As a result of the flood of emigrants penetrating the west and depriving the plains Indians of their ancestral hunting grounds, tribal resentment and unrest was coming to a head by the early 1860s. Emigrant trails up the valley of the Little Blue river were the focus of the Cheyenne war of 1864 which erupted on August 7th of that year, both settlers and emigrants being severely effected. Many of the buildings formerly used by the Pony Express before its demise in 1861 were destroyed and burnt in Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux raids, and none survived along the section of the trail we were now following.
Oregon Trail marker at the junction of R Road and 5200 Rd which also gives the position of Kiowa Ranch....
...which was run by Jim Douglas and served as a pony express as well as a stagecoach stop.According to the marker, it was located somewhere in a field about 200 yards ahead of where this photo was taken.....
The wagon train was in fact the remains of a larger company which had been attacked further west at Liberty Farm on August 7th and had retreated to camp near Kiowa station.
Only a mile and a half away on the same day, a pioneer couple were killed at the old Bowie ranch and around $10,000 of property and livestock stolen, so I was intrigued to come across the following sign by the side of the road ....Dugouts were temporary pioneer frontier homes which were quite literally 'dug out' of slopes.
And another couple of miles brought us to a monument commemorating the Oak Grove Ranch raid of August 9th 1864. The buildings in the background recreate the original ranch buildings, although the original ranchhouse was a larger two storey building.
The ranch was probably also the location of Oak Grove Pony Express station, run by Al Holladay.
Lady studies the Pony Express sign outside the little town of Oak..
Rhonda was also able to regale me with the story of the Eubank Ranch massacre, which took place just across the Little Blue river from where they live. When the Cheyenne made their initial attacks along the Little Blue on August 7th 1864, they killed seven members of the Eubank family. Mrs Eubank was abducted together with two of her children and a young girl visitor Laura Roper, all of whom were held captive for many months The Eubank ranch was burnt to the ground.
For a more detailed account of the massacre and other raids along the Little Blue in 1864 see http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wynkoop/webdocs/oakgrove.htm
Rhonda sees us off on the morning of Wednesday April 20th, Mo sporting the Navajo saddle blanket Rhonda had kindly donated to replace the bath mats.
Thursday April 21st
A view of the Little Blue river from the line of the pony express trail on Rd 302 north of De Weese
Liberty Farm pony express station was about half a mile downstream of this point, at the confluence with Liberty Creek. It was most probably a home station and was managed by James Lemmons and Charles Emory. It was also a stage stop and continued as such with J.M Comstock as station keeper after the demise of the Pony Express. On August 9th 1864 the station was attacked and burnt to the ground by the Cheyenne.
The stage station was relocated to Pawnee Ranch, a fortified road ranch near the mouth of Pawnee Creek. An old barn on the ranch site, where we stopped for a midday break...
...courtesy of owner Doug Paus. And as a demonstration of Mid-Western hospitality, Todd Batteman who had given me water and a sandwich a couple of miles back down the trail, suddenly turned up with a bottle of delicious home-grown pears!
Oregon and Pawnee Ranch marker...
The next Pony Express station is identified as being at Spring Ranch, but unfortunately there appears to be no consensus as to its exact location. It was destroyed during the Cheyenne attacks of August 1986, as were two other homesteads in the area. But here are Lady and Mo looking resigned just south of the old settlement of Spring Ranch.
Think we are on the right road..
A perfect end to a perfect day....
Keith and Pat Nejezchleb who took us in off the road.....
Still a slight worry about being in tornado alley, not alleviated when Keith described how his pivot had been destroyed and his soya bean crop sucked up by a tornado. Everyone here has a strengthened tornado room in the basement and I always check where it is. For those who do not farm in the USA a pivot is one of those overhead sprinkler systems which rotate round a central pivot.