Smoky Hill Trail

In 1858, gold was discovered in the Kansas Territory east of the Rocky Mountains (now Colorado), and when the news reached the Kansas City area, a trail was needed to travel across the plains. What was once an old Indian trail that ran along the Smoky Hill River became the most direct route to the gold fields in 1859, and it was named the Smoky Hill Trail. There were cutoff routes to Denver from both the Oregon and the Santa Fe Trails, but the Smoky Hill Trail was the most traveled; it was also the most dangerous of the three trails because of the possibility of Indian attacks and the scarcity of water.

Emigrants using the trail outfitted in Leavenworth, Kansas City, Abilene or Salina and followed the Smoky Hill River to southwest Colorado near Old Cheyenne Wells where the headwaters of the Smoky Hill began. From there, the Smoky Hill trail divided into two trails, a north and a south trail, both of which went to Hugo and then to Lake (just south of Limon). At this point the North Trail continued on a route similar to present day Interstate 70 / U.S. 40 coming into Denver from the east; the South Trail went to more of a western route to present day Kiowa and then northwest to Denver. It is not hard to imagine how desolate this area was at that time. If you have ever taken the Kiowa road to Denver from Limon, as I have, you will know that, even today, there is not much of anything out there for miles and miles.

A third section of the trail, called the Middle Smoky Hill Trail, went west from Lake, then turned northwest to Denver where it met the South Smoky Hill Trail. This portion of the trail became known as the “Starvation Trail” because of the gruesome story of the Blue Brothers who resorted to cannibalism in 1859. Daniel Blue’s survival story was written by Henry Villard, a newspaper correspondent who joined in the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush in 1859, which appeared in the Cincinnati “Daily Commercial” on June 3.

In 1858, gold was discovered in the Kansas Territory east of the Rocky Mountains (now Colorado), and when the news reached the Kansas City area, a trail was needed to travel across the plains. What was once an old Indian trail that ran along the Smoky Hill River became the most direct route to the gold fields in 1859, and it was named the Smoky Hill Trail. There were cutoff routes to Denver from both the Oregon and the Santa Fe Trails, but the Smoky Hill Trail was the most traveled; it was also the most dangerous of the three trails because of the possibility of Indian attacks and the scarcity of water.

Emigrants using the trail outfitted in Leavenworth, Kansas City, Abilene or Salina and followed the Smoky Hill River to southwest Colorado near Old Cheyenne Wells where the headwaters of the Smoky Hill began. From there, the Smoky Hill trail divided into two trails, a north and a south trail, both of which went to Hugo and then to Lake (just south of Limon). At this point the North Trail continued on a route similar to present day Interstate 70 / U.S. 40 coming into Denver from the east; the South Trail went to more of a western route to present day Kiowa and then northwest to Denver. It is not hard to imagine how desolate this area was at that time. If you have ever taken the Kiowa road to Denver from Limon, as I have, you will know that, even today, there is not much of anything out there for miles and miles.

A third section of the trail, called the Middle Smoky Hill Trail, went west from Lake, then turned northwest to Denver where it met the South Smoky Hill Trail. This portion of the trail became known as the “Starvation Trail” because of the gruesome story of the Blue Brothers who resorted to cannibalism in 1859. Daniel Blue’s survival story was written by Henry Villard, a newspaper correspondent who joined in the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush in 1859, which appeared in the Cincinnati “Daily Commercial” on June 3.

Map of the Smoky Hill Trail in Colorado

The Smoky Hill Trail in Ellis County was 5 miles north of the Smoky Hill River on the east border of the county, and it was just over one mile north of the river at the west border. It had the following stations: Fort Fletcher (Old Fort Hays), Big Creek Station, Lookout Station, and Louisa Springs Station. (Map can be seen in “Trails of the Smoky Hill” by Wayne C. Lee and Howard C. Raynesford.)

Fort Fletcher, located south of Walker, was organized in 1865 to protect the stages and wagons of the Butterfield Overland Despatch which used the Smoky Hill Trail to travel to Denver. Fort Fletcher closed in 1866 after the BOD went bankrupt and the Smoky Hill Trail was no longer used. The darker line running through the middle of the county in the map below is the Smoky Hill Trail; the lighter line below it is the Smoky Hill River.

The Smoky Hill Trail Association (SmHTA) was established in 2007 to preserve and promote the heritage of the Trail. The Special Collections room at Forsyth Library was asked to be the caretaker of the Smoky Hill Trail Association archives, and we now have several files from the organization in the archives.

A. Materials regarding the history of the trail can also be found in the Western Collection in the Special Collections room.

1)      The Smoky Hill Trail: Following the Old Historic Pioneer Trails on the Modern Highways  by Margaret Long – F781 .L6 1953

2)      Trails of the Smoky Hill by Wayne C. Lee and Howard C. Raynesford – F687 .S84 L43 1980

3)      The Smoky Hill Trail in Western Kansas by John N. Neyer – LD2652 .T5 H5 N492 1950 c.2

B. Other information about the Smoky Hill Trail can be found at these links:

1)      http://www.kshs.org/publicat/khq/1959/59_2_gower.htm – article titled The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and the Smoky Hill Route, 1859-1860 by Calvin W. Gower

2)      http://www.kshs.org/places/forthays/history.htm

3)      http://www.kancoll.org/articles/raynesford/index.html – Mr. Raynesford, who was from Ellis, did quite a bit of valuable research on the trail and his papers are available at the Hays Public Library. We also have a copy of the papers in the SmHTA Archive.

4)     http://www.keystonegallery.com/area/history/bod.html – Good source of information about the Smoky Hill Trail from the Keystone Gallery

5)    http://smokyhilltrail.com/index.htm – website of the Smoky Hill Trial Association. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Association, membership information is available on this website.

C. Information used for this blog came from:

Lee, W. C. (1980). Trails of the Smoky Hill.

Long, M. (1953). The Smoky Hill Trail: Following the Old Historic Pioneer Trails on the Modern Highways.

Villard, H. (1931). To the Pike’s Peak County in 1859 and Cannibalism on the Smoky Hill Route. Colorado Magazine , 8 (6), 225-236.

Ten Reasons to Visit YOUR Library

1.  Hear about issues regarding the Haiti Earthquake Disaster on Wednesday, April 28th at noon.  Free pizza and pop will be provided for the first 25 people who attend this Times Talk presentation.

2.  Enjoy a hot cup of cappuccino, coffee, or tea from our coffee bar in the front lobby of the library.  Snacks and soft drinks are also available.

3.  Meet your study group in one of our smart study rooms that are equipped with large flat-screen TV monitors, laptop-ready hook-ups, DVD/VCRs, and comfortable furniture.

4.  Use one of our computers to access library resources, do homework, or explore new topics or ideas.

5.  Get all the help you need for your research from one of your friendly Reference Librarians.

6.  Kick back and relax in one of our soft chairs or comfortable sofas.

7.  Check out a laptop, digital camera, digital camcorder, digital sound recorder, or other equipment in the Learning Commons.

8.  Bring your student ID card and join us for a couple of pieces of pizza, an apple or orange, and cookies on May 9th at 6:00 P.M.

9.  Improve your writing skills by calling for an appointment to receive individual assistance in the Writing Center.

10.  View the ever-changing exhibits, pictures, displays, posters, and other visuals available in our facility.

 (Did I mention we have oodles of books, magazines, and newspapers here?)    J.A.S.

New Items From Digital Collections:

Our digital collections are primarily intended for students, faculty, and patrons to examine archival materials of great historical interest.  We have collections ranging from early photographs of Fort Hays State University (back when it was called Kansas Normal School), NASA documents related to the Apollo space missions, to glass plate negative photographs of families in Western Kansas.

We have also recently added two important historical documents, The Dodge City Police Docket and April 17, 1865 New York Times.

Dodge City Police Docket: Access here: http://contentcat.fhsu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/spec&CISOPTR=886&REC=4

Dodge City Police Docket

Dodge City Police Docket

Used by Dodge City between 1878 and 1882, this Police Docket contains descriptions of court cases during the heyday of the wild-west frontier.  Browsing through the book you’ll be able to see the signatures of famous lawmen Wyatt Earp, Doc Masterson and others.    The provenance of the book is just as interesting as the book’s contents.  After residing in Dodge City for nearly a hundred years, the book suddenly disappeared.  It was located after a vigilant FBI agent noticed the docket being sold in an online auction site in 2008.  The book now resides in Dodge City.

April 17, 1865 New York Times Access here: http://contentcat.fhsu.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/spec&CISOPTR=888&CISOBOX=1&REC=5

New York Times newspaper from 1865, published April 17th, 3 days after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  The newspaper is reproduced here in its entirety.   You’ll be able to read primary accounts of the assassination as well as initial reaction to it.  You can also read about the inauguration of Andrew Johnson as well as his inaugural address.

New York Times Newspaper

April 17, 1865 New York Times Newspaper

Can You Say ‘Eyjafjallajokull’?

No, I can’t pronounce the name of the Icelandic volcano that’s been making so much trouble lately, and neither can most non-Icelandic speakers.  According to NPR, it’s pronounced something like this:  AY-yah-fyah-lah-YOH-kuul.  Uh….yeah.  Listen to Icelander Rognvaldur Olafsson and an NPR reporter pronounce it. (A word about Icelandic names:  the BBC Language site states that, “since 1925, Icelanders have been obliged by law to give their children patronyms:  surnames created by the addition of-son (son) or -dottir (daughter) to either the mother or the father’s name.   Therefore all most all Icelanders have a surname such as Benediiktsson (son of Benedict), Olafsdottir (daughter of Olaf), Gudmundsdottir (daughter of Gudmundar).  You can also listen to other Icelandic words and phrases on this site.

I wanted to know more about Iceland, so I did a little research using the Web and library resources.  Using the CIA Factbook in Credo Reference database, I found these tidbits.

Iceland is about the size of Kentucky–though only about 20% of the land is habitable–with a population of about 306,000.  It had been a wealthy country, with an unemployment rate of only 1% in 2007.  However, in 2008, Iceland’s three major banks failed, and in 2009 their unemployment rate rose to 9.4%.

History: “Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world’s oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island’s population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.” (CIA Factbook)

You can explore maps of Iceland, including outline, political, temperature, population, and precipitation maps in our A to Z Maps Database. MW

Touch has never been so cool!

Technology — am I ready for “Induction Cooking” and/or the “iPad”?

touch logo

designed by Emily

Both are safe to the touch!

It was suggested that I may be interested in reading this article from New York Times about “Induction Cooking.”  I do have a MW/Convection Oven that I like and I’m not ready to buy an induction range yet, but that may be in the “future” — Pros and Cons.

I have several types of iPods (shuffle with headset – no cord, classic, touch). I have been ready for an iPhone, but our area isn’t ready for that technology; thus the iPad may not be for me yet either 😦

I purchased a Kindle a couple of years ago (I did wait for the second generation of the Kindle even with the warnings) — Pros & Cons. I enjoy: being able to connect 3G wireless coverage to the web almost anywhere (not limited to Wi-Fi by using Whispernet), to have the option for it reading to me (if I started reading a book or newspaper and had to travel for a short distance I use the speech option — cool!), the size & weight, the readability of the pages, cheaper price than the hard copies, long battery life, font size options…

I would like it to be “touch friendly” (instead of the controller buttons) & have a light (or backlight).  These things may come in the future or I’ll just wait for the 3rd or 4th generation of the iPad Pros and Cons.

On the MacBook Pro, I’m really glad I now have Parallels instead of BootCamp to use the one Windows program (only when I’m out of town).  I was so excited that I could still use the lighted keyboard,  “send keys” pull down options, capture part of the screen option (not full screen) and I can toggle between Mac OS & Windows easily…

I’m almost ready for the old technology of a flat panel TV, Blu-ray player (players may be replaced with hard drives) & Wii, but by then who knows about  3-D home TV in the future?

Isn’t Technology Great when it works — author unknown

JP

Who Do You Think You Are?

A show by this title airing on NBC on Friday nights has awakened my interest in genealogy. I had been working on my family genealogy for awhile and then took a break from it for over a year. While using Ancestry.com a couple of weeks ago, I found a family tree that had traced family members back to the 1600’s in England. I am now corresponding with the person who had that family tree on Ancestry, and as a result, I now have pictures of the church in England where my ancestors attended. In return, she was excited to hear from me, because I have information on a family line that she had been trying to find without success.

Using the information from the family tree I found, I am now looking for sources such as census records and birth, marriage, death and burial records. The Internet has really opened up the way people can research their family records, but as is the case with the Internet, sometimes the information that other people may have about your ancestor(s) can put you on the wrong path. It is very important to do your research using primary sources.

Who do you think you are? Once you start researching your family, you may be surprised to find out that your ancestors came from Europe or Russia or Africa. Maybe there is someone famous or even some royalty in your family line.

Genealogy is a fun hobby for older folks, but young people should start learning about their family history, especially if your grandparents or great-grandparents are still alive. They will have stories to tell you, and they will have information to give you so that you can start researching your family tree.

The following tutorial is an excellent source to get you started on your way to finding out who you are!

http://www.epl.lib.in.us/genealogy/getting_started.htm – Click on “How to Start Researching Your Family Tree”.

Forsyth Library has a subscription to Heritage Quest which provides census records, Revolutionary America era records, and Freedman records. See the library’s database page to access Heritage Quest – http://www.fhsu.edu/library/electronic/databases/

Look for more information in future blog posts, but in the meantime, if you have any questions regarding family history, contact me at 628-5901 or email pnichola@fhsu.edu.

PN

Welcome Back Friend!

The friend I’m referring to is Oxford Reference Online.  Although it disappeared for awhile, it’s back again and better than ever.  If you are unacquainted with it, please let me introduce you so that it will become one of your best friends too.

Oxford Reference Online and CREDO Reference are both databases that have online full text reference books.  So, if you have access to Forsyth Library’s databases on your computer, you will also be able to use these two databases to find dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, biographies, quotations, fact books, statistics, and other reference sources which have scholarly information on all subjects.  You’ll find both of these databases by clicking on “Find Articles” on Forsyth Library’s homepage.  Next, click on the “Databases” link and then “Oxford Reference Online” or “CREDO Reference.”  Type a word or two for the information you wish to find, and you will be amazed to see what’s available in just one location!

When you use both of these online scholarly sources, you will discover they are quite different.  Although they cover some of the same subjects, they have an array of different titles and very little overlap occurs.  Also, some subject areas are covered more thoroughly in one database than the other.  Enjoy!  J.A.S.