Forts in Brown County, Nebraska


Fort Hartsuff near Ord, Nebraska, was built in 1874 to protect settlers of the Loup Valley from Indians and outlaws, but it was too far away to afford any protection to the country along the Niobrara. Congress decided to locate the Sioux on reservations where they could be kept from wandering and committing depredations on the incoming settlers. In the fall of 1876 the United States government sent commissioners to the Sioux headquarters in western Nebraska to ratify a treaty which was signed by Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala and Chief Spotted Tail of the Brulé Sioux. The Indians agreed to remove to land reserved for them in South Dakota. Each Indian was given a small sum of money, beef and other supplies every month and heads of families were given free title to one hundred sixty acres of land. The Brulé were located on what is now called the Rosebud reservation; the Oglala farther west at Pine Ridge. The construction of the agency buildings was begun in 1878. This move drew the attention of home seekers to North Central Nebraska, as the removal of the Indians gave people confidence that their lives would be safe from attacks. A railroad was heading in this direction which was an added inducement to those looking for land.

     Again the Indians failed to live up to the terms of their treaty and were continually wandering from their reservations, robbing and killing any white men they could find. As an added safeguard it was decided to send troops to keep the Indians in bounds.

     In 1879 General Crook of the United States army, commanding the department of the Platte was ordered to select a suitable place for a new fort. He made a visit to the region, and recommended a point on the Niobrara River south of the Rosebud agency. The post was established April 22 1880 by Major John J. Upham of the 5th U. S. Cavalry. Three companies of his regiment and one company of the 9th Infantry were the first troops to be stationed there.

     The post was named Fort Niobrara. The buildings were mostly of adobe brick. The other materials used in their construction and supplies for the soldiers were brought by large freighting outfits from Neligh, then the western end of the railroad. These outfits consisted of ten to twenty heavy freight wagons with twelve yoke of oxen on each wagon with trailer. Some smaller freighting outfits did a thriving business hauling supplies for the new military post, and for ranchers who established themselves nearby. They in turn did a good business selling their cattle on hoof to the government to feed the soldiers and for the monthly beef issue to the Indians. Fort Niobrara was abandoned in 1907, troops were removed and all the buildings disposed of but one which is now used by the U. S. Game Preserve which has its headquarters on the site of the old Fort near Valentine.)

     Immediately after the troops were sent to Fort Niobrara a government mail stage made regular trips twice each week. John and George Berry had the contract for this stage line. The Bassett home in Long Pine Canyon was a stage station in charge of John Danks. Bone Creek post office at the Cook and Tower ranch served a large scope of country for mail. (This ranch house was near the present city limits of Ainsworth on the northwest, where the Gordon trail crossed Bone Creek. Ed Cook was postmaster, Mrs. Nannie Osborne, deputy).

     After the Morris bridge was built across the Niobrara river near the present site of Carns the freighting outfits some times crossed there paying one dollar for the privilege. Continuing their journey on the north side of the river to Fort Niobrara and western ranches they avoided fording Pine, Plum, and other creeks, but when they returned with empty wagons they usually followed the road which crossed cur county (through Twp. 30 to Atkinson.)


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