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Adolph Roenigk and George W. Martin correspondence

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[Lincoln Co.]




Lincoln, Kansas.

Oct. 10, 1904.


Refering to your letter of July 29th I will say that I have investigated the matter and belive there is no question but what a Battle between Potowatomie and Pawnee Indians was fought here in 1863 notwithstanding.  The Statement made by Mr James S. Merritt that the Potowatomies had no fights with other tribes after 1850, and that this Battle ground here has no conection with the fight on the Solomon that took place the same year.  There are circumstances conected with it that seem curious, but so far as I can learn everything seams to tally.


Mr Erhardt says he is positive that those Indians that camped near his place on Bullfoot Creek were Potowatomies, because he knew several of them personally, from the time he lived near them in Patowatomie County.


Mr Erhardt lived near St. George in that Co. from 1858 until he enlisted in the Army 1862


[Page 2]


wile living there he traded some with those Indians and knew them, one in particular he was well aquainted with, his name was John Chicasee or Chigasee (as near as he could spell it) he lived on the Vermilion not far from Louisville, he (the Indian) pased his House many times going to town, on one ocation got a nice Bridle from him, the Indian making his own Bargin.  (It was comical and easy to remember)  When Mr. Erhardt came to their camp on Bullfoot Creek, this Indian was with them and they reconized one another.


The place mentioned where Mr Erhardt found the Indian remains in 1867 is located on Section 13 Rail Road Land unocupied until 1882 2 ½ miles south and ½ mile west of Lincoln T. 12 R 8., on the south side of Bullfoot Creek, between the Bottom and upland is a ledge of Rock 20 to 40 feet high stretching along for half a mile east & west.  Great rocks are piled up iregular shape, in one place a hollow in the middle


[Page 3]


forming a cave, a fisure like opening between two Rocks is the entrance, open on both ends, and partly on top, into this cave the Pawnees retreated at the end of the Battle to seek protection.  The Patowatomies here surrounded them and fired into this cave from both ends and the opening on top, and all the Pawnees were killed, and one Potowatomie was killed on top of these Rock by Pawnees wile defending themselfs, it was said to have been a running fight coming from the north.  Wether they were on foot or Ponies Mr Erhardt said he did not enquire about, no Pony carcas were found at the time, nor did he look far or expect to find any, the reason I will mention below.  His attention was first atracted when pasing the place his dog was draging a Skull around, when he investigated and found the Indian remains in the cave.  In 1869 the military officers at Ft. Harker


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send a Ambulance and then over who gathered up the Bones and what was left and took them to the fort.


A few years prior to Mr Erhardts settlement here, two Hunters named Moffit were killed by Indians near the mouth of Beaver Creek 3 miles east of here, it was said that the Moffits fought until their ammunition gave out, and killed some Indians or a number of them.  Mr Erhardt said when he found those Indian remains in the Rocks he belived they were the ones killed by the Moffit Boys and had been taken there for Burial, (the two places on a straight line are about 4 to 5 miles apart) he was in that belive until the Patowatomie Indians camped there in 1880 and told him otherwise about the year I sujested to Mr Erhardt if it might not have been earlyer before the Buffalo were all gone, he said no, he build a House that year and was living in the new house, when those Indians camped there


[Page 5]


There were yet plenty of antelopes in the west where they came from, and departed towards the east going home.  It was a hunting part of about forty, a few squaws were with them, several white men, one a Interpeter.  They camped here for a week looking over the ground, and on some of the wall like Rocks made diagrams of the Battle, Pictures of Indians and Ponies and a Inscription in plain letters, three lines:


Battle between Patowatomie and Pawnees

14 Indians killed



This is the way it was in my memory, however Mr Erhardt says 16 was the number.  As I have Stated before I became aquainted with Mr Erhardt in 1884 and saw the place and Inscription at that time and not since.  When I first made mention of it to you June 18th I drove out to those Rocks to see the Inscription, so as to be able to state just how it read, but the place looked changed.  Brush has grown up in places the past twenty years, I could not find the cave, so I wrote from memory.  As things looked diverend to me then they did twenty years ago, I might also be mistaken about the number, Mr Erhardt says he saw it many times, as he often showed it to people who wanted to see it


[Page 6]


When I received your letter of July 28th asking me to make further enquiries I made arrangments with Mr Erhardt and drove over together, I took a Kodack with me expecting to take a Photograph of the Inscription, but am sorry to say it is entirely obliterated, the Rock is of a gray Sandstone, the letters were no deep enough to stand the weather of these many years, and then too someone else has been scratching on those Rock.


If those letters were made in 1880 then I saw them when comparetively fresh four years later.  Of the number of Bulet marks I saw at that time only two are to be seen inside the cave, where they are entirely protected from the Weather.  As the country was thickly settled in 1880 I asked Mr Erhardt if any one else visited the Indian camp, he said he thought there had, but paid little attention, and most people were afraid, they were not accustumed to seeing peasable Indians and the depredations of the hostile ones was still fresh in their memory.  This is about all I could learn up to this time.


Yours truly


A. Roenigk


[Page 7]





I will also give you the adress of Lon Shemerhorn Ogden Ks, he is perhaps the only one who may know and remember something of the finding of those Indian Remains, he was chief clerk in the Suttlers Store at Ft. Harker wile Mr Erhardt worked there, he took a claim 3 or 4 miles from him at about the same time 1867.  Mr Shemerhorn removed from here to Ogden in the 70s, and has been county clerk of Riley Co. several terms.  I have also talked with several other old settlers, and something more could be learned that would be worth mentioning in History but it needs sifting to get down to facts and will take more time.


Should you wish to make use of anything I have written, you may drop out any words or parts that you deem unesessary, so as to make it read better as you would be a better Judge, and I do not claim to be a writer.  I will also mention that Mr Erhardt is intending to remove to Denver Colo. in the near future for the benefit of his health.






[Page 8]


[Lincoln Co.]


[Roenigk, A.]


Lincoln Kans  Oct 24th 1906

Mr Geo W Martin

Topeka Ks


Dear Sir


Vol 9 Ks H.C. was received with thanks.  I price it very highly, especialy Mr James R Meads Story of the Saline Valley is interesting to us because it conserns our neighborhood.


I have often thought that I see so little written about the Saline, Solomon, and Republican Valley.  I believe the contest between the Indians and Settlers for the posession of these Valleys was closer then any other part of our state.


Recently several old settlers died whos story should have been written, there are yet others who can tell good stories, they are all old people, and will soon be no more.


I will give you the name of Solomon Humbarger Culver Ks. as one of such people.


I met the old Gentelmen recently wile he was up here on a visit to his son, who lives near here, and will give you a short outline of the story he told me, a part of which was told me by his Brother in Law Richard Alley who has dies since, twenty years ago.


[Page 9]


Mr Humbarger was one of the fist settlers in the Solomon Valley, moved over to the Saline Valley in 1863, he knew Blackettle and other Indian chiefs and had more or less experience with them wile the Indians were peasable in the early 60s.  He knows of the Cow Creek Masare, belonged to the Ks militia during the war, was about Ft Larned in 1864 and knowing the country he with others were guides for a general, (I think it was Curtis)


In 1869 wile he with his Brother in Law and two others were on a Buffalo hunt in what is now Osborn Co. were attackt by Indians, where he killed one of the chiefs and was himself shot in the thigh with an arrow.  They left their outfitt making their escape in the night down the creek towards the Settlements, after going some distance he and his Brother in Law concealed themselves among Rocks wile the other two men went to the settlements got a wagon and number of armed settlers brought the wounded man home.


[Page 10]


You will remember of me writing you a letter more then a year ago about a Battle that took place here between Potawattomies and Pawnees in 1863, and later, in a letter you stated that Hon. Chas. Curtis had given you the name of a Pottawatomie where you made further inquiry but received no answer.


Now Mr Humbarger having lived in the Saline Valley at that time I asked him if he ever heard anything of that fight.  He said he did, at the time it happened, [a large number of the Pottawatomies came past their place, they had with them one dead and one wounded, they told of the fight and the number of Pawnees killed, all of which agrees prety well with what Mr Erhardt tells.]


Then again, I acidentley heard Mr and Mrs E W Marsh R.R. No 1 Lincoln Ks. tell about the Pottawatomies coming through their farm and camping in the Valley below about 1880.  On making inquiry they knew but little more, but gave the name of Chas. Stites, also R.R. No 1 Lincoln Ks who could tell me more, as he lived


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adjoining that place.  When I asked Mr Stites he said he remembered well when those Indians camped there, a Interpeter and several Indians came to his place and bought roasting ears and some other things of him.  Now we have three Persons besides Mr Erhardt who know of the Pottawatomies visiting the old Battle ground in 1880 and Mr Humbarger who lives 25 miles in the Valley below, and is not aquainted with either of these people tells of it at the time it hapened.


It all agrees prety well exept as to the number of Pawnees killed; but we must make allowance for so long a time as more then forty years, people will get some things mixed but the fact remains that a Battle was fought here between these two tribes, and that the History of the Pottawatomies as written by Mr James S. Merritt is not exactly corect when he states that they were at peace and had no fights with other tribes after 1850


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[I would also call your attention to Mr James R Meads description of those Pawnee Horse stealing Parties, page 13 and 14 Vol 9 which I think throws light on how those Pawnees got there, the number is within the number described, the year is within a few years of the time of which Mr Meade writes, the route taken through Jewell, Mitchel and Lincoln Counties is in direct line with this Battle ground, they were on foot; if you have my letters on file you will see where I state that those Pawnees were said to have come from the north and when the remains of those Indians were found in the Rocks by Mr Erhardt after 1867 no carcases or bones of Ponies were found.]


I thought I would mention this to you and if you think it is of sufficient importance to corect that part of the History you could get a statement of each of the persons named and see how they agree.


Yours truly


A. Roenigk


[Page 13]


[Lincoln Co.]


[Roenigk, A.]


[[xxxxxxxx] Tribune Nov 27 1907]


Lincoln Kas  Jan 24th 1908


Mr Geo. W. Martin

Topeka Kans


At our last Old Settlers reunion held at Lincoln Ks [Oct 1907] if was decited to take steps towards erecting a suitable monument in memory of the people killed by Indians in the early settlement of the county.


I was apointed one of a comitte to acertain the number killed and their names.  We found that some of the old Settlers divered as to the spelling of several of the victims names.  One, a woman had been rescued, after being wounded, was taken to a Hospital at Julesburg Colo.  As there was a probability to get her name corectly from the Hospital Record and at the same time obtain an acount of the Battle, we decited to try and get the information through the [Xxxxxxxxx] of the National Tribune.  Our Friend Mr Erhardt being an old soldier and a subscriber of that paper we together made the request in Mr Erhardt’s name.  In answer to this request a advertisement apeared in the paper Nov 27 which I hereby send you.  This add brought a letter from an old solider Mr Hercules H. Price of Veterans Home Napa Co. California who took part in the Battle, a corespondence folowed receiving 3 letters which I herby also enclose.


I wrote to several of the adresses given me in those letters and in answer received several letter and a acount of the Battle from the Nebraska State Historical Society, which I also enclose.


[Page 14]


[Same as Page 14 but showing article that is attached.]


Indian Fight in Colorado.


Ferdinand Erhardt, Lincoln, Kan., would like to have some one give a full account of the battle between Gen. Carr’s command and  band of Indians about the middle of June, 1869, in eastern Colorado.  He would like to know the number of Indians killed, ponies captures and the names of the two white women held prisoners by the Indians.


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As it is of historical interest to know the name of the tribe I will give what little I know, and trace these Indians from the starting point in the Indian Teritorry through Kansas to the Saline River where they apeared and comitted depredations on dates that is history, on towards the north west through the south west corner of Nebraska in to Colorado.


Those Indians that were in the Saline Valley are supposed to have been Cheyennes and Sioux together and wintered in the Indian Teritorry in the winter of 1868-69.


After the winter campaign of Gen. Custers seventh cavalry and the 19th Kansas who brought the several Indian Tribes in the teritorry to terms was over, and the grass came out in the spring, this band of Indians broke out again and made their way north.  They first apeared at Fossil Creek Station on May 28th when hapened what I have writen page 384 Vol. 8 on the train that was wrecked at the time were a number of pagengers who went over the ground and pickt up a number of arrows, some of these pasengers who pretended to know by the way the arrows were made, said that those Indians were Cheyennes.


In the afternoon they killed five Buffalo out of a herd, about two miles east of the station.  This was witnessed by John Cook and one or two other men; it was a nice day and the air clear, but no reports of shots were heard or smoke was seen and it was suposed the Buffalo


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were killed with arrows or spears; from here they (the Indians) departed towards the north east and as the Saline River was the nearest water they must have camped there that night, distance from the Station Six or seven miles.


Two days later on May 30th they apeared on Spilman Creek and the Saline River where eleven persons were killed, distance about fifty miles.


Among the first victims in this valley was a man and his wife named Lauritsen Danish people, they were scalped and their Bodies mutilated in a fiendish maner to horrible to describe on paper.


Two women were taken Prisoners one of which was a German named “Weichel” the other a American named “Alderdise” a mother of four childern, how these children were murdered before the mothers eyes has been described by Mr Washington Smith in his paper which you have.


From here these Indians made their way towards the north west, we next hear from these women in the Republican country where General Carr and his Comand is following the trail of those Indians seeing prints of the womens shoes and a short time later followed the Battle of “Summit Springs”


Yours truly


A Roenigk


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P.S.  I would also call your attention to the wealth of the Weichels.  In his letters Mr Price States that one of the Soldiers deserted (with what was supposed a large amount).  They lived with Mr Erhardt a short time, in talking with him about that he says: he is not suprised at this large amount, the Weichels acted like wealthy People although Mr Erhardt never saw any large amount of money.  Mr Washington Smith in his paper* States the number of silk dresses owned by this women, Mr Erhardt says: when she took them out of her trunks to air them they were actualy counted by the astonished Settlers who were then all poor; all that has been said agrees on this point.  If I can be of any further asistense to you I will be at your service.


[* Lincoln Co. clippings 1]

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