Last of the Great Scouts
Death And Burial Of Turk
THIS trip of Will's covered only two months, and was succeeded by another expedition,
to the new post at Fort Wallace, at Cheyenne Pass.
Meanwhile mother had decided to improve the opportunity afforded by her geographical
position, and under her supervision "The Valley Grove House" was going up.
The hotel commanded a magnificent prospect. Below lay the beautiful Salt Creek Valley.
It derived its name from the saline properties of the little stream that rushed along its
pebbly bed to empty its clear waters into the muddy Missouri. From the vantage-ground
of our location Salt Creek looked like a silver thread, winding its way through the rich
verdure of the valley. The region was dotted with fertile farms; from east to west ran the
government road, known as the Old Salt Lake Trail, and back of us was Cody Hill,
named for my father. Our house stood on the side hill, just above the military road, and
between us and the hilltop lay the grove that gave the hotel its name. Government hill,
which broke the eastern sky-line, hid Leavenworth and the Missouri River, culminating
to the south in Pilot Knob, the eminence on which my father was buried, also beyond our
Mother's business sagacity was justified in the hotel venture. The trail began its half-mile
ascent of Cody Hill just below our house, and at this point the expedient known as
"doubling" was employed. Two teams hauled a wagon up the steep incline, the double
team returning for the wagon left behind. Thus the progress of a wagon train, always
slow, became a very snail's pace, and the hotel was insured a full quota of hungry
Will found that his wages were of considerable aid to mother in the large expense
incurred by the building of the hotel; and the winter drawing on, forbidding further
freighting trips, he planned an expedition with a party of trappers. More money was to be
made at this business during the winter than at any other time.
The trip was successful, and contained only one adventure spiced with danger, which, as
was so often the case, Will twisted to his own advantage by coolness and presence of
One morning, as he was making the round of his traps, three Indians appeared on the
trail, each leading a pony laden with pelts. One had a gun; the others carried bows and
arrows. The odds were three to one, and the brave with the gun was the most to be feared.
This Indian dropped his bridle-rein and threw up his rifle; but before it was at his
shoulder Will had fired, and he fell forward on his face. His companions bent their bows,
one arrow passing through Will's hat and another piercing his arm--the first wound he
ever received. Will swung his cap about his head.