Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Arduous Journey


I've been reading this book about Enos Stutsman titled Attorney for the Frontier. Ever since I came across "Stuts", as his contemporary friends called him, I've been fascinated by the man.  To my knowledge,  Attorney for the Frontier is the only book ever written about him, and it includes an entire chapter about his time in Pembina, his last home base.

Below is a letter he wrote to his supervisors.  As a past federal government employee myself, I am well-acquainted with the paperwork involved whenever you go away from the office.  Reports must be filed!  Read below on what this particular early government employee went through just to get from Point A to Point B; you'll note he has a pretty wry sense of humor, which I guess you had to have when encountering such difficulties.  All in all, if you take the time, you'll discover it's quite illuminating, and an enjoyable read...

Pembina, D.T.
Feb. 22nd, 1868 
Sir -
It being my duty to keep you advised of my movements, I have the honor to inform you that after a desperate trip I arrived here on the 17th Inst. - I found more snow between St. Paul and Pembina than usual at this season and it being much drifted I found dog travelling tedious in the extreme. 
Owing to the recent formation of the drifts, the crust is not firm - in consequence of which I, now and then, "went under" - It would have amused you to have seen the "Special Agent" and his four dogs scrambling to view in a promiscuous and demoralized condition.  But while it would have seemed capital fun when viewed by a disinterested party, I could not see it.  Ordinarily I use only 3 dogs, but I added a fourth and found I had none too many. - My first, second and third dogs are white, but as persons travelling in this latitude in winter are liable to snow-blind (sic) unless there be some dark object to rest the eye upon, I purchased one black dog.  Furthermore, as our late Legislature struck the word "white" from the School and Election laws, I deemed it my duty as well as quite proper to have at least one black or "Colored" dog in my train.  But not wishing to appear quite too "radical" I put said "Colored" dog behind and propose keeping him there until his good conduct and education warrant promotion.  Or, at least, until I know the complexion of the next Administration. 
If some of our fat Dakota Officials, sitting in their well-furnished Offices, warmed by Uncle Sam's wood, and sipping their hot brandy bought with said indulgent Uncle's money, were called to make such a Laplandish journey, O, would they not send up such a wailing and lamentation as would drown the groans of the very damned! 
For a few days I traveled in company with the mail train, the Half Breed driver of which is one of the most brutal and inhuman things I ever saw.  His cruel treatment of his unoffending dogs so disgusted and sickened me that I ordered my driver to part company with him. 
Had I but the ordering of things for a brief time, I would condemn such monsters to a limited confinement in the very coldest nook of the Spirit Land where the mercury never rises about -40F below zero - and there to stand as a _______ post for the very meanest dogs in purgatory. 
After I have visited the several stations along the International line, I will prepare and forward my annual report.. 
Enos Stutsman
From "Attorney for the Frontier:  Enos Stutsman" by Dale Gibson
Advanced Tuberculosis of the lungs
After his earlier positions as a U.S. Treasury Agent (forerunner of the Customs/ICE) then a politician as one of the first members of the Dakota Territorial Council, he settled down into a prosperous law practice in Pembina, sadly cut short.  He died of consumption on a cold January night in 1874...