It’s a long way from New York to Montana, and a long time from 1883 to today.
Or is it?
Tavy Umhey of Turah is just two generations removed from Charles Houston, her great-uncle, who traveled from his and her hometown of Bellvale, New York, to Fort Benton in a pivotal time in Montana’s history.
Houston (the family says “Howston”) and a friend, Randolph Smith, traveled by train to Bismarck, Dakota Territory, in the spring of 1882, hopped onto the Missouri River steamboat Big Horn and reached Fort Benton 16 days later.
Smith died of diphtheria within a few weeks of their arrival. Houston, 18 at the start of his journey, remained in the area for more than a year before returning east via a mackinaw boat and train in August 1883 – even as the final touches were being applied to the Northern Pacific Railroad that opened up Montana to the world.
His story wasn’t out of the ordinary for a nation built on westward dreams, but Houston’s experience stands out in one way. He kept a regular diary, and he did it well.
“Charles Houston was well-educated and a keen observer. He wasted no words in recording important events during this period when Fort Benton’s steamboat traffic was booming,” said Ken Robison, historian for the Overholser Historical Research Center in Fort Benton, where a copy of Houston’s edited journals is kept.
In one short entry on May 11, 1882, Houston provided a graphic glimpse of the end of the free-roaming buffalo era on the Northern Plains. His chilling description of a Yankton Sioux Sun Dance ceremony at Poplar in 1883 is an ethnographic jewel.
Fort Benton was undergoing a transition of its own as the railroads closed in on the most important steamboat port on the Upper Missouri. On Election Day 1882, Charlie was 19 and still too young to vote, but not to lend a wry take on the workings of the democratic process in Fort Benton.
“Details and insights like these almost never find their way into diaries or newspaper reporting – great tidbits of social life in a barely tamed frontier town,” said Robison.
Houston's wanderings and diary entries didn’t stop when he got home from Montana. He explored and lived in California from 1884 to 1886 and took one last journey to California in 1891, returning via Montana before settling down in New York.
He died in 1935. Nearly 50 years later, Tavy Umhey and her aunt were taking care of Houston's last living daughter in Bellvale, 60 miles north of downtown Manhattan.
“My two uncles found the diaries in a shoe box when Helen was moving into a nursing home and they were cleaning out the house. They thought it would be valuable information at some point, so on their own hook they published them,” said Umhey, whose grandfather Edgar was about 10 when his big brother first went west.
The result, completed in 1984, was a 100-page booklet, the first 29 covering Houston’s Montana experience. Umhey guessed her uncles printed up fewer than 100 copies.
“They never sold them, just handed them out to members of family or people they thought might be interested,” she said.
Umhey got a few, and while still living in Bellvale in the mid-1980s sent copies to Montana – to the Montana Historical Society in Helena, to the University of Montana's Mansfield Library and to the town of Fort Benton. All are available for research purposes, the latter at the Overholser Historical Research Center.
The Umheys’ retirement to Montana in 1997 had nothing to do with Tavy’s family history. Her husband Charles, a urologist, wanted to live in the Missoula area for its outdoor opportunities, and their son Andrew was attending UM at the time.
The story of Charles Houston, in his own words, is one Montanans own ought to hear.
“I hate to have all this just lost forever,” Tavy said. “The more we spread it around the better.”
Following are excerpts from “Go West Young Man: The Diaries of Charles M. Houston 1882-1891.”
ABOARD THE STEAMBOAT BIG HORN
BISMARCK, DAKOTA TERRITORY, to FORT BENTON, MONTANA TERRITORY
Sunday, April 30 (1882): Nice bright morning but very chilly. The boat started about seven o’clock, went about 6 rods and stuck on a stump but soon got off and runs along good. The boat is loaded heavy, has on about 230 tons and draws 3 ft. 2 inches of water. . … We have 20 passengers. Two familys of Germans from Michigan. They have an organette and make some nice music. … Stopped 4 times for wood to run the engine. They use 250 cords from Bismark (sic) to Benton.
May 1 (1882): About 2 P.M. an old man fell overboard and started to float down stream. They lowered the lifeboat as soon as possible and got him out in about three minutes. He was unconscious but soon came to.
Thursday, May 4: The man that fell overboard died last night, he had been on a spree in Bismark and was about used up. They buried him this evening about 40 miles below Ft.Buford.
Friday, May 5: The Helena, a steamboat that left Bismark Monday morning passed us below Ft.Buford. … Passed the Helena again at Ft.Union, this makes a little excitement and I like it. We are now in Montana …
Monday, May 8: The Steamboat Mead has the smallpox on board – left two cases near Poplar Creek. Were stuck on a bar 3 ½ hours at WolfPoint and the Helena passed us.
Thursday, May 11: This morning we saw about 100 dead Buffalo on an island about 30 rods (165 yards) long. Saw miles of Buffalo Robes on the shore to go down with one of the boats. The hunters say that 40,000 buffalo were killed along the Missouri River last winter.
Friday, May 12: Having nice weather now. While the Negroes were eating supper one stabbed another in the neck, cut him very bad. They tied the other up and will put him in prison in Benton. Passed the mouth of the Musselshell. There is an Indian camp and Trading Post here.
Saturday, May 13: We are in the pine country now and burn pine knots, they make a hot fire. Mr. Main, a man that came from Bismark, got off at Rocky Point. He has a store there and said if I couldn’t get a job in Benton he would give me one.
Tuesday, May 16: Expect to get in Benton tonight after 17 days. I have had a headache all day and 2 of my teeth began to ache this afternoon. About 7 o’clock P.M. I had a chill which lasted ½ hour, went to bed, then the fever came on and I couldn’t hardly move. I did not sleep any. Got in Benton at 9 P.M.
FORT BENTON, MONTANA TERRITORY
Wednesday, May 17: Have a very bad headache this morning, couldn’t eat any breakfast and felt weak. Took a room at the Centennial Hotel and laid down but couldn’t sleep.
Thursday, May 18: Slept some last night and feel better this morning. Looked around for a job but couldn’t find any. Smith is quite sick yet. The doctor called on him, told him he had a narrow escape – typhoid, but he now has quinsy sore throat.
Friday, May 19: The Big Horn started down the river this morning but in going under the ferry cable, caught her smokestacks and knocked them both down. One smashed the deck and the other nearly fell into the river. The pilots were both drunk and were discharged and as the mate was the same way he went too.
Saturday, May 20: Snow on ground. Smith isn’t any better … I hired with W.J. Minar to clerk in a drug store at $30. per month, to commence Monday.
Monday, May 22: Randolph has improved a great deal, the Doctor says that after today he can care for himself. … Mr. Minar let me off until tomorrow as we could get no nurse.
Tuesday, May 23: Commenced the drug store business. I like it very well. I don’t have to work hard.
Friday, May 26: Warm today, thermometer 80 ° in shade. Smith is worse today.
Sunday, May 28: Was up on the new Hotel today (Grand Union was under construction). Can see all around town. It is going to be a nice Hotel.
Monday, May 29: The Josephine arrived to-day with Mr. Minar’s goods. Cleaned up the warehouse this afternoon.
Tuesday, May 30: Unpacked goods all the afternoon, the hardest I have worked in some time…
Thursday, June 1 (1882): Got another nurse for Randolph. This morning is the first I though him dangerously sick.
Friday, June 2: Randolph died this morning about 4 A.M. He was conscious till the last and died easy. I have been all around this morning getting his things together. Telegraphed his Father. … If his folks want his remains we will have to send to Helena for a casket and then send him. I feel very sad today, almost homesick, I am very sorry that Randolph died, it will be such a sad news at home, but he had a Minister to see him and I think he died in the Lord.
Sunday, June 4: Went to church this morning, the Episcopal & Catholic are the only churches. Went down to the river and saw Red Cloud, the largest steamer on the river.
Saturday, June 10: Mr. Minar left for Helena this morning to be gone a week, leaving me in charge of the store. The Dacotah arrived this morning, 520 tons freight. … The Big Horn came in this evening.
Monday, June 12: Had a toothache and headache today. … Had a fair trade. Had to get up and put up a prescription last night at 11 P.M.
Thursday, June 15: The vagabonds are leaving Benton on account of 3-7-77.
Saturday, June 17: I received a letter from Father with check of $20.00, he said Randolph’s wife went into spasm when she heard of his death and was delirious for 2 or 3 days.
Sunday, June 25: The Wyoming arrived to-day with (Houston's half brother) Fred W. Wilson on. Was very glad to see him. Fred has his whiskers off and looks just as he used to in Bellvale.
Friday, June 30: I bought a quilt and pair of blankets of E.B. Hoyt for $7.00. (Charles) Guiteau was hung today (in Washington D.C., for the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881) “good for him” …
Tuesday, July 4 (1882): It is very quiet this morning and hot 100 ° in the shade and 134° in the sun. they are shooting the cannon now at 12 noon.
Thursday, July 6: Had a tooth pulled and paid a dollar for the job.
Sunday, July 9: It has been blowing all day like a hurricane.
Tuesday, July 11: There is about 15 saloons here and as much as 50 men who do nothing but gamble for a living. It is thought there will be 1,000,000 lbs. of wool brought here to sell this season and now wagon after wagon are coming in.
Monday, July 17: Quite warm today. The river keeps falling and soon will be too low for the boats to run up to Benton.
Thursday, July 20: The Steamer Rosebud has an electric light, the first one on the upper river. It makes a good light and is bright as day. With it they can run at night and save time.
Monday, July 31: The Chop House has busted and I had to go over to the Grand Central, it costs $1.00 a day over there but is the best I can do.
Tuesday, Aug. 1 (1882): I board at the Grand Central, the best place in the city.
Friday, Aug. 4: Hot today 100° Shade. Went swimming in the Missouri, first time, and feel better now.
Saturday, Aug. 5: It has been cooler to-day. Fires are raging on the pararie (sic), smoke is thick in town.
Monday, Aug. 7: The Josephine arrived to-day. The river is 6 inches above low water mark. … I think this is the last boat.
Aug. 12: I was pallbearer for Jas. Yore’s child buried today. There is lots of dust flying but it is much cooler. I think after I get this book full I won’t write every day, maybe just on Sundays.
Aug. 13, Sunday: Nothing to-day.
Aug. 14: Josephine arrived today. She had a hard time to get here.
Aug. 15: The Josephine left. I suppose she is the last boat I will see this year, no more till next May.
Aug. 20, Sunday: Had Corn Beef, Veal, Chicken Pot Pie, Potatoes, Iced Tea, Lemon & Peach Pie, Rice Pudding & Ice Cream for Dinner. … Hi Wright lent me his horse and I rode out to Smith’s ranch on the Teton River. He has a nice ranch, I would like to have it.
Thursday, Aug. 24: Today I am 19. Jessie (Lawrence, girlfriend back home in Bellvale) is the only one that has sent anything.
Aug. 29: One of my teeth is decayed in the side and I will have to have it filled.
Thursday, Aug. 31: Mr. Minar is going to move somewhere else soon. There is a good deal of building in B. now. A block of brick buildings 147 feet long is going to be built on Front Street.
Sunday, Sept. 3 (1882): I guess I will go back to writing every day, the store isn’t very busy.
Sept. 11: Had 3 teeth filled and 1 extracted to-day and my jaw has bled a good deal so I don’t feel very well.
Friday, Sept. 29: … Rain & Mud/ Mud & Rain
Thurs., Oct. 5 (1882): We had some snow yesterday. I made a deposit to-day. I now have One Hundred Dollars in the bank at interest.
Sat., Oct. 7: Mr. Minar’s wife died last night and he has gone to Helena, so I am alone again. Trade is dull.
Sunday, Oct. 15: Mr. Minar arrived last night and feels sad. He was exposed to the smallpox, but I hope he didn’t catch it. I had a fair trade while he was away.
Mon., Oct. 16: McGinnis (Martin Maginnis), the Democratic candidate for Territorial Delegate, spoke here last night. All drunk and had a big time.
Wed., Oct. 25: It is very damp in the store, I don’t know but I may have the rhumatism.
Sunday, Nov. 5 (1882): Milo R. had company last night and invited me. Miss Orvette and Miss Allen were there and I had a very pleasant time. There is considerable excitement about election now. This is mostly a democratic town but they think it will be close this year. … the men are getting drunk on democratic whiskey, getting ready for Tuesday. I expect there will be a big time then.
Tuesday, Nov. 7: Election! It is a fine day and the democrats are working hard. Lots of drunkenness and fighting. (Johnny) Healy is the biggest toad in the Irish puddle, he had 2 or 3 disgracefull squabbles. It is going to be a closer vote than ever before in this county. I am too young so I can’t vote this time, but the performances of the Dem’s is enough to sicken me of them.
Wed. Nov. 8: Quiet to-day – I think the democrats won most of the elections in the territory. I am looking forward to 1884 when I can vote for President.
Sunday, Nov. 12: The river is filled with floating ice so that the ferry boat can’t run.
Friday, Nov. 17: The weather is warmer and is just splendid. The Northern Lights are very bright to-night, they form a perfect dome overhead and folks say they never saw them so brilliant. They are magnificent.
Monday, Nov. 20: Ate supper at the Grand Union last night. (The Grand Union Hotel opened Nov. 2, 1882; it still operates 133 years later)
Wednesday, Nov. 22: It commenced to snow and is still at it.
Sunday, Nov. 26: I weigh 152 lbs. now, that is more than I ever did before.
Thursday, Nov. 30: For 2 days it has been as warm as summer. 70° and is just as pleasant as it can be. Ate Thanksgiving Dinner at L.H. Rosencrans and had a very pleasant time. They are having a grand time at the K. of P. (Knights of Pythias) Ball at the Grand Union Hotel tonight.
Friday, Dec. 8 (1882): Thermometer 28 below zero Wednesday night but last night a Chinook wind blew and melted snow, and the ice broke D.G. Brown’s Ferryboat loose and it went down the river this morning.
Sunday, Dec. 10: Some men in the store were counting the saloons and dives and there are 16 Saloons that pay $60 per year Liquor License and 10 Saloons that pay $10 per year gambling License, and about 10 Dives and all together they pay between $1400 and $1500 a year. A Saloon to every 8 men and yet they all live.
Sunday, Dec. 24: The Post Mast has been giving my papers to Sam D. Houston lately, I didn’t know where they went to for the last 2 months. John Houston and Sam are from Griggsville, ILL. and are brick masons.
Christmas, Monday Dec. 25: This has been the warmest nicest Christmas I ever saw. I was down the river skating this evening, the first time I have been on skates in 2 or 3 years, so I feel stiff. … It is very dull in Benton. I haven’t recd. Any presents yet but hope I will before long.
Sunday, Dec. 31: Thermometer 20° below zero last night but it warmed up some to-day. Ate New Year’s dinner at M.M. Rosencrans to-day. Tomorrow I will commence to board at the Grand Union as it is too cold and snowy to walk up to the Rosencrans.
Jan. 1, 1883: Commenced to board at the Grand Union Hotel this morning. I sleep there now with C.P. Tompson, a Canadian, he is a good fellow.
Jan. 3: I think I will save all I can this year and then go back home and stay here. I can do almost as well and it is so much pleasanter to be among friends.
Friday, Jan. 5: FIRE Foster’s Comique caught fire about 10 A.M. and burned very fast. The Court House stood next and was a frame building. The tings in it were saved but the Court House was burned to the ground. There isn’t a fire engine here or the Court House could have been saved. The people worked well and saved Baker and Delorimer’s store or the whole of Main Street would have burned.
Sunday, Jan. 7: There was a vault in the Court House and all the records were saved.
Jan. 10: Chinook yesterday took all the snow off and last night the river froze and made splendid skating. I have been skating twice to-day. … They give good board at the Grand Union but I like it better at Rosencrans.
Friday, Feb. 2 (1883): 37 ° below zero last night, the coldest it has been.
Wednesday, Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day: didn’t send nor receive any. “Gran Masquerade Ball” tonight. I had an invitation but didn’t go.
Sunday, Feb. 18: Friday recd. Letters from V and Father and a valentine mailed from Goshen. I think aunt Julia Benedict sent it, it was good.
Sunday, Feb. 25: It has been a splendid today. … Back of Main Street is quite a lake. Sold my sakes to Tom Finnagen for $2.25 I don’t think I could use them much more.
Monday, March 5 (1883): The ice broke up and went down the river this afternoon, has been frozen 2 months.
Monday, March 12: Mr. Minar has hired Sam Kelly to stay here while he goes East, and wants me to take a vacation. I can’t stand that and pay $30.00 a month board.
Wednesday, March 14: About 11 o’clock Mr. Epperson (John Hackshaw’s brother-in-law) hired me to work on a ranch at $50.00 per month. So I came out before dinner. It is about 30 miles to Hackshaw’s ranch on Belt Creek. … (The Eppersons) live in a log cabin 12 X 14 and have four children.
RANCHING ON BELT CREEK
Wednesday, March 21: I drove some stock across country and the horse fell over with me in Willow Creek but I only got a little wet.
Wednesday, March 28: Still snow, this is 5 days of storm, can’t work much now. … We have a nice time playing checkers and cards.
Saturday, March 31: Angus and Nep (Hackshaw) are both away and it has been storming for over a week, so that we can’t work. So Mrs. Hackshaw told me they couldn’t afford to hire me and I am out of work again. I have been here half a month and if I can get work till the first of May I will be all right. I think that I can get a place in T.C. Power’s store then.
Monday, April 2 (1883): Commenced work this morning for the Hackshaw boys at $35.00 per month. They are going to keep me a month till I can get a place in Benton. Bored fence posts to-day, it was hard work and I feel stiff all over.
Wednesday, April 4: The robins, larks and blue Birds are here. I saw 4 flocks of wild swan this week & several wild geese.
Saturday, April 7: Cleaned the dooryard and fixed flowerbeds. Helped plow with the steers this morning & cut colts this eve.
Thursday, April 12: Nep and I plowed on the ditch to-day, it is hard to hold the plow it is so crooked. Rec. my mail … first in 3 weeks. … Father thinks I better study drugs and learn the business. I think of taking up a ranch on the bench a mile N.W. of here. In 5 years it will be worth considerable.
Saturday, April 21: The hens are laying good so we have eggs to eat quite often. I couldn’t get any in Benton.
April 24: Plowed on ditch. Just 1 year ago to-day I started from home with $100. Now I have $250.00 so that I could go home and be as well off as before but I guess I will stay till October.
BACK TO FORT BENTON
Tuesday, May 1 (1883): Walked up to Gillette’s this morning and came in (to Fort Benton) on Barker Coach. Took supper at Grand Union with C.P. Thompson. Slept with him, he is very accommodating.
Wednesday, May 2: Looked around town for a situation but couldn’t find any. They all want to wait until business picks up.
Thursday, May 10: Commenced clerking (in novelty store) for Geo. W. Crane at $40.00 per month & board. This is next door to Mr. Minar’s and is nice light work. The Steamer Rosebud arrived this evening, fired cannon and everybody in town went down to the levee. She has an electric light.
Monday, May 14: Very muddy to-day. Wrote to Father and accepted his proposition to go to California and Florida.
Wednesday, May 16: Some of the boys have started on the round up. I board at the Grand Central. I like it better than at the G. Union.
Tuesday, May 22: I wish I didn’t like candy, nuts, & apples for it keeps me busy a good part of my time to keep them from spoiling.
Thursday, May 24: Recd. an invitation to Eastmans College Excursion (alma mater in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) – don’t think I will go. To-day the N.Y. & Brooklyn Bridge is opened.
Thursday, May 31: C.B.Haynes gave me a map of National Park drawn by his brother F. Jay Haynes, Photographer for The Northern Pacific Rail Road, it is a fine one – shows all places of interest.
Sunday, June 3 (1883): The Dacotah brought up the damaged goods from the wreck of the Big Horn (sunk by a snag near Poplar on May 8).
Wednesday, June 6: Damaged goods from the “Big Horn’ wreck are selling cheap. I bought a shirt 40 cents 1 pr. pants $3.50.
Sunday, June 17: We had the hardest hailstorm I ever saw this evening. It lasted 15 or 20 minutes then the rain poured down and ran in nearly every house. The hail was 3 in. deep and in some place 8 or 10.
Sunday, July 1 (1883): Thursday I recd. a letter from Jessie (girlfriend in Bellvale) saying that her Father wanted to rent H.K. Wood’s Feed Store and wished me to take charge of the business. Either wages or contract. I have thought it over and think it will be better for me to go home than to California; for in 2 years I may have quite a start there and if I was traveling I would be busted. I told him I could come by the middle of Sept.
Wednesday, July 4: Went to the horse races on Teton this afternoon. Had some fun but had more coming home. Charles Sheridan & Kerndal ran horses for ½ mile, I was with Sheridan. The city is illuminated with fireworks this eve. … A man fell off the ferryboat yesterday and drowned.
Monday, July 9: 20 or 30 cowboys are in town this eve. The cow and calf roundup is over but they commence tomorrow on the steer roundup.
Friday, July 13: The river is quite low now, the bar shows plain. William Warner and Mike Lynch are going down the river in a Mackinaw August 10th and want me to go along. I think I will but want to hear from Mr. Lawrence (his girlfriend's father in Bellvale) first.
Sunday, July 15: Horse race on the Teton to-day, about $2,000 bet.
Tuesday, July 17: E. Peterson, Brown & I bought 2 baskets Strawberries and had them & ice cream for dinner. They were the first I had in Montana.
Thursday, July 19: I joined hose Company No. 1. We organized this evening.
Thursday, July 26: Helena tied up this eve. I packed my trunk and will send it down to her. 3 marriages in town tonight.
Saturday, July 28: Sent my trunk down to I.G. Baker in Bismark on the Helena, had it insured for $100.00. It is doubtful if we have any more boats this season.
Thursday, Aug. 2 (1883): Some hard characters stole a boat last night and went down the river to hold us up, but I guess we will get through all right.
DOWN THE MISSOURI TO BISMARCK IN A MACKINAW BOAT
Saturday, Aug. 4: W.C. (Will) Warner, Mike Lynch, and I started from Ft.Benton at 5 A.M. We rowed against the wind all day. Passed Coal Banks. Tied up at 10 P.M., we were rather tired.
Sunday, Aug. 5: Passed Clagett at 5 P.M., saw Jim Wells (ex-Pony Express rider who ran trading post at Judith Landing).
Monday, Aug. 6: We passed Skinny Waterhouse’s gang last eve. I guess they didn’t have any arms to hold us up with.
Tuesday, Aug. 7: Passed Carroll at 6 A.M. Nobody was up yet. … Passed Muscleshell at 7 P.M. Camp of Indians there – saw one naked.
Thursday, Aug. 9: We had to get out and pull the boat ½ mile across a bar. It commenced to rain but we found a deserted cabin & stayed all night.
Friday, Aug. 10: Stopped at the wreck of the Butte about 9 A.M. Everything was burned, the men lost all their clothes.
Sunday, Aug. 12: Stopped at Wolf Point 9 A.M. 140 lodges of Indians here. 7 to a lodge is the average. I shot a goose to-day so we had a good dinner. Camped a little above Poplar Creek this eve. We are about half way to Bismark now, if the wind was in our favor we could run as fast again.
Aug. 13: Pulled out at 4 A.M. arrived at Poplar Agency 7 A.M. – Went up to the Post about 1 mile from landing & heard that the Sun Dance was to commence in a day or two. So Will & I are going to stay and see it. We registered and the Indian Agent said he had no objections to our staying on the reservation if we kept out of the camp. There are 7,000 Indians here, the Yankton tribe of the Sioux.
Aug. 14: Will and I got tickets for the Sun Dance. The Indians are getting smart & charge $1.00 for seeing them. We went through the camp to-day. The Assinaboins (sic) from Wolf Point came down to see the Dance. They are building their ring & it is as good as a circus to see them come with brush on their ponies as fast as they could run. The Steamer Rosebud arrived at 9 P.M. with goods for the Indian Agent. The Indians have been on short rations for a while.
Aug. 15: There are two companies of soldiers here and they have a well built post. The U.S. (Indian Agent) Snyder said the rations gave out and the Indians had only a cup full of corn a week. The Indians have a big circle surrounded with brush and a tree 30 ft. high in the center. The Dance commenced about noon. There are 17 Indians to be tortured. They are painted yellow, black, blue, white and mud color. Some had a breech clout on and others a blanket belted at the waist. One brave was cut in the breast and two pins put through and tied to a lariat fastened to the center tree. There were 13 drummers, ten pounding on a rawhide, and the 17 whistling and dancing. The ones to be tortured have fasted three days. Only 3 squaws are allowed to take part at a time. There were several ladies of the post and about 20 soldiers watching.
Aug. 16: They drummed and danced all night and the poor fellow was still tied up this morning. About noon he tore out the skin and fell on his back. The medicine man helped him up and cut 2 holes in his back and strung him up again. He pulled about two hours and tore one out. He was so weak he cried. Then they cut the other out and let him go. They then repeated the performance on another. The medicine man had a little pole with a blackbird on the end which he swung around the head of one of the braves till he mesmerized or made him drunk so that he fell down. They ran a knife through the papooses ears and put two rings in each ear. The Medicine Man received a pony for each child. They cut little holes from the shoulder to the elbow. At noon they all had a feast of tea and boiled corn; but the poor fellow in the ring had none. One that wanted to be tortured was about 15. The others were from 20 to 25. At times the whole tribe would be yelling.
We left the Agency at 3 P.M. Passed wreck of the Big Horn 3:45. It is nearly gone.
Saturday, Aug. 18: Passed Fort Union at 6 A.M. – Mouth of the Yellowstone River at 7:30. … Ft.Buford is about 1 mile below where we stopped & got some provisions. It is quite a place.
Sunday, Aug. 19: Had a favorable wind most all day and with our sail made steamboat time.
Monday, Aug. 20: Made about 100 miles again to-day. See lots of wild geese & ducks along here. We caught a 5 lb. cat fish this even.
Thursday, Aug. 23: Arrived at Bismark at 11 A.M. It has been very warm to-day. Sold our boat for $5.00. Sold my gun for $10. Saw several Benton fellows here. Stopped at Merchants Hotel. Went to Varieties this evening.
Friday, Aug. 24: Bought a 2nd class ticket for Boston ... by way of Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and New York for $47.50. Bismark is quite lively now. They are building the Capitol here. Left at 9 a.m. Today I am 20 years of age. Arrived in Fargo at 8 P.M.