KanColl Books


Indian Depredation Loss

     A claim for damages against the United States and the Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Comanche tribes, by Charles Rath & Company, was filed, and depositions were taken in Wichita, Kansas, October 10, 1892, with J. R. Hallowell representing the claimants and S. S. Kirkpatrick, special agent of the United States duly appointed by the Attorney General, representing the government. Six witnesses, Charles Rath, R. M. Wright, James Langton, Andrew Johnson, William B. (Barclay, shortened to Bat) Masterson, and James H. Cator, all testified to substantiate Claim No. 4593, pending in the Court of Claims.

     Many are the reports of the Battle of Adobe Walls, the hardships the hunters and merchants endured but no where did the author find records of the losses incurred, excepting in the case of James Hanrahan, who lost everything he had, according to Billy Dixon. A request at the National Archives and Records Service, furnished transcripts of Charles Rath & Company's losses, adding up to $12,250, as set forth in their claim for damages. Possibly, Myers & Leonard may have had a loss equal to Rath's but no effort was made to check into his loss, nor does the author know how he got his goods back to Dodge City.

     The first witness to testify was Charles Rath, aged fifty-six years. [1]

The business, Charles Rath & Company, on the Canadian River in Texas, in what is known as the Panhandle, in Hutchinson County, selling general merchandise and buying buffalo hides and other furs, furs of any kind. The firm of Charles Rath & Company, in Dodge City, existed under that name until 1877. [2]
The value of the firm's merchandise at Adobe Walls was $12,000 or $15,000; buildings and buffalo hides, several thousand one mule, value $100, on way from Dodge City to Adobe Walls, hauling down goods in a wagon, and was run away with by the Cheyenne Indians; and one horse at Adobe Walls was shot and killed. "The Indians were friendly with the United States at that time - up to that time. People went and came through that country; they were not molested. Our loss by reason of the Indians taking

1. Pertinent fact not given before. from all the depositions.
2. Dodge City Times, November 24. 1877. The firm of Charles Rath & Company is dissolved by mutual consent and their accounts will be settled at Dodge City. Signed, Charles Rath and R. M. Wright, with this notation -The business will be continued by the undersigned as Wright, Beverly & Co., signed: R. M. Wright, H. M. Beverly, C. H. Lane.

the place and driving all the white people out of the country and also destroying the property.
The Indians continued the war with the whites, killing and plundering all over the country after that, not before with the exception of one or two men being killed. After the battle they killed Some hunters, fired on some troops about the same time - it might have been a day or two before or after. It was Major Compton's command from Fort Supply on their way to Fort Dodge. They were fired on. They made several raids, scattered all over the country.
Two couriers were employed by our man in charge at Adobe Walls and sent to Dodge City with the news to us. Then we employed a train, an ox train, and hired a large number of men for protection, as an escort, to lead them back to a place of safety at Dodge City, our other store.
It was about six weeks as nearly as I remember before return, the distance being something like two hundred miles, at a cost of "that trip it cost four thousand dollars - well, I think a little more." The cost included, `the hire of teamsters and teams, escort, and the train. The pay to the train was a little more on account of the danger.
It might have been sixty guards at $40 a month and keep each, in our employ until they returned -not less than six weeks. We gave them rations and they cooked them themselves. The $40 was more than the usual pay for teamsters because we had to have them at once and the danger was an item.
The buildings were destroyed afterward, burned I believe by the Indians -they were a total loss and their cost was $2,000 or over. The $1,350 asked for -that was for paying guards until the train arrived there. The $1,500 was for damage to the buffalo hides, they were damaged by rain and destruction. They could not be hauled back. We never went for them. We learned they were destroyed. Then we left them on the ground. Asked $2,000 for goods we could not haul back, such as coffee, flour, and that class of articles, groceries, had to leave them. They were destroyed.
We took in James Langton as one of the partners, one-third interest, but at Adobe Walls only. (Rath and Wright, each had one-half interest in Dodge City Store). When we broke it up, it ended his connection With our business. It dissolved sometime in August, 1874, the business settled up but this claim Was not taken up.
I was present until and assisted until the store building was finished -the Store house and those block houses. After that? I left for Dodge City and did not return, about the 20th of May. The couriers arrived the first of July, 1874. "There was no `usual' freight charge. I think the government at that time paid 11/20 a pound to Supply - and Supply was much nearer -only half the distance. There was no established rate.


I do not remember the contract We made. We employed a great deal of transportation for government freight. The contract Was with A. J. Anthony. Mr. Wright made the contract with him and that is the reason I know little about it. "We Were to employ the guards - We were required to employ the guards in addition to the price of the hauling. Wright made the arrangements for the hauling. We were both present to make the arrangements with the guards.
Respective interest in the business - Myself, Mr. Wright, and James Langton each owning one-third. The land belonged to the state of Texas but had not been surveyed at that time. It Was open to occupants.
(signed) Charles Rath

     R. M. Wright, aged 52 years, at Fort Dodge and Dodge City since 1867, testified,

I inquired diligently in regard to protection and to be certain it was in the state of Texas and that we had a right to go there from the commanding officer of Fort Supply, Col. Richard I. Dodge, in person, in February, 1874. Fort Supply received communications from Dodge City, their nearest railroad point.
Merchandise at Adobe Walls was worth $12,000 to $15,000 and first heard about it when the two couriers came in. They were paid by Langton -he gave them $200.
Mr. Rath and I immediately employed a train with the conditions that we were to furnish an escort sufficient for protection at our expense. We hired 59 men at $40 a month and rations.
The store books were burned in the big fire that burned the whole block November 29, 1886, excepting the ones we were using that were in the safe.
The cost of removal of goods was $4,000, a low estimate. There was a large amount of grain, flour, and meat left. There was so much that I went to General Miles when he was starting on his expedition down in that country some two months after and he said if he struck there he would use these supplies and give me a receipt for them. The loss was not less than $10,250, estimate including the buildings."

     So ended R. M. Wright's testimony.

     And James Langton, aged 46 years, before James M. Smith, Notary Public, January 28, 1896, in Salt Lake City, questioned by E. F. Colborn. He says they commenced business about the 10th of May, 1874, at Adobe Walls, a distance of about 200 miles from Dodge City. He had been in Dodge City about a year at the time. Representing the government Was H. A. Gudger, Assistant United States Attorney. He testified,

I am one of the claimants in this case. I was associated With Charles Rath and R. M. Wright, under the firm name and style of Charles Rath & Company. We began business about the 10th of May.


We were attacked by the Indians, the Kiowas, Comanches and Cheyenne Indians. They made the attack about daylight, between four and six hundred strong. We defended the attack and the fight continued until 11 o'clock in the day. Up to that time, three of our party were killed. The Indians remained four or five days.
"They killed a horse and a mule; they knocked down the buffalo hides, which had been Stacked, and they were destroyed by exposure to the weather. They drove all the hunters in so they could not hunt, which caused us to move back all the goods we could move to the railroad, about two hundred miles, and desert our buildings, and leave heavy goods which it would not pay to transport to railroad. After we left our buildings were destroyed by the Indians."

     Question. State what, if any, steps you were compelled to take to protect your property, buildings, during and after the fight, and until the goods had been hauled back to Dodge City?

Between two and three hundred hunters were driven in by the Indians at the time of the fight, I mean afterwards. We were compelled to board these men for the sake of getting them to help to protect us until the wagon transportaton which we had sent for, to Dodge City, came for the goods. These men who came in were boarded by us but not paid any wages. We did pay, however, the regular help of the store, consisting of three men, to help guard the property during the time we were waiting for transportation. The train which came from Dodge City after our goods, came guarded by a paid escort, and We paid $250 to two men to carry news of the fight to Dodge City, and our request for transportation to haul the goods there.
The corn and flour were not transported to Dodge City. These could not be shipped back on account of the high freight charges, and we were compelled to abandon them. The value of the horse and mule killed was $100 each, $200.00.
The actual cost of hauling the goods back to Dodge City, about $4,000.00. The Value of the buildings destroyed, between $1,800 and $2,500, I cannot tell exactly.
The value of the provisions furnished the men guarding the store was between $1,200 and $1,500.00. The damage done to the hides by reason of the piles being pulled down by the Indians, and the exposure to the weather, was about $1,500.00. The fair cash value of the goods left by the firm on the ground and so lost, as near as I can estimate, $1,000.00.
I was manager and had full charge of the business at Adobe Walls. I accompanied the goods to Dodge City. I and those in my employ, by my direction, delivered the goods and provisions to the men who guarded the store. I selected the goods that were to be left and lost.


     Question. What Were your facilities While you lived at Dodge City and at the Adobe Walls for ascertaining the relations so far as peace and War Were concerned, between the White men and the Indians in the region of country Wherein Dodge City and the Adobe Walls Were situated?

Dodge City was the center for the surrounding country. In conversation with parties coming to and from the Indian Territory, they stated that the Indians were peaceable, and for that reason we made up our minds to open up business at Adobe Walls, Texas.
After the fight, there Were between two and three hundred men there.

     Question. Is it not a fact that these men came into Adobe Walls, and that they simply stayed and boarded with you after all danger had disappeared?

No. To my recollection, on account of the high rate of wagon transportation, the rate for boarding a man by the month was about $1.00 per day. Leonard boarded some of the men.
The Indians were on the warpath after the attack but not before. It would not be necessary for Indians to be on the warpath in general to employ a guard.

     Question. Was not your information at the time of the fight such as to convince you that this band of four to six hundred Indians which attacked you was a marauding band of Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne Indians, Which had broken away from the restraints of their chief for the purpose of robbery and murder, and that the said Comanche, Kiowas, and Cheyenne tribes were not then, as tribes by declaration of war or otherwise at war with the United States?

Yes, sir, I would not have been there if there had been a declaration of war and I had known it. Being only five miles from Fort Dodge, I Would certainly have known it.

     Andrew Johnson was called at a Witness, stating his age as 47 years.

I was working in the store with hides and so forth. I think there were about four or five men employed at Rath's, James Langton, George Enby, and Olds and myself. We had three horses, two didn't belong to us, hauling sod and building a corral. We had part of a stockade built. We kept guards out until the buildings were up, and when we were camping out and sleeping in the tents, we kept a guard out.
The store door opened to the south. [3] We kept the hides stacked outside so the wind would blow on them. Rath fed 25 to 30 men a day.
There were thirty wagons going back for they loaded some

3. Several accounts say all doors faced east and family says Rath's faced east with one in the south for the restaurant. Billy Dixon says door was in the west. Undoubtedly there were two doors for store trade would not go through the south door of the restaurant.


of the hunters' teams. We left corn and oats, also some sugar, coffee, and canned goods. I was employed by Rath until the fall of 1874.

     So ended Andrew Johnson's interrogation. James H. Cator was called to the stand, stating he once lived in Mobeetie but was now living in Zulu, Hansford County, Texas. He had been in camp on Aroja Bonita Creek, 25 miles from Adobe Walls on June 27, 1874, saying,

I came to Adobe Walls morning June 29th, about daylight - a party rode out from the Walls the night before and We left as soon as he got there about sundown and got there next morning at daylight.
Transportation from Dodge City arrived July 29, and they were there one week, then I left. I helped load the hides 15 or 1600 left. Also lots of corn shelled and in sacks, suppose a car load and a half, left of grain, value $1.00 a hundred, also flour and bacon left, the flour in 50 pound sacks, 15,000 pounds, at railroad freight down and back, not worth anything. Then there was sugar, spice, and coffee left for the twenty-two men left there and they remained until the forepart of September.
Everything was destroyed by September - wagons and things had been put around the place and set fire to - remnants of hides as though piled and burned. Corn was burned and charred; flour sacks opened, ground white and pasted with it.

     Asked about the Indians found dead, Mr. Cator said,

The Cheyenne wear the hair long, do not trim it, but braid it with little pieces of ribbon and are very careful of it, more so than the others. Kiowas dress similar but clip their hair short. Some were dressed in blue blankets, some red; some naked, nothing on at all but a breech clout; some had light grayish robe thing on with spots on.

     William B. Masterson appeared before Jimmie L. Frazier, June 24, 1893, in Denver, to give his testimony for the Commissioner of the Court of Claims. He was 39 year old and his occupation was the liquor business. He had been acquainted with Charles Rath, and R. M. Wright since 1871, with James Lang-ton (misspelled with a d instead of a t in the script) since 1872 at Fort Dodge.

     He goes ahead with other information -

The negro killed was the bugler, a deserter from the fourth Cavalry at Fort Sill, who had joined the Comanches. There were two hundred hunters around there that drew their supplies from Adobe Walls. The hides were dried and stacked, ready for market, piled in such a way to protect them from the rain which came the next day or so after the fight. They had been scattered in every way by the Indians and the rain ruined them.
Rath's had one team, a mule and a horse.
I was there the middle of August and again in October. Everything was destroyed, all of the buildings and all the stockades burned. Adobe Walls abandoned about the middle of August.


I learned what Indians were in the raid by Indian interpretors, Ben Clark and Amos Chapman, and by dead Indians on the ground, the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche.

     Mr. Masterson also mentions one person present at the fight that others haven't, william Dickson. He reported that the Indians were at war with everybody, the United States included. They drew annuities the Winter before the fight at the Cheyenne Agency, now at Fort Reno.

     And so Bat Masterson's testimony was concluded.

     Case No. 4593, in the Court of Claims of the United States, where Charles Rath & Company asked for $10,250.00 damages because of destruction of their property by the Indians, was not settled until October 28, 1907. At that time, came the Defendants' Plea:

Now comes the Assistant Attorney General and, after leave of the Court first had and obtained, for plea to the declaration herein says that the claimant ought not to have and maintain his aforesaid action for the reason that at the date of the depredation alleged the defendant Indians were not in amity with the United States; and the Court is therefore without jurisdiction to hear and determine this cause.
And this the defendants are ready to verify.
John G. Thompson Assistant Attorney General, Harry Peyton
Asst. Atty.

     Andy Johnson reported in an article that Tom Nixon, who was afterwards killed by Mysterious Dave Mathers, was captain of the escort that came for the goods. They arrived at Dodge City Au gust 5, 1874, and at the bridge over the Arkansas River they met General Miles with 1,000 soldiers starting out after the Indians. J. Wright Mooar says he was at the Walls most of the time the buildings were going up. [4] He and his brother John hauled from Dodge City to Myers store, with C. Jones and Warren. They went with the Myers' train to Dodge City being the last outfit to leave and get through before the fight came off. He claims it was all Dodge City men in the fight and not a Texan in it. The man, the sick man, who kept books for Leonard and Myers died one or two days before the fight with consumption. His name was John and his grave must be there.

     George Bellfield, seeing the prairie a mile around strewn with dead horses, after the fight, which the hunters had shot from under the Indians, asked, "Vat kind of disease is der matter mit de


horses?" Cranky McCabe told him, "They died of Lead Poison." [5] In 1949, people from many states gathered at the Old Adobe Wall site to relive again the battle of June 27, 1874. A monument had been erected with the men's names who were in the battle to commemorate that last Indian battle. Andy Johnson one of the men was a hero that day and told about the battle, talking so fast in his excitement of recalling the fight that few could understand what he said but the people loved him and cheered him.

     Later a monument was raised listing the Indian's names, some of them, who were in the battle, with this caption: In Memory of the Indian Warriors who fell in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, June 27, 1874. [6]

     James (Jim) Hanrahan was an old government Wagon master and an experienced frontiersman. The Shadler brothers, Ike and Shorty, employed by Brick Bond, had come into Adobe Walls with a load of buffalo hides. They had a little dog with them who was scalped along with his masters. Tom O'Keefe had a little dog also. There was a pet crow that the hunters had tamed that flew in and out the port holes while the battle was in progress. Mrs. Olds had a colt that the hunters had given her and it was killed by the Indians. And Minimic, the medicine man, who had worked for Charles Rath a number of years before he turned against the whites, was mounted that day, the day of the battle on a little grey pony. And thus the Battle of Adobe Walls is left behind.

6. Border and the Buffalo by Cook. Author enjoyed the joke for as a little girl she had known three old time buffalo hunters and listened to their scary tales. of the hunt, George and Charlie Bellfield, and Bill Gillespie of sod-breaking plow fame.
6. Cheyenne: Chief Stone Cayson, Serpent Scales, Spotted Feather, Horse-Chief, Coyote. Stone Teeth, and Soft-foot. Comanche: Wild Horse. So-Ta-Do, Best Son-in-law, Wolf Tongue. Slue Foot. Kiowas: failed to get list.
4. Letter from J. Wright Mooar, Snyder, Texas, to Andy Johnson, January 20. 1923. copy in author's possession.

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