17 August 2017

Chronicles of the Central Niobrara River Valley in 1857

An ever-running river of water flowing easterly across central great plains country has been known and denoted by multiple generations familiar with its features and seasons. The rapidly running waters were personally known in many unknown ways as it has been everlasting amidst the land.

There is a minimal extent of history known about tribal legacy of decades long ago as there is a dearth of written chronicles during this era. There were prevalent populated villages representing natural cycles of moving around as associated with the seasons of every year. Indians walked or rode on hearty ponies across this land. They knew realities based upon shared or individual experiences within their tribe or band. There were years unknown of oral history among the resident tribes so many decades ago. The people present then lived amidst a country they knew so well and was a place of their life and where essentials of survival depended upon locally realized resources and knowledge of a multitude of seasons and neighbors of some interest or another. These people did not write about their lives and times in something like a book typical of latter years. Words vividly spoken or via actions individually expressed within a lodge or tepee on the evening during one or another gathering. This was the manner through which experiences were shared and perhaps remembered by another generation.

It was about 1830 when some French men associated with the American Fur Trade Company had gone westward and established a post along the river they identified as the L’Eau qui court. They had a primitive outpost near the confluence of a tributary river, the Wamdushka W. which had especially prominent falls nourished by waters flowing from a vast southerly land of sand dunes. The fur company men traded with local tribes that gathered beaver furs.

As the area became further known and designated as a territory of the U.S.A., government officials became especially active with legislation enacting legal treaties that would bring great changes upon the vast expanses of the central plains of the western frontier of an expanding nation. Military expeditions became a regular occurrence and undertaken for various purposes.

Following a government edict by legislation, in 1855 Lieutenant Gouverneur Kemble Warren - a topographic engineer of the U.S. Army and primary officer of the march - was leading the “Sioux Expedition” traversing “Dacota Country” as they went from the imposing Fort Randall on the Missouri river to Fort Kearny on the Platte river. This military officer travelled elsewhere on the northern plains during 1856.

A map of Nebraska and Dakota prepared in 1867 by Brevet Major General G.K. Warren of the U.S. Military later indicated prominent features of the region, including areas where tribes were resident, waterways and prominent landmarks as compiled from several surveys and reconnoissances done during many previous years. There was the “Niobrarah or L’Eau qui Court or Rapid River,” with the name Niobrara used by the Ponca. “Mini Tanka” or Big Water was a denoted attribution of the Dacotas. Also there was the “Wamdushka W.” or Snake river where the French traders had a fur trading post. This river was also known by the Omaha tribe as “Cici ka wabahi i te. Where they gathered turkeys. Many turkeys were found here starved to death, and the men gathered them to pluck the feathers to feather their arrows,” (27th annual report of the American Bureau of Ethnology, page 94), There was also the “Little Rapid R.” as primarily indicated.

Along the western extent of the L'Eau qui court a military map indicated the prominent tribe was the "Sichangu or Brule Dakotas" whose country extended into Dakota during this era.

A particular reconnaissance of the L Eau qui court was the 1857 Warren expedition that had started in July, originating at Omaha City on the Missouri river. The necessaries were gathered together from other places using steamboats bringing supplies along this river-based route of commerce. There were associative details taken care of at St. Louis as well as Fort Leavenworth in northeast Kansas. The assignment of the military force was to evaluate the best route for a commercial business or transport travel road from Sioux City to the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains. Details also needed to be known regarding a suitable route to the Black Hills. The character of the Loup Fork and Niobrara were to also be determined. There was $25,000 allocated by the U.S. government to pay expeditionary expenses.

Essential to the details of the expedition's route are hand-drawn maps giving details of its route to Columbus City, then westward along the Loup Fork through the interior of the Sandhills, amidst the sand dunes with various sorts of lakes to eventually reach the Niobrara river. There was more travel that occurred in the autumn as the expedition made their way eastward in close distance to the river valley. The original renditions were drawn by topographic engineers that were government employees. For nearly every portion of the Niobrara traversed, there is a cartographic sketch indicating prominent land features and places where the expedition camped.

According to detailed words written on the range, a western extent of L'Eau qui court was a point of occurrence in latter August. The expedition then went westward to Laramie, also visiting Laramie Peak during the time spent in the Wyoming territory. Upon departure to return eastward in September, one party went eastward towards the Niobrara valley country while Lieut. Warren and others went into southern Dakota territory to undertake investigations.

Details in hand-written journals kept by two notable military men depict regular activities and occurrences amidst a western frontier, as made by the nearly daily entries kept by J. Hudson Snowden, as well as additional notes by Edgar Warren.

On September 22, 1857 a portion of the expedition was prominently along the L'Eau qui Court river in northern Nebraska territory.

Snowden wrote in his hand-written journal: “Tuesday Sept 22d 6 am ther[mometer] 42o – wind NW 2 clear. Started at 7 1/2 o’clock. Kept clear to the bluffs following the road there very good over high prairie mesa. Came into the river camped in good grass & a few cottonwood trees furnished fuel, opposite the point where we first struck L Eau qui court R on our way to Laramie. Saw today two buffalo bulls some distance down the river, and four Brules who came into our camp from below & who are on their way up the river say that there are a great many buffalo travelling north toward L’eau qui court R. I might mention here that from this point to as high up as the place where the Fort Pierre road crosses the river, the bluffs on either side are of soft rock more broken and denuded as you ascent, those on the south side as a general thing are close to the stream, while on the north the hills lie farther back a high mesa or table land extending to near the stream leaving narrow bottom which is the only place you find good grass, and here it is very fine and is interrupted with many rushes of which the animals are exceedingly fond. There is no river along this portion of L Eau qui court with the exception of what is in the hills about 35 miles back from the point the drift from which in the vicinity of and below the hills furnishes scanty fuel hardly sufficient for cooking purposes.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Sept 23d 5 1/2 am ther 40o. Wind SE & clear. We started at 7 1/4 o’clock. After proceeding about three miles we came to the Indian lodge trail here the Indians who are travelling and as, wanted us to cross the river. We determined to remain on this side however the bluffs on each side of the stream being very steep & broken and the bed quicksandy. In two miles further having crossed two bad ravines we got into the sand hills, the same formation as those on Loup Fork. We wound our way through these hills for nearly thirteen miles where we camp out upon a high hard mesa. We descended into the bottom of the river and camped in good grass and sufficient wood. The lodge trail recrosses the river to the side a little above our camp. Above the mouth of a small creek putting in from the South side, which has very steep & broken bluff banks. The river along our route to day varies in width from 50 to 60 yds and runs between high steep and broken hill with very little bottom, in which cottonwood ash cherry trees grow to some extent and with many grape vines hanging in rich festoons over the branches. The cherry & grape are now ripe, but the latter are very acid. Sand hill on the north side run in close to the river while on the south is one high level plain only broken by the small creek which enters above our camp.

“The Indians who are with us say they will return tomorrow morning as there is now no danger of our horses being stolen. They say we will find the road god for four or five day and there to the Missouri it is very bad. We camped at 1 1/2 o’clock. 8 pm ther 52o – no clouds – wind SW 1. Wind west all the time we were travelling and hard. Warm during the middle of the day.”

The tributary waterway coming in from the south was Deer Creek, as it is currently designated.

Snowden: “Thursday Sept 24th. Ther 44o. Wind SW 1 clear. 6 1/2 am ther 50o – wind SW 2. Having given our Indian friends provisions enough to last them home & taking leave of them, we started at 8 o’clock. Standing Elk accompanied us a few miles before he started back. He told us he knew the country through which we were travelling, belonged to the Great Father but that the game, grass, wood etc. all was the property to the Brule Indians and if we had any powder & balls to spare he would be very thankful for it.

“In about a mile after leaving camp we came into the Indian trail. One quarter or mile more we came to a small creek to the left, up the valley of which I could see for a long distance no wood infill but grass however appears very good in the valley. The divide between the L Eau qui court and the stream here is only a few hundred yards, the tributary makes a bend & runs parallel to the river for about three miles before it enters. We crossed near the mouth where there was water running through the rushes & high grass. After ascending a steep and high hill road passed over rolling hills for about 8 1/2 miles, the rest of the way over level plain. We camped on bottom of river in good grass. Sand hills were visible all day to the north of the road. The river yesterday was inclosed between high steep banks, the ravines filled some with pine not however in sufficient quantity to be of any importance. Considerable growth of ash cottonwood ash & grape vines plum & cherry bushes flourish on the bottom, these for the last few days have been betraying the presence of the approach of autumn, the foliage partaking of all the varied tints which blended together give the bottom of the river as you look down upon it from the high bluff banks a most beautiful & rich appearance. Two lodges of Brules are camped below us on the opposite side of the River. They came into our camp in the afternoon, to sell fresh meat. They killed a buffalo. They confirm the report of the others are met; that the Buffalo were travelling north. River yesterday & to day filled with sand bars shallow & here is 50 yds wide. 2 pm ther 81o NW 2. A few cum clouds in SE.

“9 pm ther 46o clear – no wind.

“Made 9 3/4 miles."

The waterway flowing in from the northwest, and which a route map indicated was designated as Omaha creek. This waterway is now known as Rush Creek on a modern era map at its place northward north of Deer Creek in Sheridan county.

Snowden: “Friday Sept 25th

"5 am ther 42o. No clouds. Wind SE 1.
"7 am ther 50 no clouds. Wind SE 1.

“Started at 7:45 am. We made a circuit of three miles to head two ravines, thence for five miles we passed over rolling hills where we crossed another ravine with ease, and followed along the river over level mesa, crossing another raving in about three miles after which we came to a small creek with clear running water, four feet wide. Very little bottom in which the grass was pretty good. The bluffs along the L’eau qui court are similar to those mentioned yesterday & wood in the valley increased in quantity as we descend. Some pine in ravines. The grass however is not so good or in as great quantity. I saw indications of Beaver on the bottom. Back from the river the bluffs are sandy. We saw today a great many antelope. Two were killed. Before reaching camp one of the soldiers having killed an antelope one of the herders went to assist him in bringing it into camp. This mule getting restless at the train leaving our presence broke away from him and went back on the road which we came, the man followed him until dark, but being unable to catch him he returned.

“2 pm, ther 87o, wind SW 5
“9 pm, ther 72o, wind SW 4 blew hard from the south west all day.

"Made 13 8/10 miles."

Snowden: “Saturday Sept 26th.

5 am ther 39o. Wind NW 4. Cum stratus & cirrus close 3.
2 pm ther 71o cum st & cir 3 wind NE 1.
9 pm ther 43o cum str in NW & N 2. No wind.

“We remained in camp to let the man go back and hunt his mule. He found it at the Indian camp about 12 miles above where he was tied. He got everything except a Colts pistol which the Indians said was not in the holster when they found the mule. I took advantage of our delay here to examine the little creek on which we are camped. Dr. Moffett & myself rode up it about eight miles. The running water gives out in four miles. After which we found it in holes. The wood extends about three miles only a few large trees. The lower part the stream runs between high cut banks, but above a wide valley spreads out. The slopes of the hills are gradual, and the grass in the valley is very good. On the east side of the creek several cone shaped hills rise out of the high plains. Some also in the shape of pyramids, capped with white rock. The valley of the creek was filled with bands of antelope and the water holes covered with flocks of small teal ducks. From the hills the country on the south side of L’eau qui court appears level & free from sand.”

In recognition to the herds comprised of many of these animals, this place was designated as Antelope creek, a name which it continues to retain. The government map also included the name "Stinking Hand C." along with another notation that could not be deciphered.

Snowden: “Sunday 27th 1857.

"5 am ther 43 1/2o. Wind SW 1 cum stratus from N by E SE 4.
"7 am ther 45 1/2 wind and clouds same.
"9 pm ther 48o no wind. Cum str & cirrus all over the heavens. Wind all first part day from the west changed to NE in the evening.

"Started at 8 o’clock for four miles the road was very good when we came to a small creek four feet wide, 18” deep clear running water the approach to which was very steep. After crossing this the trail passed under the bluffs along the river for two miles. Crossing on this space very steep and deep ravines, and there passes up very steep hill to regain the ‘mesa.’ I could see no way to avoid this place by going around. The last seven miles the road was good somewhat sandy, hills on our left being of that formation all the latter part of the days journey. We camped at 2 1/2 pm on the bank of the river some 200 feet above the water in poor grass & little wood on the banks of the stream. River to day runs between high walls of soft rock in all most. Canons narrows very much, is very crooked, and the current is very swift. One of the men tells me he travelled from the mouth of the Snake River to point near where we camped last night on south side of river. He was with some of the American Fur Co’s. traders, and they travelled with carts. He says the road on that side of the river is very good and it appears so from this, and yet the main lodge trail is on this. It would be impossible to cross the river however with wagons.

“Large flocks of cranes passed over our camp this evening travelling south. Made 12 1/2 miles."

Another stream entering flowing from the north discovered soon after leaving camp in the morning, seems to be Hay Creek of modern denotion.

Snowden: Sept 28th Monday. 5 am. ther 42o, wind NE, cum str clds 9 light around the horizon. Started at 7 1/2 o’clock. After travelling about one & half mile the river which make a bend to the north cuts into the sand hills on this and forced us into this hills through which we had a very tortuous and fatiguing march and was bad if not worse than any of our sand hill experience.

“Camped at 2 1/4 o’clock on slope of a sand hill near the river in poor long course grass peculiar to sandy regions affording very little nutriment to animals. Wood plenty in bottom but hard to procure being unable to get down into the bottom with the wagons.

“River in vicinity of camp not quite so tortuous and the channel is wider and is about 2 1/2 to 3 ft deep and filled with sand bars. All day the bluffs run in close and from the bed of the stream for 100 feet are composed of soft white chalk rock, and on this side sand overlying this to the depth of 75 to 100 feet near the river. The pine in & the ravines increases in quantity. Wood on bottom as usual. No game was seen on our route to day. 9 pm ther 46, wind NW 1, cum str clds SE 1. Cum str cir scattered over heaven all day wind SW 1. Wind changed a good deal during the evening.

Snowden: “Tuesday Sept 29th.

"5 am ther 33o, wind NE 2. Cir stratus clouds in the south & SW 1.
"2 pm ther 68o, wind SE 3. Cir str, cumulus & cir cum scattered over the heavens. Cum in South. Wind was east about 12 o’clock.
"9 pm ther 55. No clouds. Wind SE 1.

“Remained in camp all day and sent two men ahead to roam the river to look for a camping place. They returned in the evening and reported having found a very good place about 3 & half miles below where a creek comes in from this side. They killed a buffalo bull some of meat of which they tonight.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Sept 30th Ther 5 am 41o, wind SW 4, no clouds. Started at 8 o’clock and travelled through sand hills for 3 miles when we came to a small creek which I think is Maca sca Wakpa, or White Earth Cr. it answering to the description the Indians gave of a creek of that name following road thus far for two miles. We camped on the L Eau qui court about half a mile above the mouth of the creek in a little bottom shut in by hills with good grass and plenty of wood for fuel. Road to day was sandy and heavy.

“9 pm ther 60o. Wind N 1. Cum str 10 passing to south. Wind N & NW all day at times quite hard. Made to day 5 1/3 miles."

The military map of the era labels the waterway as “Clay Creek.” Two weeks – from September 30th to October 13th - were spent at this camp at this tributary where it met with the running water river. In modern parlance it is designated as Leander creek, apparently named after a homesteader of later years, according to place name history.

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 1st

"7 am ther 58o. Wind NW 1. Cirrus clds 1
“2 pm ther 73o. Wind NW 1. No clouds.
“9 pm ther 41o no wind, few cir str clds in S.

“This being about the point where Lieut. Warren said he would join us we determined to remain here as least as long as the grass hold out. I went down to the small creek (Maca seu W) which is about 6 or 7 feet wide with clear running water 18 in to 2 feet deep. Hills close up to the stream on both sides. Ravines filled with small pine, in the bottom along the banks are trees similar to those that fringe the L’eau qui court, also an immense quantities of plum bushes with fruit now ripe and grapes in profusion. Many signs of elk in the vicinity and several were seen.”

Snowden: “Friday Oct 2d 1857.

"6 am ther 39o. Wind NW 1. Cum str & cir str 9
“8 am ther 59o. Wind SSW 3. Cum str & cir str 9
"2 pm ther 66o. Wind SW 4. Cum str 10
"9 pm ther 56o. Wind N1. Nimbus clds & raining commenced at dark.

"Found this morning two mules gone. Several men were sent in search of them but had not succeeded in finding them. They were most probably taken by the Indians as they were picketed near the mouth of a ravine and further out than the rest.”

Snowden: “Saturday Oct 3d

“8 am ther 67o. No wind. Raining slightly. Numbus clouds W. Rained all night, at times quite hard.
“2 pm ther 53o. Nimbus clouds W raining. Wind NE 1
“9 pm ther 49o. Wind NE 7. Nimbus clds 10. Misting rain.

“Rained slightly all the evening with wind in same direction.

“Rain prevented any search being made after the missing mules. There is some red cedar on the hill near our camp, but only a few trees. Some huge cottonwoods grow along the banks of the river and a few pine in the ravines. The river here is about fifty yards wide with swift current and hills run in close as above leaving here & there a small valley similar to the one in which we are camped.”

Snowden” Sunday Oct 4th

"9 am ther 53o. Nimbus clds 10. Misty rain falling. Wind NE 1. Rained at times slightly during the night.
“2 pm ther 57o. Wind NE 2. Cum str clds 10. No rain. Wind N at times during the morning.
"9 pm ther 56o. Nimbus clds 10. Drizzling rain. Wind NE 1.

"The sergeant of the escort with one man went in search of the missing mules. They went back on the trail some distance but their search was fruitless.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 5th

"7 am ther 52o. Nimbus clouds 10; misty rain falling. Wind NE 1.
"3 pm ther 57o. Cum str clds 10 no wind.
"9 pm ther 54. Cum str clds 10. Wind S 1 changes about 7 1/2 pm.

“Since we arrived at this camp the men have been luxuriating in plums & grapes the camp being full of the fruit all the time and it has had a very beneficial effect on checking the scurvy which began to show itself amongst the soldiers. I might mention here that the situation of our camp is such, being hemmed in by hills on all sides, that the wind is not felt unless it blows very hard and it might blow a hurricane over the hill & still be comparatively calm here consequently the direction & force of the wind, given at the head of each day does not give the actual force and probably true direction of many of the camp.”

Snowden: “Tuesday Oct 6th

7 am. ther 53o. Wind S 3. Cum Str 10.
9 pm ther 58o. Cum str clds & Cum 9 passing very rapidly to the north. The moon & stars shining brightly during the intervals of the clouds. Wind S 5. Same direction all day.

“I started this morning in company with Dr. Moffett and crossed the river and travelled south thinking I might find Snake river. Shortly after leaving the river we entered into sand hills of the most dismal character increasing in size and barrenness as we advanced & after travelling eight miles I could see from a high ridge 6 or 7 miles beyond, nothing however but sand presented itself to view. I saw several bands of antelope & one buffalo bull who was making the best of his way to the south frightened at our approach.

“On returning we struck the river some six or seven miles below our camp. It is here spread out about 200 miles wide quicksandy sinking if you stop a moment in one place. Along the river is a thick growth of underbrush peculiar to wet bottoms, and a few large scattering cottonwood trees. We crossed and followed up the bottom valley which is narrow & low filled with springs and in many places boggy, a species of came some fifteen feet high and very thick grow in places. White & red willow grow in great profusion in the wet places while the rose & plum & cherry bushes chose higher ground. While riding up the valley horses sank in one of these bogs and it was with difficulty we extricated them.

“Grass along the river is nearly all dead as are the rushes. There is considerable quantity of long coarse grass but the animals do not touch it. Saw a small band of buffalo north of the river on the plain.”

Modern era topography shows that the river valley eastward of the camp widens to the extent that lowland bottoms are present adjacent to the river channel, and which is a different aspect to the more constricted valley to the west and also eastward. This section of the river would be southwest of the modern geographic place, the Connely Flat.

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 7th

"8 am ther 60o. Cum stratus and cum clouds 10. Wind South 6 blew hard all night.
“2 pm ther 69o. Cum & Cir clds 7 passing to N. Wind S 5.
“9 pm ther 54o. Wind NW 1. No clouds. Wind from S ceased about sunset.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 8th

"8 am ther 58o. Cum str clds 10. Dropping rain. Wind S 3.
"2 pm ther 62o. Cum str clds 10 wind S 1.
"9 pm ther 59o. Wind N 1. Cum st clouds 10. Storm from S & SE came up with thunder & lightning about 5 pm and another from NW; rained for a few minutes. Wind changed at same time to north.”

Snowden: “Friday Oct 9th

"8 am 56o, wind NW 1. Cum str clds 8. A few cir stratus in NE & E.
"2 pm ther 55o. Nimbus clouds 1. Raining quite hard. Wind NE 2.
“9 pm ther 48o. Nimbus clouds 10. Raining hard. Wind North 5. Commenced raining with thunder & lightning about 5 1/2 pm and continued without interval. Forked lightning principally in NW.”

Snowden: “Saturday Oct 10th

"7 am. ther 48o. Nimbus clouds 10. Raining hard with wind NW; as it did all night with exception of small intervals.
“2 pm. ther 45o. Nimbus clouds 10. Raining at intervals wind NW 5. 9 pm there 44. Cum str clds 10. Wind north 2. Rain ceased at sunset.
“12 pm ther 64o, cum str & cum 7. Wind sw 1. 2 pm. Ther 62o cum & cum str 9. Wind Sw 5.
"9 pm ther 46o nimbus clouds 10. Few drops of rain now & then. Wind north 4. It changed about 3 or 4 o clock.

“About 2 pm twenty-two Brule Indians crossed the river and charged into the camp and their bows strung & arrows in their hands. They said they left Snake River this morning, where they left their village & chief “White Black Bird” who was on his death bed, and who sent his paper, given by Gen. Harney by one of these present, who was leading the party. They said one of their young men who was out hunting had seen us on our road and supposing we were French traders they were going to take all our property away from us. They were very indignant at our going through their country and wanted us to pay for the privilege of passing. They said we were eating all their plums & wild fruit and burning there wood. That our horses were eating & destroying all the grass along the river. That we were killing & scaring away all the game. That they met the buffalo & antelope flying from our approach 100 miles before they reached us. That Gen. Harney had assured them that no white men would come into their country without a license from him, and had told them to stop & rob any one who came into their domain with such a passport. We had some difficulty to make them leave camp at dark, and we had to threaten to fire on them before they would leave; they camped near us.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 12th

7 am ther 42o. Wind NW 2. Cir stratus clouds 3 in E & SE. Cirrus elsewhere. Rained hard about 11 or 12 o'clock and after at intervals.
“2 pm ther 54o. Wind SW 1. Cum & cir cum clouds in S & SW 1.
"9 pm ther 35 no clouds or wind.

“The Indians left early this morning all of them separating going in different directions saying that they were going to join Little Thunder when their village moves over from Snake river. Having exhausted nearly all the grass in the vicinity of our camp we determined to move further down the river and in the evening Lt. McMillan took some of the men with picks & spades to make a crossing to White Earth Cr. and improve the hill on opposite side to this latter however very little could be done.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 13th

6 1/4 am ther 34o. Wind S 2. No clouds. Heavy frost in the ground.
7 am ther 40o wind & clouds same as last.

“We struck our tents and were on the road by 7 1/2 am. We crossed White Earth Creek without any difficulty at the hill on the opposite side we had considerable trouble having to double the teams and partially unload some of the wagons & considered ourselves fortunate that we did not have to unload all and carry up the contents. Having reached the top of this hill, we passed through sand hills for half a mile, when we came upon one of those level plains, which always indicated the approach to a tributary to L’eau qui court. These plains lying between the forks appear to have had all the drift sand removed by some cause leaving the surface perfectly flat over which the travelling is very good. While on other side of the branch and opposite side of L’eau qui court the sand hills come in close to the streams. On arriving within 1 1/2 miles of confluence of the stream, and finding no place to camp (the hills closing in here having no valley whatever) we retraced our steps some distance and camped on L’eau qui court on a bottom about two miles long and varying from 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile wide. The grass here is only tolerable, but wood in abundance for fuel. The river is comparatively straight for some distance, about 100 yds wide filled with sand bars & shallow below our camp it narrows very much to not more than 15 to twenty yds wide is very crooked & rushes along between high walls of soft rock. After receiving the waters of the creek which I think is Little Rapid R. It turns to south east & pursues a course as far as I could see. All the ravines in the vicinity contain cedar & little pine and nearly all of them fine springs of clear cold water sending out in places good size brooks to swell the waters of L’eau qui court. 9 pm ther 45. No clouds or wind. Clear all day and quite warm during the middle part. Light wind from SW. (22 miles from last camp.)”

Edgar Warren: “To day we travelled about 26 miles our road for the first part was much the same as yesterday but after travelling a short distance it became quite level I saw quite a good many antelopes to day. After travelling over this level prairie we finally came to some small hills these we passed over and then our road became somewhat level again we then came down into the valley of the L Eau qui court our road was very level. We soon came upon the trail which our wagon’s had made. We followed this and finally came to camp upon the L Eau qui court. The grass here is very good and there is some wood here.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 14th.

8 am ther 54. No clouds or wind.
2 pm ther 45o nimbus clds 10. Raining. Wind north 3. Commenced clouding up about 9 o’clock, at same time wind arose from N. Commenced raining about 7 o’clock.
“9 pm ther 38o. Cum str clds 10. No wind. Commenced hailing about 6 o’clock pm which changed into rain and stopped in about an hour.”

E. Warren: “October 14th. To day we travelled about 25 miles our road was not very good. We travelled most of the time on the wagon trail. There was but a little timber on the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon the L Eau qui court. The grass here is quite good but somewhat dry and there is a little timber here.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 15 6 1/2 am ther 32o. Wind NW 3. No clouds. Hailed & rained about 12 or 1 o clock in the night & wind blew very hard from NE.

“About 10 o’clock this morning we were surprised by hearing a shot & whoop on the hills, shortly after which men of the Black Hill party accompanied by an Indian rode into the camp. He said Mr. Warren & party were close behind and in a few minutes they came defiling down the hill, their long string of pack mules and the motley groups of men presenting quite a fantastical appearance. After the shaking of hands & congratulations were over, the rest of the day was spent in relating the different incidents & adventures which had happened to each since our separation at Laramie.”

E. Warren: October 15th. To day we travelled about 12 miles our road for the first few miles was quite bad but after this is was over a high level prairie. We travelled mostly upon the trail made by the wagon’s once we went into a ravine and then crossed a river supposed to be little rapid river. To day we came up to were [=where] the rest of our party was upon the L Eau qui court and camped there.
“The grass here is quite good and there is some timber around here.”

E. Warren: “October the 16th. To day we remain here still.”

Snowden: Oct 16th 17th 18th. We remained in camp making preparations to start, reorganizing the party, etc. dividing provisions, also discharging some of the men who wished to return to Laramie only having been hired for the Black Hill trip. 16th we remained in camp all day.

“It clouded up & commenced raining in the evening and in the morning of the 17th we found it snowing hard & kept it up all day, although it melted as fast as it fell ... on morning of the 18th found about four inches of snow which had fallen during the night, and weather was cold. I did not take any more observations on the weather after the Black Hill party joined us, because Mr. Carrington is taking full meteorological notes.”

E. Warren: “October 17. To day we remain here still it snowed all day to day.”

E. Warren: “Sunday October 18th. To day we remain here still.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 19th 1857 Started this morning at 9 1/4 am after taking leave of [word n.l.] etc who returned to Laramie and ground was had frozen. Ther being 22o at 7 am. We reached Little Rapid River in one & half miles. The descent to the stream was very steep but we reached the bottom & crossed without much difficulty. The creek is 3 yards wide two feet deep crooked & contained within high steep hills. Pine & cedar in the bluffs while a few elm cottonwood & cherry bushes fringe the banks. The water has a reddish tinge similar to rain water or as if impregnated rust oxide of iron. After leaving this road was tolerably good following valleys between sand hills which were [word n.l.] more thickly with grass and not cut much by winds.

“We were not in sight of the river all day until we camped on bluff bank between two ravines filled with pine. River here flows between high steep banks and is about 40 yds wide. The snow all disappears to day except on shady side of the hills. Made 16 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 19th. To day we travelled 16 1/2 miles when we first started we left the valley of the L Eau qui court and came upon a high level prairie after travelling over this for a little while we came to a ravine after working the road here some we crossed over this ravine. There was a river a running through the bottom of it. Our road after crossing this ravine was not very good except in a few places. When our road was in a small valley our on ridges when it would be quite level for a short distance we are camped upon the brow of the L Eau qui court’s bluffs. The grass in the bottom land is quite good. There is some timber along on the bluffs and some cotton wood along the river.”

The map issued by the government labeled the tributary coming in from the northwest was labelled as "Reunion C." in obvious reference to the two groups of the expedition becoming a singular force a bit of a distance westward of a waterway confluence and what is now known as Connely Flat of the modern era. This locality was obviously in the vicinity - based upon geography and topography - of what became known as Bear creek, the name recognizing a place where Sioux hunters had killed bears, and along a stream within a canyon northward of the running water river. These was probably a plains grizzly bear that found the valley to be haven of some sort. Bear in the Lakota language is “mato” as a noun, or matohota in reference to the grizzly bear, with particular inflections according to the Lakota dictionary done by general editor “Joseph S. Karol.” The name first appeared in association with a survey done by the General Land Office.

In subsequent days the party would traverse the north side of the L'Eau qui court river, northward of a land feature that would eventually be named Medicine creek. The name of this waterway is derived from Indian language that refers to the medicinal plants present along the creek banks, and which were apparently collected for tribal use. The tribal name was Maca seu w. The w refers to wakpa, or river in tribal language. The expedition route upon departure would go northward to a route that provided level ground which the mules and wagons could more easily traverse.

Snowden: “Tuesday Oct 20th. We started at 9 am and had to make a considerable detour to head some ravines which ran out a long distance into the prairie. Passing over low rolling ground we came into the river in the afternoon down a divide between two ravines, & filled with pine for two miles. Some grass in beds of the ravines & also fine springs. Soil along our route today seems better having thicker darker mould, and sustaining a better growth of grass. Sand hills far to north show their white summits. Our camp is about 100 ft above the level of the river. Timber in the distance on south side gives the appearance of a tributary, probably Snake R. We were not in sight of the stream during the day. Pine is increasing in quantity & size as we descend but wood in the bottom diminishes here in quantity. Made today 18 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 20th. To day we travelled 17 8/10 miles Our road was quite good except in some places where it was over some small hills our road was made some longer by our having to go around large gulleys all along on the brow of the L Eau qui court. Bluffs there was some pine timber. We are camped upon the brow of the L Eau qui court's bluffs. The grass in the bottom land is quite good and there is a little timber along the river.”

This was in the vicinity of the current McCann canyon with its distinctive creek flowing southerly on the north side of the L Eau qui court. Note that the expedition had to revert northerly several miles to the upland in order to avoid the ravines that would have nearly impossible to traverse with loaded wagons.

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 21st Rained during the entire day. At same time turns quite warm and SE wind blowing. On account of the rain we remained in camp. One of the soldiers who went hunting yesterday and got lost came into camp 2 o’clock pm.”

E. Warren: “October 21st. To day we remain here still one of the soldier’s did not get quite into camp last night but came in to day. It rained some last night and some to day.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 22d Cloudy this morning with appearance of rain & quite chilly. Starting at 9 1/2 am we travelled over good hard ground for about eight miles in NNE direction to avoid crossing ravines, when we came into small heavy sand hills, we passed through these in SE direction and did not emerge from them until we found ourselves close upon the river. Here we camped on small bottom hemmed in by hills in pretty good grass and a few large ash trees growing near the bluffs furnished fuel. The river here spreads out and contains many little low grassy islands. The pine is not very abundant in this vicinity and not as large as that left behind. Mr Engel made the survey of the river today. He found it very crooked, in many places filled with numerous grassy island with very rapid current. Hills on each side steep & broken and he found it difficult to follow the bottom with his horse. Snake river adds its water to L’eau qui court 8 miles back. This stream is 30 yds wide at its mouth with high steep bluffs on either side & is well timbered with pines. Our days travel was 18 1/3 miles.”

E. Warren: October 22nd. To day we travelled 18 3 /4 miles. Our road was quite good in some places where it was quite level and in some other places it was quite rough being over sand hills along on the brow of the banks of L Eau qui court there was some pine timber. We are camped in the valley of the L Eau qui court the grass here is very good and there is some timber close to camp and there was some timber along the river.”

The night's camp would was on the north side of the Niobrarah river across from the confluence of the waterway that would, later in history, become known as Gordon creek.

Snowden: “Friday Oct 23d. Dr. Hayden came into camp this morning. He & one of the men got lost yesterday. They got separated in the night and the man is still missing. We started at 9 am and travelled through sand-hills in northerly direction for six miles when we came to a creek in a valley about 1/3 to 1/2 mile wide inclosed between soft rocky bluffs. The creek is about twenty feet wide & half feet deep. Rapid current & very crooked. A tree here & there along the banks. Crossing and ascending the bluffs on north side we came upon a high level plain. The monotony of which was only broken by a small rocky hill occasionally rising out of it and by ravines running to SE. Pursuing this in northerly direction for 7 miles further we turned to SE and in 6 miles came to L Eau qui court, which here cuts its way through perpendicular walls of soft rock about 200 feet high. The river to day for the first few miles is filled with large islands their running in a very narrow channel inclosed between steep & broken hills. Pine in considerable quantities on south side, but none on north before reaching the mouth of the small river which is 1 1/2 miles back from our camp.

“The man who was lost with Dr. Hayden arrived in camp shortly after we camped. We made to day 19 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 23d. To day we travelled 19 65/100 miles. Our road was quite bad until we cross a creek it being mostly over sand hills after we crossed this creek. Our road was very good being over a high level prairie. I saw some few buffalo bulls to day. Two of our party did not get in to camp last night. One of them came in quite early this morning and the other one came in shortly after we had camped. There was some pine timber upon the brow of the bluff of the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon the brow of the bluffs of this river. The grass down by the river was quite good and there is considerable timber here and there is some timber along the river.”

They had reached and crossed the waterway known as the “Mini-Chadusa W or Rapid Creek” on October 23rd, according to the military map of the area. Mini-chadusa has an indicated English rendition of rapid creek or little rapid river. The current, modern name of Minnechaduza Creek is an alteration with a different spelling and as no longer hyphenated. The night's camp would have been eastward of the confluence in the vicinity of the what is now known as Big Beaver creek, with its lower extent within the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. A second spring just to its east was also indicated.

Snowden: Saturday Oct 24th. Started at 7:45 a.m. Travelled back on our trail two & half miles and in 1/2 mile more we crossed a ravine where we found water hole and pretty good grass. If we had discovered this level last evening and camped here we would have saved 2 1/2 yesterday and as much today. After this our course was a little south of east all day, over fine country for travelling. Dark soil, and grass more abundant than usual. Ravines along to the south of us running into the winter filled with pine and are very steep & broken. [word n.l.] through the ravine in every direction. Our route was very straight, and we camped on head of ravine finding there good grass in the bottom. Wood & water in springs. We passed 7 lodges of Yankton Sioux 7 miles back. Made today 24 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 24th. To day we travelled 24 4/10 miles our road was quite rough in some places it being over rolling hills and in small valleys. We crossed one creek to day. There was some timber along on the bluffs of the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon a bluff and there is a ravine by the side of it which has water in it. The grass here is quite good and there is some timber here.”

The camp for a couple of days was along the valley in a place southerly which is now southerly of Norden, Keya Paha county, Nebraska.

Snowden: Sunday Oct 25th Lay in camp to rest the animals and await the arrival of Mr. Engel & Dr. Hayden who followed the river yesterday and did not get in last night. They came in about 9 o’clock. These ravines near our camp are filled with scrub oak, ash, a few elm, plum & cherry bushes in the beds, while their sides are covered with pine. Near the mouth you find some black walnut. Our camp is about three miles distant from the river.”

E. Warren: “Sunday October 25th. To day we remain here still.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 26th Started at 9 o’clock and travelled over rolling prairie and occasionally crossing depressions at heads of ravines and a small brook with running water 2 1/2 to 3 ft wide and 18 in deep (this was 11 1/2 miles from camp). In 15 miles we came upon a high table land perfectly level upon which we travelled for 6 1/2 miles when we turned to south toward the river, following a ridge with ravine on either side and camped on hill above one of these ravines about two miles from the river. The ravines along to the south of our route are similar to those mentioned in last days travel being broken & filled with pine. Grass was poor and the hill were covered gravel & course sand.”

E. Warren: “October 26th. To day we travelled 22 1 /2 miles. Our road was not very good. Part of the time it being over small rolling hills and in small valleys and part of the time it was very good it being over a high level prairie. There was some timber along on the bluffs of the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon the brow of the bluffs of the L Eau qui court. The grass here is quite good and there is some timber here and there is some timber along the river.”

The location indicated by the military map – later issued – was on the east side of the ravine which is now known currently as Jewett Creek, which is southwest of Springview, Keya Paha county.

Snowden: “Tuesday Oct 27 Started at 8 am. After travelling back on our tracks for one & half miles to head a ravine, we travelled east, gradually turning to NE across a high level plain, with short grass. In 8 or 9 miles we found depressions in heads of ravines leading north, probably into Turtle Hill R. and the divide between these and the ones leading into L Eau qui court is very narrow. Only a few hundred yards in places. Going east for a few miles the divide widens and we struck across a broad plain, relieved by little mounds (about 10 to 15 ft. high & rough in diameter at the base) rising out of it here & there. For 7 or 8 miles when we camped on the head of a ravine, which empties into L Eau qui court, in poor grass. The country being sandy in the vicinity, but plenty of wood (pine oak etc.) in ravine, also good water. Camped at 3 1/2 o’clock.

“Made today 20 6/10 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 27th. To day we travelled 20 6/10 miles. Our road was very good most of the time it being over a high level prairie except in some places where we crossed over small rolling hills and were [=where] we travelled in little valleys. We are camped by one of the ravines of the L Eau qui court. The grass here is quite good and there is some timber a short distance from camp and there is some timber along on the bluffs of the L Eau qui court to day.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 28th Starting this morning at 8 o’c we travelled through sand-hills for seventeen miles in NE direction. After this over high level plain for 6 or 7 miles when” ... and his journal continued though not being conveyed here.

E. Warren: “October 28th. To day travelled 23 1/2 miles. Our road some of the time was over small rolling hills and in small valleys and part of the time over a high level prairie. We are camped at the mouth of Turtle Hill River. The grass here is very good and there is some timber here.”

Two other prominent waterways shown on along the eastward route were Long Pine Creek on October 25th, and which had been visited two years previously by Lieut. Warren. The military map may have indicated the waterway as “Long Pine Creek” but however the depiction of the waterway features conforms more appropriately to Plum Creek with its southwesterly channel. A number of miles easterly, another waterway is shown on the military map as another primary waterway. The land features as shown historically match closely the alignment of Long Pine Creek and Bone Creek, especially in regards to distance and placement and was an attribution – due to the presence of the wild plum – as designated in 1874 by a survey team associated with the governmental General Land Office.

The Long Pine Creek of the 1850s became Plum creek on the current era. Another creek in a relatively close proximity would get the attribution of Long Pine Creek by men of doing land office surveys. By 1879 this name was indicated on an official map issued by the state of Nebraska.

There was the Keya Paha river which was crossed on the 28th of the month by the Warren Expedition. Keya Paha was indicated on the map as Turtle Hill river. A Lakota language dictionary also refers to Keya as turtle, with Paha meaning butte.

This name remains to be the modern attribution, though translated.

The expedition then continued easterly across Ponca lands – including a traverse of Ponca creek – northward of the lower L Eau qui court. The expedition eventually reached their destination, prominent Fort Randall on the Missouri river.

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