Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kurz Journal - p. 4

last day of November 2014, so a little recollection by Mr. Kurz during his adventures in the United States (this time 1850 summer and 1851)
First, our author bought yet another horse, he named her Fashion:

'On August 7 I bought a dainty black mare with white feet —
all four white.
She is a genuine mustang. What a joy to wander
about the forest, where Fashion carries me to distances I could
not otherwise accomplish and so widens the sphere of my observa-
tions. With Fashion's aid I have been able to visit often the
Hundred-and-Two River (so named because it is said to be 102 miles
long), to bathe in its clear waters, to sketch groups of trees on its
shores that are hardly surpassed by those on the Cahokia.'

then Mr Kurz met the Potawatomis, who had been forced to migrate to Kansas from the Old Northwest:

''Potawatomi fromKansas and those on the land known as the
"PlattePurchase" visited one another frequently, I made sketches
of some of them and, in exchange, furnished the young fellows with
10-cent pieces of rods out of which they make arrows for the
hunting season.

'At 20 feet they hit small objects with great accuracy; at a greater
distance the least movement of the air may exert an adverse effect.
At 100 feet they fly the arrows with great skill but can not be sure
of piercing the heart of the animal.'

Later that autumn of 1850 Kurz decided to invest in horses and the following story developed:
''In the autumn newspapers began to publish articles about a plan
that was being considered by the United States Government, in con-
nection with the highway to California and Oregon, to enter into
negotiations with the Indian tribes concerned and for that purpose to
invite the most notable men among them to a conference next sum-
mer at Fort Laramie. At once it occurred to me that I might enjoy
an agreeable adventure and at the same time make it profitable
if I would occasionally buy good horses, ride about the country on
horseback, sell the animals at a profit next spring at Salt Lake, then,
on my return, attend, if possible, that most interesting assembly at
Fort Laramie and witness the signing of the treaty.
Then, of course, horses declined in value. I lost a great deal of
money. The cost of feeding the animals was out of proportion to
the amount their work brought me. I was too fond of them and
spent too much taking care of them.

One misfortune after another induced me to sell the horses and
give up the idea of going to Salt Lake.
First, I suffered the loss
of an excellent mare that I lent to an acquaintance who wished to
attend a Christmas ball at Rochester. After he had run a race on
a bet, after the manner of Americans, and over a rough, frozen road,
he left my fine animal standing in front of a public house all in a
sweat and without the protection of a blanket. In spite of all efforts
to save her, the mare died from pneumonia. I suffered another
mishap in a pasture where I allowed my four horses to exercise on
a beautiful March day. A boy took great delight in playing tricks
on the spirited animals and, to give himself further amusement, set
a dog on them just to see them run an extended course. Having
become once frightened, they did not stop running for several miles,
until they were far into the forest. After a long search I came up
with them at last but, as I drew nearer, calling gently to them, and
w'as sure of getting hold of at least one of them, Avhinnying, they
turned abruptly about, extended their legs, shook their manes and,
in a trice, had disappeared from view.
For the reason that Lily, one of my mares, appeared to be going
in the direction of the place where she had been bred, I thought I
should find all of them next morning at her old home. So early
in the day I hired a horse and rode over there, through a region
that was unfamiliar to me. My road, a most romantic one, led
through a magnificent forest, over two beautiful streams, and across
a waste. Not a trace of my horses anywhere ! Then I remained at
home two days, hoping that my runaways might be induced by
hunger to return or else that some news might come to me concern-
ing their whereabouts. But they did not return. No news came.
On the fifth day after their flight I hired another horse and rode
to the place where two other mares of mine had been bred, i. e., to
the "Round Prairie" on the high road to Fort Kearney near Newark.
There, fully 9 miles from the city, I heard specifically that they had
been seen. Fortunately, they had kept together and were so wild
and spirited that no one could catch them; otherwise I should cer-
tainly have lost one or the other. A young farmer who had seen
the two colts and knew the range of their earlier pasture mounted
his horse and helped me trace them. For several hours we followed
them from one farm to another. It was perfectly evident that they
wanted to play with their former companions and were searching
for them, and as the brutes went visiting around in their old neigh-
borhood and tarried here and there with their former playmates
we drew constantly nearer.

Still following the trace we came, late in the evening, into the
highroad again, where dust made it impossible any longer to dis-
tinguish their tracks.

Well, I spent the night in Newark. Next morning, the sixth day
of their "spree," I was up with the sun to follow any trace I might
find on the highway. Over a wide stretch I searched but could find
neither on the right nor on the left any tracks made by sixteen feet.
I did find a place beside the road where they had lain down together,
but on what night? That was a puzzle too difficult for my wits to
solve. My only possible clue was fresh dung. After breakfast I
mounted my hired pad with the intention of going home, hoping that
my straying animals would instinctively return, finally, to the place
where they had received good nurture and rich forage. Upon my
inquiry at a farm on the highway I was told that toward sunset the
previous evening four horses — according to the description, they
must be mine — were seen prancing along the way in the direction of

A little farther on, where the road from Marysville branches off
from the highroad to Fort Kearney, I heard from a countryman
living there that during the night four horses wanted to rest on the
straw lying in front of his fence, that the roan mare (my Bet) had
already lain down but, for fear that their presence might tempt his
own beasts to break out, he had driven them away. Which way they
went he did not know.

"Home, of course, to their own comfortable stalls," I said to myself.

I rode rapidly back to Savannah in happy expectation. There I
found no trace of my runaways' return. So, after I had eaten, I
had to mount a fresh horse and renew the search. Following my
latest clue, I rode until the evening in all directions, through forest
and over plain, without result. Vexed and tired, I returned to the
Savannah road. Suddenly I was aroused from my ill-humored
reverie by hearing some one call out as I was passing a farm,
"Hulloa, Dutchman!" Turning my head, I saw a man sitting on
his fence. He called out again, "Look here ! Are them your
horses?" Sure enough, there they were, evidently half -starved.
There was no grass. At best, they could only have fed on tender
buds just appearing on the shrubs. Besides, they had been racing
about the country without rest.
Several hours earlier, the man said, those hungry horses had
stopped at his fence, cast longing looks toward his stacks of corn,
and then made known their desires by an eager neighing. He took
them in, because he had heard that I was searching for them. The
birds were caught, to be sure, but I had trouble still to get them in
hand. So wildly they ran about, so persistently parried our efforts
on every hand, that I thought they must be possessed with the devil.

Finally we got them in a corner and held them in fear by cracking
a whip until I had bridled them. I saddled the filly, because she
remained uncontrollable longer than the others. Then I paid the
man for his assistance and set out home on a gallop. Never in my 
life have I ridden as fast; the horses seemed really running a race
with one another to see which could reach home first. I thought
I should he jerked off the saddle.

I had hardly got my team of four in good condition again when
they ran away with me and plunged with the vehicle down a hill.
To practice driving a four-in-hand and to accustom the horses to
that mode of traveling I took drives every day in the vicinity. I
got excellent practice on the usual American roads, for they abounded
in stumps, steep slopes, and many running streams, but to learn
how to manage with sloughs, ditches, narrow passes, curves, and
the turning of corners I chose the forest road to Nodaway Island,
to the Hundred-and-Two, and along the Little Platte River, all the
way out to the parade ground. The horses pulled so well together,
traveled with such uniform gait, were so instantly responsive to
the rein, always stood so quietly when halted, backed without plung-
ing, trotted so well without need of the whip, and the roan mare
proved such an excellent lead horse, I was planning with much
pleasure to take a journey with them to Deseret.

In April I drove alone to St. Joseph to talk over plans for the
journey with my future traveling companion. On my return, about
3 miles from Savannah, the offside horse cast a shoe on her left rear
foot. I stopped immediately, for she seemed to be limping. Since
no one was there to take the reins, I threw them lightly on the seat
cushion and went to examine the hoof. In spite of the care I took,
stroking her soothingly and speaking gently, the instant I attempted
to raise her foot she gave a leap and off and away all of them went
over stock and stone, up hill and down dale, as if in a mad pursuit.
I tried at once to seize the bridle rein of the lead horse but, in run-
ning, I stumbled over a stump and fell. When I got up I saw the
vehicle plunging on — here a cushion hurled away, there my cloak.
"Adieu, je t'ai vu!" I thought. "Confound it all!'

I ran after them, of course, as fast as I could. I had an idea
that they were stuck fast in the forest. Sure enough, below the
first hill, I found Bet wallowing in the dust, trying to get free
from the harness and the long lines that were wound about her.
Having set her free, I ordered her to get up. She could hardly
stand ! She was trembling in every limb and spread her feet wide
apart for fear of falling. She had lost her head entirely. I led
her away from the road and tied her tight and fast at a spot where
there was grass; then I went in search of the others. About a
hundred feet farther on I found Lily, Bet's companion, standing,
bewildered, in the road.

Aside from a wound in her left rear shank, inflicted, most likely,
by the jDole, she had suffered no injury. I swung myself lightly
upon her back and went on after the two shaft horses and the hack.
I found them at the top of the hist steep hill as one approaches
Savannah. Fortunately they could go no farther; they had hardly
come out alive from the creek below. The two horses were caught
in some bushes and the vehicle was jammed against a tree. The
horse on the right had thrown her hind leg over the pole and was
evidently forced to stop. The vehicle had most probably been car-
ried on until it was held fast by striking the tree trunk.

I disentangled the beasts from their harness to see what damage
had been done. Lily had suffered no injury — was only lamed. The
hack could stand on its wheels, to be sure, but many screws were
gone. I went back to bring Bet, the cushion, and my cloak. Then,
having harnessed Lily and the colt together, I led them slowly home.
The horses had to be cared for and doctored ; the vehicle and harness
had to be mended.   
Finally, at the end of April I was ready for my journey; my
wagon was provided with a canvas top and provisioned with zwie-
bach, smoked meat, butter, eggs, sugar, tea, cooking and drinking
utensils, oats and corn meal for the horses, a saddle, a double-bar-
reled shotgun, a hunting knife, and four 30-foot cords with iron pins.
The last-named were to be used for tying the horses.

My intended companion on the journey, a young American, was
to wait in St. Joseph and be ready to set out with me on the first
of May. Notwithstanding that he had detained me with his prom-
ises to go, Steiner refused, when I arrived in St. Joseph, to con-
sider taking the trip. He had not the means, he said, to provide his
own personal outfit. Now, I had asked nothing more of him than
that he bring his own provisions, and, in return for his seat in my
wagon, that he look after the vehicle on the journey, while I took
care of the horses.

A fine predicament! To travel with four horses and a wagon
alone was not to be considered, for both team and vehicle would
have to be constantly guarded. To find another trustworthy per-
son to go with me could not be done at once. Therefore, my grand
display with four-in-hand came to a sudden end. I determined
to sell both wagon and team. But now, when I wanted a purchaser,
nobody would buy. Earlier, when I did not wish to part with my
horses, I had many advantageous offers.

May 9. Lily and the colt sold in Weston. Bet placed on a farm
so that she may grow strong again. Such a fine mare one is justified
in giving the best attention ; she will certainly bring $60 more. The
wagon and harness as well as the large mare, Landy, left behind
to be sold, so that on my return I shall have some funds. Trip to
Salt Lake and Fort Laramie given up''
 ...thus ended this horse story

another tribal warriors of the Old Northwest - the Winnebago painted by Charles Deas during the 1840s


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