Hat Creek Dateline: 1877/05/11
Road conditions cause food shortage
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The cold, wet weather and the almost impassable road created by it for the last few weeks has caused a severe shortage of food and other essential supplies in the Black Hills. A Deadwood physician reports that there are a number of men sick in their cabins from exposure and destitution.
William Price a pilgrim from Somerville, N.J., who is walking to the Hills with a freight outfit recorded the following entries in his diary last week:
TUESDAY, May 1. On the road among horse thieves, gamblers, and a few honest men the further I go the more I am impressed I will never live to see my family in this world again.
WEDNESDAY, May 2. On the road feet and legs swollen badly. Snow again tonight. Hear bad news from Deadwood. Men starving and all returning that can.
SUNDAY, May 6. Still on no day is given to the Lord in this country of horse thieves and gamblers and greedy gold seekers. God bless my wife and little ones....
The surrender of the Sioux Chief Crazy Horse, and his camp here at Camp Hat Creek last week essentially ended the Sioux Indian War. He and his 900 followers were the last large hostile camp that had not returned to the Red Cloud Agency (near Fort Robinson, Neb.)
The surrender of Crazy Horse, the need for supplies in the Black Hills and some improvement in the weather has resulted in a surge of freight and passenger traffic to the hills. This has also brought the road agents, desperadoes, and outlaws out of their winter hiding places.
One group of "Hillers" enroute to Custer City were robbed of their stock while camped between here and Fort Laramie, a few days ago. When they trailed their horses, and were about to recover them, a party of outlaws stopped them, took the horses that they were riding, relieved them of their guns and money and told them to get out of sight within 20 minutes.
The "Hillers" hurried back to Fort Laramie as fast as they could to report the affair. Lieutenant Thompson, with a detail from Company D, Third Cavalry, and two civilians, Hauphoff and Breckenridge, pursued the thieves, catching five of them. The outlaws had in their possession some stock that had been stolen from Hauphoff's stable at Fort Laramie.
They thieves were turned over to civil authorities, one of the prisoners had a copy of a "constitution" belonging to the outlaw band, in which each man was identified by a number. The numbers range from one to 10, however the captured men refuse to disclose any details of their organization.
(Information source: "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)