Last of the Great Scouts
Pa-Has-Ka, The Long-Haired Chief
ALTHOUGH the glory of killing the buffalo on our hunt was accredited to sister May, to
me the episode proved of much more moment. In the spring of 1871 I was married to Mr.
Jester, the bachelor ranchman at whose place we had tarried on our hurried return to the
fort. His house had a rough exterior, but was substantial and commodious, and before I
entered it, a bride, it was refitted in a style almost luxurious. I returned to Leavenworth to
prepare for the wedding, which took place at the home of an old friend, Thomas
Plowman, his daughter Emma having been my chum in girlhood.
In our home near McPherson we were five miles "in the country." Nature in primitive
wildness encompassed us, but life's song never ran into a monotone. The prairie is never
dull when one watches it from day to day for signs of Indians. Yet we were not especially
concerned, as we were near enough to the fort to reach it on short notice, and besides our
home there was another house where the ranchmen lived. With these I had little to do.
My especial factotum was a negro boy, whose chief duty was to saddle my horse and
bring it to the door, attend me upon my rides, and minister to my comfort generally. Poor
little chap! He was one of the first of the Indians' victims.
Early one morning John, as he was called, was sent out alone to look after the cattle.
During breakfast the clatter of hoofs was heard, and Will rode up to inform us that the
Indians were on the war-path and massed in force just beyond our ranch. Back of Will
were the troops, and we were advised to ride at once to the fort. Hastily packing a few
valuables, we took refuge at McPherson, and remained there until the troops returned
with the news that all danger was over.
Upon our return to the ranch we found that the cattle had been driven away, and poor
little John was picked up dead on the skirts of the foothills. The redskins had apparently
started to scalp him, but had desisted. Perhaps they thought his wool would not make a
desirable trophy, perhaps they were frightened away. At all events, the poor child's scalp
was left to him, though the mark of the knife was plain.
Shortly after this episode, some capitalists from the East visited my husband. One of
them, Mr. Bent, owned a large share in the cattle-ranches. He desired to visit this ranch,
and the whole party planned a hunt at the same time. As there were no banking facilities
on the frontier, drafts or bills of exchange would have been of no use; so the money
designed for Western investment had been brought along in cash. To carry this on the
proposed trip was too great a risk, and I was asked banteringly to act as banker. I
consented readily, but imagine my perturbation when twenty-five thousand dollars in
bank-notes were counted out and left in my care. I had never had the responsibility of so
large a sum of money before, and compared to me the man with the elephant on his hands
had a tranquil time of it. After considering various methods for secreting the money, I
decided for the hair mattress on my bed. This I ripped open, inserted the envelope
containing the bank-notes, and sewed up the slit. No one was aware of my trust, and I
regarded it safe.