...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:
"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).
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.