TAYLOR COUNTY EMIGRATION and other stories of early settlers
transcribed by Pat O'Dell: genpat@netins.net


Iowa South-West Democrat  Bedford, Iowa  Oct 4, 1884
From Wyoming.
Big Horn, Wyoming Territory, September 4, 1884
C. O'Dell, Esq., Bedford, Iowa: Sir - I told you in my last that as
soon as I got through I would tell you about our trip from Spearfish,
and describe the country as best I could.
place and surroundings I told you of, on the 13th of August, with 254
head of cattle. We had been resting for some time, so horses and
cattle were feeling tolerably fresh, and we made ten or twelve miles
a day. We had no trouble in supplying ourselves with plenty of fresh
meat all along the road, and in fact supplied many of our neighbors.
Deer and antelope are in fine fix, and we found them plentiful. I staid
with the outfit, helping drive, till the 27th, when I left them and struck
out by myself, on horseback, for this place. The distance, as given me,
was 120 miles, much of which lies through a wilderness, marked by
Indian or cattle trails, and dotted here and there by cattle ranches.
of 15 miles, with no watter to drink. Once I turned to one side to a
little pool, which on examination I found so strong of alkali, or some
other poison, as to kill snakes before they could rescue themselves.
In the one pool I counted near twenty which had lost their lives in
this way, and in many others from one to a half dozen.
dinner and rest, after which I resumed my journey up the River to
the mouth of Clear Creek, where at another cattle ranch I spent the
night, sleeping in a house for the first time since the 14th of May.
ranch (U) at the mouth of Piny. There I saw the greatest number of
prairie dogs I ever saw in the same length of time. Near one of the
dog towns I shot an animal the cowboys and I pronounced a wolverine.
He was the meanest looking animal I ever saw, a size smaller than a
black bear. Later in the day I shot a big, spangly, horned, black-tailed
buck, without leaving the trail which I gave (to some folks who were
camped) near. I reached the aforesaid ranch a little before sundown,
having rode a distance of forty miles. As the boys were just preparing
for supper, without a word I stripped my horse and stepped in, and
was kindly welcomed. I enjoyed supper, bed and breakfast, and not
a cent to pay. There were twelve boys. To the ranch belongs 1,600
cattle. The boys ride from six and ten horse apiece.
then across the hills, following dim trails, or none, to Big Horn City.
Nothing special worth mentioning, except three elk some hunters
had just shot down in a gang, and were just skinning.
brother Lon, but he had gone to Buffalo, the county seat, to secure
the bounty on four bears he had been lucky enough to shoot the day
before. They were one old one, two yearlings and one cub. They all
say Lon is too risky on the hunt. At the last for one of the yearlings
he took his revolver and crawled into the thicket where he could
not walk, and got within four feet of it before he saw it, but one
lucky shot between the eyes did it, and he came out without a
scratch. We have been eating the flesh, and it is fine flavored
meat, much resembling nice pork.
friend, Sim Smith, from Buchanan. I returned in the evening,
and in time to surprise Lon on his return. He has improved much
in size since we have seen him. Not boasting, but the boys all
say he is the best man physically in or about the town.
to be doing well and enjoying themselves.
miles from the canon, where it breaks through a tolerably rough
range of the Big Horn mountains. The streams all have beautiful,
level valleys, which are nearly all cultivated. Between is rather
rough, rolling prairies - not mountains - fit only for grazing.
corn. Since I came here I helped Lon thresh. His best wheat
threashed fifty bushels per acre, after badly shelling out.
and other articles, such as store goods, etc.
six months at $70 per month.
to say about that yet, for since my arrival we have had some cold
rains and quite a snow, though the harvesting is not done.
country, but have not time, or room on this sheet.
not commence for that length of  time. I shall hope for letters from
home on my return.


This is a letter from Lon (brother of Warren above) O'Dell to his father
Clark Odell at New Market, Iowa.
Big Horn, Wyo, Jan the 9th, 1885
Father Dear sir, I thought I would try and write you a few lines,
as I have neglected to write for so long, I have been so busy
and so lazy that I dident take time to write to any body, I had
a tolable cool trip up after ponies this last trip, it was 57 degrees
below zero. and snow 2 feet deep on the level. it kept that way
for a week.
we had to lay up for about 3 weeks. we learned lots about Indians,
had lots of fun holding squaws on our laps and they would kiss
us and make a fellow think of home. tell mother they dont all
look like them that was at the clerinda fair. I have seen squaws
that lays 3/4 of the Iowa girls in the shade. not saying but what
there is some prety girls there.
one old Indian Chief told me he would make me present 100
head of horses if I would marry his girl. she is a nice little girl
14 yrs old, but I guess I wont do it. the first trip I made after
ponies there was 2 other men buying and they got 32 head
and started for home, and one night after they had camped
the Indians dashed in on them and stole all but 1 pony that
was picketed and they never got any of them back. and the
last trip there was 2 other men buying and they stole all but
five head. the first trip there was a white man hunting horses
that had strayed up there and he under took to take them
without explaining the matter and they flocked in around
him and about 50 of them went after him with theyr quirts
and whipped him all over. his face was all welted up some
of them waved theyr tomy hawks over his head while
the rest whipped him. I seen him 2 days after they had
whipped him and his face was marked bad. but if a man
uses them well they use him the same way. I will start
back in a few days we got 43 head of ponies. I now (know)
there is big money in them, some of the ponies that was
bought for $8 was sold for 30 here in big horn. 1 that was
bought for 10 sold for 50. well I guess I will send you a
fine picture. it is the picture of a pagan Indian.
it hante my girl, but she is a dandy girl well you must write
and tell all the rest to write.
well I must close for this time now you dont wand to destroy
that picter.