up to his neck in mud and water. Seeing that I could neither advance nor recede, I dismounted, and found myself in the same predicament, scarcely able to keep my head above the surface. I managed, however, to reach the dry land ; and, with the lasso, or long line, which every voyageur in these parts invariably has attached to his horse's neck, succeeded In getting the animal out. I remounted, and endeavoured to cross in another direction, but with no better success. I now found myself surrounded on all sides, as far as I could see, with nothing but swamp. My horse refused to be ridden any further. I had therefore, to dismount, and drag him along as best I could, wading up to my very middle in mud and water abounding with reptiles.

That I had lost my way was now certain; and as it was raining hard, I could not see the sun, nor had I a compass. I, however, determined to fix upon one certain course, and keep that at all hazards, in hopes that I might reach the Assiniboine River, by following which I could not fail to reach the settlement. After travelling in uncertainty for ten or twelve miles, I had at length the satisfaction of reaching the river, and in two hours afterwards I arrived safe at Fort Garry. The next morning I learned that my guide had been brought in by two men who were looking for stray horses. The poor fellow had got rapidly worse after my leaving, and had only proceeded a short distance when he was compelled to stop. He only survived two days after his arrival.

Fort Garry is one of the best built forts in the Hudson's Bay territory. It has a stone wall, with bastions mounted with cannon, inclosing large storehouses and handsome residences for the gentlemen of the establishment. Its strength is such that it has nothing to fear from the surrounding half-breeds or Indians. The gentleman in charge was Mr. Christie, whose many acts of kindness and attention I must ever remember with feelings of grateful respect.

The office of Governor of the Red River Settlement is one of great responsibility and trouble, as the happiness and comfort of the whole settlement depend to a great extent upon the manner in which he carries out his instructions. The half-breeds are much inclined to grumbling, and although the Company treat them with great liberality, they still ask almost for impossibilities ; indeed, as far as the Company is concerned, I cannot conceive a more just and strict course than that which they pursue in the conduct of the whole of their immense traffic. In times of scarcity they help all around them, in sickness they furnish them with medicines, and even try to act as mediators between hostile bands of Indians. No drunkenness or debauchery is seen around their posts, and so strict is their prohibition of liquor, that even their officers can only procure a small allowance, which is given as part of their annual outfit on voyages.

Without entering into the general question of the policy of giving a monopoly of the fur trade to one company, I cannot but record, as the firm conviction which I formed from a comparison between the Indians in the Hudson's Bay Company territories and those in the United States, that opening up the trade with the Indians to all who wish indiscriminately to engage in it, must lead to their annihilation. For while it is the interest of such a body as the Hudson's Bay Company to improve the Indians and encourage them to industry, according to their own native habits in hunting and the chase, even with a view to their own profit, it is as obviously the interest of small companies and private adventurers to draw as much wealth as they possibly can from the country in the shortest possible time, although in doing so the very source from which the wealth springs should be destroyed. The unfortunate craving for intoxicating liquor which characterises all the tribes of Indians, and the terrible effects thereby produced upon them, render it a deadly instrument in the hands of designing men.

It is well known that, although the laws of the United States strictly prohibit the sale of liquor to the Indians, it is impossible to enforce them, and whilst many traders are making rapid fortunes in their territories, the Indians are fast declining in character, numbers, and wealth, whilst those in contact with the Hudson's Bay Company maintain their numbers, retain native characteristics unimpaired, and in some degree share in the advantages which civilisation places within their reach.

From Wanderings of an Artist Among the Indians of North America, by Paul Kane