feature By: Leo J. Remiger | November, 19
While reading “History of the American Bison, Bison Americanus,” written by Joel A. Allen and published in June 1877, I decided to check some of his footnotes to determine where he was obtaining his information and what other details I could learn. Needless to say, I was surprised. I wonder if you will be, too.
For this article, we will focus on the following two paragraphs as they are very interesting. They begin on page 554:
Recent Destruction of the Buffalo in Kansas. – Some idea of the havoc recently made with the buffalo in Kansas can be formed from the following well-attested statements. At the time of the completion of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to Dodge City, which occurred September 23, 1872, the principal trade of the town consisted in the “outfitting of hunters, and exchange for their game.” The number of hides shipped during a period of three months, beginning with this date (September 23), is reported to have been 43,029 and the shipment of meat for the same time 1,436,290 pounds.1 The forty-three thousand hides of course represent forty-three thousand dead buffaloes, and the one million and a half pounds of meat – the saddles only being saved–represent at least six or seven thousand more, making a total of at least fifty thousand killed in three months. The same authority states that returns for the January following exceeded those of the preceding months by over one hundred and fifty per cent., thus making the number of buffaloes killed merely “around Fort Dodge and the neighborhood,” for this period of four months, exceed one hundred thousand! This, too, is aside from those killed in “wanton cruelty, miscalled sport, and for food for the frontier residents.”
Another report of about the same date, referring to a locality about one hundred miles southeast of Fort Dodge, says: “Thousands upon thousands of buffalo hides are being brought here [Wichita, Kansas] by hunters. In places, whole acres of ground are covered with their hides, spread out, with their fleshy side up, to dry. It is estimated that there are, south of the Arkansas and west of Wichita, from one to two thousand men shooting buffalo for their hides alone.”2 Another account3 states that during the season of 1872-73 not less than two hundred thousand buffaloes were killed in Kansas merely for their hides.4 It is also stated that in 1874, on “the south fork of the Republican, upon one spot, where to be counted six thousand five hundred carcasses of buffaloes, from which the hides only had been stripped. The meat was not touched, but left to rot on the plains. At a short distance, hundreds more of carcasses were discovered, and, in fact, the whole plains were dotted with putrefying remains of buffaloes. It was estimated that there were at least two thousand hunters encamped along the plains hunting the buffalo. One party of sixteen stated that they had killed twenty-eight hundred during the past summer, the hides only being utilized.” The same account says that the extent of the slaughter of the buffalo for their hides was so great that the market for them became glutted to such a degree that whereas a few years before they were worth three dollars apiece at the railroad station, skins of bulls would now bring only a dollar, and those of cows and calves sixty and forty cents respectively.5 While on the plains in 1871, I had an opportunity of witnessing some of the evidences of the wholesale slaughter of buffaloes for their hides, as practiced at that time along the line of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Northwestern Kansas, where sometimes several scores and even hundreds of decaying carcasses, from which nothing but the hides had been taken, could be seen from a single point of view. During the season of 1871 meat and hides representing over twenty thousand individuals were shipped over the Kansas Pacific Railway.
That’s our text, now before we do anything else–let’s look at the footnotes:
1. Forest and Stream, February 1873.
We have our first problem. Now it’s possible I don’t have all the issues, but my Forest and Stream, Volume 1, Number 1 is dated August 14, 1873. So, unless there was a predecessor to this Forest and Stream magazines I have – his foot note must either be a typo or an error. I looked through my copies and could not find a reference to the following sentence: “The number of hides shipped during a period of three months, beginning with this date (September 23), is reported to have been 43,029, and the shipment of meat for the same time 1,436,290 pounds.” I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in Forest and Stream – I just didn’t find it in my search. So naturally I wonder where he obtained that information.
Now let’s look at footnote No. 2.
2. Wichita (Kansas) Eagle. I’m between a rock and a hard place on this one. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the Wichita Eagle online that I could verify this entry with. I searched for that text string “Thousands upon thousands of buffalo hides are being brought here [Wichita, Kansas] by hunters. In places, whole acres of ground are covered with their hides, spread out, with their fleshy side up, to dry. It is estimated that there are, south of the Arkansas and west of Wichita, from one to two thousand men shooting buffalo for their hides alone.” and even just portions of it. The only positive returns I received were references to the different volumes that Allen published his works in.
Next, we’ll look at footnote No. 3 and No. 4 together:
3. Forest and Stream, Oct. 15, 1873.
4. General M.C. Meigs in his MS. notes says that one hundred and eighty thousand hides are reported to have passed over the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe road alone in a single season.
Regarding footnote No. 3. My Forest and Stream series does not have an Oct. 15, 1873 issue. It has an October 16, 1873 issue.
Regarding footnote No. 4. Here again I’m stumped as I don’t know where to find a copy of General M.C. Meigs manuscript to verify the entry.
However, I did find the following articles while going through my copies of Forest and Stream:
Forest and Stream, Volume 1, Number 2, Thursday, August 21, 1873, Page 28:
The Cheyenne Leader makes an appeal for the preservation of the buffalo from indiscriminate slaughter. Last year, 200,000 were killed for their hides alone. The extension of the railroads has given the hunters an opportunity to drive the buffaloes into comparatively restricted districts, and thus they are penned and shot down, and tens of thousands of carcasses are left rotting on the ground. The destruction has been so great that the market has been seriously affected.”
Forest and Stream, Volume 1, Number 10, Thursday, October 16, 1873, Page 152:
Destruction of the Buffalo: Our Denver (Colorado) correspondent alludes with much feeling to the wanton waste of animal life and food in the Far West, especially of the buffalo, which are slaughtered for their skins by the hundred thousand, and left to rot in their tracks. A skin worth only $1.25, while the carcass of an average weight of 1,000 pounds and worth at five cents a pound, fifty dollars, is cast aside to gorge the coyotes and buzzards. These facts are by no means new. They have been published and reprinted dozens of times. But it may be a matter of news even to the inhabitants of Colorado themselves to be informed that there is a territorial game law, approved February 9th, 1872, which if enforced would promptly meet the necessities of the case, and prevent forever this wholesale waste and destruction. We quote:
Sec. 6th Hereafter when any buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, or any other four footed game, shall be killed by anyone, such person or persons shall not leave any edible portion of such game so killed to waste, but shall take care of and preserve or bring into market each and all parts of such game that are edible.”
The penalty for violation of this section is twenty-five dollars for each offense. It is apparent therefore that for the paltry gain of one dollar and a half these vandals are willing to forego the market advantage of fifty dollars additional, and to risk payment of twenty-five dollars fine. We don’t perceive by what business rules of speculation the ultimate profit accrues….”
Forest and Stream, Volume 3, Number 8, Thursday, October 1, 1874, Page 116
The Destruction of Buffalo. – “It is estimated that the “hide hunters” of Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and Southern Nebraska kill 50,000 each year for the skins alone; that the Indians kill three times that number, and that perhaps 10,000 more are killed by sportsmen and those pioneers who depend on buffalo for their winter meat; thus we have the enormous figure of 210,000 as the annual slaughter. But this even will not represent the grand total, for many calves are captured to be sold to menageries, museums, and to private gentlemen who desire such pets. I cannot approach a summary of the latter, but I think that from five to ten thousand would be an approximate estimate, though a low one. I have known instances where a hundred of these creatures were caught in a day by being run down, and not more than one-tenth were alive the next, for, though apparently strong, they cannot endure much hardship. By giving the figures in round numbers, we may estimate that a quarter of a million bison are destroyed annually.”
– Correspondent of the New York Times.
Forest and Stream, Volume 3, Number 17, Thursday, December 3, 1874, Page 266
Shot Gun and Rifle-Game in Season for December
Colorado: Lord Massareen is at present shooting elk and black tail in the Rocky Mountains, and the Earl of Dunraven will shortly leave the city on an expedition after the Canadian Caribou.
Frank Smith recently returned to Denver City from a hunting expedition, bringing the hides of nineteen buffaloes–the results of a fortnight’s shooting. The question there now is, how long the buffaloes will last if Frank Smith is allowed to go gunning whenever he likes.
An English gentleman estimates the annual destruction of buffaloes on the plains at 1,000,000 per annum. This is entirely too much. One forth the number would be more correct.
Forest and Stream, Volume 3, Number 20, Thursday, December 24, 1874, Page 315
Shot Gun and Rifle- Game in Season for December
Thousands of buffalo are coming into the Arkansas Valley and crossing the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad going north. Trains on the road have been obliged to stop for these animals to cross. The herd is all along the valley from Kinsey to Latin, a distance of 190 miles. There will be grand sport for many hunters.
Let’s get back on track with footnote No. 5 which reads as follows:
5. Baird’s Annual Record of Science and Industry for 1874, p. 304.
This one I did have: “Extermination of the Buffaloes,” Annual Record of Science and Industry for 1874, edited by Spencer F. Baird, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, Franklin Square, New York, 1875, PP 303-304.
Extermination of Buffaloes
The enormous extent of the destruction of buffaloes on the Western plains seems to have undergone no diminution during the present winter, and there is every reason to fear that, should this continue a few years longer, the animal will become as scarce as is its European congener at the present day. Notwithstanding the countless herds of bisons that covered the plains of Central Europe in the time of Caesar, and subsequently, it is stated less than fifty in Lithuania, where they are carefully preserved by the Emperor of Russia, a death penalty being executed upon those who willfully molest them. A few are still living in the Caucasus, but even there they are extremely rare.
At present thousands of buffaloes are slaughtered every day for their hides alone, which, however, have glutted the market to such an extent that, whereas a few years ago they were worth three dollars apiece at the railroad stations, skins of bulls now bring but one dollar, and those of cows and calves sixty and forty cents respectively.
A recent short surveying expedition in Kansas led to the discovery of the fact that on the south fork of the Republican, upon one spot, were to be counted six thousand and five hundred carcasses of buffaloes, from which the hides only had been stripped. The meat was not touched, but left to rot on the plains. At a short distance hundreds more of carcasses were discovered, and, in fact, the whole plains were dotted with putrefying remains of buffaloes. It is estimated that there were at least two thousand hunters encamped along the plains hunting the buffalo. One party of sixteen stated that they had killed twenty-eight hundred during the past summer, the hides only being utilized.
It is, of course, very important that some remedy should be provided for this evil, but what will answer the purpose it is difficult to suggest. As these animals range almost entirely within the territories of the United States, it is within the province of Congress to enact laws prohibiting their destruction, but the difficulties lie in the matter of enforcing them. Possibly some provision for seizing and confiscating the green hides, along certain lines of railway, or during certain seasons of the year, as part of the penalty to be attached to the violation of the law on the subject, might accomplish the result; but, at any rate, the subject is one that demands prompt attention of legislators, in view of the relationship of this animal to the welfare of the Indians, and the reaction which their destitution will produce upon the scattered white settlements in the vicinity of the range of both buffaloes and Indians.
So naturally the question arises – who was this surveying party that counted those dead buffalo?
A quick search on the internet resulted in this find: “The Bison,” Denver News, Fanciers’ Journal and Poultry Exchange, Volume I, Number 10, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 5, 1874, Page 151.
Indiscriminate Slaughter Of Buffaloes On The Plains – The Animals Nearly All Gone – Value Of Hides Deteriorating – Hunters On The Plains – Cold Weather
The buffaloes of the plains have met their fate. Encroaching civilization has sealed their doom; and the inordinate greed of man has swept them from the face of the earth. Where years ago the mammoth herds of Bison roamed the plains, and were hunted by the Indians as necessity demanded, now lie the bleaching bones of millions of these noble animals, sacrificed simply for their hides. For the past two years the work of destruction and annihilation has gone forward, and today there are not enough buffaloes to form what was at one time considered a moderate-sized herd. Millions of these animals ranged the plains, their natural home, feeding upon the rich grasses. Today there are not enough to graze on a quarter section of land and eat the feed bare. Hunting parties are to be met with all over the plains in the vicinity of the Republican, and also in the southern portion of the Territory, who slaughter indiscriminately every herd upon which they come. The traveler over the Kansas Pacific Road may see cords of white bones piled up at various stations in the buffalo country, awaiting transportation East, where they enter into a thousand and one articles of commerce and trade. Beside the bones there are thousands of hides, rough-dried, ready to be sent to the commercial marts of the East, where they are tanned and placed upon the markets. These bones and hides are the fruits of the huntsman’s labors, in killing the noble game of the plains. The meat from the carcasses of the slain buffaloes is seldom used, although in a few instances it is cut and shipped to Eastern packers, where it is disposed of as mess beef at largely enhanced prices.
We yesterday met Mr. John A. Lessig, brother to Gen. Lessig, the Surveyor-General, who has been out on the plains several months, running correction lines and town-shipping the eastern portion of the Territory. He informs us that the destruction of the buffalo is almost incredible. During the perambulations of this party they had an opportunity of forming opinions as to the slaughter of the bison on the plains. On the south fork of the Republican they came upon one spot where were counted 6,500 carcasses of the buffalo from which the hides only had been stripped. The meat was not touched, and was left to rot on the plains. Only a short distance on hundreds more of carcasses were discovered, and, in fact, the plains were literally dotted with putrefying buffalo carcasses. On the Rickaree River, which lies between the two forks of the Republican, the camps of buffalo hunters were of frequent occurrence. Mr. Lessig estimates that there are at least 2,000 hunters in camp along there, waiting for the buffalo. He came across one party of sixteen who stated that they had killed 28,000 buffaloes during the past summer, [That’s right – the entry reads 28,000, not 2,800 or twenty-eight hundred, but 28,000 – twenty-eight thousand!] only the hides of which were utilized. If sixteen hunters can kill this many animals, how great must be the slaughter upon the broad extant of the bison range? Evidently millions of the animals must have been killed during the past summer alone. Mr. Lessig says there are no buffaloes to be seen on the plains, except dead ones, and that, hunt as much as they may, the sportsmen can not at present find any game.
The value of the hides has deteriorated considerably, owing to the great increase of the articles in the market. Heretofore they were worth $3 delivered at the railway stations, while now a distinction is made to size and paid for accordingly. The hides of bulls bring but $1, those of cows 60 cents, and calves 40 cents. At these rates the hunters say it pays very well. But even at these low rates the hunters will have to scratch to make their grub, for Mr. Lessig says the buffalo are nowhere to be found. They say they are waiting for the buffaloes, but they will have to wait a long time. There are but few to breed from, and even if the animals are not completely annihilated, it will be many years before they regain even a tithe of their numbers of the past two years, before the indiscriminate slaughter began.
Mr. Lessig had fourteen men in his surveying party. About the 27th of November the cold weather began, and the snow fell to a great depth. The ravines were all drifted full, and on the level snow was quite deep. Being in a timberless country, the party depended upon buffalo chips for fuel, but the snow coming on, recourse to this article was cut off, and they had to think of returning. One night the weather was so cold that a barrel full of water froze solid. The party left the Republican about the 10th of December, and reached Eel Trail on Friday night, from which point they came to Denver by rail.
– Denver News – December 21
So we spent some additional time searching and turned up this information on John Lessig’s Survey of the Republican: “Lost on the Plains,” The New York Times, October 3, 1874.
Lost on the Plains
Sufferings of A Small Party Of Germans Who Had Wandered Away
Eight Days of Wandering and Hunger.
From the Denver (Col.) News, Sept. 12
John Lessig’s surveying party has been operating in the country bordering the head waters of the Republican River. Among the party were several Germans, who are late arrivals on this side of the big water. They were wholly ignorant of the English language. One day while encamped on the Republican, about 130 miles from Denver, six of these Germans wandered off and got lost. This was about the 24th of August. The first and second days the six men stuck together. The second night they disagreed as to the direction to be taken. Three of the party were for going straight ahead, but the others wanted to retrace their steps. In the morning they separated. The three who turned back, reached camp that night foot-sore and hungry. The next day work was suspended and all hands joined in the search for the three lost men. Unremitting search was continued for four or five days. Finally the surveyors resumed work again. It was supposed that the men had perished from starvation or had been killed by the Indians. A day or two afterward, Capt. D.K. Kimberly, well known in this city, and Mr. J. Fahinger, were running a line, when to their great surprise two men, who at first were thought to be Indians, but who proved to be of the lost party, appeared over a ridge a long way off. When they saw Kimberly and Fahinger they wrung their hands for joy and hastened to them.
They managed, mainly by gesticulation, to give their discovers to understand that their comrade, being too weak to walk, had been left by a pool of water ten or fifteen miles away. Capt. Kimberly and Mr. Fahinger returned to camp and procured a team, and guided by the two men, drove to where the exhausted man had been left.
They had been wandering eight days and they calculated that they had traveled twenty miles in all directions from a given point. There was but one gun in the party, and only four loads of ammunition. The forth day out, or the day after the separation above referred to took place, they found about a pint of muddy water in a hole made by a buffalo’s foot. As they had no cups with them, they clawed away the dirt until they could get their mouths down to the water, which was generously but very equally shared between the three. The four loads of ammunition were used with the utmost economy. When discovered they had two loads remaining. With one of the other two they had killed an antelope. This happened only an hour or so before the meeting with Kimberly and Fahinger. For days before they had subsisted on raw frogs. These were caught at the stagnant pool, or puddle, where the third man of the party was found. The men had no matches, and consequently could cook nothing. As for the frogs, they were licked up skins and all, and were found rather palatable. At the stagnant pool a tin pail was found. It looked as if it had lain out doors for years. Near by stood a slender cottonwood, the only tree in sight and one of the men climbed this and trimmed off its branches to the top, and then tied his white shirt to the tip, in hopes that it would be seen and lead to their discovery and rescue. All the men, when found, looked like skeletons, and were objects worthy the deepest pity. There were deep, black furrows under the eyes and across the cheeks, and the flesh on their feet was worn to the quick, so that every step was accompanied by a sigh of pain. Their hunger, of course, was of the ravenous kind, and they begged piteously for food, but they were allowed nothing but small quantities of antelope soup, at regular intervals, for a day and a half, or until they recovered strength.
On Sept. 1, another German belonging to Lessig’s party left camp for the purpose of killing a buffalo. The last seen of him he was striking out for a herd that were feeding on a hill several miles away. He never returned, and the rest of the party think he wounded a buffalo, and was attacked and gored to death by the ferocious beast.
They “think” he was attacked and gored to death? It gives the impression that they didn’t even bother to search for him or confirm he was dead. Doesn’t it make you wonder why a survey crew would have non-English speaking Germans with them to begin with?
At any rate – that’s what I found when I began looking at the footnotes to those two paragraphs. I have saved the best for last – hope you enjoy this last little gem from Forest and Stream, Volume 2, Number 12, 17 Chatham St., New York, Thursday, April 30, 1874, Page 184:
Destruction of Buffalo
A month ago Congress passed Col. Fort’s bill for the protection of buffalo, prohibiting the killing of these animals for their hides only, and forbidding whites to kill cows. The act as passed is good in its intent, and will no doubt accomplish something toward stopping the slaughter. If it does, generations of sportsmen will remember Col. Fort as a public benefactor. Still, we doubt if it succeeds in any great measure, and we shall now proceed to give our reasons for such opinion. Some of our readers may recollect that we advocated in a previous number of this journal (Vol. 1. No. 25) the imposition of a special stamp tax of one dollar upon all raw buffalo hides offered for sale during the close season designated by law, the effect of which would be to render it impossible for those who killed out of season to compete in the sale of hides with those who killed at the proper time. We wrote to Col. Fort, begging him to incorporate this provision in his bill, and were encouraged at the time to expect that it would be done. We regret that it was not done, for the act as it now stands does not meet the case, and we fear will be found impracticable to enforce. Of one thing we are convinced, it will be difficult to educate buffalo hunters and prairie trappers to prefer “poor bull” to “fat cow.” Bull meat is always thrown aside, except the tongues and certain selected parts of the carcass.
Wishing to obtain all available facts to enable as to write intelligibly upon this subject we addressed special inquiries to officers of our frontier posts throughout the buffalo range, believing them to be disinterested, and therefore more competent to speak impartially than civilians. We cannot, perhaps, present the matter in plainer or more positive terms than to print verbatim one of the letters that we have received. The writer is the commandant of a post located in the Indian Territory, where he can see “just how the thing works.” First, he premises that to connect the Indian question, or rather its solution, with the buffalo is simply absurd. He says: “Were every buffalo on the southern plains to be killed to day, our Indian troubles would go on to-morrow, so long as poor Texas affords its tempting offers of horses and cattle, and the government follows its present policy of feeding the Indian; the buffalo is no longer an absolute necessity to the Indian, but simply a luxury; he kills for robes, not to wear, (for the government gives him blankets), but to trade; he kills for meat, not that he needs it, for he is fed beef, but because he relishes it. So, the visionary’s solution of the Indian question by “killing all the buffalo,” may as well be cast aside as nonsense, for it is surely to be hoped that before many years, a just, honest, and efficient policy may be pursued towards the Indian, and that we can conscientiously aid in the increase of the buffalo instead of furthering its foolish and reckless slaughter.
Herewith we append the body of his letter:
Taking the 99th meridian as a line, and the crossing of Red River as a point, the buffalo begin to make their appearance in early fall in numbers, though a few straggling bulls, and even small herds, may be found at any season. The herds cross this territory and into Texas in early winter, moving again north in March. They drop their calves from middle of April to middle of May.
Now comes a strange question of yours, which shows that even you, who have traversed the prairies in years past have no idea how greatly they are being diminished. You ask “How does the prairie look after they are gone, cropped clean, buffalo skulls, bones, &c., much stamped and dusty?” And the answer is no to every point in the question. There are not enough of them to leave such evidences. Where a few years since a broad black seething mass of living flesh passed across the prairies, leaving such evidences, you now see at the utmost a few thousands together. I think five thousand would cover the largest number to be seen at any one time in this territory, and I am sure I have put that number at a high mark in saying that. Horace Jones, the interpreter here, says that on his first trip along the line of the 100th meridian, in 1859, accompanying Major Thomas – since our noble old General – they passed continuous herds for over sixty miles, which left so little grass behind them that Major Thomas was seriously troubled about his horses, that he has since been over the same country, and that five thousand would be a large number to see at any one time. This shows what slaughter there must have been in the past ten years.
The skins are in season, in colder months, beginning the new coat in October, and best in January. The best meat is calf; then after that, I should say two to three year olds, and cow always in preference. Bull meat, except when young, say three years or so, is not good, tougher than beef, and but little except hump, tongue, tenderloin, liver &c., are ever used unless from necessity. I believe five hundred pounds of meat are wasted for every pound eaten.
“Do whites slaughter needlessly?” It is the exception and very rare at that, for them to slaughter any other way. They simply kill for the love of killing. I know of but few instances in which even the hide was saved by gentlemen sportsmen. The sole idea seems to be, to kill a buffalo. I am glad, however, to state that but little needless slaughter goes on in this territory, it being unoccupied by whites, nor is there much of it slaughtered in upper Texas, though I know of an instance in Texas of a man offering for sale two barrels of tongues, and I am certain that this man did not cure over ten robes, or a ton of meat. You can calculate how much waste of meat there was in that instance.
“Do Indians slaughter needlessly?” They both do and do not, which anomalous answer needs some explanation. The Indian in his natural state does not “kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” He is too true and natural a sportsman to do that, but contact with whites and civilization has engendered many unnatural tastes, to supply which they kill for robes solely with the view of trading. The articles are many of them useful, but many are simply luxuries, and some useless, including canned fruits, nuts, canned milk, umbrellas, and all imaginable knick knacks. It may surprise many of your readers to know that the wild Comanche buys his clothing, his eatables, and even his buckskin; that he produces nothing that he can purchase with robes, that he seldom kills deer, and never soft dresses the skin, in fact, for the purchase of these things the Indian kills many times the amount that he needs but this he considers one of his inalienable rights, and I believe it impossible to prevent this useless slaughter so far as the Indian is concerned.
“Do either Indians or whites kill out of season for the skins only?” There are two seasons for killing for robes by Indians; one in the summer, in the breeding season. When the hair is short, they kill for lodge skins. A lodge lasts but two years and must then be replaced. Then they kill again in the winter for robes for use and traffic, killing always, cows in preference, and right here you have a great if not the greatest cause of diminution; the Indians always kill cows in preference for both meat and robes, and this during the time they are heavy with calf. It is only at these times that the Comanche’s, Kiowa’s, Cheyenne’s, Arapahos, and Osages kill, except occasionally in small quantities for meat. To the killing of the cows, I attribute the fact of running across so many more bulls. It is an odd notion that the younger bulls drive the old fellows away, and mind you, I do not deny that the reason we see so many old fellows on the outskirts of the buffalo range is due to that fact, but that will not account for the frequent herds of twenty, fifty or several hundred, and all bulls which you come across. It is only when you get to the very largest of the herds that you ever see a cow or calf. The whites as you are aware are slaughtering them today in Kansas and farther north by the thousands, and green and undried skins are sold for a dollar.
“Where is the wasteful slaughter greatest?” Along the line of the Kansas Pacific and the Union Pacific, handy to transportation.
According to the Indians, there are two large gangs of buffalo, divided by the Platte River, the gang south of it moving that far north in the summer, and back south again in the winter, as far as the Concho in Texas, and the other gang north of the Platte remaining there. This is the idea of the Comanche’s; they always speak of the two different lots showing that there is probably some basis for the idea. The range of buffalo here is getting very limited, barely coming east of 99th meridian, and going west only to the edge of the Staked Plains, a belt of county not much over one hundred miles and getting less and less constantly. Two years ago, numbers of them still grazed near and east of the 98th meridian.
Fort Sill, G.T., April, 1874
If “Bison” was indeed the Com-mander of Fort Sill in 1874, that would mean he was none other than Lt. Col. John Wynn “Black Jack” Davidson. Davidson is a man worthy of research himself, he enjoyed a very interesting career. He died in 1881, the result of serious injury sustained from a fall with his horse.
As a final comment – this article is not about criticism of J.A. Allen’s work, research or his endnotes. It is strictly about these two paragraphs and their endnotes. This article is meant to show just how easy it is to get derailed when you read another person’s paper. I was just curious to know where he obtained that information and spent close to a month trying to find out. I’m glad I did – it was fascinating to uncover these additional tidbits about the hide hunting era.