Richly annotated folding railroad promotional map of part of Dakota Territory, issued by Rice for the Northern Pacific Railroad, along with a 3 page transmittal letter from J. Schrindel to a colleague in St. Paul, Minnesota, dated October 14, 1876. The letter is transcribed at the bottom of this description.
The map is a fine amalgam of contemporary observations by a prospective investor or settler in the region, combined with a summary of current events which touch on a number of important topics, including political corruption in Dakota Territory, the Indian Wars and a participant at the Little Big Horn. Perhaps most importantly, it provides an excellent snapshot into the underlying motivations for the U.S. engagement in the Sioux Indian Wars and offers a glimpse at the settlement activities which had in the minds of the US Government necessitated and justified the commencement of hostilities against the Northern Plains Indians, in order to protect the path of progress being carved out by the Northern Pacific Railroad and the advance of gold seekers and settlers the Dakota, Wyoming and Montana Territory during the 1870s.
The annotations are apparently in the hand of Schrindel and are intended to aid in Schrindel's description of the prospects of acquiring land to raise cattle in Dakota Territory, as summarized in Schrindel's letter, which also provides a fascinating early account of the region, including what he describes as a fraudulent scheme for the sale of wood then being perpetrated by a government contractor.
Rice's map is unrecorded. In addition this example includes two rubber-stamped elements in red: an explanatory note and a table of distances. There are also very extensive manuscript notations in red ink on the face of the map, indicating the locations of Indian reservations and military posts, characterizations of the nature of the land, and geographical features not originally included on the map.
There are also yellow highlight markings in the Black Hills, presumably to designate the gold regions. These markings are not noted in the list of References at the bottom left, so it is not clear if they are original or added later along with the manuscript notations in red. A red notation in this area indicates "Gold".
The map is accompanied by a letter dated October 14, 1876, from J. Schrindel to a friend in St. Paul, Minnesota, who is a doctor and apparently a prospective co-investor. The letter provides an overview of the lands evaluated by Schrindel which were then available for purchase, as well as the process for obtaining them. There is reference made to bid rigging by Durfee & Peck in Washington. There is also a paragraph which discusses military maneuvers in the region during 1876. The letter appears to be in the same hand as the manuscript markings on the map, which would likely date them to 1876.
This is the first edition of this map, with a copyright date of 1876. Printed Maps of the Mid-West 11-0556 lists an 1878 issue of this map, but not this 1876 edition. Rice had published a larger Sectional Map of Dakota in 1872 which did not mention Black Hills in the title. These maps are among the first generation of commercially produced maps of this region which was attempting to capitalize on the gold discoveries in the Black Hills.
According to Streeter, the first map to indicate gold regions in the Black Hills had been the 1874 Wood Map of the Black Hills. The text on the verso of this map is promotional material for Northern Pacific lands, with a description of "Northern Dakota on the Line of the Northern Pacific Railroad."
The map and letter together make a wonderful pairing which sheds tremendous light on early settlement in Dakota Territory. The map, with its contemporary annotations, shows good land available for purchase sitting right next to military posts and relatively unsurveyed Sioux Reservations. The letter, which mixes the practical considerations of determining which land was available and good for farming, along with the still very real aspect of ongoing military operations in the region, shows well the frontier nature of this area just two years after Little Big Horn, the date the map was printed.
Sioux Indian Wars and the Little Big Horn
Two of the names referenced in the letter are Kill Eagle, a prominent Lakota Chief who was described as a participant in a surrender of arms at Standing Rock and the United States 7th Cavalry.
In the spring of 1876, an embargo on the sale of ammunition to the Lakota was put in place as part of the escalation of the government's conflict with the Lakota over the Black Hills. While this policy was intended to limit access to ammunition for the non-treaty ("hostile") bands such as that of Sitting Bull, it also impacted friendly bands on the Standing Rock reservation such as that of Kill Eagle. Concerned that rations were not sufficient to feed his people, Kill Eagle illegally departed Standing Rock in May 1876 with approximately 26 lodges, heading out on a buffalo hunt. The remainder of Kill Eagle's band remained at Standing Rock under the leadership of Red Hawk.
The lodges with Kill Eagle successfully killed buffalo but then inadvertently ended up in the main Indian non-treaty Indian village that had gathered for the annual sundance. They soon found themselves caught up in the Great Sioux War. Kill Eagle was abused when he refused to join in the fight against the army at the Battle of the Rosebud and he also appears to have stayed out of the fighting between the hostile Sioux and the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which had taken place less than 4 months before Schrindel's letter. Kill Eagle and his lodges managed to slip away from the main village and surrendered at the Standing Rock Agency on September 15, 1876 (1 month prior to the date of Schrindel's letter). He was interviewed by army officers about the Little Bighorn and his comments were widely reported in the press, one of the first native perspectives of Custer's defeat. He also gave information for one of the earliest maps of the battleground.
Schrindel also notes the exodus of 1500 to 1800 Sioux Lodges to "the Whoop-Up Country," a reference to Fort Hamilton, nearly Lethbridge Alberta, about 20 miles north of the U.S.-Canadian Border. The fort was first built in 1869 by J.J. Healy and A.B. Hamilton, two traders from the Fort Bent area. Built at the confluence of the Belly (Oldman) River and the St. Mary's River, the fort was best known for its whiskey trade and became known as "Fort Whoop-Up." This illegal fort became the subject of several raids by the North West Mounted Police in 1874 and 1875, at which point the NWMP maintained an informal presence at the fort for the next decade. The following year, in 1877, Sitting Bull would make a similar exodus to Canada, where he would remain for a number of years.
Ulysses S. Grant Corruption Scandal and the Clymer Committee
Among other interesting observations, the letter notes Schrindel's discussions with C.F. Peck, head of the "Post and Indian Trader" firm of Durfee & Peck, only a few months after Peck had been called before the Clymer Committee (in March 1876) to testify regarding a frontier corruption scheme involving Orville L. Grant, the brother of then President Ulysses S. Grant. Durfee & Peck had for a number of years been engaged in transportation on the Missouri River and the post trading firm at Fort Sully, Fort Rice, Fort Stevenson and Fort Buford, and the Indian Traders at Cheyenne Agency and Standing Rock, positions that had been granted by officers of the posts and licensed by the Indian Department in Washington. In 1874, as part of a scheme involving Grant, General W.C. Babcock (then Surveyor General in Kansas and the brother of the Secretary of War Orville E. Babcock), Durfee & Peck were systematically removed from a number of their posts as part of a bribery scheme which reached all the way to the President. By October 1876, Durfee & Peck had apparently been restored to their posts.
The image on the verso can be found here: /gallery/enlarge/37453hfma
The 3 page letter can be found here: /gallery/enlarge/37453hfmb
The following is a transcription of the letter:
Fort Stevenson, D.T.
Oct. 14th, 1876
I enclose Rice's Township Map of Dakota, given me by the Land Ag't of the N.P.R.R. On it, I have marked the positions of the best land. That around Bismarck the A.P. (represents?) as sold, but Col. Brown, the Land Ag't (U.S.) at that place, told me it had not been entered as sold on the Gov. books, + he believed the Co. still owned the land. The land along Apple Creek, which empties into the Mo. Just below Bismarck, is very good. Col. Thompson, formerly of the 7th Cav., + now on retired list, had seventy acres under cultivation north of Bismarck + valued from $2,000 to $2,500, this summer. Red River Valley - which reaches almost to the Cheyenne - is pretty taken up, and I was surprised to see the increase of settlements along the R. R. The clerk of the N.P. Land office at Brainard, Minn. Marked township No. 138 N.Range, 54 West and remarked there was some good land in that region, unsold. He (word missing?) to send me a detailed plat of their lands in Red River Valley, showing exactly the portion still for sale. I shall send it to you, when I get it. Mr. Power is the Gen. Ag't. Painted Woods, from 30 to 35 miles north of Bismarck is a good, well sheltered strip of land, + I think, not a half a dozen claims have been taken in it, though the strip is 12 to 15 miles long, + a miles + a half wide at some place. The lower bottom along the River is thickly timbered with oak, ash, + cotton wood. Good water in river, Painted Woods Lake and wells. This is the only good, safe cattle raising district I know of, a chain of hills sheltering the district from the cold winds. I was unable to learn whether or not they are going to extend the N. P. next summer, but believe that they will.
I promised your Bro.Ed. to go and see Irene, but on the Sunday I was at St. Paul she had gone to Minneapolis, +, on next day, I was prevented by some friends (needing?) to see me. If there is not a good deal of swindling done, this winter, on the upper NW & Yellowstone, I am much mistaken. One little affair is the wood contract in Tongue River - at the outpost - the lowest responsible bid being less than $5. a cord, whereas the contract is given to parties who bid nearly $10. The contract was made in Washington is the explanation. Durfee & Peck, whom Orville ousted, seem to have the inside track, again.
The idea of a winter campaign in the part of the Ty. seems to have been abandoned, though the 7th Cav & three Cos. Of Inf'y are going on a (???) about the 19th. Probably, to visit the Agencies, in the vicinity(?) of which straggling bands may be found, + to aid in disarming those men present. The surrender of arms at Standing Rock, about which so much was said, was a perfect farce, the ponies being old and the arms of a very old pattern - the rifle "Kill Eagle" presented to the President being a (44?) flintlock. Information from the British Police, in the border - in the "Whoop Up" country shows that from 1500 to 1800 lodges of Sioux had (moved?) into the British possessions. Peck told me we will have the Bloods, Piegains, Blackfeet, Assinaboines & Sioux done, in Spring, + 10,000 troops would operate in the region next summer. Probably, a good deal of truth in this, but, I fear, the Contractor's wish was father to the information. I heard, yesterday, that Indiana had gone Democratic. If (???) it so, and that Ohio, too, has followed the same path.
My kind regards to Mrs. M. + all friends.
Yrs. Truly, J. ? Schrindel.