Journal of Western Travel
by John McTurk Gibson
edited by Weldon Hoppe
May 20th, 1859 -- We had a perfect hurricane last night, it blew like the devil, and rained in proportion. Consequently the roads were sloppy, otherwise sandy and good. I took my gun and started up the river, shot a goose on one of the islands about 250 yards out, it fell back into the river, drifted nearly half a mile and lodged against a sand bar, being no swimmer I was afraid to venture in and so went for some of the boys, but when we came back the goose was gone, and all we could see was the track of a wolf or some other varmint who had appropriated the goose in my absence. I hunted the island ever in quest of the plunderer, but could not discover his retreat, there were recent traces of Indians also plenty of beaver sign, both here and up the river for several miles. We are now camped at the Pawnee Village. We visited what is called their Chief's grave, round it is described a circle some 20 feet in diameter, the outer rim fringed with the skull's of horses, the noses pointing inward to the center, these horses are said to have been killed in the battle between the Pawnees and Sioux Indians in 1850. The Pawnee were the Victorious. There are about 60 horses heads in all. In retaliation the Sioux returned in greater force, and burned the village to the ground, so that all that now remains are the ruins of their wigwams, and their caches or places of deposit of grain. These are dug about 8 feet deep in the ground, narrow at the top and hollowed out underneath in the shape of a gallon jug. The trails of the Indians are yet plainly seen, traversing the bluffs in every direction.
Travelled some fifteen miles. We are in camp by the old Pawnee Village. It was destroyed by the Sues in Fifty, I believe. It has covered some ten acres. The earth is all throwed up where there huts were. They have a great many pits to get in to fire at the enemy just below the Village. They buried their Chief and around his grave is sixty poney skulls, the noses pointing inwardly, they entirely encircle the grave just above the Village. On the bluffs is their regular burying ground, several of the highest points are covered with graves. Some of the Emigrants this season have dug up some of the skeletons and there they lye to bleach.
Copyright © 1997 Weldon Hoppe