Reading in The
account of the old graveyard at Council Bluffs brought fresh to my mind
of seeing one among the first interments in said burying place, nearly
forty years ago.
One more observation: If the road was but a
trace, how could heavily laden wagons of supplies for Fort Croghan have
traveled over them?--W.F.
Soon after the Platte Purchase was opened for settlement I, in company
with another young man a little my junior, took it in our heads to go
west. We left Franklin, Indiana, on the 25th day of August, 1841; came
across the state of Illinois on horseback, and sold our horses at St.
Louis; took passage on the old steamer "Boldangreene: on the 8th day of
September for Ft. Leavenworth. Landed at the fort on the 22nd day of
September, having been two weeks making the trip on a steamer from St.
Louis to Ft. Leavenworth.
The officers in charge of the fort employed myself and my young
traveling companion to carry a dispatch to the fort on the Block House
at Council Bluffs. It was considered at that time a dangerous and
hazardous undertaking for two boys to make such a trip alone. After the
first forty or fifty miles we had to pass through a wild, uninhabited
country, except by Indians and wild ferocious animals. No roads except
Indian traces. [Did they go the high road in the bluffs, instead of
taking the bottom road?--Walter Farrell]
Although we got captured by the Indians near where Hamburg now stands
and on several occasions we came near losing our lives by the large
gray wolves, we made the trip on foot over two hundred miles in five
days and one night and delivered our dispatch at the Council Bluffs
Fort on the 2d day of October, 1841.
On the next day we saw a United States soldier buried with great pomp
and magnificence with military honors in what is now called the "old
burying ground" at Council Bluffs,. There was then only three or four
graves in the cemetery. I think it would be well for the Council Bluffs
authorities to pay due honor to those bones, for some of them one day
carried the best blood of our country.
After stopping at the fort four or five days the government sent a
train of wagons drawn by oxen to Heston (sic; should be Weston, MO,
opposite Fort Leavenworth?), the biggest town up the Missouri river at
that day, for supplies for the fort. We went with the train to Heston
(sic), and on the 25th day of October took passage on the steamer
"Ocionna" for St. Louis, thinking we had seen enough of the "elephant,"
and were ready to go home and be good boys.--(Signed) Geo. Bergen.
[W.F.: 1841 would be only 4 years after the Platte Purchase was opened
for settlement, but the vanguard of pioneers had poured into this new
part of Missouri. By 1846, the Potowatomi head men and chiefs were
complaining that many whites had settled just over the line on the
south side of them, and were a bad influence on their people. In what
would later be Fremont county, French Village was in existence near
Hamburg, and The Half Breed Farms were being established near
Bartlett....The block house at The Council Bluffs had been erected by a
company of dragoons from Fort Leavenworth at the time the Potowatomi
had emigrated into The Council Bluffs region in 1837....When that
friend of the Mormons, Thomas Kane, came to visit them at Council
Bluffs about 1845, he remarked that the sloughs he had to cross in the
Missouri bottoms had been "bridged" by the army, which laid tree trunks
in the bed of the streams where the bottom road crossed. Kanesville
was named after this man...]