My Sixty Years on the Plains

Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2020-05-13
Publisher(s): Dover Pubns
List Price: $9.95

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Long before the American Revolution, fur trappers were traveling thousands of miles into the remote wilderness in their quest for beaver pelts, the frontier's most valuable commodity. These hardened, unsettled men were at the forefront of the Western expansion, hunting amid the Central Rockies by the 1830s and occasionally wandering all the way to the shores of the Pacific. Their lives and accomplishments are vividly and authentically recaptured in this gritty autobiography of a longtime adventurer.
William Thomas Hamilton (1822–1908) left St. Louis at the age of 20 to serve as an apprentice to an experienced trapper and hunter. Within a decade of his entry into the trade, the demand for pelts plummeted as hat fashions shifted from beaver to silk. Hamilton and his fellow trappers turned instead to leading hunting parties, guiding scientific expeditions, serving as army scouts, and protecting settlers and miners from Indian attacks. In this memoir, the frontiersman presents a fascinating account of his rough-and-tumble life in the Old West. Six full-page illustrations by the former cowboy and great Western artist Charles Russell enhance the tale.

Author Biography

William Thomas Hamilton (1822–1908) began his career as a trapper in the wilds of the Northern plains. He became a fixture in the territory and adept at communicating with many of the native tribes. Following the mid-19th century decline of the fur trade, Hamilton employed his extensive knowledge of the region and its inhabitants in the service of the U.S. Army, and he was an outstanding scout and fighter in the years leading up to the Great Sioux War of 1876.
Former cowboy Charles M. Russell (1864–1926) ranks among the greatest of Western artists. He illustrated many books, including those of Theodore Roosevelt and Owen Wister's classic, The Virginian. Sixty Years was among his earliest works, and the paintings reproduced in this edition are signed with his name and his personal symbol, a buffalo skull.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I                                                                             
The Vote that Made me an Indian Fighter. St. Louis. I Join Bill Williams’s Party. The Boy Catches on. A Parley with Kiowas. Friendly Cheyennes. A Traders’ Trick. My First Sign-Talk. A Good Trade. Swift Runner my Friend. Athletics and Longevity
Buffalo Hunt with Cheyennes. A Stirring Picture. My First Buffalo. Perils of the Chase. We are Feasted on our Return. Character of the Cheyennes. Pem-mican and Depuyer a Substitute for Bread. We Leave the Cheyennes
Sioux Village on the South Platte. A Pawnee Horse Raid. We Give Chase. Wonderful Endurance of the Indian Pony. The Stock Recaptured. My First Shot at an Indian. Return with Pawnee Scalps. Coup-Sticks. Counting Coups
Fur-Trade Rivalries. “Free Traders” and the Companies. Wealth of the Sioux. War-Parties and Singing. Indian Revenge. We Sell our Furs for Good Prices. Bill Williams a Diplomat. Visited by Arapa-hoes. We Trade, Feast, and Smoke. A Threatening Party of Crows. “Business Diplomacy”
In a Dangerous Country. We Find a Moccasin and Prepare for Trouble. Attacked in the Night by Blackfeet. The Enemy Repulsed. Scalps Taken. Pursuit. Williams a Reckless Indian Fighter. I Lift my First Scalp. We Wipe out the Entire Party. Beaver Trapping an Art
Little Wind River. A Wonderful Hot Spring. Shoshone Scouts. Chief Washakie. We Trade our Blackfoot Plunder. Shoshone Horse for Blackfoot Scalp. A Night of Council, Scalp Dance, and War Song. The Fate of Two Trappers. “Good for Evil” not the Trappers’ Creed. Shakespeare in a Trapper’s Pack. Mountain Men Great Readers. A White Beaver
The Scouts Report Indian War-Parties. We Resolve to Clear the Country of them. Scouting for Hostiles. A Want of Strategy. Some Actual Warfare. A Wild Scene. We Have a Close Encounter. We Rush the Knoll. A Night of Mingled Mourning and Rejoicing
A Brush with Piegans. We Part from the Shoshones. I Mystify Washakie. Indian Horsemanship. The Shoshones. Beaver Trapping. My First Bear. A Lesson in Bear Shooting. Fascination of the Mountain Life
The Blackfoot Fort in Utah. A Good Day for Bears. Fort Bridger. Mountain Men’s Law We Trade our Furs. Infatuated with the Life. Exploration of the Yellowstone in 1839. Afterwards I Visit that Country. Trappers’ Tales. My Skill in Sign-Language. We Go with Washakie’s Band
Horse-Racing. Shooting from Horseback. Whites Outshoot Indians. Williams Leaves us. Navajo Blankets. A Lost Manuscript
An Expedition to Explore Utah. The “Boy” Becomes “Bill.” Old Bear Orders us off. “Big Chief never Smokes with White Dogs.” Trapper Life in a Hostile Indian Country. Fortified in Camp Weber. The American Trapper a Fine Type. We Hear Wolf Howls and Prepare for Attack. The Enemy Repulsed with Heavy Losses. A “Big Talk” and Peace. “It Costs too much Blood to Fight Trappers”
Bear River. The Bannocks. A Swim with the Mercury 38° below Zero. The Pah Utes a Low Race. Poisoned Arrows. Brown’s Hole and its Gay Winter Life. I am Made Trader. A Terrible Storm. Our Horses Stolen by Blackfeet. A Hard Ride. We Recapture the Stock
Williams Returns. Tygee the Bannock. A Lucky 13. Indians of the Blackfoot Country. Life at a Trappers’ Rendezvous. Hostile Bannocks. Howlack in a Rage. We Prepare for Trouble. Prowling Wolves when Shot Prove to be Indians. Spies who did not Return. Three Hundred Warriors Charge the Camp. A Desperate Fight. The Enemy Routed
The Bannocks Taught a Lesson. Indians as Fighters. Excited Umatillas. The Walla Walla Valley. Its Fish and Game. The Walla Wallas. Tygh Valley. Indians Salmon Spearing. My First Sight of the Columbia. Latitude 49°. Vicissitudes of the Trapper’s Life
A Rich Beaver Country. A Hunter’s Paradise. Great Klamath Lake. In Winter Quarters. A Horse Pack Worth $7200. “Boston Men” and “King George’s.” In the Modoc Country. We Dig Rifle-Pits. Trappers’ Coats of Mail. Prepared for Attack
The Modocs Threaten to Rub us out. The Camp Rushed. Hand-to-Hand Fighting. A Furious Charge. We Lose Three Men. Modoc Slaughter. An Incident of the Modoc War of 1856. The California Rangers. The Massacre of Bloody Point
Honey Lake Valley. Thieving Indians. We Turn South. The Truckee River. Degraded Red Men. In a Mountain Storm. Fortune Favors the Brave. A Dismal Camp. Snow-Bound. Glimpse of the Great American Desert. Camp on Carson River. A Pah Ute’s Square Meal. Gratified Squaws and Skinned Beavers. A Big Catch of Fur. Humboldt Lake. Hostile Utes. One of our Men Ambushed and Killed. A Sharp Fight and a Decisive Victory. We Capture Forty-three Horses. Our Revenge
We Move Camp. Crestfallen Trappers. Blackfoot Victims. Fur Company Traders. Hot Springs. Our Company Breaks up. Expedition to the Big Horn Mountains. We Stand off the Blackfeet. An Arrogant Leader and a Coward. The “Tartar Outfit.”
Washakie again. The Joy of Youth. A Buffalo Hunt. Stinking Water. Crow and Shoshone Horse-Racing. A Peaceful Camp. Sign-Language. The Mexican War. I Visit St. Louis. Home is Changed. “Westward Ho!” I Pilot an Oregon Emigrant Train. Attacked by Pawnees. Out of Deference to the Ladies we do not Scalp. Mormon Emigrants. Fort Hall. The Fur Companies and their Employees
Fort Bridger. “Doby Men.” California Gold. We Decide to Go to the Mines. Fate of Bill Williams. Hunting and Trapping in the Big Horn. Humpy a War-Party Leader. We Give the Easterners a Lesson in Indian Fighting. Washakie Identifies the Scalps as Pend Oreilles
Bound for California. Furs and Gold. On the Old Camp Ground. An Undisturbed Grave. The Indians Hold aloof. Crossing the Range. Sacramento. We Trappers Turn Miners, and Stake our Claims. Barbarous Murder
Miners Killed by Indians. A Gloomy Outlook. The “Mountaineer Miners.” Rifle Barrels for Crowbars. Our Circus Entry into Nevada City. A Council of War. Perkins Advises Vigorous Action. We Take the Trail. More Indian Outrages. We Overtake the Hostiles. An Attack and a Stubborn Defence. A Brave Chief. Good Work of the Sharps Rifle. “Silver Tip” Has his Ear Split and Russell Gets a Bullet through his Hat. The Indians Utterly Routed and Many Killed. White Men’s Scalps to Teach a Lesson. A Big Lot of Plunder. The Trappers are Made to Blush. We Have a Triumphal Ovation and are Hailed as Avengers. Our Fame Spreads
Our Services in Request at Hangtown (Placerville). We Meet the Indians at Biglow’s Lake. A Desperate Charge. Mexican War Veterans Save the Day. To Kill a Chief is to Win the Battle. Our Trained Horses. Fastidious Trappers Annoyed by Blood Spots on their Buckskin Suits. The Owner Gets his Mules. The Trinity Massacre. “Tarheads” Chastised. The Trappers in the Rogue River and Modoc Wars. The Pitt River Massacre. Our Band Breaks up. Through the Modoc Country again. Fort Walla Walla. I Go as Scout
Death of Russell. A Brave Man and a True Comrade. I am Left alone. My Horse Hickory. A Business Trip to Trade and Spy. In the Enemies’ Camp. My Part nearly Chokes me. An Extraordinary Trade. We Get what we Came for. The Spokane River Campaign. I Establish a Trading-Post at Missoula. Fort Benton. The Expedition of 1874 with General Crook. American Horse. Later Years


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