White Man Felled
By Indian's Arrow
The tale which most excites our sympathy is that of three young men from Massachusetts-Roy McGregor, Thomas Lockhart and George Clark. As they were possessed of education, talent, and noble ambition, the tragic fate of two of this company is sad indeed. It must have been in the summer of 1862 that this party resolved to spend the winter in a hunting tour in this part of the West. Reaching the Rock River valley in October, and being elated with the prospect here for a successful winter's hunt, they built a cabin on an island in the river, at the forks of the Little Rock, West Branch and Rock River. Here they passed the autumn in rare sport, taking an abundance of game. But their happiness was not to continue long unbroken. One morning, after snow had covered the ground, while McGregor and Lockhart were attending to their beaver traps, a short distance above the "Lone Cottonwood," on the bank of the Little Rock, opposite the present residence of Jessie Monk, they saw a drove of elk bounding down the valley. Seizing their rifles and firing simultaneously they brought down a large buck. They were preparing to carry the venison to camp when they were suddenly attacked by a band of Santee Sioux from Minnesota, who had been following the elk.
The Indians first fired upon them with bows and arrows, from which McGregor received a shot in the side, and then charged upon them with unearthly yells. McGregor and Lockhart returned the fire from their rifles, and then retreated a short distance down the river under cover of the overhanging bluffs on the south bank of the stream. Here the superiority of their breech loaders, and the advantage of their position, enabled them to keep the Indians at bay. As soon as possible, Lockhart extracted the arrow from poor McGregor's wound, and inquired if he was much hurt. He answered briskly, "Oh no," but soon began sinking and died a few hours. When night came on, Lockhart escaped under cover of darkness and the thick underbrush, and joined Clark at their camp. They feared to move for several days, but finally returned to the scene of their encounter with the Indians, but could find no traces of poor McGregor.
Notwithstanding the shock produced by the loss of their companion, Lockhart and Clark decided to remain and contest with the savages the right to hunt on these grounds. They were not, however, molested again, and continued there hunting with great success until spring. Their cabin was fitted up with much taste, being lined on the inside with wolf skins, and became a favorite resort for hunters throughout this region. The two companions had barely recovered from the gloom caused by the death of McGregor when another calamity befell them more crushing, if possible, than his tragic death.
The island upon which the cabin stood was very low; but as the river was also low at the time of building it, they had no thought of a flood. Early in March the weather became warm, the snow melted, and as the river began to rise, Lockhart and Clark felt some uneasiness lest the water should come into their cabin. A heavy rain came on, and the river continued to rise until as they had prepared to retire one evening, they found the water up to within a few inches of the door. Yet they concluded to wait until morning before making preparations to move.
During the night the ice broke up, with the floating timber gorged the river above the head island, almost completely damming it. Behind this gorge the water continued to rise until it had covered the river bottom to great depth. Lockhart and Clark had arisen and begun to prepare their breakfast when this gorge broke, and the flood came down upon the island and cabin with terrific force. Hearing the rushing of water and breaking of the timber, they ran out of the cabin just as the water came down upon them. Lockhart seized hold of a tree and succeeded in climbing out of the way of the flood. Clark jumped into the river and swam for the east bank. He succeeded in crossing the stream, and grasping some overhanging boughs, turned his head and exclaimed: "Tom, I'm all right," when the flood came upon him, and, overwhelmed in the torrent, he sank to rise no more.
Lockhart remained in the tree for several hours, when, by means of some floating logs, he reached the high bank and made his escape.
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