Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1876/04/11

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 11/15/1989

Metz family found dead
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

Luke Voorhees, superintendent of the Cheyenne and black Hills Stage and Express route came through today from Custer city with the bad news that the Metz family had been killed near the Cheyenne River in Red Canyon about three miles north of the Cheyenne River Stage Station.

According to Voorhees he and his party came upon the ghostly scene: "The Metz family were all murdered. A colored woman who was with the Metz family was taken prisoner. When I came to where they had camped it was with horror that I saw the beastly mutilating, scalping and dismembering of the bodies...I, with some of my men, gathered up the fragments as best we could and by knocking a wagon box to pieces, did the best we could under the circumstances and excitement to bury them, as we were looking for the Indians to pick us up any moment...."

Upon his arrival at the Cheyenne River Station, Voorhees found that three of the Metz party had escaped, but were badly wounded. In response to his appeal for medical aid, General Bradley sent an ambulance from Fort Laramie, escorted by cavalry.

Before the troops were able to cover the one hundred miles from the fort to the stage station, two of the wounded men, Beergessir of Virginia City, Neb., and Gresham of Bigelow, Holt County, Missouri, died. The third man William (California Bill) G. Felton, was removed in the army ambulance to the post hospital.

Although it was generally accepted that Indians had killed the Metz family, there was some evidence that the crime might have been committed by Persimmon Bill and his gang of renegades.

Note: California Bill recovered from his wounds at the Fort Laramie hospital. later he worked for the stage company as a stock tender.

The colored woman, Rachel Briggs, also was killed. Her body later was found by a man named Hoskins and his companions. Evidence showed the woman had put up a gallant fight for her life. Her body was full of arrows.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Metz of Laramie City, had been in Custer city engaged in the bakery business. After making a stake they were returning home. Relatives had their bodies exhumed, taken to Laramie and on May 14, 1876, a large public funeral was held at the I.O.O.F. Hall. The bodies now lie in Greenview Cemetery. A stone marks the grave on which is inscribed: "Killed by Indians in Red Canon."

(Information Source: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes by Agnes Wright Spring)

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Record Type Name
Obituary Voorhees, Luke (11/29/1834 - 01/16/1925) View Record