John E. Fouse was a native of Philadelphia, Pa., and was a son of
Ezekiel Fouse, Professor of Languages in the Philadelphia College.
The father had no less than seven languages at his command. John E.
married Isabella McMichael who came from, Belfast, Ireland, in 1851,
settling in Philadelphia. She was of delicate health at the time she
made the memorable ocean voyage of six weeks on board the little
sailing vessel "Tonawanda" so much so, that her friends hardly
expected she would see America, but she not only survived the ocean
voyage, but has passed through the experiences of a ranch keeper's
life; has had a family of twelve children, and now in the eighty
second year of her age, she has favored us with a few of the
reminiscences of Nebraska's early days.
Philadelphia and came west to Page county, Iowa, where they lived
through one winter. Mr. Fouse then set out with a wagon and team for
Denver, and when crossing the Nebraska plains was induced to buy
some land for which he gave his horses with wagon and load, and, in
the year 1865 commenced the famous Fouse Ranch. It was situated
between the forks of Beaver Creek and the Blue River, "Minne-to-wank-pala,"
near what is now Beaver Crossing, in the south west comer of Seward
county near the York County line, and therefore on the old trail of
the western route crossing the Beaver Creek.
The house was
made of logs with a dirt roof, thirty-six by sixteen feet, near
which was an underground stable, the entrance which faced the creek
was somewhat hidden from view, there being also a trap door
communication from the ranch which provided a way of escape by
flight in case of an attack from Indians. The ranch was a favorite
stopping place and station for the overland stage coach. It was a
lonesome and yet busy life; Mrs. Fouse falling in for a large share
of the work, but there were no near neighbors for several years, and
the only women she saw were those travelling over the country, or
the Indian Squaws.
Every alternate day there was no sleep
for the keepers of the ranch, for the stage on that day arrived at
midnight, when the hungry travellers looked for the hospitality
which was never denied them by "mine host."
One night an
extra stage arrived and eighteen hungry men and women who had been
without food for thirty-six hours wanted a meal, there was no meat
in the house and nothing was ready. As a result of their pleading.
Mrs. Fouse said she might get something gathered up provided they
would help; so with the assurance of their assistance she proceeded
to the chicken house and secured three chickens, these were prepared
and after some patient waiting: the hungry travellers were fed. In
appreciation of the kindness shown not one paid less than fifty
cents: some refusing to take any change' out of what they laid down.
The "'Greenbacks" were new them, and one man a southerner, laid down
a dollar bill, saying: "I do not want any change out of than Lincoln
skin!" we are assured that the travellers calling at the Fouse ranch
were always very courteous and kind.
The men were one time
up the Beaver making hay when they received' word that 500 Sioux
Indians were on the war path and coming down the county. Mr. Fouse
who kept the stage horses, got one of them and providing himself
with his rifle (the Sioux name is 'Ishtahbopopas) went out to meet
them, and when within shooting distance, he pointed his
'Ishtahbopopa' at the Indians at which they all threw their
'Ishtahbopopas' on the ground, saying, "We good Indians," meaning
they were not the "Toka abe do!" i, e, the enemy.
time Mr. Fouse had just returned from Nebraska City where he had
been to meet Mrs. Fouse's sister; when he found the whole country
side in agitation over a threatened invasion of the Sioux Indians.
Many people were leaving for places of safety in the east, so Mrs.
Fouse and her sister were sent back with instructions not to stop
until they were safe in Iowa,. When they reached the Walnut creek
many of the party were so filled with whisky which they had brought
along that they could not proceed, but the wagon in which were Mrs.
Fouse, her sister, and another woman with three children who had
begged to go with them, was hastened on to "Tommy West's," and then
on to Milford. When three miles from camp they saw what looked like
a band of Indians, which seemed to head them off whichever way they
turned, besides this; their horses refused to go, and great was the
alarm of the women, but when the party came up with them they were
found to be white people. They reached Milford, and when the stage
arrived from the west it brought word from Mr. Fouse for the party
to return as everything was now quiet.
There was a party of
five hundred Pawnee braves camped near the ranch and Mr. Fouse
provided them with a generous supply of watermelons much to the
delight of the dusky warriors; these were soon eaten up "slick and
clean." One evening a party of two hundred Pawnees, who were
returning from a buffalo hunt, camped in the grove, and Mr. Fouse
for the amusement of his guests played a little joke on the Indians.
Gathering together all the shotguns he could find he ran excitedly
over the grove crying "Sioux! Sioux!" and handed the guns to the
Pawnees presumably for their protection. They soon scattered
themselves over the prairie feeling sure that their worst enemies
were about to pounce upon them. After a while they found out the
joke and returned to camp saying, "Ugh! John no good, heap lie!"
They failed to hear the Sioux war cry, "Hi! yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-hiyah!"
One fall a party of Pawnee braves were in camp, and
purchased a large dog from a settler that they might hold their
preparatory feast and war dance. The sacrifice of a dog was one of
their important religious observances, and if possible a white dog
was always secured, which was an old time custom; having the
significance of sinlessness, the idea is supposed to have descended
from the ancient tribes of Israel.
They returned sometime
afterwards having several of their number shot and wounded, they
built a large fire in the shape of a circle, and sat around it for
two days and nights without partaking of food, evidently mourning
the result of their expedition. When questioned as to the cause of
their misfortunes they replied, "Heap Sioux."
In giving the
following Pawnee Chant, called the "Day Song" let us say first, that
this is the only known Pawnee song in Chant form, and second, in
trying to understand its meaning we must remember that their lodges
were always built with the entrance facing the East. Thus it is that
the Sun shines in the lodge and then passes around and then in its
rising shines down the chimney, and then passes on to the West to
pass from sight.
Now behold; hither comes the ray of our father
it cometh over all the land, passeth in the lodge, us to
touch, and give us strength.
Now behold; where alights the
ray of our father Sun;
it touches lightly on the rim, the place
above the fire, whence the smoke ascends on high.
behold; softly creeps the ray of our father Sun;
now o'er the
rim it creeps to us, climbs down within the lodge; climbing down, it
comes to us.
Now behold; nearer comes the ray of our father
it reaches now the floor and moves within the open space,
walking there, the lodge about.
Now behold where has passed
the ray of our father Sun;
around the lodge the ray has passed
and left its blessing there, touching us, each one of us.
Now beholds; softly climbs the ray of our father Sun,
climbs, and o'er the rim it passes from the place whence the smoke
ascends on high.
Now behold; on the hills the ray of our
it lingers there as loath to go, while all the plain
is dark, now has gone the ray from us.
Now behold; lost to
us the ray of our father Sun;
beyond our sight the ray has gone,
returning to the place whence it came to bring us strength.
It may well be recorded here, that the last battle of the Pawnee
with the Sioux occurred in what is known as Massacre Canyon, between
the Republican and Frenchman rivers, about 10 o'clock on the morning
of August 5, 1873. The Sioux taking advantage of the "absence of the
Pawnee chiefs" who were away hunting pounced upon the camp using
their arrows instead of guns, evidently to save noise, so as not to
arrest the attention of the hunters. "Some seventy five of the old
men, women and children were killed," the most notable being Sky
Chief and Pawnee Mary, a white woman.
The Indians were
always glad to have any kind of dead meat, hogs that had died with
cholera, and even poisoned coyotes were acceptable in their bill of
fare. It would seem that the process of stewing destroyed all danger
in the meat, for no one has ever known of an Indian dying from that
kind of feeding.
Mrs. Fouse remembers the sad incident of
the two boys named Martin who were attacked by two Indians near
Kearney. They were riding on one horse at the time when an arrow was
passed through them both," pinning them together. As they lay on the
ground they heard the Indians conversing in English, one asked the
other, "Shall we scalp them?" "No!" was the reply, "there is not
time. "Shall we give them another arrow?" "No! we shall need all the
arrows we have!" These boys often called at the ranch as they passed
over the country to Nebraska City. She also remembers the case of
the two girls who were carried off and held for a ransom of $1000 a
piece, from near the junction of the Piatt road and the Steam Wagon
road; the latter known also as "cut off" road, about twenty miles
east of Kearney, The Government had to pay the Indians that amount
to liberate the girls. The girls had been well treated, money being
the only object of the capture. but it was always believed that this
business was planned more by the white men living with the Indians,
than by the Indians themselves.
A post office was opened at
the ranch with Mr. Fouse as postmaster. In the old ranch building
was opened the first store in the county, by Thomas Tidale, and the
first school organized in 1870 was held in the same old building.
Mr. Fouse served in the Mexican and Civil wars, and died
February, 25 1898. Mrs. Fouse lives with her daughter Mrs.
Deffenbaugh at Blue Vale.
Pioneers of Fillmore and Adjoining
Source: Pioneer Stories of the Pioneers of Fillmore and adjoining
Counties, by G. R. McKeith, Press of Fillmore County News, Exeter,
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