Army Letters From An Officer's Wife, 1871-1888, By Frances M.A. Roe

















































































































































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Everyone fished during the morning and many fish were caught, every
one of which were carefully packed in wet grass - Page 85
Army Letters From An Officer's Wife, 1871-1888, By Frances M.A. Roe - Page 85 of 109 - First - Home

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Everyone Fished During The Morning And Many Fish Were Caught, Every One Of Which Were Carefully Packed In Wet Grass And Brought To Birch Creek, To The Unfortunates Who Had Not Been On That Most Delightful Trip To Fish Lake.

After luncheon we came down from the mountain and drove to the Piegan Agency.

The heavy wagon came directly to camp, of course. There is nothing remarkable to be seen at the agency - just a number of ordinary buildings, a few huts, and Indians standing around the door of a store that resembles a post trader's. Every Indian had on a blanket, although Major Stokes said there were several among them who had been to the Carlisle School.

Along the road before we reached the agency, and for some distance after we had left it, we passed a number of little one-room log huts occupied by Indians, often with two squaws and large families of children; and at some of these we saw wretched attempts at gardening. Those Indians are provided with plows, spades, and all sorts of implements necessary for the making of proper gardens, and they are given grain and seeds to plant, but seldom are any of these things made use of. An Indian scorns work of any kind - that is only for squaws. The squaws will scratch up a bit of ground with sticks, put a little seed in, and then leave it for the sun and rain to do with as it sees fit. No more attention will be paid to it, and half the time the seed is not covered.

One old chief raised some wheat one year - I presume his squaws did all the work - and he gathered several sackfuls, which was made into flour at the agency mill. The chief was very proud. But when the next quarterly issue came around, his ration of flour was lessened just the amount his wheat had made, which decided all future farming for him! Why should he, a chief, trouble himself about learning to farm and then gain nothing in the end! There is a fine threshing machine at the agency, but the Indians will have nothing whatever to do with it. They cannot understand its workings and call it the "Devil Machine."

As we were nearing the Indian village across the creek from us, we came to a most revolting spectacle. Two or three Indians had just killed an ox, and were slashing and cutting off pieces of the almost quivering flesh, in a way that left little pools of blood in places on the side. There were two squaws with them, squatted on the ground by the dead animal, and those hideous, fiendish creatures were scooping up the warm blood with their hands and greedily drinking it! Can one imagine anything more horrible? We stopped only a second, but the scene was too repulsive to be forgotten. It makes me shiver even now when I think of the flashing of those big knives and of how each one of the savages seemed to be reveling in the smell and taste of blood! I feel that they could have slashed and cut into one of us with the same relish. It was much like seeing a murder committed.

Major Stokes told us last evening that when he returned from the East a few weeks ago, he discovered that one of a pair of beautiful pistols that had been presented to him had been stolen, that some one had gone upstairs and taken it out of the case that was in a closet corresponding to mine, so that accounts for the footsteps I heard in that house the night the man entered Mrs. Norton's house. But how did the man know just where to get a pistol? The hospital attendant who was suspected that night got his discharge a few days later. He stayed around the garrison so long that finally Colonel Gregory ordered him to leave the reservation, and just before coming from the post we heard that he had shot a man and was in jail. A very good place for him, I think.

We expect to return to the post in a few days. I would like to remain longer, but as everybody and everything will go, I can't very well. The trout fishing in Birch Creek is very good, and I often go for a little fish, sometimes alone and sometimes Mrs. Stokes will go with me. I do not go far, because of the dreadful Indians that are always wandering about. They have a small village across the creek from us, and every evening we hear their "tom-toms" as they chant and dance, and when the wind is from that direction we get a smell now and then of their dirty tepees. Major Stokes and Mrs. Stokes, also, see the noble side of Indians, but that side has always been so covered with blankets and other dirty things I have never found it!

FORT SHAW, MONTANA TERRITORY, November, 1882.

YOU will be shocked, I know, when you hear that we are houseless - homeless - that for the second time Faye has been ranked out of quarters! At Camp Supply the turn out was swift, but this time it has been long drawn out and most vexatious. Last month Major Bagley came here from Fort Maginnis, and as we had rather expected that he would select our house, we made no preparations for winter previous to his coming. But as soon as he reached the post, and many times after, he assured Faye that nothing could possibly induce him to disturb us, and said many more sweet things.

Unfortunately for us, he was ordered to return to Fort Maginnis to straighten out some of his accounts while quartermaster, and Mrs. Bagley decided to remain as she was until Major Bagley's return. He was away one month, and during that time the gardener stored away in our little cellar our vegetables for the winter, including quantities of beautiful celery that was packed in boxes.

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