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The Ranch at Cow Creek Crossing

(Beach Valley, P. O.)

by Louise Barry

Winter 1972 (Vol. 38, No. 4), pages 416 to 444
Transcribed by Teresa J. Smith; HTML editing by Tod Roberts
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets refer to endnotes for this text.

WEST, and a little south, of present Lyons, Rice county, the Santa Fe trail crossed Cow creek. In 1825 surveyor Joseph C. Brown wrote this description: "Cold Water or Cow creek is a narrow stream, from 30 to 50 links wide, for the most part miry, banks commonly high. There is tolerable crossing just above the largest body of timber on it, which is very conspicuous .... The camping is good on this creek for wood, water, grass and (commonly) buffalo." [1] Thirty-three years later Brown's comments regarding the crossing and the camping still applied.

So far as known, the first attempt by white men to settle at this ford, was in the fall of 1858, although 24 miles west, at Walnut creek, Allison & Boothe had established a ranch three years earlier. [2] The Emporia News of December 4, 1858, reported: "We received a call on Monday last from Mr. [Asahel] Beach, a gentleman who has recently made a location on Cow creek, at the point where it is crossed by the Santa Fe Road, ... Mr. Beach is one of a company who went out last summer for the purpose of bridging the Little Arkansas and establishing a trading post at the point. [3] A short time since, however, Mr. Beach separated himself from his company, and in connection with his son [Abijah I.], [4] determined to construct a bridge across Cow creek, which although smaller, is much more difficult to cross than the Little Arkansas, ... Both streams will be bridged early during the coming season. The principal timbers used ... will have to be brought from the Smoky Hill Fork [40 miles or more]. ... Trading posts will also be established and depots for grain and provisions. Corn is now worth $3 per bushel at Cow creek." [5]

Before winter arrived the ranch at Cow creek was in operation and stocked with cattle, and a number of horses. On December 23, 1858, about 20 Kansa Indians, headed by Wah-ti-an-gah, made a raid on the place, and took most of the animals. Apparently only two men were there at the time-young Abijah Beach, and John H. Burr, of Leavenworth. [6] As the Emporia newspaper reported it: ". . . a party of Kaw Indians recently attacked Mr. Beach at the Santa Fe crossing of Cow creek .... and after stabbing and otherwise injuring his person, robbed his house of everything they could lay their hands on, including money, clothing, provisions, etc." Asahel Beach (in 1859) stated: "In November 1858, I left in charge of A I Beach and J. H Burr some forty six head of cattle. On my return about the 20th of January 1859 I found that a party of the Kaw Indians had attacked and robbed the station, taking among other things thirty-nine head of cattle belonging to me." The elder Beach, valuing his cattle as worth at least $50 a head," wrote: "My claim against the Indians is ... $1950." John Burr (in 1864) claimed losses of over $2,600 for horses and ponies taken in the December 1858, raid. [7]

Cow Creek ranch also became "Beach Valley" after a post office was authorized for that place on February 10, 1859. When, on April 1, Asahel Beach of "Beach Valley Post office Kansas Territory" wrote Gov. Samuel Medary to tell him that his son Abijah Beach had "received the appointment of P[ost] M[aster] at this place, also the Notary Commission," he went on to state: "There are plenty of Buffalo here, and we shall be most happy to have you make us a visit and will promise you all the Buffalo meat you wish. There has been some good shooting done here, one man killed two Antelope at one shot, and another killed four wild geese at one shot, game is plenty." [8]

"Johon," en route to Pike's Peak, wrote in a May 18, 1859, letter: "Here we are at Cow Creek-170 miles west of Topeka, all in good shape and fine spirits. ... We have been in the midst of thousands of buffalo for the last three days, and the boys have all had as much sport as they wanted. ... We have killed seven and the wagons are strung with Buffalo meat, drying it in the sun." [9]

On May 29, when Charles C. Post (also a good-seeker) arrived at Cow creek, "some two hundred teams" were encamped along its banks-"some going to and some turning back from the Peak." Post recorded that he had "made the acquaintance of Dr. Beach, who keeps a ranch on east side of creek. He is a young man who together with his father and four hired men are trading with the Indians, the Kiowahs, and slaughtering buffalo, the meat of which they prepare by salting, smoking and drying and hauling to Kansas City, where they find a ready sale at twenty-five cents per pound. They are making a fortune. The doctor is a very intelligent and courteous gentleman and a graduate of Cleveland Medical college." [10]

In June, 1859, the Leavenworth Herald [11] published this account of "Beach Valley":

At the crossing of Cow Creek, on the Santa Fe road ... Dr. A. J. [Abijah I.] Beach and Mr. A[sahel] Beach, formerly of this city, have located and established a ranche. A post-office is located there, and a mail passes weekly from California, Santa Fe, and Fort Union, to Independence, Mo. About six hundred letters a week [?] are mailed at the office. The stages usually have six mules attached, and four extra ones to use in case of accident.

This valley is very large, extending from the Arkansas river east and west for many miles, but northward it becomes narrow until it terminates at the Smokey Hill Fork ....

The Messrs. Beach have built three houses, [12] and have a good corral for taking care of stock, and are now raising corn, potatoes, beans, and other vegetables. They herd a good many stock for those who travel the road. They also do a considerable business in the grocery and provision line. Corn sells there readily at $3.00 per bushel and hay at $50.00 per ton. There is an immense travel on this road ....

These gentlemen are engaged in the buffalo trade. They are killing and putting up large quantities of buffalo meat, and will during the coming season, which will commence about the 1st of September, have ready for market about one hundred tons. They have hunters out who do nothing but kill buffalo, and each hunter will kill as many as ten men can haul in and take care of. The meat is sugar-cured and well smoked. Besides this, they save all the tongues and hides and marrow. This last article is much superior to ox marrow ....

Large quantities of buffalo roam over this valley, and from Beach's ranch may be seen at any time as many as 20,000. At times the plains seem black with the buffalo.

On Cow creek there is not a great deal of timber, but sufficient for fuel and all practical purposes. The principal timber is box-elder, with a good deal of ash, hackberry and elm.

Fencing is made in this way: Posts are set in the ground, about twelve feet apart, and strings about an inch wide are cut out of raw buffalo hide. These are stretched and fastened from post to post, and answer all purposes of rails. Indeed they are good and durable fence.

Cow Creek is a very bad stream to ford. So great is the travel on this road that wagons are often detained from one to two days waiting on others who are in advance of them .... [13]

Trooper Lambert B. Wolf, of Cpt. W. D. DeSaussure's First cavalry command (en route to old Fort Atkinson), recorded this diary entry: "June 17 [1859] finds us going into camp near what is known as Doc Beach's ranch on Cow creek. The Doctor has quite a trading station here, his stock consisting of 'Dead Shot' whisky, sugar, flour, and bacon. This is also a mail station and post office." [14]

When Asahel Beach paid a visit to Leavenworth in August, the Herald reported items of news he furnished:

Mr. Beach ... says the season has been very fair, and corn turns out well. He recently sold 300 bushels of corn to the government officers for $300 [i. e., $900 -- see Note 7].

About two miles from Beach Valley post office, on the first of August, a melancholy accident took place as follows: Sergeant Beauman, of the Rifles [Mounted Riflemen], and a Frenchman, a soldier, were in a buffalo chase. Lieut. Maury, who was two hundred yards in the rear, heard the report of a pistol, and saw Sergeant Beauman throw up his hands and fall from his horse; on getting up to him, Sergeant B. was dead, a ball had penetrated his body in the region of the heart.

Mr. Beach says about 1,000 Indians of various tribes, had been encamped for some time near his place, but all had separated, as they said, for the purpose of hunting. They were there on a visit to see each other. No disturbances took place. They all proposed friendship, and sold a great many buffalo skins and a good deal of tallow.

The Osages who made a camp three miles above, killed a large and almost fabulous number of Buffaloes, and having so much meat on the ground they could not use, it created such a stench they were compelled to move their camp.

The plains were literally covered with buffalo. The number each year seems to increase rather than diminish. They go in immense droves, and at times seem to cast a dark shadow over the Valley. [15]

Reporting another talk with Asahel Beach, the Herald of September 8 stated: "He informs us that upon starting on his present trip to this part of the Territory, he had to pass through a [buffalo] herd five miles in extent! During the winter large numbers of them remain in the vicinity of the great bend of the Arkansas."

From Beach Valley on September 30, 1859, Asahel Beach sent news of Kiowa depredations west of Cow creek. (The killing of a subchief named Pawnee, by Lt. George D. Bayard, near Walnut Creek ranch, September 22, had caused an outbreak of violence.) [16] Beach wrote:

... The Indians attacked the mail after they had proceeded about five miles from the escort [i.e., five miles west of Pawnee Fork], and killed one conductor and one driver-brother named [Michael and Lawrence] Smith. The third and last [William Cole], escaped, after being shot with balls, buckshot and arrows, by dropping into the high grass, it being dark, and made his way back to the escort, which remained at Pawnee Fork.

The day following, sixteen Indians attacked nine returning Pike's Peakers, and after professing all friendship, killed four of the nine and drove off 15 yoke of oxen, two fine horses and some mules, thereby compelling the travelers to leave their wagons and contents. The five who escaped are camped at this place quite destitute. [17]

The Mail, Peter Kelly conductor-going west, has just left with and escort of 40 cavalry of Company H, Lieutenant [Eli] Long, and have taken the mails returned to this post office from the last stage. The escort are to go to the crossing of the Arkansas. ... A very large train left on yesterday for Santa Fe, consisting of some 50 or 60 wagons and the mail may get through to Santa Fe by remaining with this train.

... Captain Depasieur [DeSaussure] says he cannot extend protection to settlers on this road, for they have no right here. The settlers are told by those in high authority, and by the surveyors surveying here this season, that there is no Indian land within many miles of this place .... [18]

In the fall of 1859 William Edwards "and some others" built a bridge across Cow creek near the Santa Fe trail crossing, within the limits of a bridge charter which the territorial legislature had granted to Asahel Beach and associates in January, 1859. [19] This "illegal" structure was to be of considerable annoyance to Abijah Beach.)

From Beach Valley on November 4, 1859, Asahel Beach wrote the Leavenworth Herald: ". . . Three stages with mails [from the west] have just arrived at this office. ... Patrick Cahill was killed by the Kiowas on the Simeroon, a driver of one of the U. S. mail stages. ... Two Indians [Kiowas] were killed [near Walnut creek] last Sunday morning [October 30] by some [First cavalry] troops under Lieut. [David] Bell .... " [20]

It was young Abijah Beach who wrote the Herald on November 26, 1859, of recent events along the trail:

Our old friend Dick Perry has just arrived here [Beach Valley] from Santa Fe, one day in advance of the mails. He is in charge of one of Majors & Russell's trains, and started in company with the U. S. mail, Peter Kelley conductor, being 25 days out.

On the Simmaroon, the party, seventeen men in all, were attacked by a party of Ki-o-ways -- numbering about one hundred and fifty, and were obliged to turn back and travel forty miles to meet Capt. McComb [John N. Macomb] and escort, in command of Lieut. [Herbert M.] Enos, thus making a drive of fifty-six miles in twenty-four hours with oxen.

Since writing the above Capt. McComb and escort have arrived. The escort consists of thirty-two men. They are thirty-five days out of Albuquerque.

Expressman Rosenberg came in this evening, and reports the mail at Walnut creek -- it will probably be here in the morning. Capt. Stewart [George H. Steuart] and the majority of his company will be here on Monday next, en route for Fort Riley. Lieut. [David] Bell [also First cavalry] is left at Pawnee Fork with thirty men, to escort the mails and protect the frontier-that is , if he can. Pity Uncle Sam's men are so busy elsewhere that he couldn't spare us a dozen or so out this way. [21]

In the winter of 1859-1860 the Beaches finally got around to building their bridge over Cow creek. It was not completed by the end-of-January limit defined in the charter, but the 1860 territorial legislature, by act of February 27, granted a one-year extension to "As[a]hel Beach and others" On March 12 the Council Grove Press reported: "We learn, from Mr. [William] Cole, one of the employees of the Santa Fe Mail Company, that Cow Creek, at Beach Valley, is several feet higher than has been known for years. The mail was not detained; thanks to the bridge just completed by Dr. A. J. [I.] Beach at that place. This bridge will be a great accommodation to the traveling community on this road." Toll charges, as set in the charter, were: wagon, 30 cents; every animal attached thereto, 10 cents; pleasure carriage, 15 cents; 10 cents for every animal attached thereto; loose stock .05 cents (hogs, sheep, or goats, .01); and every person on foot .05 cents. [22]

Asahel Beach never saw the completed bridge. In mid-February, 1860, six miles west of Diamond Springs, David McKinstry, the Santa Fe mail conductor, "picked up the old man Beach [he was 54], who had been struck with palsy, and had laid in the snow during one night and part of a day .... " Asahel Beach died at Council Grove on February 17. [23]

By territorial legislative act of February 21, 1860, the mammoth-size Kansas county of Peketon (all the territory west of the sixth principal meridian and south of township 16) was created. Beach Valley was named as temporary county seat. Asahel Beach (already deceased), Abijah Beach, and Samuel Shaff were appointed commissioners to divide the county into election precincts. And by another act, February 23, Beach Valley Town Company was incorporated. Asahel Beach, Abijah Beach, A. I. Baker, and Samuel Shaff were listed as members. [24] Presumably because of Asahel Beach's death, no attempt was made to develop the projected town.

On May 6, 1860, Abijah Beach wrote to Council Grove attorneys Wood & Perkins: "I wish to sue out and injunction on the bridge over Cow Creek within the limits of my charter. Said bridge was built by Wm Edwards and owned by said Edwards and O. G. Stanley." He went on the state: "I can prove that they have asked trains to cross their bridge, taken toll on it, and repaired it with the avowed intention of making it a free bridge and taking the travel away from mine." Beach thought Edwards and Stanley would claim that their bridge was "built for the mail co (Hall & Porter) and [that] they have a right to build a free bridge .... " [25] Subsequently, Beach paid Edwards $50, on condition that he remove his bridge and not rebuild it. (This took care of the matter for the rest of the year, apparently. But his troubles with William Edwards were not ended.)

Abijah Beach wrote the Leavenworth Times this letter on May 10, 1860:

Times begin to brighten up a little within the last few days. The road is now lined with New Mexican trains, Pike's Peakers, Government outfits, &c.

A Mexican Wagon Master was killed and robbed of thirty dollars by two of his own men, (Mexicans) within eighty yards of the ranche, on the night of the 4th inst. -- one of them made good his escape, the other was simply discharged from his train, although the money was found secreted in his knife sheath, with fresh blood on it. He had thrown away his knife. He would have been hung on the spot had not the party of Pike's Peakers prevented it.

On Owl creek [five miles east of Cow creek] a man was robbed of $155 in gold, revolver and knife, while drunk. The thief was caught and taken to Pawnee Fork, to be delivered to the officer of the post [Fort Larned].

At the Big Bend of Arkansas a sad accident occurred by which two men were killed instantly, and two more badly wounded. It was caused by the accidental discharge of a musket in a wagon camped at that place. -- The charge consisting of an ounce ball and fifteen buckshot, passed through a water keg before it struck the men.

Buffalo are plenty. I was out this evening and caught two, and had the lariat on another, but the cow turned on me, and having no fire-arms, I was obliged to cut loose from it. [26]

On August 24, 1860, the Kansas City (Mo.) Journal of Commerce reported: "We noticed yesterday, some wagons loading goods at J. S. Chick & Co., that had come from Cow Creek. ... The owners are the proprietors of a Ranch on Cow Creek between the Little and Big Arkansas rivers. They brought in some robes and pelts and are purchasing groceries and other supplies for that remote station. They report that they have a large lot of furs and pelts, but the market is so low at present for these articles that they design keeping them over until they bear better prices. They report the Indians quiet in their vicinity. They may truly be said to be 'out West.'"

It appears that William Mathewson -- the original "Buffalo Bill" -- was at Cow Creek (Beach Valley) ranch from its beginning days up to 1862. Undoubtedly he was one of the Beaches' "four hired men" referred to by Charles Post in May, 1859; and one of the "hunters ... who do nothing but kill buffalo" mentioned in the Leavenworth Herald's June, 1859, article on Beach Valley Ranch. [28] But it was in 1860, a year of severe drought in Kansas territory, that he came to be known as "Buffalo Bill." Years later, in an 1879 biographical sketch of Mathewson, these statements were made:

During the drouth, when the crops were destroyed and many of the settlers were in a starving condition, they had recourse to the vast herds of buffalo then roaming the plains. But they had no knowledge of the proper manner of hunting them, and Mr. Mathewson engaged in the work, killing as many as eighty a day, loading their wagons with meat and sending them back to their starving families. Hearing of his generous acts, others came to see him, and ... would inquire for 'Buffalo Bill,' which name he has ever since borne. [29]

In an interview in 1893, William Mathewson was quoted as stating: "There were plenty of buffalo roaming the plains, but the Indians were thick and hostile, and the settlers unused to Indian warfare. I took a wagon train and some men and set out for the buffalo grounds, and from September [1860] until February we killed buffalo and sent train after train to the famine-stricken people of Western [i. e., eastern] Kansas." [30]

At Beach Valley, temporary seat of short-lived Peketon county, an election was held on November 6, 1860. Abijah I. Beach, William Mathewson, and Robert Odell were election judges. William I. Mason served as clerk. Twelve men -- all frontiersmen -- voted for one legislator, and 10 county officials. The names of 11 are shown on the election return (Mathewson, and the 10 county officials chosen).




S. N. Wood



( H. Bickford


County comm'rs

( A. I. Beach



( Geo. M. Gordon


County assessor



Probate judge

W. D. Wheeler


County clerk

Robert Odell



Wm. I. Mason



Wm. N. Edwards


Justice of the peace

Chauncey Jones



Charles Rath


*The counties of Madison, Chase, Peketon, and Morris constituted the 23d election district. For the legislature, in this election, S. N. Wood, of Council Grove, Morris county (with 177 votes) won over candidates T. S. Huffaker (99), and N. B. Moulton (102). Wood, of course, voted at Council Grove.

Beach, Mathewson, and Edwards all have been identified as related to Cow Creek Crossing. Robert Odell also seems to have been at Beach Valley in 1860. He was there in 1863. H. Bickford was Harvey L. Bickford, rancher and postmaster at Big Turkey (Creek Crossing). His partner Hubble(s) may have been related to J. W. Hubbles, who, in 1869, was one of the first settlers on the Cowskin, in what became Salem township, Sedgwick county. William D. Wheeler had been at Little Arkansas Crossing since 1858. Charles Rath, probably just before election, had taken over the ranch at Walnut Creek Crossing. George M. Gordon's address in August, 1860, was Pawnee Fork. No information has been found on Mason or Jones. [31]

On March 18, 1861, Abijah Beach (from Beach Valley) wrote lawyer S. N. Wood: "Since my arrival here [after a few days' absence] I find that work has already been commenced to build another bridge just on the limit of my charter. If you can get my charter extended I will do what is right. ... On April 9 he again wrote Wood:

" ... Edwards has had a bridge built which is still within the limits of my charter and commenced crossing trains on it today at 10 cts per wagon. The man that Edwards employed to build the bridge says he was employed by him while Edwards say he has had nothing to do with it. Now I wish an injunction sued out and the bridge removed. ... . . " In mid-June, Wood learned from Beach that "he, and his men [had] proceeded summarily and removed the nuisance that interfered with his chartered rights. . . " [32]

From mid-1861, till the spring of 1863, publication of the Council Grove Press was suspended. News of Beach Valley and other ranches of the area, for the same period, is difficult to come by. The 1879 biographical sketch of William Mathewson states that in 1861 "he had a personal encounter with Satanta, chief of the Kiowas. Word was sent to him that the chief intended to kill him for shooting one of the braves while stealing his horse. In a short time, Satanta, accompanied by several Indians, entered his trading-post with drawn bows, and told him they had come to kill him. Knocking Satanta down with his revolver, he quickly covered the others with his weapon and ordered them out of the store-house. They left, and he then administered to the chief a severe whipping, compelling the Indians to carry him to their camp. Since then he has borne the name among the Indians of 'Sinpah Yilbah' [i.e., Sinpah Zilbah] the 'Long-bearded, Dangerous Man,'" If this incident took place in 1861, it probably occurred come time in the latter half of the year, at Cow Creek ranch. [33]

Apparently late in 1861, or the fore part of 1862, Abijah I. Beach left Cow Creek ranch to marry and settle down at Council Grove as a physician. There is no further information linking him with Beach Valley. [34]

On July 17, 1862, John Stanton was appointed postmaster at Beach Valley. Presumably he was in charge of the ranch, the toll bridge, and the state station as well. No other mention of his name has been located, but up to the time Beach Valley post office was first discontinued -- May 9, 1864 -- no person had been named to succeed him. Robert Odell, of "Beach Valley, Kan." in April, 1863, sent money for a year's subscription to the Council Grove Press. Evidently he expected to be at the ranch for some time to come (and had voted there in 1860). [35]

The Press of May 25, 1863, reported that Lt. Lyman D. Rouell, Second Colorado cavalry, while traveling the Santa Fe trail, had "arrested [a man named] Green and Charles Whitaker" at Cow creek for selling liquor to Indians, and sent them to Fort Riley. Also, he had seized nine ponies, three mules, 60 buffalo robes, 300 wolf skins, six yoke of oxen, two wagons, one U. S. revolver and one Sharps carbine. [36]

William (Buffalo Bill) Mathewson evidently left Cow Creek ranch (Beach Valley) late in 1861 (but, unlike Abijah Beach, he would return). The 1879 sketch of Mathewson's life states: "In 1862 he built the first trading post on the plains at Great Bend." (This site was 17 1/2 miles west of Cow Creek ranch, at the point where traffic westbound first struck the Arkansas.) [37] The sketch goes on to state: "At the end of a year he sold his ranch [to Curtis & Cole], went to Ellison's [Allison's] old ranch ... [at Walnut creek] and engaged in trading for Charlie Rath. In the spring of 1864 he returned to his ranch on Cow creek and resumed the trading business, also discharging the duties of postmaster of what was known as Beach Valley post office." (Although Mathewson returned to Cow Creek ranch in 1864, he was not appointed postmaster till September 22, 1865 -- when the post office was reactivated.) [38]

Small bands of Cheyennes raided the frontier ranches and state stations of central Kansas on May 17, 1864. Their hostile actions had been triggered by the unprovoked killing of chief Lean Bear by Colorado troops on May 16 (near Big creek and the Smoky Hill). The Council Grove Press of May 28 summed up the Indian depredations as follows: "This much appears to be certain: A small party of Indians drove off all the stock from Charlie Rath's ranch on Walnut, and tore up the ranch of Cole and Curtis at the Big Bend. A man named [Suel D.] Walker was killed on the other road twelve miles above Rath's. A few persons have come in, very much alarmed, yet seem to know nothing about the facts. We are inclined to think there is no very serious cause of alarm. [Ira E.] Moore and Rice are at Cottonwood, [Thomas D.] Bennett at Running Turkey, [William D.] Wheeler at Little Arkansas, [John F.] Dodds and [Charles] Rath at Walnut, and others whose names we do not think of now have not come in .... " [39] Notably, William Mathewson and Cow creek were not mentioned.

Concerning the May 17 Cheyenne raids, the 1879 sketch of Mathewson's life states: "Traders left their ranches and started, with their goods, for Mathewson's ranch, on Cow creek, whence, having deposited their goods in his care, they started for the settlements. ... [He], with four whites, remained during the exciting times, saving many lives and trains .... "

The "exciting times" were only beginning. However the month of June, 1864, was a relatively calm period -- a time of readying for war by many Plains Indians, and of defense preparations on the part of the military. From Fort Leavenworth Maj. Gen. S. R. Curtis sent Maj. T. I. McKenny on a tour of both mail-stage routes as far west as Fort Larned, to organize defenses. At Walnut creek, where the two roads joined (and where there was a stage station as well as Rath's trading post) McKenny left Cpt. Oscar F. Dunlap and 45 men of H Company, 15th Kansas cavalry, to commence work on a stone blockhouse (Camp Dunlap -- later Fort Zarah). [40] When he arrived at Council Grove (as he returned east by way of the Santa Fe trail) the Press of June 25 reported: "The Major has erected places of defense against Indians on Cow and Walnut creeks,. . ." However, General Curtis, describing McKenny's tour and accomplishments, stated only that "The major thinks some sort of defensive work should be made at or near Cow Creek." [41] No troops were assigned to stay at the trading post and stage station in 1864, and no fortification was erected. Mathewson and three or four companions made such preparations as they could to defend the ranch. They were well armed with carbines and revolvers; and, unknown to the Indians, had a small artillery piece (perhaps supplied by McKenny?).

Lt. F. E. Smith, at Fort Larned, wrote on June 19: "There is no doubt but that Satank, and Kicking Bird, of the Kiowa nation are friendly if not cooperating with the Cheyennes ... these chiefs together with what warriors they can rally, are in constant communication with the Cheyennes, and are not favorably disposed towards the whites." On June 11 Col. J. M. Chivington had reported: "The Kiowas and Cheyennes are determined on war. ... The Comanches and Apaches seem determined to be at peace; still the warlike tribes are pressing them hard to join them in fighting the whites, and it is hard to tell what they will do." [42]

About June 24, some 19 miles west of Fort Larned, the eastbound mail stage was attacked by Indians who "shot one mule, and the coach full of arrows," in a 10-mile running fight. The troop-escort finally drove off the attackers (who, by the passengers' accounts, lost three braves killed, or wounded). [43]

In a July 6 letter, Lieutenant Smith reported: "During the past week there has been some difficulties with the Indians along the road; but no general attack has been made upon the whites at any particular place along the road, although there is sufficient evidence that there is large war parties of them from the ford of the dry route above [Cimarron crossing] to the Big Bend of the Arkansas below. On the 4th inst., a small party came suddenly up out from under the bridge at Cow Creek, and stampeded the stock, and succeeded in getting off with a number of mules belonging to the Mail Co. together with seven head of horses belonging to H Co. 15th K[ansas] V[olunteer] C[avalry]." According to a newspaper account, these troops had stopped to feed themselves and their mounts. Five Indians suddenly appeared and ran off 24 animals, making a successful raid because the soldiers had traveled the road so often without trouble they had become careless. [44]

William 'Buffalo Bill' Mathewson, famous buffalo hunter, rancher, trader and Indian fighter

WILLIAM "BUFFALO BILL" MATHEWSON (1830?-1916). In the 1850's he hunted with Kit Carson (1852); Indian-traded for Ben & St. Vrain; and freelanced. Hunter-rancher-trader on the Santa Fe trail, 1858-1867, he became "Buffalo Bill" during the 1860 Kansas drought when he killed up to 80 buffalo a day for starving settlers. In 1864, with a howitzer and three(?) codefenders, he soundly defeated war-minded Kiowas who aimed to destroy his Cow Creek ranch; then rode through enemy lines to rearm and rescue a wagon train. To aid peace efforts in 1865 he went alone to a hostile Indian camp. Later Mathewson traded south of the Kansas border, and held property in the heart of Wichita, where he was a pioneer settler.

Elizabeth Inman Mathewson, ranch manager, pioneer, and wife of Buffalo Bill Mathewson

ELIZABETH (INMAN) MATHEWSON (1842-1885). Born in England, she lived at St. Joseph, Mo., before coming to Kansas. Her marriage to William Mathewson took place August 26, 1864. It is said her husband would not let her live at Cow Creek ranch till he had taught her to be expert with rifle and revolver. On the occasions "Will" had to be away, she courageously managed the ranch. When, in 1866, their aging toll-bridge broke down under the load of "Mr. Schnavly," she wrote her husband not to "sue him for it would take more time and labor than the bridge is worth." "Lizzie" Mathewson, whom some Indians called "Marwissa (Golden-hair)," was a pioneer property-owner at Wichita. Her younger sister Lucy was James R. Mead's second wife.

At Fort Larned, on July 17, Kiowas, and allies, instigated by Satank, stampeded the stock, making almost a clean sweep of horses, mules, and beef cattle. The same day they burned Pawnee Fork bridge. [45] A mile or so west of Walnut Creek Crossing, within sight of Camp Dunlap, on the 18th, a band of over 100 Kiowas and Arapahoes made a sudden attack on the Fort Union-bound wagon trains of Jerome Crow and Richard Barret. Ten of the freighters' men were killed and five seriously wounded (including two who were scalped but survived); also the contents of several wagons (flour, principally) were strewn on the ground, and some oxen killed or taken. [46]

News that Plains Indians were on the warpath reached several New Mexico-bound trains on July 19 as they approached Cow Creek Crossing. One large Mexican ox-train, carrying government supplies, corralled east of the bridge, not far from Cow Creek ranch. Four small trains (three drawn by oxen; one by mules) following it, pulled off the trail about a mile and a half above the bridge and formed one large horseshoe-shaped corral. Many of these wagons were loaded with ordnance store for Fort Union, N. M.

On July 20 bands of Indians (altogether upwards of 500 warriors), armed principally with bows and arrows, and lances, surrounded the trains, opening attacks on both corrals, and at the ranch. (General Curtis, in a July 30 report, stated: "The Kiowas, Big Mouth's Arapahoes, and Comanches seem certainly engaged in this affair, but some stragglers from all the prairie Indians join in the villainy.") [47]

The nearest to a contemporaneous account of events at Cow Creek ranch on July 20, 21, and 22, 1864, is in a letter written by Denver publisher William N. Byers, who was at Mathewson's trading post, briefly, in mid-January, 1866. "In 1864 the Indians under-took to clean him out," Byers wrote. "They besieged his house for three days, but, with two [?] men to aid him, he kept them at bay. Finally they attempted to storm his castle, to do which they had to charge over a high and long bridge across Cow creek in front of his house. Trained upon this he had planted a howitzer in his front porch, and when the bridge was crowded with savages he opened fire; killing many, wounding others, and putting the balance to flight. They incontinently raised the seige, and since that time have a very high respect for 'Buffalo Bill.'" [48]

Charles Christy, in purported "Memoirs" (published 1908-1909) claimed that he, "Hurricane Bill," and "Bronco Sam" were Mathewson's companions in the fight at Cow creek. (But Christy gave the year as 1860, and place as "Little Cow" creek.) Although he could not have been in Kansas in 1864 (see Endnote 49) his description is so convincing -- with allowance for a little exaggeration -- it would seem he must have heard the story from one of the participants. Most of Christy's narrative is reprinted here:

We loaded the six-pounder with about a quart of minie-balls, scraps of iron and things, and trained it on the bridge. The bridge ["eight feet wide and thirty feet long"] was the only approach to the post, and over it we knew the Kiowas must cross if they came. Bill [Mathewson] then stationed himself beside the cannon and the rest of us took up positions with our carbines behind the adobe walls of the out-buildings and waited.

The next morning [i.e., on July 22-the third day of the siege at the ranch] we were rewarded by seeing the Kiowas coming in full force, clad in war-paint and feathers and fully armed. They made no pretense of taking us by surprise but came riding along at a steady trot, yelling their war-cries and shaking their lances in the air. We kept out of sight and made no reply to their yells. In a few minutes they came streaming over the bridge in a long close line, making such beautiful targets of themselves, . . .

The firing of the cannon was the first intimation they had that we were ready for them and the Indians were thrown into instant confusion. ... horses and riders fell together and were piled on the bridge in a struggling mass. The cannon's discharge was followed by a volley from our carbines that brought down several more; and then we came out from behind the adobe walls and made a break toward the Indians, yelling and firing as we ran.

The surprise was complete. It needed no more to put the enemy on the run. ... the survivors turned and fled back across the bridge as fast as their horses could carry them, and scattered to the shelter of the hills; and those who had fallen from the bridge into the water were forced to swim or drown.

In the meantime we kept them on the run by firing at them as fast as we could; and when we quit making 'good' Indians and the last live one had disappeared, our carbines were red hot. It was the most one-sided fight I ever saw. That single discharge from the six-pounder mush have killed about twenty Indians, with their horses, and wounded as many more; and I am sure we killed about ten others with our carbines. The bridge and the bands of the creek were strewn with dead. ... (Christy's story also says that later in the day, three or four Indians came with white flags, and were given permission to carry away their dead and wounded.) [49]

In some fashion Philip H. Green, William H. Martin, and Robert H. Martin fit into the story of events at Cow Creek Crossing in the July 20-22, 1864, period. It is pure conjecture, but a plausible explanation, that they were William Mathewson's companions during the siege at Cow Creek ranch. Philip H. Green filed a claim (in 1868) against the "Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes" for property valued at $3,839, allegedly "stolen or destroyed" at "Cow Creek Ranche on the Santa Fe Road," on or about the 22d day of July, 1864. His itemized list of possessions taken included livestock (2 mules, 7 horses, 26 cows & calves, 20 oxen), and a wagon. All other items (see below) probably were in the wagon at the time of their theft and destruction (but this is an assumption). Green's supportive evidence consisted of affidavits by William H. and Robert H. Martin that they were "eye witnesses to the transaction," and an affidavit by John H. Corbyn, who stated that the Kiowas, headed by Kicking Bird, were making raids on the Santa Fe road about July 22, 1864. [50]

Speculatively, Philip H. Green, living in a habitation somewhere in the vicinity, brought his livestock and a wagonload of possessions to Cow Creek ranch in the summer of 1864 for better protection against Indian raiders. (In 1868 he said he had been a resident of Marion county for three years, but in 1864 lived in Peketon county-see p. 422.) Again speculatively, William and Robert Martin may have been William Mathewson's ranch employees. (In 1868 they lived in Morris county.) Nothing in the Indian depredation case file for P. H. Green gives any clue to the actual circumstances under which he suffered the losses claimed, or from what vantage point the Martins -- and Green, presumably -- saw the whole affair. The question arises whether he was the same Green arrested at Cow creek in 1863 (see p. 427)? Also, was Philip H. Green the same person as Horace Green (see Footnote 28) who had been Mathewson's hunting-and- trapping partner in 1856-1857? The odds seem good that the answer is yes to both cases. [51]

The 1879 sketch of William Mathewson's life devoted one sentence to the Kiowas' attempt to take Cow Creek ranch: "On July 20 the post was attacked, and after three days of incessant fighting against over five hundred of the hostiles, the Indians retired, having lost a large number of warriors." But that article also stated: "During the first day's fight the enemy drove off a large number of cattle belonging to Mexicans [the train near the ranch] and killed some of the herdsmen[?] . . ." Wagonmasters of the trains corralled above the ranch reported it this way: "They [the Kiowas and allies] ... made an attack upon a large train encamped a mile and a half below us, firing upon them, running off their stock and shooting them down on the prairie. They also took the stock belonging to the U. S. Mail Company." General Curtis later reported that the Mexican train had "raised a white flag and negotiated peaceable arrangements, but the Indians proved false, and stole some three hundred head of their stock .... " [52]

After defeating the Kiowas decisively, Mathewson became aware that the Mexican train was in danger of being captured. At a later time he gave this account to a friend:

During July of '64 a band of about 700 Indians made a raid on my ranch. We drove them away and killed a lot of them. There was a big government supply train of 135 wagons and 155 men camped out in the bottom east of the ranch on the Santa Fe trail. The Indians went after that train and came near massacreing the whole outfit. In that train were about twenty wagons loaded with Sharpe [Sharps] rifles and a lot of ammunition. I knew it, but the men with the train didn't. You see, being the owner of one of the regular posts along the trail, I was kept posted as to what was being taken over the road to the West.

Those Indians had just about scared the teamsters out of their wits. With their old guns they hadn't killed enough Indians to attract the buzzards. I got on my horse, and I had a fine one, and rode to the help of the wagon train. Keeping in a slough, I got within a half mile of the train before an Indian saw me. Then the shooting started. I gave the Indians close to me as good as they sent, but I thought that my hair would be lifted any minute. I got through and armed the men with the Sharpe rifles, and we scattered those Indians like sheep .... 

Another account, published in 1888 (writer unknown), says of Mathewson: "Taking his Sharp's rifle and six revolvers in his belt, and mounted on his celebrated mare, Bess, he picked his way through the tall grass and down a ravine until within 200 yards of the corral. The Indians ... failed to observe him until he had passed with almost the speed of lightning through their lines, and in a moment reached the corral. His thoroughbred mare ... with one Herculean leap sprang within the corral. He threw himself from the back of his noble steed and called for an ax splitting open the boxes and handing out rifles and ammunition to the men .... " [53]

The four small trains (fewer than 100 wagons; about 104? Men) in corral some distance above Cow Creek Crossing also were under siege from July 20 onward. The letter (appeal for help) which the wagonmasters -- L. C. Palmer, G. W. Harrison, William Delong, and G. W. Marion -- addressed to Council Grove (over 100 miles distant) on July 21, stated: "We have been here three days, surrounded by a formidable and hostile foe. ... They [the Kiowas, and allies] made their appearance at this place yesterday attacking us from all sides. We rallied our forces, and drove them back with the loss of one man. ... We are suffering extremely for water for our stock and men, and if we do not receive assistance shortly, we shall have to give up our trains." (A Mexican herder, trying to retrieve a mule, was killed on July 20. On the 21st, Elisha "Sale" Whittaker, of Ogden, was killed and scalped while trying to get water at a spring. A third man died later, at Fort Larned's hospital, from the effects of prolonged exposure to the sun while evading Indians during an attempt to reach a spring.) [54]

The trainsmen's message reached Council Grove on the evening of July 23. Some hours later a second courier arrived. On the 24th Cpt. James H. Dodge (at Council Grove) sent word to Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis of plans (not carried out) to "start this morning for Cow creek .... " "The trains are valuable," Dodge stated, "mostly ordnance stores for Fort Union, which are being used for the defense of the trains .... " He also informed Curtis: "They have been fighting five days. Indians reported in large force, and well armed[?]. Men from trains threaten to desert unless relief comes soon." (L. C. Palmer reportedly said later that they "had more trouble with their own men than with the Indians-that one half of them were Missouri rebels, and that they had to put a double guard out.")

Sharps rifles (with a longer range than the Indians' bows) and ammunition, in quantity, were available from the start to the men in this corral. They kept the enemy at a distance. As to casualties among the Indians, those who fell were carried off, and the trainsmen never knew whether any were killed. After "seven long days" in corral (and six days of fighting) the siege at, and near, Cow Creek Crossing ended-on July 25. The Kiowas and their allies broke off the fight, "set fire to the prairie, and [when this plan to capture the trains failed] moved off under cover of the smoke."

Three days later (July 28), coming by way of Salina and Smoky Hill Crossing, Gen. Samuel R. Curtis with 396 men (militia and volunteer troops) and two pieces of artillery arrived at Fort Zarah (recently Camp Dunlap), near the mouth of Walnut creek-23 miles west of Cow Creek Crossing. Curtis reported (to Halleck, in Washington): "The Indians have scattered. The 400[?] wagons which were besieged at Cow Creek are with me all safe, except the loss of 2 men and some 300 head of stock belonging to Mexican teamsters." [55]

One month after the "exciting times" of July, William Mathewson (34) married Elizabeth Inman (22), native of Yorkshire, England, daughter of Joseph and Charlotte Crossley Inman, of St. Joseph, Mo. She had lived in Kansas since 1860, according to a later-day statement. The marriage date was August 26, 1864. It is said that Mathewson did not bring his bride to Cow Creek ranch until she had become expert with rifle and revolver. (By all accounts she was a courageous woman.) For part of September he was away from the ranch, serving as guide for Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt's expedition against the Plains Indians. But the assumption is that the Mathewsons were at Cow creek during the winter of 1864-1865. [56]

In early April, 1865, Bvt. Brig. Gen. James H. Ford was at Fort Riley completing preparations for an expedition against the war-minded Kiowas and their allies. At the same time Jesse H. Leavenworth (agent since May, 1864, for the Kiowas, Comanches, and Plains Apaches) was about to start south on a peace mission, renewing efforts begun late in 1864, following the Chivington massacre, to separate the Comanches and Little Raven's band of Araphoes from the hostile Kiowas. After conferring with Ford, on April 9 at Fort Riles, the agent made a hasty trip to Washington. There, in company with Senator Doolittle, he saw General Halleck who assured them the military would not fight friendly Indians. Leavenworth then returned to Kansas. Fort Larned had been agency headquarters for him in 1864, but his base of operations in 1865 was Cow Creek ranch. (It was at the mouth of Cow creek that he hoped to meet the peace-minded Plains Indians.) [57]

Six miles west of Cow Creek Crossing, on April 23, unidentified Indians killed and scalped four Mexican herdsmen of Kitchen's train. On April 24, Indians, unseen, came and stealthily stole stock from the Cow Creek ranch. Bvt. Brig. Gen. James H. Ford reacted by ordering 1st Lt. Marshall M. Ehle and 40 men of the Third Wisconsin cavalry at Fort Zarah to establish a station at Cow creek. They arrived on the 25th. (Ford also sent troops to Little Arkansas Crossing.) Agent Leavenworth, who returned to Cow Creek on the evening of April 25, wrote next day:

On my arrival I found that the Indians had made a raid on this place and driven off (16) sixteen head of mules and one pony. They did it in the night and when the men were up and passing about the buildings as usual. From the footprints (moccasins) it is believed to be a party from the north. Lt. Ehle saw a number of pony tracks in the Plum Buttes, passing south. This and the number of Indians seen at different points leads me to believe that quite a party of Cheyennes and Sioux are about us, and need great care and caution to prevent further mischief. ... The stage company lost eleven mules; I lost four; and the ranch one mule and pony. [58]

In his letter of May 6, 1865, to Comm'r of Indian Affairs Dole, from "Cow Creek Ranch, Kansas, 60 miles east of Fort Larned," Leavenworth recounted his "diligent' efforts to get the Indians together. "Now," he wrote, "I am obliged to send them word not to come .... " (He had just been informed that Ford had orders to proceed on his expedition against the Indians.) He also stated: "I have nearly the half of the goods for the Indians of the Upper Arkansas of last year here for distribution. The balance is at Leavenworth City. The goods are not safe here; there is no storage at Fort Larned or Fort Zarah." [59]

From "Cow Creek Ranch, 115 miles west of Council Grove," Leavenworth wrote to Dole, again, on May 10: "I would ... inform the department that the commanding officer of this district has, at my request, placed a company of mounted men at this place [Cpt. Elisha Hammer's Company G, Seventh Iowa cavalry relieved the Wisconsin troops, in the early part of May], and that I have got storage room sufficient for all the goods I have here, and that I believe them now to be as safe as at any point this side of the Missouri river." [60]

On May 30, at Fort Zarah, Leavenworth conferred with the U. S. congressional committee on Indian affairs. (The committee, composed of "Vice President" L. S. Foster, Sen. J. R. Doolittle and Sen. L. W. Ross, accompanied by Maj. Gen. A. McDowell Cook, had started west from Fort Leavenworth on the 20th.) The agent was also at Cow Creek ranch-23 miles from Fort Zarah-on that day. A May 30 letter he wrote (after his return?) to General Ford reported the arrival at Cow creek of "My colored man, George Ransom," who "is satisfied all the tribes are near Fort Cobb holding a grand medicine lodge." Leavenworth, although in poor health, apparently left Cow Creek ranch on May 31 to make contact with the Plains tribes. (Maj. Gen. G. M. Dodge wrote General Pope on June 6 that Leavenworth "started south a week ago to bring up the chiefs to the mouth of Cow Creek.") But the agent was at the mouth of the Little Arkansas when, on June 27, he wrote that the hostile Indians had held a great council near Fort Cobb, at which a Texas officer was present who told them the whites had made peace among themselves, and advised the Indians to do the same. [61]

On the Santa Fe trail a number of incidents occurred in June. East of Cow creek, near Chaves (Jarvis) creek, on the 9th, a herder was killed by Indians, and around 90 mules were taken from one of the trains attacked; most of 75 oxen run off from another were recovered. Near Fort Larned (and over 45 miles west of Cow creek) on the 11th, two dispatch carriers were killed and mutilated. On the 12th, in a skirmish with Indians near Plum Buttes (about nine miles west of Cow creek) another Second Colorado cavalryman was lost. [62]

This same day -- June 12 -- Lt. Richard W. Jenkins and seven men of the Second Colorado, and Seventh Iowa cavalry, left Cow Creek Station as escort for the mail stage to Fort Zarah. They rode in the advance coach. The passengers were in another some distance behind. About three miles out, the leading coach was attacked by about 50 Indians. The driver of the second stage turned around and raced back to Cow creek for reinforcements. Cpt. Elisha Hammer and 55 Seventh Iowa cavalrymen reached the scene in short order. The Indians fled, heading southwest. Pursued for 20 miles by the troops, they were overtaken at the Arkansas crossing point, but the chase went on five miles beyond. One Indian had been killed in the attack on the coach; and perhaps 15 were killed or wounded at the crossing. A large number of Indian ponies were killed. Others were captured, as were also blankets, robes, and the enemy's camp with all its equipage. [63]

Pvt. William W. Colburn, Company I, Second Colorado cavalry, and his horse, were killed by lightning at Cow creek on June 15. Three companies (I, K, and M) of the 13th Missouri cavalry, assigned, briefly, to Cow Creek Station, probably arrived on or about the 16th of June. [64]

In two separate incidents, east of Cow creek, in the Little Arkansas area, on June 30, four cavalrymen (three from the 13th Missouri; one from the Second Colorado) were killed by Indians. (A day earlier, near Fort Dodge, Kiowas had killed two Mexican herdsmen, and scalped a Mexican boy.) [65]

William Mathewson's activities in the spring and summer of 1865 cannot be determined with certainty. It appears he had a role in Leavenworth's efforts to get the Plains tribes to the mouth of the Little Arkansas for peace talks, and that he spent some time in the Indian territory on this hazardous mission. The 1879 sketch of Mathewson's life says: "The Indians not coming [when overtures were made to them], Mr. Mathewson was sent, by the government [i.e., by Agent Jesse Leavenworth] to travel among the different tribes and, if possible, bring them in, which he finally accomplished." The preliminary peace agreement, which the agent had worked so many months to arrange, was signed by chiefs of the Comanches, Kiowas, Arapahoes, and Plains Apaches, on August 15, 1865, at the mouth of the Little Arkansas, and "permanent" peace treaties were made with most of the Plains Indians.) [66]

By August 23 Leavenworth was back at Cow Creek ranch, and Mathewson, too, presumably. Changes already were in the making. Bvt. Maj. Gen. John B. Sanborn (Ford's successor as head of the District of the Upper Arkansas), in an August 28 letter to General Dodge, estimated Cow Creek Station would need only one squadron of cavalry "now that we have peace with the Indians along the route." But the troops arriving at Cow creek on September 10 were infantrymen -- Cpt. W. E. Hayward and Company F, Second U. S. volunteer infantry ("galvanized Yankees" -- former Confederates). They relieved Company L, 13th Missouri cavalry. Their stay undoubtedly was brief. After September 20, some time, Cow Creek Station was abandoned. [67]

Leavenworth went East in September. He was in Washington on the 19th, but back in Kansas before the 28th. (On that date he and two other commissioners to the Indian peace treaty council set out from Leavenworth for the Little Arkansas) At Cow Creek ranch on September 21, 1865 "W. Mathewson, of Cow Creek" paid a U. S. internal revenue collector $12 in taxes for his August toll bridge receipts. On September 22 Beach Valley post office was reestablished, and Mathewson was appointed postmaster. (It had been discontinued May 9, 1864.) [68]

Agent Jesse Leavenworth, direct from the Kiowas' camp (which he had left on or about November 2), arrived "near Cow Creek Ranch" on November 9. With him were three persons just recovered from the Indians -- Mrs. Elizabeth Sprague, Alice Almeda Taylor, and a boy, James Benson. Five other captives, surrendered earlier, were on this date at the Kaw Agency in Council Grove-where Mrs. Sprague, the Taylor girl, and Benson boy no doubt joined them. [69]

When Cpt. Wilson L. Parker, 13th Missouri cavalry, who had been at Cow Creek Station in summer, wrote (from Fort Aubrey) on December 1, 1865, to "Friend William" Mathewson, he sent "best wishes and kindest regards for your self and family" -- implying that were more than just two persons in the rancher's household. Apparently since the middle of the year, if not earlier, "Lizzie" Mathewson's teen-age niece Alice Inman, and Alice's mother, had been members of the Mathewson household. Letters of January 5, 1866, from Fort Zarah (by Robert S. West), and of January 29, 1866, from Fort Lyon (by W. S. Barnett), Written to Alice Inman, are the earliest items of evidence that she was at Cow creek. [70]

Aboard an eastbound stage which stopped at Mathewson's ranch on January 13, 1866, was William N. Byers, copublisher of the Rocky Mountain News, Denver. He wrote:

The next station from [Fort] Zarah is at Cow creek; kept by Wm. Matteson [sic]; or, as he is best know, 'Buffalo Bill.' He is the most celebrated buffalo hunter in the west; estimates the number he has killed at 12,000, and has slain one third that number in a single winter. Of course he was giving the chase his individual attention by that them. ... He keeps a store, a stock ranch, general trading post, and is rapidly getting rich. Here Col. Leavenworth at present makes his headquarters. He is trading with the Indians, and report says, is vastly more interested in the traffic of buffalo robes and other skins than in serving Uncle Sam and the people as Indian Agent. [71]

Aged 17 years and seven days, Alice Inman died, tragically, on February 6, 1866, at Cow Creek ranch. It is said that she was suffering from "lung fever," and instead of the intended dosage of quinine was given another alkaloid (strychnine?) which caused severe convulsions. Robert S. West, who was present, next day wrote to William Mathewson at Fort Zarah: ". . . she departed this life about forty minutes after you had left. She suffered dreadfully. Her mother and Lizzie were almost inconsolable. I should have liked very much if you had been here. I sent to Fort Zarah and two of my men came down and we made a coffin. She was buried today at nine o'clock . . ." [72]

By February, 1866, William Mathewson was spending most of his time at Fort Zarah. The 1879 biographical sketch says he was there at the request of the Indians, but the circumstances are not clear. It appears he occupied quarters with Fort Zarah's postmaster, Reuben Howard (and perhaps handled Beach Valley postal matters from that office). His trading activities still were connected with E. H. Durfee, of Leavenworth -- dealer in furs, hides and Indian goods." 73 Some time in the spring of 1866 he went to Leavenworth on business, and was guest of honor at a banquet which celebrated his deeds and exploits during the July, 1864, Indian troubles. (See Endnote 53.)

"Lizzie" Mathewson, in her letter of June 20, 1866, from "Cow Creek," to "Dear Will," at Fort Zarah, has provided the last available information not only of the Mathewsons' residence there, but on the ranch itself. She wrote:

The long looked for trouble has come at last. The bridge broke through yesterday, but as luck happened, there was no damage done to the conveyance of Mr. Schnavly. As he could not haul the plank to fix it, John had to make the repairs. Will, if I were you, I do not think that I would sue him for it would take more time and labor than the bridge is worth. [74]

On June 22 Beach Valley post office was discontinued-permanently, this time. However, William Mathewson was appointed postmaster at Fort Zarah, succeeding Reuben Howard, on September 3, 1866. (The date of his commission was December 24.) [75]

The story of Cow Creek ranch from June, 1866, to June, 1872, cannot be written. No one recorded what happened during those years to the place described (in 1859) as "three houses [and] ... a good corral"; and (in retrospect) as "three or four little lumber shanties built in a row on the east side of Cow creek." In 1876, when Rice county was only a few years old, John M. Muscott wrote in his "The History of Rice County," that "The first Methodist Episcopal church was organized in the township of Spencer (now Raymond,) [but today in Center township] at a point where the Santa Fe trail crosses the Big Cow and on the spot where 'Buffalo Bill' had his ranch. It was formed June 1st, 1872, by Rev. M. J. Morse." [76]

On the Cow Creek ranch site one artifact remains -- the well. It has been described as "about 40 feet deep and walled almost from top to bottom with sandstone slabs which could not have been procured closer than 15 miles away." [77] Very likely it was constructed late in 1858 when the Beaches started their ranch. For many years it has been known as "Buffalo Bill's well." The Lyons Daily News of April 12, 1961, reported "Buffalo Bill's Well now has its curb, has been cleaned out and will soon receive a wooden superstructure which has been built for it. Then the old well ... will become a small park .... " The restoration was the result of efforts by the Lyons Kiwanis club and the Rice County Historical Society.


LOUISE BARRY is a member of the staff of the Kansas Historical Society. She is author of many articles on Kansas and Western history and of the recently published The Beginning of the West (Topeka, Kansas Historical Society, 1972).

1. Eighteenth Biennial Report, Kansas Historical Society, p. 119. The site is within the SE1/4 of Sec. 2, T. 20, R. 9-west of Lyons. See map in Kansas Historical Quarterly (KHQ), v. 38, facing p. 288.
2. See "The Ranch at Walnut Creek Crossing," The Kansas News, v. 37, pp. 121-147.
3. See "The Ranch at Little Arkansas Crossing," in The Kansas News, v. 38, pp. 287-294.
4. From the sources available it appears that Asahel Beach (aged 49, and well-to-do) arrived in Leavenworth in 1855, and made it his headquarters. One of his interests, in 1857-1858, was a proposed town -- Kansas Center, described as on the E1/2 of Sec. 1, T. 17 S., R. 12 E., in Breckenridge (now Lyon) county. Abijah I. Beach (aged 19 in 1855; and then in medical school, in Ohio) perhaps did not come to Kansas until 1857. The Leavenworth Weekly Herald of September 8, 1859, stated: "Some two years ago, Dr. A. J. [A. I.] Beach, a son of Mr. A. Beach, and a gentleman of education and refinement, visited, with some companions, the region of the Little Arkansas, on a buffalo hunt. He was so much pleased with the country that, with two of his companions [one being John H. Burr], he located and has remained there ever since. Since being joined by his father they have been engaged in trade with the Indians, selling corn to the Santa Fe teams, traders and government troops, and in the curing of buffalo meat .... "
5. The Kansas News, Emporia, December 4, 1858. William Parsons, westbound with the "Lawrence party" of gold-seekers, camped on Cow creek, on June 8, 1858. He wrote: "Here we remained four days on account of bad weather." "It rained during the four days continually the creeks were filled to their very banks .... We were compelled to move our camp three times to save being drowned out .... June 12. Crossed Cow Creek, which being swollen by rain, detained us all the forenoon." -- Lawrence Republican, October 28, 1858.
6. "John H. Burr, of the firm of Beach & Son, Beach Valley, K. T." was mentioned in The Kansas News, Council Grove, November 28, 1859.
7. The Kansas News, Emporia, January 1, 1859; Asahel Beach's statement of August 22, 1859 (in Misc. Kinton, KHi ms. division); A. I. Beach's November 1, 1860, letter (in "S. N. Wood collection,' KHi ms. division). Wah-ti-an-gah was a son of Chief Speckled Eye. It is said he was a "cunning and tricky fellow," much addicted to drinking. -- Kansas Historical Collections (KHC), v. 10, p. 355. A. I. Beach's November , 1860, letter stated that W. D. Wheeler (of Little Arkansas ranch) "can testify to the Indians having the cattle as he bought two of them. M. Hutchinson, C. Ward and W. Hutchi[n]son & Joseph Manning can also give information." J. H. Burr filed a claim against the Kansa for "Ponies, horses, &c." in the amount of $2,647.36. -- See 49th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No. 125 (Ser. 2399), p. 12 (Claim No. 151).
8. Robert W. Baughman, Kansas Post Offices ... (Topeka, c1961), pp. 9, 221. Beach's letter is in Governor Medary's correspondence, KHi archives division.
9. The Kansas Tribune, Topeka, June 2, 1859, or, L. R. Hafen, editor, Overland Routes to the Gold Fields, 1859 (Glendale, Cal., 1942), p. 319 (for "Johon"). William Salisbury (gold-seeker), arriving at Beach Valley early on the morning of May 19,1859, noted ". . . there is good feed," and also recorded in his diary: "Was an Indian acidentely [sic] shot before we came here." -- KHQ, v. 22, p. 328.
10. Hafen, Overland Routes, p. 39.
11. Leavenworth Weekly Herald, June 11, 1859. The Herald of June 4, 1859, carried a briefer account of "Beach's Ranche."
12. Theodore Weichselbaum, of Ogden, later wrote: "The Cow Creek ranch ... consisted of three or four little lumber shanties built in a row on the east side of Cow creek. There were other trading ranches at the crossing of the Little Arkansas [established 1858] and the Walnut [established 1855] on the trail, mostly built of lumber which had to be hauled out. Timber was scarce .... " -- KHQ, v. 11, p. 570.
13. The article concluded with a pitch for Leavenworth: "From Beach's ranch to Leavenworth it is much nearer than to Kansas City. Leave the Santa Fe road at Wilmington and pass to Brownsville [Auburn] and Topeka, or leave the Santa Fe road at 110 [creek] and come by way of Lawrence. The road this way will be found much nearer and better." -- Leavenworth Weekly Herald, June 11, 1859.
14. KHQ, v. 1, p. 199.
15. Leavenworth, Weekly Herald, August 27, 1859.
16. KHQ, v. 36, pp. 30, 31, v. 37, pp. 131, 132.
17. Ibid., v. 37, pp. 132, 133.
18. Leavenworth Weekly Herald, October 22, 1859.
19. A. I. Beach's April 22, 1860, letter, in "S. N. Wood Collection," KHi ms. division: Private Laws of Kansas Territory, 1859, pp. 18, 19.
20. KHQ, v. 36, p. 34; Leavenworth Weekly Herald, November 12, 1859; The Kansas Press, Council Grove, October 10, November 7, 1859. Cahill, Santa Fe-bound, was killed on October 15, some 10 miles east of Upper Cimarron Springs, while attempting, at Col. Thomas T. Fauntleroy's request, to arrange a "talk" between the Kiowas and the colonel.
21. Leavenworth Weekly Herald, December 10, 1859.
22. By act of January 31, 1859, Asahel Beach, Samuel K Huson [?], Reuben W,. Eddy, and James C. Horton were granted a charter to "construct and erect a bridge across Cow Creek, where the Santa Fe road ... crosses the same, near Beach's Trading Post." It was to be completed within a year-Private Laws of Kansas Territory, 1859, pp. 18, 19; ibid., 1860, p. 426 (for the one-year extension); The Kansas Press, Council Grove, March 12, 1860. The Beaches' bridge had wooden piers, according to later-day recollections. See Lyons Daily News, June 9, 1969, or "Rice County Clippings," v. 3, pp. 71, 72, in KHi library.
23. The Kansas State Record, Topeka, February 18, March 3, 1860; The Kansas Press, Council Grove, February 20, 1860. The Press gave this biographical notice: "Mr. Beach was born in Wallingford Ct., in 1806, and came to Ohio in 1818, with his father who was then employed in surveying in Northern Ohio. He was engaged in mercantile pursuits in New York, Canada and Ohio successively. He then went to Louisiana, where he resided for several years; after which he returned to New York City and embarked for California, via Cape Horn, stopping at many of the ports in South America, and the Sandwich Islands. He came to Kansas in 1855, where he has been engaged in business. . ., and was well known to the travel upon the Santa Fe Road, as one of the proprietors of Beachs' Ranche." The Leavenworth Weekly Herald of August 27, 1859, had stated "Mr. Beach is a [half] brother of the well-known Moses Y. Beach of the New York Sun."
24. Private Laws of Kansas Territory, 1860, pp. 74, 75, and 78. In a January 15, 1878, letter S. N. Wood stated that the Beaches had written Governor Medary "asking to have the County formed, they suggested the name Peketon, and Beach Valley as the County Seat. ... I presume Peketon was some Indian Chief .... " (Letter in secretary of state's correspondence, in KHi archives division.) The origin of "Peketon" remains unknown.
25. Beach's April 22 and May 6, 1860, letters on the bridge matter are in the "S. N. Wood Collection: (KHi ms. division). The Council Grove Press of September 1, 1860, listed persons registering at the town's hotel for the week of August 30. Among the names were William Edwards, John Edwards, and Edward Edwards, all of Cow Creek.
26. The Daily Times, Leavenworth, May 18, 1860. Beach, on May 6, 1860, had written S. N. Wood about the "murder committed here on the night of the 4th inst by two Mexicans. The man who was killed was assistant Wagon master of Doll & Taylors-he was found on the following morning lying near Beach's ranche with four knife wounds in the breast & one in the temple .... " -- "S. N. Wood Collection."
28. "M. Watterman, Cow Creek," listed in the Council Grove Press of August 25, 1860, as one of the "Arrivals at the Gilkey House" for the week ending August 23, probably was another of the buffalo-hunters employed by the Beaches.
29. William Mathewson's name is found in few records of the 1850's and 1860's. In 1879, when he was 49, a lengthy sketch of his life was published in the United States Biographical Dictionary, Kansas Volume (Chicago and Kansas City, 1879), pp. 192-195. Insofar as statements made therein can be checked, it has proved to be the best (most accurate) source of information on Mathewson. This account says he left his New York state home when he was 18. (He was born in 1830, according to most accounts. But the monument at his grave in Wichita reads: "Col. Wm. Mathewson the original Buffalo Bill Jan. 1, 1829 Mar. 21, 1916 Last of the Great Scouts.") For some years he was a "Northwestern Fur Company" employee; then he joined (in 1852) a party of hunters "among whom were Kit Carson, Charlie and John Atterby, Jim Baker and others"; and "in the summer" (of 1853?) he "parted company," and took employment with Bent and St. Vrain "to trade with the Sioux, Cheyennes, Arrapahoes, Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches." He then "traveled three years trading with these tribes." In the fall of 1856, he and Horace Green "employed men and until the following spring trapped along the head-waters of the Arkansas and Republican rivers." In the spring of 1857 they "returned to Independence, Mo., disposed of their pelts and returned to Kansas." In the summer of 1856 [1858], in partnership[?] with Asa Beach, he established a post on ... Cow creek, which they made headquarters till 1861. He then traveled among the different tribes on trading expeditions .... " The reference to Kit Carson relates to the Carson-headed trapping party (18 men, including Lucien Maxwell) of 1852, which Carson described in his Memoirs, reprinted in Harvey L. Carter's 'Dear Old Kit', ... (Norman, Okla. [c1968])-see p. 132. The sketch of Mathewson's life in Portrait and Biographical Album of Sedgwick County, Kan. (1888), p. 171, says "the two Maxwells, James and John Baker, Charles and John Atterby [Autobees] ..." were in the Carson hunting party.
30. Mrs. Sallie F. Toler's "The Real Buffalo Bill," in the Great Divide, Denver, v. 10 (November, 1893), pp. 48, 49, or "Kansas Scrap-Book," M, v. 10 (in KHi library). There are other accounts, more detailed, of Mathewson's assistance to hungry families on the Santa Fe trail. His recollection, at age 77, that he was located at the Big Bend of the Arkansas when he gained the title "Buffalo Bill" was inaccurate. -- See Wichita Eagle, June 2, 1907, or "Kansas Scrap-Book," M. v. 12; and 42d Cong., 2d Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No 95 (Serial 1511), p. 12.
31. Peketon county election returns, November 6, 1860 (in KHi archives division). In Baughman, Kansas Post Offices, p. 202, Big Turkey's first postmaster should be listed as Harvey (not Harry) L. Bickford. "Hubbell" is mentioned in the Council Grove Press of June 1, 1861, as follows: "Mr. Wm. Wheeler, Dr. A. I. Beach, and Hubbell and Bickford, have Ranches [all the way out to Little Arkansas and Cow creek] ..." Frank Stahl recollected the Big Turkey ranch was run by "Harvey Bickford and Lester Buttles (i.e., Hubble[s]?). See Horace Jones, Up From the Sod (Lyons, c1968), p. 41. For Rath, see KHQ, v. 37, p. 140. "G. M. Gordon, with 3 men, Pawnee Fork," was "Registered at S. M. Hays & Co.," Council Grove, for the week ending August 23, 1860. -- See Council Grove Press, August 25, 1860.
32. Beach's letters are in the "S. N. Wood Collection"; Council Grove Press, June 22, 1861, for bridge removal item.
33. United States Biographical Dictionary, Kansas Volume (1879), p. 193. The name in all other entries is "Sinpah Zilbah." Ibid., p. 195, says that Mathewson was 6'1/2" in height; and that he was noted for his "great strength and wonderful power of endurance."
34. The Kansas state census, 1865, listed as Council Grove residents A. I. Beach (29), Rachel P. Beach (29), and their Kansas-born children William M. (3) and Millie E. (2). Soon after S. N. Wood resumed publication of the Council Grove Press in the spring of 1863, the advertisement, of A. I. Beach M.D., "permanently located at Council Grove," was to be found in its columns. From January 14, 1864, till July 17, 1865, Abijah I. Beach was assistant surgeon in the Ninth Kansas cavalry. He returned to Council Grove after the war ended.
35. For Stanton see data collected for R. W. Baughman's Kansas Post Offices (typed notes-in KHi). For Odell see Council Grove Press, May 4, 1863.
36. The Sedgwick county history sketch in A. T. Andreas-W. G. Cutler, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago, 1883), p. 1385, states that Charles Whittaker (the same?) took a claim on the Little Arkansas, about eight miles above its mouth, in 1866. For "Green" (the same?) see p. 434 this article.
37. KHQ, v. 37, table of distances between pp. 136, 137. In the "George H. Browne Collection" (in KHi ms. division) is a letter dated February 6, 1863, from Mathewson's when last heard from, was "near Beach Valley, Kansas." See 42d Cong., 2d Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No. 95 (Serial 1511), p. 12, for Mathewson's statement on the Great Bend ranch.
38. Baughman post office data notes.
39. For more details see KHQ, v. 37, pp. 143, 144. T. R. Curtis and Frank Cole put in a claim against the Cheyennes for $3,555. -- See 42d Cong., 2d Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No. 95 (Serial 1511), and 43d cong., 2d Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No. 65 (Serial 1645). Rath and Dodds went to Fort Larned for protection. After Camp Dunlap (Fort Zarah) was established, at Walnut creek in June, Rath returned to his trading post. -- KHQ, v. 37, pp. 144, 145.
40. War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 34, pt. 4, pp. 402-404.
41. Ibid., pp. 575, 595, 596.
42. Council Grove Press, July 2, 1864; War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 34, pt. 4, pp. 318, 319.
43. Leavenworth Daily Times, June 29, 2864 (reprinted from Junction City Union of June 25).
44. Council Grove Press, July 9, 1864; Smoky Hill and Republican Union, Junction City, July 9, 1864.
45. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 27, 30, 1864; Leavenworth Daily Times, July 30, 1864.
46. Kansas City (Mo.) Daily Journal of Commerce, July 29, 1864; 42d Cong., 3d Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No. 62 (Ser. 1565).
47. War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 41, pt. 2, pp. 484, 485; Kansas Daily Tribune, Lawrence, July 27, 1864; 49th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No. 125 (Serial 2399), p. 22.
48. Daily Rocky Mountain News, Denver, January 29, 1866. William N. Byers was copublisher of this newspaper. Note that Byers used Mathewson's nickname "Buffalo Bill." The 1879 biographical sketch of Mathewson's life -- see Footnote 29 -- says "four whites" were at the ranch with him in July, 1864. General Curtis referred to the artillery piece as a "two-pounder." -- Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 4, 1864.
49. The Trail, Denver, v. 1, no. 8 (January, 1909), pp. 13-19, for Christy's account of the fight. In v. 1, no. 1 (June, 1908), Charles Christy wrote that he enlisted in the Third Illinois volunteer cavalry, The Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Revised (Springfield, Ill., 1900), v. 7, pp. 568 and 582, shows that Charles Christy, Quincy, Ill., served in the Third Illinois cavalry from January 27, 1864, to July 31, 1865.
50. Green's other listed items were: blacksmith and carpenter tools, 1 large plow, 1 set of buggy harness, 1 saddle and bridle, provisions (335 bars of soap, 9-1/2 boxes sardines, 24 cans each of oysters, peaches, and strawberries, 12 cans of pineapple), and household goods (11 feather beads, 12 bed comforts, 2 blankets, 10 bed quilts, 6 pillow, 9 buffalo robes 1 large iron kettle, 2 trunks, 1 silver watch, 3 bake kettles, 3 brass kettles, 1 table, 1 settee, 1 library-valued at $20, 2 large stone jars, 4 tin pans, 2 pails, 6 butcher knives, 1 set knives and forks, 1 1/2 dozen spoons, 1 set cupboard ware). Microfilm of the P. H. Green Indian depredation case file (from Record Group 123, Records of the Court of Claims, in the National Archives), is in KHi.
51. Marion county pioneer Alex Case, in the Marion Record of July 26, 1923, wrote: "When I came to the county in 1866 the following named families lived in an area of ten miles north of Marion to five miles south: ... Chris, Rath ... Eli P. Waterman ... A. A. Moore, Ira E. Moore ... P. H. Green .... " (All these names aside from Green connect with Santa Fe trail ranches.) In 1871 pioneers arriving in Rice county found "Mr. Green, a stock man" (same person?) living in a dugout near the banks of Cow Creek, just north of the old Santa Fe trail. -- See ch. 11 of John M. Muscott's "The History of Rice County," in "Rice County Clippings," v. 1, in KHi library. As for the Martins, "William Martin [of] Cow Creek" was aboard the Santa Fe stage which arrived in Kansas City, Mo. on May 25. -- See Kansas City (Mo.) Daily Journal of Commerce, May 25, 1864. Evidently he returned to the ranch before mid-July.
52. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 4, 1864; Smoky Hill and Republican Union, Junction City, August 6, 1864; Kansas Daily Tribune, Lawrence, July 27, 1864. If any deaths occurred among herdsmen of this train they were not reported to General Curtis.
53. O. H. Bentley, ed., History of Wichita and Sedgwick County Kansas ... (Chicago, 1910), v. 2, p. 551; Portrait and Biographical Album of Sedgwick County Kansas (Chicago, 1888), p. 172. When Mathewson went to Leavenworth in the spring of 1866, on business, a banquet was given in his honor, and he was presented with a pair of "navy, Colt, .36 Calibre percussion six-shooters ... together with case and accessories . . ." (quoted from a document of August 9, 1933, date, in the "George H. Browne Collection," in KHi ms. division). A story in the Wichita Eagle of May 4, 1913, described the guns as having "handles of solid ivory on which are carved the goddess of liberty and the national emblem. The mountings are of silver and the carvings are inlaid with gold." The banquet, and the gift were in recognition of his rescue of the wagon train in July, 1864. The above-quoted affidavit says the guns were presented to Mathewson by the Overland Stage Company. However, the Sedgwick county Album (cited above) says the "very handsome pair of revolvers ..." was presented by Peck, Durfee & Co., Leavenworth (dealers in furs and hides). The 1879 sketch (p. 194) says the revolvers were "from E. H. Durfee and others .... " No account of the banquet has been found in the Leavenworth newspapers in the spring, 1866, issues.
54. In a July 28 letter, General Curtis mentioned the names of several men in these trains: "Mr. Palmer, of Junction City; P[atrick] O'Mal[l]ey, G. W. Manning, William Still [all of Ogden], Mr. Harrison, Mr. Delong, James Wood [of Odgen -- a great-uncle of the author of this article], Mr. Scharp, Mr. Moore, of St. George, Mr. Howser and Mr. Jones." -- Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 4, 1864. Three survivors of the Cow creek fight who attended a reunion in July, 1914, were John R. Kerr, Independence, Mo. (aged 80), I. W. Gray, Urich, Mo. (aged 70), and T. W. Carmichael, Odessa, Mo. (aged 67). Seven others, who had planned to attend, but did not, were George W. Harrison, Warrensburg, Mo., M. C. Ryland, Kansas City, Mo., F. a Galloway, Odessa, Mo., Horace Cox, Lee's Summit, Mo., William Cox, Creighton, Mo., William Still, and James Wood. -- Lyons Daily News, July 21, 1914. "Crenshaw" and Wheeler" were also among the besieged men. -- Kansas City (Mo.) Daily Journal of Commerce, July 21, 1864. William Crammer was seriously wounded at Cow creek in 1864 by an arrow. -- Emporia News, August 20, 1864.
55. Fewer than 250 wagons, from best information, were in the Cow creek fight. Trains which had corralled at Little Arkansas Crossing also had moved forward after the siege was lifted. General Curtis wrote: "They [the trains] deserve great credit for holding out as they did, as well as the ranch-man who resides at Cow Creek [Mathewson], and defended his ranch manfully with a two-pounder. -- Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 4, 1864. For the Cow creek siege, see: War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 41, pt. 2, pp. 368, 378, 379, 428, 484, 485; Kansas Daily Tribune, Lawrence, July 27, August 7, 1864; Leavenworth Commerce, July 28, 1864; Smoky Hill and Republican Union, Junction City, August 6, 1864; Lyons Daily News, July 21, 1914, and August 17, 1946; Lyons Republican, July 17, 21, 1914; 42d Cong., 2d Sess., H. Ex. Doc. No. 95 (Serial 1511) p. 12 (statement by Mathewson).
56. United States Biographical Dictionary, Kansas Volume; Portrait and Biographical Album of Sedgwick County Kansas; Wichita Daily Beacon, October 3, 1885. An Indian name given Mrs. Mathewson, later was "Marwissa (Golden-hair)."
57. War of the Rebellion, Ser. I. v. 48, pt. 2, pp. 54, 59, 91, 796; Comm'r of Indian affairs, Report, 1865, pp. 388, 389; KHQ, v. 30, pp. 131, 149.
58. War of the Rebellion, Ser. I. v. 48, pt. 1, pp. 200, 201, pt. 2, pp. 217, 345, 307, 664, 688; Junction City Union, May 20, 1865.
59. Comm'r of Indian affairs, Report, 1865, pp. 388-390; War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 48, pt. 2, p. 664. Ford left Fort Larned May 5 with about 500 men, four howitzers, and 20 days' rations, heading south towards the Salt Plains; and returned on May 22. "He saw no Indians, but they seen him," the Junction City Union of May 27, 1865, reported. "He had twenty or twenty-five mules stampeded on night." The expedition encountered flooded streams. -- Mrs. Ella Williams, Three Years and a Half in the Army ... (New York, c1885), p. 145.

60. Comm'r of Indian affairs, Report, 1865, p. 390; War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 48, pt. 1, p. 314, pt. 2, p. 307. The Wisconsin "cavalry" company evidently was unmounted.
61. War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 48, pt. 2, pp. 687, 688, 707, 708, 796, 797, 1044; Comm'r of Indian affairs, Report, 1865, pp. 391-393. When the congressional committee arrived at Fort Larned May 31, General Cook, acting for General Pope, suspended Ford's planned second expedition against the Indians. The committee shared Leavenworth's opinion that a peace agreement could be made with the Plains tribes, and that they could be kept south of the Arkansas and away from the Santa Fe trail.
62. War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 48, pt. 1 pp. 308, 312, 313, 315, 316; Kansas City (Mo.) Daily Journal of Commerce, June 20, 1865; Williams, Three Years and a Half in the Army, p. 148. There was an attack on new Fort Dodge on June 12, also. -- W R, Ser. I, v. 48, p. 1, p. 312.
63. Williams, Three Years and a Half in the Army, pp. 146, 148, 149; War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 48, pt. 1, p. 313. There was an attack on new Fort Dodge on June 12, also.
64. Williams, Three Years and a Half in the Army, p. 148; Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending Dec. 31, 1865 (Jefferson City, Mo., 1866), p. 386; War of the Rebellion, Ser.
65. Ibid., pp. 1038, 1039, 1044; KHQ, v. 38 (Autumn, 1972), p. 292.
66. Frank Doster (in 1865, one of a detail of 11th Indiana cavalrymen escorting General Sanborn to the August peace council site) recalled he was impressed at the time on hearing that "one of the scouts, then present ... unaccompanied had gone far out on the prairies among the wild Indians with a message for them to come into the conference. It was thought to be a daring venture .... " Doster wrote that many years later he was told by a Kansas pioneer named George Coble that the scout was Charles Rath. -- Kansas Historical Collections, v. 15, p. 528. Quite possibly both Mathewson and Rath undertook missions for Leavenworth in 1865.
67. Comm'r of Indian affairs, Report, 1865, pp. 392, 393, War of the Rebellion, Ser. I, v. 48, pt. 2, pp. 1038, 1219: Cow Creek returns for September 10 and 20, 1865, in National Archives Microcopy 617, Roll 1505 (in KHi).
68. Comm'r of Indian affairs, Report, 1865, pp. 396, 397; KHQ, v. 1, pp. 442, 443; photostat of receipt, in "George H. Browne Collection," KHi ms. division; for Mathewson as Beach Valley postmaster, see data collected for R. W. Baughman's Kansas Post Offices (typed notes in KHi).
69. "George H. Browne Collection" has a typed copy of Leavenworth's November 9, 1865, letter; Comm'r of Indian affairs, Report, 1865, p. 534.
70. "George H. Browne Collection." Typed copy, only, of Robert S. West's letter.
71. Daily Rocky Mountain News, Denver, January 9, 1866 (from Byers' letter, dated "Burlingame, Kansas, Jan. 15, '66." W. S. Barnett, in his letter (noted above), also affirmed Mathewson's title by inquiring "... how is Buffalo Bill and Mrs. Buffalo Bill."
72. "George H. Browne Collection." Robert S. West is something of an enigma. Evidently he was a close friend, or possibly a relative, of the Mathewsons. Writing from Fort Zarah on January 5, 1866, to Alice Inman, he concluded his letter "My love to you all." Some time in 1866, from Minneapolis, Minn., West wrote "Lizzie" Mathewson: "I am very glad to hear Will is located at Zarah and hope you will do well. Try and get the sutlership for the Regt." What West was doing at Fort Zarah is puzzling. He wrote of being "in the cabin with all the boys talking, shaking the table, etc." This may have been the cabin of Reuben Howard for he noted in the same letter "Howard got home tonight .... " It seems self-evident he was not connected with the military.
73. According to George H. Browne, E. H. Durfee was licensed February 23, 1866, to trade with the Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches; and his employees were William Mathewson and Jesse Chisholm. But he supplied no documentary proof. E. H. Durfee is listed in the Leavenworth City Directory and Business Mirror for 1865-66 (Leavenworth, 1865).
74. "George H. Browne Collection." Typed copy of letter.
75. Ibid.
76. The Rice County Gazette, Sterling, May 25, 1876; or, "Rice County Clippings," v. 1, p. 41 (in KHi library).
77. Horace Jones, The Story of Early Rice County (Wichita, 1928), pp. 61, 62.