Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jack Morrow.

The following is told by Captain Eugene F. Ware, Co. F., Seventh Iowa Cavalry.  At the time of the Indian trubles in 1864 covering Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. 
Push to enlarge.
On December 23rd the officers of our posts were invited up to Jack Morrow's ranch to dinner. Myself and Captain O'Brien went up, leaving the company in charge of our First Lieutenant. A couple of the officers of the other company, the First Sergeant and the Post Sutler (Ben Gallager), were in the party. Jack Morrow's ranch was out on the prairie, nearly south of the junction of the two Platte rivers. North Platte had much more water in it than the South Platte. Between our post and Jack Morrow's the high hills of the tableland ran far north in a bold promontory, broken at the point into a sort of peak, which could be seen a long distance both up and down the river, toward which it projected. We had to go past this to get to Morrow's ranch. This point was called the " Sioux Lookout." Going up, we detected with a field-glass an Indian's head peering over the top of the ridge at us, but he afterwards scudded away and disappeared. We were told at Morrow's that the Indians were keeping constant lookout from that point, although the weather was exceedingly cold. There was a canyon came in near there called "Moran Canyon," also filled with large cedars.

Jack Morrow was said to have cut out five thousand cedar logs from the canyon for his own use, and for sale to other persons ; and to have got out two thousand fine cedar telegraph poles. It was also said that he would not allow anybody else to cut any timber in that canyon. Morrow had as large an outfit, nearly, as the Gilmans. He claimed to have cattle and goods and improvements worth $100,000, but he overstated it. He was a tall, raw-boned, dangerous-looking man, wearing a mustache, and a goatee on his under lip. He was said to be a killer, to have shot a man or two, and to have passed his life on the plains. He was said to have daily altercations with pilgrims, and to have gone on drunks that were so stupendous in their waste of money and strange eccentricities that he was known from Denver to Fort Kearney and very largely in Omaha. He was said to have had an Indian wife, although I never knew whether that was true or not.

He had a very large stock of goods, and a row of "pilgrim quarters.'' His ranch-house was built of cedar logs, and was two and a half stories high and sixty feet long. The third story was divided into rooms, and the cross-logs were not sawed out to admit doors, so that in going from one room to another it was necessary to crawl over six feet of cedar-log wall to get into these rooms. Yet he had people sleeping in those rooms a great deal of the time. He stored away great quantities of furs, robes, dried buffalo-meat and beef, and other stuffs, for shipment, in a sort of annual caravan, which he made down to Omaha.

One time Jack Morrow was at the post and was inebriated as usual, and he confided to me how he got his start. He said: I came from Missouri, and got to whacking bulls across the plains ; after a while I got onto a Government train loaded with ammunition. I unscrewed the boxes, took out the ammunition and sold it to the ranch men, filled the boxes with sand, and screwed them down.  Then before we got to Laramie I had a rumpus with the wagonmaster and he pulled a pistol and I skinned out for somehere else and nobody got onto it.'' He said, " I never heard a word from it ever afterwards, but I sold a big lot of ammunition.'' This statement might have been true, or not, but it was nevertheless the fact that in the commerce of the prairie, a great difficulty lay in guarding against theft in transit, and this was one of the main duties of the wagon-master in conducting his train.

Authors note.  There is a lot more to read about Jack Morrow, in Eugene F. Ware, book, which can be found and read on the internet.

No comments: