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The river press. [volume] (Fort Benton, Mont.) 1880-current, January 02, 1884, Image 10

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A Remarkable Story as Told Us by
Mr. John Lepley,
Of Early Prospecting and Discoveries in
the Bear's Paw Region.
While talking about the Indian reser
vation, a few days ago, in a group of
three or four persons, John Lepley, the
cattle king of the Big Sag, being one of
the number, the matter of the probabil
ity of striking rich diggings in the
.Bear's Paw came up, when Mr. Lepley
turned to the reporter and said:
"I want to say to you that there will
be a big stampede into that country, and
some bonanza placer mines are certain
to be found. I base this opinion upon
personal knowledge of an event that
came very near turning the course *f my
career in Montana, or rather of winding
up my career before I had passed the
pilgrim period in the territory. When
I have told my story you will under
stand why I predict a stampede to the
Bear's Paw as well as my belief in rich
diggings in that region."
In 1864 a prospector named Chris.
Keyes and myself, as partners, discov
ered the first gold in Lewis and Clarke
county, on Silver creek. We did not
strike it very rich, but could make six
or seven dollars a day very easily. We
worked away for some time at this slow
rate. I thought we were doing pretty
well, but Keyes became impatient and
wanted to move on in search of some
thing better. He carried in his pocket
at that time three small nuggets of gold
that he picked up in the valleys of the
Bear's Paw two years prior (while en
gaged in hunting for the fur company
at Fort Benton), and his constant talk,
night and day, was about prospecting
these mountains, expressing his utmost
faith in finding rich diggings. I ad
vised him, however, to stick to what he
had, and, to tell the truth, I was not
.. .. . . .. .. .. - _ ... . .. J ... i l . . .. T __ 7.S " - _
very anxious to invade the indian coun
try at that time, the country down here
being then alive with hostile red men.
Keyes was too restless to ren on Sil
ver creek, however, and leaving me in
charge of the work he started along the
main range towards the head of the Ma
jias on a prospecting tour, with the un
derstanding that we were to share equal
ly in whatever he found.
After some months he returned, more
down-hearted thai ever, and now
fully resolved to no longer delay his
trip to the tempting Bear's Paw country
and all his persuasive powers were tried
to induce me to accompany him. But
it was in vain. I thought too much of
my scalp to take the risk. He then de
cided to go alone. I was to stay on Sil
ver creek, and if he struck anything
big I was to join him and share in the
profits{ and I never saw a man so im
bued with confidence and with such im
plicit faith in the successful issue of his
In February, 1865, we shook hands,
Keyes starting for Fort Benton,, en
route to what he believed was a glitter
ing gold field, while I remained in the
gulch, content to earn my six and seven
dollars a day. We had been partners
about a year then, and I had learned to
esteem Keyes highly. I was new at the
business of prospecting and mining and
had to rely much upon him--a reliance
that was never misplaced. I placed
great confidence in his judgment, and
when he said-the last words he ever
spoke to me-"I will not send for you
unless I find something big," I knew
that he would not.
Well, he came on to Fort Benton, and
after securing such an outfit here as he
needed, left for the Bear's Paw, and it
was several months before I heard a
word from him. Then came the mes
"Drop everything and come on. You
don't want any horses or money; we can
get all of the latter that we can carry.
Come quick."
This was enough to make the blood
boil in the veins of a gold hunter, and
my first impulse was, indeed, to "drop
everything" and strike out. Meantime,
however, our diggings had become of
some value and others had come into
the camp. I talked the matter' oVer
with my comrades, who united in their
efforts to dissuade me from going, repre
senting that the country was held by
hostile Indians, and that no matter how,
rich the diggings. should prove -they
could not be worked. The i duis
Would not allow it, and it was simply
certain death to go there. This°ki id .o
talk, kept up for about twenty-four
zurs, caused me to weaken, and -~set
red to Keyes.that I wouald n go
iyas a fort uate decision for ame, as the
two others her s n Fort Beaeaat the
t R f d4t
,zail- -
and, I b lieve, in August, 1865, launch'
ed their craftiand started for the new El
Dorado, which, alas! they were never
destined to reach. I am not certain aw
to the number of the party, but think ii
consisted of three men and two squaws,
At any rate, the party were massacred
by the Sioux before their destination
was reached, one of the squaws only be.
ing spared to tell the bloody tale. Keyes'
secret was buried with him; and while
diggings were afterwards discovered in
the Bear's Paw there evidently has been
no such a find as was made by Keyes.
So confident am I that he had "a big
thing," I expect when this country is
thrown open to take some part, either
in person or by representative, in search
ing for Keyes' gold mine. Somebody
will find it and become a bonanza king.
The New Reservations.
Action will probably soon be taken by
congress as to cutting down the old
Blackfoot reservation, or rather the es
tablishment of boundaries for one or
more new reserves for the red man. It
would be well for us to examine the
boundaries that have been given to their
new reservations by the Indians them
selves. At the council of Gros Ventres
and Assinaboines, held at Fort Assina
boine last fall at the time of Major Ma
ginnis and Senator Vest's visit for that
purpose, a line running north and south,
east of the Bear's Paw was proposed as
the western limit of the new reserve,
which would run from there east to the
Dakota line. We understand that the
Piegans want the head waters of the
Nfarias and the Sweet Grass hills in their
aew reservation, the western and south
arn boundary to be the same as at pres
ant-the Marias and Birch creek-and
the eastern boundary to be a north and
south line running east of the Sweet
Grass hills. According to this proposed
settlement of the boundaries a strip of
country would be opened up to the
whites extending from the Missouri and
Marias on the south to the int'crnational
boundary line on the north. About 75
miles square, or 5,625 square miles of
the whole 45,000 square miles, would by
this be given up to the whites, or about
one-ninth of the present reservation.
Out of that would have to be taken a
liberal military reservation on Beaver
creek and the Sandy for Fort Assina
boine, which would still further curtail
the small portion to be ceded to the
whites. This cession would give for set
tlement only the Bear's Paw country
including the streams which flow north
from those mountains into Milk river
and those which run south into the Mis
souri-also the upper or most unimpor
tant part ot the Milk river country. The
9,000 Indians in the northern reservation
now have 45,000 square miles of territory
and under the arrangement they still
want 40,000 square miles left them. We
cannot see what 9,000 Indians want of a
vast country like that when hunting
is a thing of the past and they are now
dependent almost upon beef and flour
provided by the government for their
subsistence. Suppose they were allowed
part of their reservation, from the 107th
meridian, which would cut the Missouri
river about Fort Peck, east to the Dako
ta line. This would give them some
12,000 square miles of territory, including
the lower part of Milk river, about 150
miles of the Missouri river valldy, Pon
lar river, P1orcupine creek and innumer
able smaller streams. If these people
want to keep herds of cattle and bands
of horses, to farm and become .civilized,
as are the inhabitants of the Indian ter
ritory, surely this is all the country they
would need for that purpose. As these
government paupers will have to be fed
at a few agencies what is the sense in
trying to spread some 9,000 redskins
over as many square miles as the 5,000,
000 white people of the. state of New
York possess? At some . of the Indian
agencies in Dakota, on the lower Mis
souri, you will find thousands of the
natives gathered around one agency,
learning to use the plow and hoe, and
all contented because they are well fed.
If they can not raise enough to support
themselves the government supplies the
deficiency and the fierce and war-like
Sioux with a full stomach becomes as
gentle as the prdveroial lamb. It is only
a question of time that the 9,000 Indians
on this immense northern reserve will
be treated in the same manner. What
is the use of clipping off 5,000 square
miles at a time when there is a grasd
total of 45,000 thatis bouad to be eded
to the whites in a very few years. The
small proposed section of ceuntry to be
opened up will nlty give -temporary re
lief. Aknother year will see the stock
men,.:ranchers and prospectois again
clamorting for more land and mountains,
nathw :same wiork will have to be gone
The thSree robbers, Maaionu Gamble,
T$ho hedJ fred. Wiley, who
bel up tAe 2eer Io4p Opae last wum
1erf v en tSeW
Statement of the Missouri .River Business
Between Bismarck, D. T., and Fort Benton, M. T.,
FOR 18883.
NAxS or LIux. Boats, Ur S'DTaAx. OWN STBEAM. TOTAL. Passengers
_ Peumd#. Pomunds.
Govt. Prir'ate. Govt. Private.
Fort Benton Transportation Co. B N ........ 1,959,229 8,984.000 220,000 1,M.47,865 12.710,594 525
Benton "P " Line. HELENA ........
BUTTE .........
Missouri R-iver Transportation Co. JOSEP INE...... 542,350 7.098,243 50,000 977,957 8.68,650 365
Coulson Line. DACO rt ........
BIG HORN ......
ECLIPSE .........
Transient Boats. BEHAN .......... 588,000 1,316,000 19,000 300,000 9,216,000 75
Total...... 8,089,579 j 17,393,,43 I 282,000 1 2,825.3221 21.."95,144 I 965
NoTEr.--The above includes only the business between Bismarck and Fort Beatnn. Two of the above-named steamers were destroyed: the Big Horn sank
April 30th, five miles below Poplar creek, and the Butte was burned July e;st, at the third point above Fort Peck. There were no lives lost during tihe se.son.
I. P. Baker, General Agent of the
Fort Benton Transportation
Company (Benton "P"
Line), Interviewed.
The Prospects of the River Business Next
Season, and Some Sensible
Railroad Talk.
A RIVER PRESS representative "cor
railed" Mr. I. P. Baker, general agent
of the Fort Benton transportation coar
pany, yesterday afternoon and succeededi
in getting some interesting vitws from,
him on subjects in which our people arei
deeply interested. In answer to an in
quiry as to the prospects of the river
business next year he said :"The outlook
is very good indeed. No further in
roads on the territory of the river hasa
been made by the railroads since the be-f
ginning of the boating season last year]
so that the business of the coming yea'
at any rate would be as good as the las4
But we can reasonably expect that iý
will be much better, because of the
largely increased settlement of th
country tributary to Fort Benton all
at points lower down the river. Ther
if this Indian reservation is opened t
settlement it will add in no small wa
to the business of the boats--and alto-Ž
gether, I think the prospects of the upper
Missouri for 1884 are flattering in the
"Wiill not the loss of the Big Horn
and Butte last season cut off two craft:
from the upper river fleet?" inquired
the reporter.
"Their places can be easily supplied
if there is business to warrant it. Be
sides the six boats of the Benton "P"
and Coulson lines, the Batchelor, Behan,
Eclipse, two Northern Pacific boats and
others could be drafted into the servie.
if there is business for them-and all oi
these are liable to make trips to the head
of navigation next season "
"In what condition are the Benton
"P" line boats to ocgin the lege ?'
"They were never better. We havec
expended o ver ýS (0)O o a the i.-e!ena, and
the B'ack Hills and Benton are .;ust
good a's new. You can count on these
boats doing their :'uIi share owards sup
plying Fort Benton with goods ie::
"Changing the subject from river &l
rail, do you think, Mr. Baker, that our
town would be greatly benefited by the
advent of the iron horse?"
"I most certainly do-if you get the
right railroad."
"Which one is that?"
"A connection with the Canadian Pa
cific. Such a road would make Fort
Benton the best town between St. Paul
and Portland, and if your citizens are
awake to their own interests they will
leave no efforts undone to secure its con
struction as soon as possible. A connec
tion with the Northern Pacific might
give you a temporary boom, but what
advantages in the way of freight rates
will it give you, or what new fields of
trade will it open up ? Absolutely none.
Billings or Helena could undersell your
merchants, and the dealers in th , Judith
Basin (if the road came that way) would
be independent of Benton. But it
would be altogether different with a
Canadian Pacific branch. That would
make Fort Benton again the entrepot of
the northwest territory, and your whole
sale merchants here would sell goods in
every town in that large field from
Regina to the summit of the Rock
ies. I'l tell you why. They could af
ford to sell them cheaper because of
more favorable freight tariffs. The large
shippers of Fort Benton can get goods
laid down here from Chicago, under
favorable circumstances, for $1.25 a hun
dred; I have never known better rates
given from Chicago to Winnineg than
$2. Fort Benton has, then, tostart with,
an advantage of 75 cents per cwt. over
Winnipeg as a distributing point. The
distance from Fort Benton to the North
west territory is something over 100
miles; from Winnipeg to the samepoint
ever 800 miles, so that there could be no
comparison of rates. With spuch un
doubted advantages of transportation
the northwest would again loo to Fort
Bentoh, Mi.d its growth and progre~ s
would be only equaled by tbt of lt.
Paul and Minneapolis. The bulding of
this wo:sPld ,shortly )rin you others
and ~eu~d hasten more thea aaytbirxg
aise th~great fuistureI lleve there s In
store tr Fort Beston."
MrE.iBaker, Wlfis 'an A Zbomer, hle
much else :of int.res~tto say about our
proshetfive railrds for which We ha;ive
tI· .
not space in this issue. Tn his opinion
the Not hwest'ern and Chicago, Milwau.
kee & St. Paul wi 1 be con pelled to build
to Bismarck, and At will not be long un
til they are r -in;: or supremacy in the
ma':nificent coun y between be Mis
souri river and he L:oundary line, which
means hea'Jing ;or Fori Berntun.
( The Bear's Paw Stampede.
r The Bear's Paw stampede in 18 S and
its failure is pointed to as an evi ence
that mining in that region is not likely
to be profitable. The facts are, however,
that the staimpeders were not in the
mountains but a few weeks until they
were driven out by the military author
it'es. Several fine placer prospects were
founid but could not be worked and have
not been to this daly. A great many
quartz locationa were also miade the al
leged owners of which are now watching
their opportunity to re-locate them when
the proper time comes, which will be
when the country is thrown open to set
tlement. The limited development
done on these leads prove them to be
valuable, and by this time next season
many of them will be transformed.in.
bonanzas. The stampeders of 1$8 arn the
ones who have the greatest faith in the
mines of the Bear's Paw, and when that
is opened to settlement some of theni
will be the first in the mountains.
The Buffalo Herds.
It is feared that the band of buffalo on
the great Sioux reserva'ion will be an
nihilated this winter. Prairie fires
have been set by the hunters and the
herd is being driven slowly before the
flames and toward the settlements,
where they will be slaughtered in
wholesale numbers. So far as reported
the northern herd has not yet crossed
the Missouri, and so tfr this year buffalo
hunters in Montana have had no work
in their favorite line. Indeed it is use
less to disguise the fact that these mon
sters of the plains are disappearing with
marvellous rapidity. Wheher the herds
are seekin"g ,.ew grazing o rounds remote
roum too 'recquent ,cigns of' civilized :man
or whether they are actually vanishing
from .he ace o:' he earth, a" very litt!e
time will tell. Probably thelattr is the
case. Senator Vest :.id to Charlos. the
obstreperous chii o;' 'e Flatheads,
':here are no im-ore .:ins,' and he was
very near ihe tult,. rfle wild [It 0 an
ana nhe wild ouflhlo aren Ii uch .n
sam' 'redicament. ,
- - --- . l l • I i m m i i I lui
Opened Sovember 2d, 1882.
The Ladilng Hoi l of Miotana Territory,
First Class in all its Appointments.
The Finest and Largest Hetel Building
in the West.
First-class Accommodations for the Traveling Pub
lic. Sample Rooms for Commercial Travelers This
hoase is centrally located, and all coaches arrive at
and depart from the door. First-class Bar and Bil
liard Room in the hosne. Charges Reasonable.
HlE.SBRt, B ' TZA88,. Proprieon.
The Best Seleoted StoA . Goods
ini the Jdit a .
ale an Small Prottd. , stria
a4 2t sfr ygaraclf.
National Bank
Of Helena.
This bank succeeds the old established and wefl
known Banking House or L.- H. Hfershflela &d
Authorized Capital, $500,000
Paid in Capital, - $150,00C
President-L. H. HERSHFIELD.
Vice-President-A. J. DAVIDSON.
Board of Directors:
E.rchange on the commercial centers of the
United States and Europe bought and sold.
Collections and all business entrusted to us re
ceive prompt and thorough attention.
Deposits received and interest allowed on the
same it left for a specified time.
Buy gold and silver bullion, gold dust, ores, ter
ritorial, county and government securities and war
Associate Bank:
Bank of Northern Montana,
Fort Benton M.T.
te keep a full line of Blank Books and
tlitionery. A fine line of Books
always in stock, and more
en route.
Imported and Domestlc, of the mos popular brands.
We keen the finest
An endless variety of Fancy Goods.,
Toys and Notions, Sheet Music,
-Musical Instruments, Chro
mos and Picture
Pocket Cutlery, Combs, Etc.
General Merchandise,
I wish to announce to the citizens of the South
Fork and adjacent country that I have just opened
a General Merchandising Establishment at Florence
and am prepared to meet fully the wants of the trade
in every line. Call and see me.
Florence, March 23, 1883.
Dealer. in
General IMierchandise,
One of the Largest and Most Complete Stocks in
Eastern Meagher County.
Goo 1otel ad Stablc Conmectel.
W'" Give me a call and I will guarantee satisfaction.
Half Way between Philbrook and
the Gap.
A first-class table will be set, the best on the road.
Good accommodations for man aad beast. The trav
eling public are nvited to give me a call.
Themr has' purchased the station on.the
Benton and H 'r road known as "Eagle Rockjoand
wll aln to 1uike't the
,This th'e Mapper statoln for coaches going both
- Zys. Traveler and teat s will Ind here the beet of
Ccommodatlos. AUGUST NAGLE.
S n River Leavings.
This hr i sldtuated as the Ialsena and Benton
ro, Iu a 4 re dive from Bnto, making it
the t m Iet' stoppag plaice on the road. It
a kept in, 6 s Jo.lei~ and Ba the very best as
ommindatlua or rawlIer on the road.

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