|1800 - 1859 Prelude to tragedy . . .
1800 - Nomadic Cheyennes and Arapahos continue to migrate south from Great Lakes Region, ranging south to the
Missouri River, and west into the Plains.
1803 (approx.) – Black Kettle born to Sutaios band of Cheyennes in the Black Hills. Oral traditions vary, and Black
Kettle's parents' names may have been, Father - Swift Hawk Lying Down, Hawk, or Hawk Stretched Out; Mother – Sparrow
Hawk Woman, or Little Brown-Back Hawk Woman.
Little Raven (Southern Arapaho), born approximately in this same time period.
Land bordering Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains between the Gulf of Mexico and the Canadian border purchased by
United States from France for $15 million. Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 includes exploration of land later to become
the Colorado Territory.
March 9, 1814 – John Evans born to Quaker farmers David and Rachel (Burnett) Evans in Waynesville, OH.
January 27, 1821 – John Milton Chivington born to Issac and Jane (Runyun) Chivington in Lebanon, OH.
1823 (Approx.) – Niwot or “Left Hand” (Southern Arapaho) is born.
1830 - St. Louis natives William Bent and Ceran St. Vrain open trading post on Arkansas River near present-day La Junta,
Colorado. Over the next 30 years, Bent will establish a strong relationship with both the white emigrants entering the territory,
and the five major Indian tribes roaming the buffalo hunting grounds. Bent will marry a Cheyenne woman, Owl Woman, and
have four children (Robert, Mary, George and Julia). Owl Woman will die in 1847 while giving birth to Julia, and Bent will later
marry her sister (Yellow Woman) and have one more child, Charles.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations divide; southern tribes, including Black Kettle’s Sutaios range toward Arkansas River,
northern bands continue to range from Platte to Smoky Hill rivers.
1835-1845 – John Evans earns medical degree and builds a prestigious career in Ohio. He will develop new and more
humane treatments for the mentally ill, and focus his studies on diagnosis and treatments for cholera.
June 19, 1836 – Edward Wanshaer Wynkoop born to John W. and Angeline Wynkoop, Philadelphia, PA.
Winter 1838 – Cheyenne Dog Soldier Chief Porcupine Bear kills his cousin, Little Creek, in a drunken brawl near Fort
William (later Laramie) WY. The Dog Soldiers are disgraced and banned from the Cheyenne Nation, forced to camp away
from other Cheyenne clans. The evolution of the new Cheyenne Dog Soldiers (Hotamitaneo) begins, giving rise to a hostile
Cheyenne warrior society that embraces a racist doctrine of exterminating all white emigrants. This event marks the
beginning of dissension between the older, peaceably inclined Cheyenne leadership and the young warrior societies.
Sometime during this era, two Cheyenne brothers are born - Bull Bear and Lean Bear (or, Starving Bear). Both are destined
become Dog Soldier warriors.
July 26, 1838 – Silas Stillman Soule born to Amasa and Sophia Soule, Bath, ME.
1840 - After a decade of violent territorial warfare against Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache tribes, Southern Cheyennes and
Arapahos agree to make peace. All tribes remain friendly with relatively small amount of white explorers, trappers and
settlers in the region.
September 1844 – John Chivington ordained a minister of the Episcopal Methodist Church. Will preach the gospel
throughout the Midwest for next 10 years.
1846-48 – Mexican-American War
Bent’s trading post serves as staging area for Union soldiers. Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas. Apaches and Comanches, all
trading customers of Bent’s post, warily move eastward and away from growing number of white soldiers.
1847 - Dr. John Evans moves to Chicago to teach medicine. He will take an interest in land development and railroad
building, and eventually leave medicine to pursue a career in business. While in Chicago, Evans becomes involved in
Illinois politics, casting his lot with a young politician by the name of Abraham Lincoln. Over the next 15 years, Evans will be a
major influence in building Chicago railroads, and will make a fortune in real estate. He will help found Northwestern
University and the town of Evanston, named in his honor.
1849 - California Gold Rush sends thousands of white emigrants across the Plains and into the mountains, putting a strain
on relations between whites and Indians competing for buffalo hunting grounds.
U.S. Army attempts to purchase William Bent’s fort, but after a dispute over the price, Bent destroys post and relocates
downstream to be closer to Indians west of present-day Lamar, Colorado.
Cholera spreads throughout the Plains as more emigrants pass through. Plains Indian tribes are hit hard by the epidemic.
Tension mounts within destitute Indian tribes.
September 17, 1851 - Treaty of Fort Laramie (Horse Creek Treaty)
Legally defines land in eastern Colorado between the Platte and Arkansas rivers as the exclusive domain of the Cheyenne
and Arapahos, cementing peaceful relations between Indians and white emigrants passing through Kansas and Colorado
on their way to California. (At this time, present-day Colorado was a part of several territories.)
1853 - Bent’s Fort rebuilt closer to Arkansas River.
1854 - Kansas-Nebraska Act
Allows settlers to file homestead claims on Cheyenne and Arapaho land under 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.
1854-55 – Amasa Soule moves family to Lawrence, KS, as Agent for Emigrant Aid Company, established to help settle the
Kansas Territory and bring it into the Union as a free state. Amasa and sons William and Silas establish their home as a
stop on the Underground Railroad, a clandestine network of abolitionists dedicated to aiding escaped slaves flee north to
freedom. A border war between pro-slavery Missouri and abolitionist free-state Kansas is heating up, giving rise to
“Jayhawkers,” a band of abolitionist guerillas dedicated to keeping the pro-slavery movement out of Bleeding Kansas.
1856 - First serious hostilities break out between whites and Cheyennes near Fort Laramie, WY. Cheyenne warriors steal
supplies and eventually clash with Union soldiers near the Republican River.
20-year-old Edward ‘Ned’ Wynkoop leaves Philadelphia for Lecompton, KS, employed by his brother-in-law in the United
States Land Office. Wynkoop learns land trade and delves into local politics, siding with the abolitionist fight to keep Kansas
a free state. The aggressive Wynkoop works his way into the inner circle of new Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver.
Spring 1857 - Spirit Lake Massacre - Renegade band of Dakota Sioux kill forty white emigrants in northwest Iowa.
Early Colorado township established at La Porte on the Cache La Poudre River in the northern regions of Cheyenne and
April 1858 – Small gold discovery by William Green Russell party at confluence of South Platte River and Cherry Creek
ignites a new gold rush to the center of land legally held by Cheyenne and Arapahos, under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.
Arapaho chiefs Little Raven and Left Hand establish friendly relations with the white newcomers on their land.
November 22, 1858 – Kansas Jayhawkers, led by land speculators William Larimer and Edward Wynkoop, found
Denver City township on Cherry Creek. Cheyennes and Arapahos are neither consulted, nor informed that the whites have
established another town on Indian land. White settlements open from Golden City (Golden), Castle Rock, Huntsville
(Larkspur), Colorado City (Colorado Springs) to El Pueblo (Pueblo) on the Fontaine qui Bouille River (Fountain Creek).
January 1859 -Kansas physician Dr. John Doy is arrested by Missouri soldiers in Kansas for harboring twelve escaped
slaves. Doy is taken and held in a Missouri jail house for trial. A band of Jayhawkers led by Major James B. Abbott perform a
daring rescue of Doy, prompting abolitionists to dub the party, “The Immortal Ten.” Among its members is Silas S. Soule.
October 16, 1859 – Abolitionist John Brown seizes arsenal at Harpers Ferry in the slave state of Virginia (present-day
West Virginia). Raid is quelled, and Brown is arrested and condemned to death. The “Immortal Ten” attempt to spring
Brown from jail in the same fashion as the Doy rescue, but the fanatical Calvinist Brown refuses, preferring instead to die a
martyr at the executioner’s hand.
* * * * * * * *
White settlements continue to swell along the Platte and Arkansas rivers, driving Cheyennes and Arapahos away from water
and hunting grounds. Elder tribal leaders are under extreme political pressure of young military leaders to resist. William
Bent issues a warning to the Bureau of Indian Affairs:
“These numerous and warlike Indians, pressed upon all around by the Texans, by the settlers of the gold
region, by the advancing people from Kansas, and from the Platte, are already compressed into a small circle
of territory, destitute of food, and itself bisected athwart by a constantly marching line of emigrants. A
desperate war of starvation and extinction is therefore imminent and inevitable, unless prompt measures
shall prevent it.”
(Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1859, p.507.)
In response to numerous warnings by Bent and others of mounting warrior hostility against the white settlers in Colorado,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs A. B. Greenwood recommends negotiation for a new treaty with the Cheyennes and
Arapahos at once. Greenwood writes:
“There is no alternative to providing for them in this manner but to exterminate them, which the dictates of
justice and humanity alike forbid.”
(Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1859, p.385.)
Summer 1859 – James and Sarah Coberly join wagon train from Iowa, headed for the Pike’s Peak region. With their teen-
aged children, Bill, Joe, Hersa and Mattie, the Coberlys settle on West Plum Creek in present-day Larkspur, CO. Coberly
builds a ranch that will soon become a strategic stage stop half way between Denver City and Colorado City. The ranch will
become known as “Halfway House.”
We'll never forget
reserved for the
Arapahos under the
Fort Laramie Treaty
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