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D □ D ? whit William T. Hamilton, or "Uncle Bill" Hamilton, as he was univer sally known, who died in Stillwater county in 1908 at the ripe old age of 85, was perhaps the last sur vivor of that old-time race of trap pers whose courage, skill and en durance led to the discovery, ex ploration and settlement of that vast territory which lies between the Mississippi river and the Rocky Mountains. Ho left St. Louis in 1^42 with a company of free trap pers, numbering eight, which was led by the redoubtable Bill Wil liams, dean of the mountain men, whose name figures in a hundred stories of romance and adventure in the early western wilderness, Bill Hamilton was the ideal mountain man. His wide knowl edge of the history of Montana's earliest days after the coming of the white man make the writings he left of the greatest importance, and one of the most interesting of those was his story of the great treaty council with the plains In f dians at Fort Benton in 18Ö5, which is said by George Bird Grin nell, to whom it was given by Ham ilton, to have been the last article that came from the pen of Hamil ton. <s The treaty council at Fort Ben ton, in 18<)5, like so many other councils called by the government for the purpose of robbing the plains Indians of their hunting grounds, was a farcical proceeding and a highly dangerous undertak ing. It resulted in no understand ing with the Indians that was ob / served. It did result in a gather ing of some 5,000 untamed red men on the Fort Benton river bot tom made up of half a dozen bands from powerful tribes that were ( hostile to each other, and a nar < row escape from a gigantic Indian battle that threatened to wipe out the small white population that lived in and around the old fort. Bill Hamilton has left a vivid and accurate description of that pictur esque incident in Montana history and the part he played in it. His story is summarized as follows: ' Prom 1863 to 1865 a chronic state of warfare existed between all of the Indian tribes of Montana territory. In the course of this warfare, miners and freighters had sustained serious losses in stock, and many miners and settlers had been killed by the In dians. At the mouth of the Judith river, 50 miles east of Fort Benton, was stationed one company of sol diers, but they were infantry and could render no protection against mounted Indians. In 1864 "Uncle Bill" Hamilton left r ' TO MONTANA FARMERS AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT We are pleased to announce that we have reopened our produce branch under new management and are in the market for all varieties of farm produce, including BUTTER POULTRY With our present market selling facilities we feel that we can handle such produce as you may have to dispose of to your very best advantage. We will be pleased to purchase direct from you, at prices to be agreed upon by us, or if you desire can han dle your products on a commission basis. With our large selling and buying or ganization we quite naturally are in a posi tion to make disposition under the most fa vorable conditions and with the least pos sible delay, of what we have to sell. We trust that you will communicate With us from lime to time, advising us what kind and character of produce you have to sell or the amount of eggs, butter or cheese that you desire handled upon this market. Our large number of customers throughout the state of Montana, in Idaho, and in Utah, gives us a ready outlet for such produce, poul try (live or dressed), eggs, butter and cheese, as we might have for disposition. Trusting that you will communicate with us without delay and that we might serve each other to mutual advantage, we are, Yours very truly, CHEESE EGGS HANSEN PACKING COMPANY BUTTE, MONTANA Produce Dept. [ the white settlement at Hellgate, near where Missoula stands today, and went to Fort Benton, where he built a log hotel and proceeded to operate it. He was also appointed sheriff of Chouteau county by Gov ernor Green Clay Smith, and at the same time was appointed deputy United States marshal. At that time Chouteau county was as big as the state of New York. The population at Fort Benton was a motley one. There were some trappers and free traders, mostly good men. The remainder were em ployes of the Fur company, in all about 45 white men. There were also some halfbreeds, the outstanding one of which was Joe Kipp, a good friend of Hamilton. The Northwest Pur Company had bought out the old American Fur Company and had put I. G. Baker in charge. Carroll & Steele, former clerks of the old fur company, had opened a store at Fort Benton, and T. C. Power afterward opened one there. The territorial delegate at Wash ington had asked for protection for the white inhabitants against the In dians, and a commission of three per sons was appointed to consider this matter. It consisted of Acting Gov ernor Thomas Francis Meagher, Judge Lyman H. Munson and E. W. Carpenter. They arrived at Fort Benton early in September, 1865, and determined that the Piegans, Bloods, Blackfeet, Gros Ventres and Crow In dians must be brought into Fort Benton and there induced to make a permanent peace. Runners were sent out to invite the Blackfeet, the Bloods and Piegans, who were all of the same confederation, to come in, but no one could be found who would undertake to hunt up and bring in the Crows and Gros Ven tres. The reason was that the coun try between the Missouri river and the Yellowstone was overrun by war parties of Sioux, Cheyennes, Arapa hoes and Blackfeet. A war party considered all who did not belong to their own party as enemies and act ed accordingly. Hamilton's Services Enlisted The commissioners sent for Bill Hamilton and urged him to carry the message to the Crows and Gros Ven tres, which tribes were hunting somewhere in the country infested by war parties, and after some persua sion, gained his consent. He was considered the only white man avail able who could perform this service. Hamilton informed the commis sioners that he must have a certain Piegan Indian, named Eagle Eye, for a companion on the trip. A runner was sent to Little Dog, head chief of the Piegans, and in two days Eagle s « IS* ^ .> ' m * S3-® ■ l ■ far* 3 •y' 'M'- v é V r -• i ■ lr~j, m • «! ■ ' mb W vît %• miM . : .1 ■ W* SÎ hk t- Äe 'hi V -, ■ y ■ >; : • ■ Old Fort Benton in the Time of William Ï. Hamilton. Eye reached Fort Benton. Hamilton had once saved his life. He was a cool and brave Indian and would die for Bill if called upon to do so. He had accompanied Hamilton on two previous trips of groat danger. Hamilton selected his two fastest horses for himself and secured two almost equally good saddle animals for Eagle Eye. They took along an extra pack horse, carrying presents for the Gros Ventres and Crows. Hamilton was armed with the first Henry rifle that ever came into the >| Wm SS te t - £ ■ \ ' i i Ü - ■'I Wm ■ ■ <■ X i 111 f ' X l .4 Bill Hamilton, Free Trapper, Who Has ijcft a Vivid liescriptlou of the Great Treaty Council Hehl at Port Benton in 1805. When the Crow camp was finally reached, Hamilton and Eagle Eye found a battle raging, the camp hav ing been attacked by a war party of Sioux numbering 200. warriors totaled 300. Hamilton join ed the Crows in the fight, and the Sioux were soon routed, leaving a number of slain on the prairie. 1 These the Crows scalped. Hamilton then gave some presents ! to the Crows and told them his er territory, a repeating weapon that cost him $106. Eagle Eye had Sharp's rifle. Each carried a brace of .46 pistols. Eagle Bye also car ried his bow and arrows. Eagle Eye, on the way to Fort Benton, had met a war party of Pie gans, who told him that the Crows had been camped at Medicine Springs between the North and South Moc casins, but had moved their camp. Hamilton also learned from his com panion that there were three Black feet war parties out after Crows and Gros Ventres. Locate Crows and Gros Venu es The route taken by Hamilton and Eagle Eye took them across Arrow Creek, 30 miles from Fort Benton; thence to Rattling Buttes at the east end of the Highwoods, where Eagle Eye killed a buffalo cow with his bow and arrow's in order to avoid rifle fire, which might attract war parties. From there a trail to Wolf Creek, near where Stanford stands today, was taken, where the trail of a Blackfeet war party was struck. The two messengers followed across Willow creek and reached the Judith river, and finally, after some excit ing experiences, reached Medicine Springs, between the Moccasin ranges, where they found the Crow village had been encamped. They followed the travois trails across an open and dangerous country to the east end of the Judith mountains, and went from there to Flat Willow creek, just above where Box Elder creek flows into it, where Hamilton realized that they were in the most dangerous part of the entire west from the Panhandle of Texas to the British line. They pushed on to the Musselshell, finding many traces of Indian war parties, and from the forks of that stream toward the Bull mountains. Heading for Porcupine creek, where they expected to find ' the Crows, they were attacked by a party of five Blackfeet Indians. They let the reds get within 60 yards; then showed themselves and ducked. The Indians foolishly fired their flintlock guns, and before they could reload or draw thèir bows, Hamilton and Eagle Eye killed the five Blackfeet. Eagle Eye was afterward blamed by the Piegans for killing the Black feet, but he felt entirely justified in doing so under the circumstances. Sioux and Crows Battle The Crow i rand. The head chief of the Crows said they could not go to Fort Ben | ton, as their ponies' feet were tender i and there was little game between | where they were and the Fort. They I to go to Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, the next moon to 1 meet some white chiefs in council, i Hamilton and Eagle Eye then made a bee-line for the mouth of the Musselshell river and forded that stream. They then struck out for i the Little Rockies, near where they j said, further, that they had been told met the Gros Ventres, who agreed to push on toward Fort Benton. By the time Hamilton and Eagle Eye reached Fort Benton the Black feet, Bloods and Piegans began to come from the north. Three days after their return a steamer from St. Louis arrived with a large load of presents for the Indians attend ing the council. By then the total number of Indians camped on Fort Benton bottom was upward of 4,000, and another thousand arrived, ma king the number around 5,000. The Indians from the north—Blackfeet, Piegans and Bloods, pitched their lodges mostly on the upper end of the bottom, while the Gros Ventres placed their camp some three hun dred yards east of the old Fort, at the lower end. Formerly the Gros Ventres and the Piegans and Bloods had been friends, but for the past four years they had been at war and there was bitter hatred between the tribes. Hence this wide separation of their camps. The council chamber at the Black feet agency had been put in order, with the American flag handsomely displayed. The Gros Ventres chiefs at first refused to attend the coun cil through fear of their numerous enemies, but on promise of protec tion, they came in. The Fort Benton Treaty September 20. 1865. the reading of the treaty began. This was a for midable document of some 50 closely written pages. The clerk began read ing it by sections, which then had to be interpreted, first by the interpre ter for the Blackfeet, Piegans and Bloods; and then by the interpreter for the Gros Ventres. Hamilton at once saw that it would take weeks to get through the document at that rate. So did Little Dog. the Piegan chief, who told his interpreter to in form the council that an adjourn ment would he taken till the follow ing day in order to make a change in the manner of conveying the infor mation, which was contained in ver bose legal phrases, to a wild, rest less lot of Indians, 90 per cent of whom had no desire to mix with or deal with the whites, except to trade for certain commodities of which they stood in need. The commission ers were entirely at sea about the matter, but Hamilton and the inter preter effected a condensation of the treaty in simple language that could be read and translated in a very this the summit of the Rockies south to the Little Plackfont river, and thence a brief period. The following morning the council met again. The Small Robe band of Piegans claimed all the land on the south side of the Missouri river as far south as the Musselshell. They ceded in the treatv all their rights to territory. Other Piegan and Blood Indians claimed land along southeast to the Missouri river. In the treaty they ceded all the territory from the mouth of the Marias river up the Marias to the Teton river, fol lowing the middle of that stream to its source, for a stipulated sum to be The given to them for 20 years. Gros Ventres had no land to cede. Neither did the Blackfeet, and ac cording to the views of many the lat ter had no right to be present at the treaty, as they were living in Can ada. Some of them wore medals given by the English sovereign. Indians Get Ugly All the country east of the Teton river was set aside for a Piegan and Blood reserve. Hamilton states with much truth that, without the influ ence of some of the mountain men who were present and were friends of the Indian chiefs, the treaty could not have been made at that time. Undoubtedly Hamilton's influence was invaluable, although he believed the Indians were being done a great wrong. He saw, however, that the reds had no alternative than to sub mit, and that fighting would only make things worse for them. The next day began the distribu tion of the presents, which lasted two days and was replete with funny incidents. The commissioners then left for Helena with the Indian agent at Fort Benton, Gad E. Upson. Ham ilton declared that the latter knew' as much about an Indian as he (Ha milton) knew about the Inhabitants of Jupiter. * The commissioners had hardly disappeared up the trail for Helena than Little Dog, chief of the Piegans, came to Hamilton and told him that the North Piegans, Bloods and the Blackfeet had secured some whisky and were getting ugly and singing their war songs. Little Dog advised the whites to remain in their houses. He believed that the three bands he mentioned would attack the Gros Ventres camp and might also try to w'ipe out the whites. Hamilton and some of the other whites loaded a 12-pound brass can non and placed it at a point of vant age. Rifle pits were dug and there were 45 whites to defend them. At the Fort the Northwest Fur Com pany's men, numbering 12, locked themselves in and prepared for a siege. An Exciting Scene Hamilton, with Little Dog, who was a firm friend to the whites and a fine Indian, and Eagle Eye, then rode to the Gros Ventres camp. The Gros Ventres had already been warn ed and had pitched their lodges in a circle, their ponies corraled, and rifle pits dug all around the village. All the warriors were stripped to the breech-clout and painted. Littie Dog Informed them that he would try to prevent the hostiles from at tacking them, and advised them not to shoot first if the hostiles came. He declared that he and his people would be their friends, meaning, by his people, the South Piegans. Ham ilton then rode to Little Dog's camp with him, where they found the young warriors preparing for battle At this time much bad blood ex isted between the North and South Piegans. Hamilton visited all the No matter how lorT^ you have been a coffee drink er, you will find it easy to change to INSTANT!! Postum ï The flavor is similar. The only difference is the certainty that no harmful after effects can possibly follow. Sold by Grocers everywhere Made Jby Postum Cereal Co. Battle Creek. Michigan. camps and told the chiefs that they must control their young men. About 11 o'clock in the morning 500 naked warriors in war regalia, painted and mounted on their best ponies, which were also painted, rode down the bottom tow'ard the Gros Ventres village, yelling and ut tering their war-cries. The ground fairly trembled under the thunder ing hoofs of the ponies. Every one expected that a fight was on and wondered where it would stop. Lit tle Dog had 60 warriors at the upper end of town, with him. The Indians rode furious ly around the Gros Ventres camp. If one shot had been fired by either party a bloody fight would have fol lowed, as the Indians who were held back by their chiefs would then have joined their friends. Hamilton said that if a fight had started, Little Dog would have joined the whites. He notified the hostile bands that it they attacked the whites, they would have him to fight. The advice he gave the Gros Ventres about not fir ing the first shot undoubtedly pre vented the touching of the match to the powder. The hostiles rode around the hos tile camp many times, yelling, call ing names and challenging the Gros Ventres warriors to come out and fight; but the Gros Ventres remain ed quiet in their rifle pits, despite the hot blood of their young men. Finally the mounted warriors rode back to their camps, stopping on the way near the agency building to sing war songs and to call the white men dogs and women. The whites warn ed the hostiles to stop their talk or they would kill them, and presently the riders gave a yell of defiance and left. Hamilton remained As the whites were eating a hasty lunch, a fearful yell was heard. Ham ilton and Little Dog mounted their horses. Hamilton decided that if the hostiles attacked the town and Little Dog attacked the hostiles, he w'ould remain with him. If Little Dog failed to act he could return to the town and fight there. The yell was given by 1,200 paint ed savages, each of whom had tied from five to 20 yards of calico to his horse's tail and they started out to run all over the bottom. Each In dian was trying to make his pony step on the calico tied to the horse ahead. They w r ere yelling and shoot ing in every direction. It was a wild orgy that would take the brush of a Russell to paint. That night the Gros Ventres si lently moved their village, without being discovered by their enemies. The next morning all the Indians ex cept Little Dog's band left for the parties of Piegans and Blackfeet had been organized to raid the min ers and ranchers in the western end of the territory. Such was the re sult of the treaty. Most of the In dians were dissatisfied and looked on the whites with hatred. A chronic state of warfare between the tribes and between Indians and whites con tinued for years, as it had in the past. -o Butte Faces Potato Famine Butte is threatened with a potato famine. The available supply in Butte to day is not sufficient to meet local demands and will be entirely ex hausted within three weeks. Ad ditional supplies cannot be readily procured while prices are steadily advancing. Potatoes selling in Butte this week for $4.75 a hundred will pro bably advance to $5.50 a hundred before the end of the week, pro minent growers say. W. J. Lutey declares that farm ers of the northwest who have stored potatoes for the winter dare not open such cellars during the cold weather for fear of causing the tubers to freeze. Washington wholesale prices exceed local retail prices at present.