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E. S. Lane account of the killing by Indians of Thomas W. Parks,
contractor of the Kansas Pacific Railway, and of Charles Saffel, near the present site of Wakeeney, Trego County, Kansas, September 19, 1867


E. S. Lane account of the killing by Indians of Thomas W. Parks,
contractor of the Kansas Pacific Railway, and of Charles Saffel, near the present site of Wakeeney, Trego County, Kansas, September 19, 1867


Lane, E. S.


Kansas Historical Society, Miscellaneous Lane Collection






Chetopa Kansas.
Sept" 7th 1906.

Dear Sir

Your of the 5th is at hand and in compliance to your request will give you an outline of the fight in which Thomas W. Parks was killed. Am only an old farmer who never had but a meager Education having gone into the Army during the civil war when most boys of my age were in school. In writing this account tried my best to keep myself out as much as possible as it sounds rather egotistical but it has one redeeming feature it is true to the best of my recolection


would have sent you my old Diarys as I always kept track of things whilst in that country. These have been put out of the way in house cleaning (if you are married you know what that means) then you could take what you wanted Was scout at Ft Wallace for two years. was one of the party taking relief to Beechers Island. Was sent after Beechers body but it had been taken up and scattered. had quite a scrap then whilst on that expedition. Was With Col. Carpenters Expedition Which left Wallace going south to the old battle ground (Texans and Mexicans) South of the Arkansas river. Blizzard struck us a Castle Rock on the Smoky Hill nothing to eat faced it all day to Old Monument stage station. That night without fuel or rations I can tell you


you it was serious. 17 Negro soldiers were badly frozen. Some dying after we got to the fort. Also 3 / head of our mules froze that night. tobacco sold at $1.00 a chew and the seller cut it for the buyer. fortunately for us the buffalo came in camp blinded by the snow and by 10 oclock we had plenty to eat.

If these books are ever found will send you some things that may be of interest.

I cant understand how V. J. made the mistake he did I will write and ask him.

I have Vols' VI and VIII of the Society are they on the market if so let me know as I want the entire set. I am yours hasty
E.S. Lane

No 1.

The month of July found me at [deletion: what was then [deletion] ^Ellsworth Ks^ Slowly recovering from an attack of Cholera which was very prevelant that year along the overland trails leading west. thinking to improve my health by leaving this place as it was low and had been overflowed that spring when the Smoky Hill went out of its banks. I Joined a Surveying party going to the front This party consisted of Wallace McGrath (in charge) Romeo Daily Michael McMann a man to cook for the party and myself. Ellsworth was then the terminous of the Union Pacific E. D. and tough as they made.

We traveled through what is now the counties of Ellsworth Russell Ellis and to near where the town of Wakeeney in Trego County on the Kansas Pacific now stands.

At Ft Hays they advised us to take an escort of soldiers. A Sergt" and eight Infantrymen joined us here and [deleted: two days from that time we were permenantly encamped.] went with us.

We arrived at the point stated (Wakeeney) about noon. here our work on the road was to commence after having driven I went north looking for water for use at a permenant camp we would establish about two miles from where we halted found a spring of fine water hastened back to camp reported my find and we camped that night near the spring. Next morning every one went to work and by sun down we had constructed a fort out of sods 30 x 30 that made an excellent protection from surprise as the soldiers put up their tent within the enclosure. This point was about half way between the RR and the Saline river.

No. 2

Buffalo and antelope were very plenty and we got all the fresh meat we wanted whilst at our work which is kept up until we were in fine shape for the Indians who were now daily expected about the middle of Augt they came. [deleted: T. W.] Thomas W. Parks with about 300 men all told an other camp was located about 10 miles east of us (Sharp and Shaw) they had I think more men than Parks. So things began to assume quite a business look for dirt was being made to fly as far as you could see.

Our escort was now ordered to return to Fort Hays. They were replaced by a Sergt" and ten cavalrymen belonging to the 10th cav. col. as they were to remain in Parks camp we thought it advisable to move then also which we did.

Parks men were mostly arrived with the old breech loading Springfield musket issued by the Govment to about anybody. Our work being now in good shape and very little to do I put in most of my time in hunting fossils of which there was many. but soon the signs of Indians became so numerous I quit. Pony and mockison tracks could be seen all around our camp and it took a good deal of persuasion to keep the men at work. If they had only been sure they could make the 40 miles in safety (to Hays) nothing could have kept them in camp. There was several old frontiersmen in the camp who told Parks there was danger of losing his teams which were used for hauling wood water and one which now and then went out to haul in meat killed by the men on the grade from passing herds.

he paid no attention to the reports saying he could see no Indians and they could not amount to much of they were affraid to show themselves. for two or three days at this time no Buffalo could be seen on this side of the river (they undoubtedly were slaughtered in the night by the Indians) It look a great deal of meat to supply a camp of this size. So something must be done to fill this want or the men would not work. Parks on the morning of Sept 19t said he would go out and kill a load of Buffalo. No one could go with him but the man to drive the team. This mans name was Charles Saffel. About an hour before day break Samuel Farrar Fred" Dick and a big young german know only at "Dutch Charley" left the camp driving 4 yoke of cattle hitched to the wood wagon. intending to bring in a load that was already chopped and piled on the south bank of the Saline. They had made good time for Parks and his two companions (one of the negro cavalrymen stole out of camp mounted and joined him near where he met the wood wagon) met thru quite a distance from the men returning with their load of wood. These men afterward told us Parks crossed the river some distance below due north of the grading camp. They was sure it being him as they could see his horse which was white. (The following season I saw this horse in a Cheyene Village near fort Lared I being three employed by Goverment as a scout and belonging at Wallace Kansas.) They said they heard him shoot and thought he had killed his fame and would

over take them. About noon clouds overcast the sky and something unusual for that country in those days a heavy mist or fog raised shutting off our view of anything over a mile away for some time we had been hearing stray shots only one at a time never more. All at once the mist raised and then in plain sight within less than a mile our ox team came trudging on out of the head of a low ravine at the same time came forty Indians making strait for the wagon. One shot answered three from the wagon and then Farrar and the big german dropped their guns and actually out ran those ponies. They only touched the high places. Dick was shot in the thigh and managed by dodging under and about the wagon pointing his loaded rifles now here now there. to hold his own until we arrived and none too soon as he was about ex-hausted from his exertion and loss of blood. His wound although very large and painful soon healed. Now came an explaination of the firing spoken of. "Dutch Charlie" had used all his own ammunition and then stolen his companions wasting it firing at Prairie dogs and birds. About a quarter from when we seen the Indians ran on to them Dick and Farrar who were used to fighting Indians began to get ready for this very spot and then made the discovery of their loss. at the first fire every steer but one fell dead which was a fortunate thing for Dick for wounded as he was he could not have

kept up with the wagon using it as a means of defense. Then information they could give of the hunting party was meager and was confined to what I have already stated. All were satisfied however that if not already in trouble they would be. The cavalrymen wanted to go out but the "Sergt" in charge refused to allow it as he took his orders only from Parks. John Beaton promptly took his horse from him and he and James M. Song told the men to come on. Just then we saw a black and tan dog that always followed Parks slowly coming towards camp. He had an arrow sticking into his neck and trailing on the ground this ended all parleying away they went and every team in camp was hitched up ready to go at an instants notice. About an hour and the party came back having one horse killed they stated they had gone to our old fort then they heard heavy firing about one fourth of a mile northwest. getting in to the ravines they charged the enemy getting between them and their ponies. but unfortunately an Indian ran out of a ravine caught a horse and turned them so as to bring them back to their owners who were following on the run. After repeated calls and receiving no answer being satisfied the hunters were dead they retreated until they met us. having loaded about fifty men in the wagons we went back on a good smart trot to when they ran into the Indians. Here was

evidence of a fight arrows lances peices cloth cartridge hulls and the ground badly trampled. Soon Saffel was found lying on his face. He was in a small ravine about ten feet in depth. Very narrow his back was willed with arrows his scalp entirely removed from his head. He having a fine suit of hair they evidently took great pains to secure it all. he was cold and still showing he had been dead some time. Shortly Parks was located. he was up the same ravine Saffle was in, he had found a place when the yellow magnesium lime stones projected out far enough to perfectly screen him from view. Here he had made his last gallant stand for life. as the evening could not draw him out for being too wary on account of his ammunition running low they in perfect safety got on top of the rock and cut a nick through from north to south. their weight added to that of the rock caused it to fall, pinning him from the waist down he was dead but not scalped. his person was covered with a blue mockison blanket and nothing belonging to him was taken. he had a gold watch and neck chain masonic ring and pin a colts revolver and a new heavy rifle

Saffle was carried up and laid as tenderly as could be in one of the wagons. The dump board were utilized for cross bars and in a few moments Parks body was releived of the

heavy slab. Then came a surprise for there lay the negro cavalryman and he was alive but badly wounded. he had thirteen spear wounds along his back which had been given him after the rock fell. There was a small crack they could push their spears into him ^between the wall and the piece that fell^ but having nothing to use as a pry they could not get his scalp. After we made him as comfortable as possible he told us how they saw no Indians until they were cutting up their Buffalo. This was killed north of the river. At the first dash they lost the team being completely surprised. they stood them off as best they could starting for the river and intending to get to our old abandoned fort near the spring. Soon they were all wounded but bot badly to make a diversion so they could cross the river (as there was a great danger of an ambuscade on account of the banks bushes ravines and deep paths made by the Buffalo in going to and fro to water) so getting to a favorable point they turned the two saddle horses looks in the direction of camp. hoping we would see them and go to their rescue. They now made a dash crossed the river but had to fight their way accross the bottom. Their ruse did not work only for them to cross the river. Now began the fight in earnest clear accross the river bottom they kept circling a constant fire was pored into them as they staggered along allmost exhausted

from the heat and want of water. but now and then where they killed one of the for they would yell their best. where allmost to the forts spring they were compelled to moove to the north west where we found them. On account of a band forging in ahead and dismounting in the ravines which meant certain distruction to advance. Soon Saffel was killed and they were compelled to move on and leave the body. When they found the overhanging bluff and stopped they only had a few loads for their guns. When found Parks had one load in his rifle and that was all that lay between them and the Indians. I returned to camp and sent Beaton to Wyandotte (Now Kansas City KS) with the body of Parks. taking along the dead man and wounded cavalryman as far as Hays here a sister of the former lived and the latter went to the Hospital.

Here Beaton had to wait some hours to get a chance to ride on the construction train to Ellsworth. Here he put up at t house and was robbed of Parks' Heavy riffle. The next season I saw this gun in a saloon in Pond City which was located about one mile west of the town of Wallace stands today. The rifle was plainly marked by a bullet hole about six inches from the but end of the stock the same bullet had went through Parks hand

No. 9

this information was given us by the negro. going back to the fort I acquinted Genl" H. C. Bankhead with all the facts and he promptly sent a file of soldiers after it. I had the pleasure of placing this gun in the hand of it rightful owner the widow of Parks then living in Wyandotte.

The next day you could the line the three hunters retreated over by the birds of prey were in the air. Ponies were scattered all along the way. Showing they paid something for there attacking that outfit. We had no more trouble at this camp. Sharp and Shaw's camp Just east of us was raided and I think 80 head of horses and mules driven off. It was a constant scirmish along the line of works (until cold weather) every body going around and in squads to better repel any moove the foe would make.