Cattle Ranchers and Native Americans of Brown County, Nebraska

Cattle ranches were the first settlements made in northwest Nebraska. The surplus stock from these ranches was bought by the United States government at good prices, so the business was a profitable one for a few years. To the west of Brown county several large outfits were found very early, previous to 1880: Boiling Springs ranch owned by Carpenter and Morehead; the JP ranch on the Niobrara about twelve miles below Boiling Springs; the Newman ranch twenty-one miles west of Boiling Springs; and the Hunter ranch about due south of where Gordon is now located. The herds owned by these outfits were driven into this country from Texas over the old “Chisholm Trail”. They were the Texas longhorns, a breed no longer seen in this state.

These ranchers were in continual warfare with the Indians and many lonely graves are found in the hills along the Niobrara river where rest the remains of cowboys who were shot and scalped by Sioux.

Each year the Sioux became more dissatisfied and warlike. Many treaties were made with them by commissioners sent out by the United States government, but they were made only to be broken, both the government and the Indians: being equally faithless. Due to the loss of their buffalo herds, the Indians were starving. They blamed the white settlers: for their troubles, and as these troubles increased so did their hatred of the white race, though in earlier days the Sioux were friendly to white men.

By terms of a treaty signed in 1868 the Black Hills had been ceded to the Sioux Indians. After gold was discovered in the Hills in 1874 no further efforts were made to keep the white men out of the Hills. The Indians had broken their part of the treaty, and the government knew that the mines would never be worked by the Indians, so the entire agreement was set aside. (The Sioux are still trying to collect large sums of money in payment of their claims to the Black Hills.)

History, Sioux,

Brown County NE,

Jones, Lillian L. Days of Yore: Early History of Brown County, Nebraska. Ainsworth, Nebraska. November, 1937.

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