The McCook tribune. (McCook, Neb.) 1886-1936, January 27, 1893, Image 2

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[Copyright, 181SJ, by American Press Associa
Ono scorching hot day in October.
1800, l left tho littlotowu of Dayton on
the Carson river for Carson City, now
the capital of the state of Nevada. It
was as hot as in midsummer. The road
was at that time a dreary one to travel.
It was the regular "Old Emigrant road"
—tho road leading from tho sink ot the
Humboldt across the great Humboldt
desert to the Carson river, thence over
the Sierra Nevada mountains by way
of tho Placerville route to California.
I was on foot and had before mo a tramp
of over 13 miles with not a human hab
itation in sight. My road lay through
a sterile wasto of alkali lands that spread
away on almost a dead level in all di
rections to distant ranges of barren and
rocky hills.
Wearily 1 toiled through the sand and
alkali dust—the same sand and dust
through which had toiled during that
summer and every summer since 1849
long emigrant trains from the states
east of tho Missouri river. At the time
of which 1 am speaking thousands of
emigrant wagons were still rolling in
across the "plains” every summer, and
for some years later—until a railroad
was built across the continent—they
continued to porr in across the moun
tains and deserts. But as 1 tramped
along I saw neither trains nor single
wagons. It was late in the season for
emigrants to be abroad. Most of those
on the plains that year had reached and
crossed the Sierras in September Even
the traders at the posts out near the
deserts had folded their tents and re
turned to California, considering their
trade over for the season.
i hough no wagons were m sight on
the road, signs of the great stream of
emigration wore to lie seen on all sides.
The trail along w.^Hi had moved the I
great annual procession was well mark
ed. The carcasses of hundreds and thou
sands of cattle, horses ami mules strew
ed tho ground for several hundred yards
on each side of tho road. Some of these
carcasses were those of animals that
had died only the week or the month
before perhaps, while others were those
of animals that had there fallen and
died as early as 1849 or 18fs0. Here on
these alkali plains dead animals be
come mummies. They do not decay as
in other places, but dry up.
It was about on that portion of the
road over which 1 was traveling that
such animals as had received deadly
doses of alkali on the Humboldt, the
Twenty-five Mile and other great des
erts succumbed and fell to rise no more.
The early settlers made miles of fences,
both in town and country, out of the
skins of the mummified animals that
Btrewed this road, for at that time there
was no lumber in the country. Twist
ed thongs made of the skins were
stretched between posts as we now see
wire fences made in many places. In
this way both town lots and ranches
were inclosed.
As I was plodding along 1 had sev
eral times caught glimpses through the
flickering heat waves that hovered over
the alkali whitened plain of an object
that looked like a small tent pitched in
the midst of tho broiling desert. At
last 1 was able to make out that the
white object was a small covered wag
on, standing directly in tho road.
Finally, as 1 approached, 1 could see
several persons seated on tho roadside
near the wagon, a small two horse af
fair. Then I saw that one of the horses
was down, while his mate stood by
with drooping head.
“Here is trouble,” said I. “Evi
dently a sick horse. ”
When I pulled up alongside the ship
wrecked family, not one of them said a
word. They were the most woebegone
and forlorn party I had ever seen on the
plains. They hardly raised their heads
to look at me. All seemed utterly de
jected—given over to some inconsolable
A hasty survey of the scene before
me showed a small and light two horse
wagon, looking very shaky about the
wheels, broken about the box and sur
monnted with a cover stretched over
hows of very unequal height. The cov
er was of homespun linen, was patched
in places with pieces ot butternut col
ored jeans and had painted on one side
in great sprawling letters the defiant
warwhoop “Calefomy or Bast.” A
large water cask was slung underneath
the wagon, and a red feed trough, near
ly gnawed in two^Hmng behind.
In front of the rh&gty wagon stood
an old bald faced horse, still attached
to the vehicle by the trace chains and
his end of the neckyoke. Poor old fel
low! Such another angular, harness
galled, sunken eyed, melancholy beast
1 had not seen in many a day.
Near by his mate lay dead—“alka
lied." He seemed to have dropped
down in his tracks and died—died with
no greater struggle than to throw his
head and neck out across the footpath
running by the side of the wagon track.
On a fragment of rock near the dead
horse sat a man—a man about 45 years
of age—looking as though hope had ut
terly forsaken his breast. His feet, in
cased in alkali reddened and torn bro
gans, were half hidden in the dnst of
the road in which they were listlessly
planted. His head was bowed until it
almost reached liis knees, and the wilt
ed brim of his home wrought straw hat
almost concealed his sun browned and
unshaven face.
Near to this man—the head of the
family—sat a bundle—a bundle which
1 should not immediately have recog
nized as a human being had 1 not ob
served a pair of shriveled, clawlike
hands clasped across what seemed the
knees. There was something so weird
about this object in its shapelessness
that, after 1 had discovered it to be
alive and evidently human, it quite fas
cinated me. I found myself constantly |
turning to watch it. A rather star
tling phenomenon was that the handle
continually rocked to and lro and occa
sionully gave out some kind of mutter
ings, daring the delivery of which il
rocked quite violently. As the face
and all the upper part of the body were
covered with a huge sunbonnet—a bon
net to which was attached an extraor
dinarily voluminous cape—1 arrived at
the conclusion that the mumbling '' par
ty” before me was a woman and prob
ably the grandmother of the“expedi
tion. ’ ’
Two boys of about 8 and 10 years,
each with his baggy tow linen trow
sers hitched up nearly to his chin, sal
flat in the dust at the head of the dead
horse, whose nose one of them was
fondly stroking. The faces of both
were smeared with dust and tears, ami
both were still quietly blubbering and
whispering together.
A girl of about 17 sat in the front of
the wagon, vainly striving to quiet a
child that was moaning in a weak, sick
way in her arms. The features of the
girl were finely formed, hut her face
was sadly sunburned. Her bonnet was
off, and a wealth of brown hair fell in
waves over her shoulders and hung m
tangles ubont her face. At a glance it
was to be seen that many cares and
troubles had fallen upon this young
girl, leaving her little time in which to
think of herself or her personal appear
A little girl, with flaxen locks hang
ing about her eyes, was on her knees be
side the young woman, leaning over
the end board of the wagon and gazing
with bine eyes full of wonder upon all
around—that is, when she was not en
gaged in gnawing, childlike, at the
board upon the edge of which tier two
littlo brown paws rested. All this I
saw almost at a glance. For some mo
All this I saw almost at a glance.
merits 1 stood gazing on the really dis
tressing scene, yet no one broke the sor
rowful silence. They seemed persons
who had seen so little of kindness and
who had received so little aid or sym
pathy from any ono that they had lost
faith in their kind.
At last 1 went up to the man seated
on the small bowlder. 1 touched him
on the shoulder and said, “Stranger,
you appear to be about at the end of
your string here. ”
“Yes, sir. Clean done for! Clean
done for!” giving me a single mourn
ful glance, then turning to pick ab
stractedly at a thread in a blue jeans
patch on tho knee of his butternut
At first 1 felt like laughing as I gazed
upon tho lugubrious faces all about me,
but a moment's reflection showed me
that, as the man said, they were “clean
done for, ” sure enough.
Not a man nor a team was in sight
in any direction. All about lay the
sterile, waterless alkali waste, covered
or rather made ragged by a sparse
growth of sagebrush.
“Have you any money, my friend,
with which to buy another horse?” 1 at
last asked, though 1 felt that it was an
idle question.
“Money!” cried tho man, as though
startled and shocked at the question,
and ha turned and looked me full in
the face for the first time with wide
open eyes. “Money? No, sir. Not a
cent, sir—-not tho first red centl That
thar team was all I totch from ole Mis
souri with me—it was my only hope.”
Again he relapsed, hung his head and
resumed picking at the patch on his
knee, just as though having said all
that could be said in regard to the sit
uation it was useless to waste breath in
further talk.
1 stood hesitating for a moment and
then again shook the man up: "Stran
ger, what do yon think of doing? If
yon stay here, all hands of you will
perish. This is a terrible place, my
friend 1”
" Wa-al.I kain’t somehow think what
ter do.” 6aid the man, without raising
his head. “I’m er tryin ter think, but
somehow 1 kain't think.”
The living bundle seated on the road
side bank near at hand now attracted
my attention, it began to swing back
and forth m a very violent manner, and
at last, after some few’ preliminary in
ternal rumblings, it gave utterance to
these words:“Oh, .Mumford! Oh. Mum
ford 1”
Turning to the man on the rock, 1
shook him up and asked. "Is your name
“No, sir,” said he. “No, she’s
a-thinkin of—a-thinkiu ’bout her ole
man—him she lost. ’’
“Well, come, rouse up, my friend!”
cried I, almost losing ray patiei :e.
“You can’t remain here with this fam
ily on your hands. What do you think
of doing?”
“1 know it’s bad for the folks,” said
the man, never raising his head, “but
what kin 1 do? I’m clean done for, an
I try to think what ter do, but some
how 1 kain't think.”
“Oh, Mumford! Oh, Mumford!”
cried the old lady hidden somewhere
within the bundle in such a loud and
thrilling tone that 1 turned and looked
at her in alarm. She was rocking her
self at such a rate that she seemed to
oounce an inch or two oil tue ground
at each pendulnmliko vibration.
Again all was silent. The old lady
was still diligently vibrating, hut was
now voiceless. The man on the rock
seemed trying to pull an idea of seme
kind out of the patch on the knee of his
"Pore ole Betty!" said one of the lit
tle boys as he patted the neck of the
dead mare, as 1 now discovered the
horso to he. '‘Pore ole Betty!'’
"Will daddy leave her wif all of der
nasty dead cows'/” queried the younger
boy, trying to open and look into one of
the dead mare's eyes.
About this time I felt a sort of lump
rising in my throat and began to want
to see something like action somewhere.
"Come, my friend,” said 1 as a
thought struck me; "rouse up!” slap
ping the man on the back. "There are
dozens of big freight teams going hack
to California every day from Virginia
City, and all return without back loads
of any kind. You here are not far from
the main California road, and one of
these return teams will haul you and
all your traps. Come, my man, you’ll
be all right yet!”
“But 1 hain’t got no money. ’Tain’t
no use. I’ve seed teams and teams, an
I’ve axed ’em to help me along. None
ot 'em wouldn’t haul me. They all
come on an left ns alone back in the des
erts. They all talked money, money—
money fust an money last. 1 hain’t got
no money. ”
"But that was while your team was
still on its legs. Now they can’t re
fuse. Besides, tho California teamsters
are very different men from those who
passed you on the plains, where it is
‘devil take the hindmost.’
"1 tell yer ’tain’t no use!” cried the
man pettishly.
"Oh, Mum ford! Oh. Muinford!” cried
the old lady, and she began to bounce
about so violently that I feared t;he
would roll off tho bank into the road.
"Tut, tut, mammy!” remonstrated
my man.
Beginning to lose patience witli all
this idlo mummery, I turned suddenly
to the swaying bundle and said, “For
God’s sake, what is tho meaning of all
this nonsense about Mumford?’’
This was like giving the bundle an
electrical shock. Half sxiringing from
her seat, the old woman gave her im
mense poke bonnet so vigorous an up
ward thrust that it was sent flying from
her head into tho dust, exposing to view
for the first time a thin, wrinkled face
and spare, diminutive form—a little
“atomy” of a woman.
"What is the nonsense about Mum
ford? Is that what you ask, sir? There
is no nonsense about Mumford!” Her
alkalied gray hair stood bristling all
over her head. A wild light burned
in her sunken gray eyes, and she stretch
ed out toward me a skinny arm and
clawlike hanu almost in a menacing
manner. "There never was any non
sense about Mumford! No, sir! Mum
ford. sir, was my husband for -10 years,
and there was no nonsense about him!
But," she added in a calmer tone,
"Mumford is not—he is no more. He
sleeps on the banks of Green river.
We left him there. He sleeps there un
der the trees, where 1, too, should
sleep!!’ Her hand dropped, and in a
sobbing voice she said: “Yes, under
the trees, thank God for that! Under
the beautiful green trees! He was bom
among the tall green trees of Kentucky,
lived among trees all his life, died
among trees! When, far ont in the des
ert, the doctor told him he was dying,
that he had only a few minutes to live,
he asked to be raised up that he might
look ont of the wagon. ’No,’ said lie,
'1 can’t die here, and, what is more. !
won'tl There is not a tree in sight!
Drive on! When you’ve come to some
decent sort of place for a man to die in,
i won’t fight against going.’ He lived,
sir, while the wagon crawled over miles
and miles of desert—lived till we reach
ed Green river and was laid on his bed
nnder the trees. Then he took my hand
and said: ‘Ah. the trees are green, and
I hear the birds singing. Sally, goodby
—I’ll die now.’ 1 said 'Goodby, Mum
ford, ’ and he was dead, ”
‘Thomas! Thomas!” called a shrill
but weak voice from the wagon.
“Thomas, is that mother a-talkin?”
Thomas—the‘‘doubting Thomas”—
who had all this time remained sitting
dejectedly on the rock, arose and slouch
ed along to the wagon, hardly lifting
his feet above the dust.
The animated bundle followed Thom
as with her eyes. Turning to me, she
then said: “I’m his mother-in-law.
He’s a stick—a perfect stick!” said she
decidedly. "Yes,” repeated she, “a
perfect stick! Ob, that by keeping
Mumford before him—that by calling
Mumford up in bis mind—I could get
him to show a little of the spirit of
In a moment Thomas came back and
said to me: *‘Nancy—that’s my wife,
sir—wants to see you. She’s a-lyin sick
jn the wagon. ”
Nodding to the young girl, who was
holding tho sick child at the front of
the vehicle, and placing a hand on the
flaxer. locks of the little ono by her side,
1 looked into the interior of tho‘‘fam
ily mansion” just as a tall, thin, hol
low eyed woman was rising from some
Resting in a sitting position by hold
ing on to the side of the wagon, the wo
man gazed wistfully at me.
"1 am told that you are ill. good
woman,” said 1.
“Oh, yes, sit—very, sir! I’ve moun
tain fever.”
Now that I fully comprehended the
distressed condition of this poor, sick,
friendless, moneyless, shipwrecked fam
ily, 1 was so overcome that, as I stood
facing the wistful eyes of the sick wo
man, I knew not how to speak in a way
to comfort her.
Nodding toward the young girl hold
ing the infant, the woman said: ‘‘Mary
says she heerd you tell daddy—my hus
band out thar—that some of the teams
goin 4ack to Califomy might help us.
Oh, sir, if they only would! When pore
ole Betty stopped, fell down and died,
everything for ns stopped right thar. in
1 a mint every hope wo n t<i was gone, it
wm bud enough for daddy before, but
whvnheseed the ole uiure drap dead he
jist let go all holts. Pore man! He’s
clean discouraged.”
I assured the woman th ii all 1 had
said of the teams and teamsters was
, true.
"Are there many teams on the road
now. sir?" asked Mary.
" A great many - hundreds. The I nn
| nesH houses and the big mining roiit
; panics of the Comstock are now getting
! in their winter goods and supplies.
I Hundreds of teams are coming and go
I ing across the mountains. Wo should
see many of them were wo a few miles
I farther on—were we where this road
j falls into the one that leads over the
mountains. ”
“Oh, if I couhl see them, sir!" cried
Mary. “If they could see mother—
sec us all--see the awful place wo are
in, they would help us. sir. Yes, they
would help us to get away from here!”
“Indeed they would,” said I. “They
may look rough—their work is rough—
but tho majority are noble hearted fel
lows, and there is not a man among
them all so mean that he would pass
you by.”
"Oh, thank you, sir! Thank you!
Oh, mother, do you hear?” And the kind
hearted girl began kissing the sick baby
to hide her tears.
Looking! up presently, she said:
“Mother has been sick so long, and now
pore little Kitty is sick, and we haven't
! any money and hardly anything left
I that's fit even for us well ones to eat.
What can wo do hero in this desert but
“No, you will not die. Yon are all
safe now, and yon will soon all be well
and happy."
"Oh, mother, do you hear that? The
stranger says wo are all safe now!"’ and
again the worn young creature began
kissing Kitty, tears streaming down
her cheeks.
Look about yon, Mary—look about
at the ileseit and the dead beasts all
about us, and you'll see how safe we
air!” And thus speaking the sick and
despondent mother groaned aloud.
“Be of good cheer, child, and try to
nut some heart into the others.” said 1
to Mary. “I still say you are all safe.
Our Comstock people have assisted hun
dreds of emigrants that have come in
here off the deserts in distress. You are
but a few miles away from Virginia
City. The people there will most cer
tainly take care of you and hud a way
for you to get to California.”
“God bless them!” said Mary.
"Will you please call Thomas, my
husband, sir. to get me some water?”
asked the siclf woman, who had fallen
back on her couch and was trying to
| moisten her parched lips with her equal
ly dry and fevered tongue.
I at once went to the husband, and
giving him a shake to rouse him out of
his state of dreamy dejection told him
what his wife required.
As I was about to return to the wagon
to tell Mary that I would not lose sight
of them until they were hauled out of
the desert and safe, l felt a clutch at
the skirt of my coat. Turning about,
I found the old woman gazing keenly,
eagerly, upon my face. This old wom
an 1 now began to see had an eye and
an ear open for all that was going on
about her. notwithstanding that at first
sight she seemed a mere heedless, im
becile bundle.
“That man,’’said she, “is a good
enough husband to my darter, but, la!
he ain't one of our kind—he ain’t Kain
tucky stock! He ain’t like pore Mum
ford was—hain’t got the stir! When
things went like this, Mumford he’d
git mad. La. you jest ought to see how
he'd t’ar round! Swar? Why, he’d
swar terrible, Mumford would. But
he’s at rest now, pore man! On the
hanks of the Green river he lies, under
the beautiful trees, where the birds
sing all the day long. Mumford, now.
he was a man. sir. as could do justice
to a sitervation sich as this. But he—
dear soul—he has gone to his reward.”
Suddenly changing her tone, the old
lady laid a bony hand upon my arm:
“Now, see here, you jist see what you
"Sow, st:c here, you jist sec uiiat you kin
do for us.'”
kin do for us' He”—nodding her head
toward tho wagon—“he’s a stick, you
know. ”
I 1 faithfully promised the Mumford
relict that 1 would see them all out of
| their troubles.
! After getting a drink of water out of
| the barrel that hung under the wagon.
I left to seek assistance, bidding all be
1 of good cheer, as relief would reach
them in a few hours at furthest.
1 struck out west, across the desert to
the much traveled California road,
which wound along the foothills. Not
a California team was in sight. Turn
ing north on the road toward Virginia
City. I pushed forward in the hope of
goon meeting a string of teams headed
for California.
I had followed the road leading to
Virginia City about four miles, to a
point almost in sight of Silver City,
when the music of hells greeted my ears
—bells such as are worn by the animals
in the big 10, 12 and 14 mule teams.
Soon a long string of big teams came
citrlit mllDur nn trifli :i T*'rfert eratR
(Continued on pspe 3 )
(Begnlnr Gr;idu»tea.)
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Work Guaranteed. Teeth extracted in the
morning, new ones inserted evening of
same day. Tectli filled without pain, latest
method. Finest parlors in the west. Paxton
Sr— dr, r. w. bailey,
OIVI^Ha*. ... txfcB.
Sj)N CUBi\
Japan TEA
silk handkerchief, i
1V Wall oh a pond Plj'-fp, n «Ii'Ip I row or old • Silk IIand*T
'k kerckief, wllh n I'. O. *>r hvpr<->s Siiiirr Or>i« r for <il,4j
> and wo will I’hoiorraph ih«* |iiro.r* on i d.* 'Ilk. Renat I-41
l ful effect. PKhUvMM pic.ur... HIM. NOT FA UK orTl
✓ HaMI out, I -stfc furewr, evr/l.odj !
* //r* . deuphted.
i yf&ys/ photo
k. .T?T".stup'py.3-;’■ ;ysj5T.nmahah
nothing new when we state that it pays to engage
in a permanent, most healthy arid pleasant busi
ness, that returns a profit for every day’s work.
Such is the business we ofier the working class.
We teach them how to make money rapidly, and
guarantee every one who follows our instructions
faithfully the making of StfOO-OO a month.
Every one who tak« - hold now and works will
surely and speedily increase their earnings; there
cun be no question about it: others now at work
are doing it. and von, reader, ran do the same.
This is the best pa; ing business that you have
ever had the chance to secure. You will make a
grave mistake if yen fail to give it a trial at once.
If you grasp th* situation, and :.rt quickly, you
will directly find yourself in a mo t prosperous
business, ai. which you ran .1 r* 1/ make and save
large sums of money. Tin* results of only a few
hours* work will often equal a week’s wage-.
Whether you are old or young, man or woman, it
makes no di)f* r* n a*, — bo a- w»- tell you, and Suc
re's will meet you at the very 'tart. Neither
experience or capital nece"ary. Those who work
for us are rewarded. Why not write to-day for
full particulars, tree r E ALLEN & CO.,
Box No 4‘SO, Augusta, Me.
w ood’s rnospiioDiNii y
The Great Enslleti Remedy,
Promptly and permanent
ly cures a. 1 forms of Rervou*
I weal:twas, Emission*, Sperv.
Iatorrhta. Jmjrttency and all ■
effects of Abuse or Excess*'.’ ’
Been prescribed over 35
jears in thousands of cases;
is the only Reliable and. Hon
est Medicine knoxcn. Ask
ldruesrl9t for Wood’s Pro
tie fore and After* fh^dhiz; ir he oners some
J ' * worthless medicine In place
of this, leave his dishonest store, Inclose price In
letter, and we will send by return mail. Price, one
package. #1; six. #5. One %oil! pleats, tlx trill cure.
Pamphlet In plain sealed envelope. 2 stamps.
,>ddres* The Wood Chemical Co.
131 Woodward Ave . Detroit. Mich.
For sale by L. VV. McConnell & Co., G. M*
Chenery, Albert McMillen in McCook and
by druggists everywhere.