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Located on Snake River south of Kilgore, NE.
then the J.D.McCann Ranch headquarters, now known as the Rodney Hockenberry Ranch
Section 32, Township 33, Range 32
The original marker is at the Fort Robinson Museum, Nebraska State Historical
Society, Crawford, Nebraska.
It was Buried in the sand by Gordon Lord, then a ranger
of the National Forest , to keep it from burning during a range prairie fire,
in 1914 and than dug up again. It was later sent to the museum where it remains.
This was copied from a memroandum from Jay Higgins, Forest Supervisor, Mar.
19, 1924, to Nebraska Forest Service, Chadron, Nebraska.
The story of Williamson's fate as related to me by Mr. L.F.J. Iaeger is as
A band of Cheyennes left their agency in Kansas and made a trail of blood
clear across the western border of Nebraska. James Willaimson, in
company with Felix James, were riding the cattle range in the Snake
river somewhere between the Snake Falls and the mouth of Boardman Creek,
when a party of Indians belonging to this band, of renegades attacked
the two men. Willaimson was riding an unbroken horse, which refused to
cross the river and this caused him to be killed and scalped by the
Indians. The cowboys gave battle and Mr. James succeeded in killing
five Cheyennes but was unable to save his comrade.
After the killing of Williamson the alarm was given around the region
and all the Indians killed which the local cowboys could find. Iager
tells of a bunch of cowboys riding one day onto seven tepees and all
Indians in the camp were killed. He says he found some intersting
plunder in the Indian camp and sent a box of these to some relative in
the east. Among other things was the entire scalp of a woman school
teacher whom the Indians had killed some time before.
After the killing of Williamson, his body was buried on the hill south
of the ranch near a pine tree clump. Mr Iager, then a young man, made
a marker for the grave out of a cedar slab hewn from a tree growing
along the breaks of the canyon. He rounded the top of this slab by using
a big bucket as a pattern. The inscriptions were marked out in pencil
and then burned in the letters, using the end gate bar of a wagon,
together with an old chisel. This original wooden slab marker was
allowed to remain on the grave until about 1911 when Mr. C.J. Anderson,
who formerly owned the Diamond Bar Ranch, and had sold it to Dan Adamson,
inquired of Mr. Anderson if the old wooden marker was still on Williamson's
grave. Mr. Anderson asked that it be sent to him and he would have a
similar marker made up in marble, as the wooden one was showing the
effects of the long years weathering. The marble stands at the head of
the grave now.
The Northwestern Round Up, an organization composed of early day cowboys,
organized in 1913, was later presented the old wooden marker and it is
today preserved in a glass front case as one of the mementos of the
Incidentally, Mr. Iaegar, who is know as "Billy the Bear" and is at
present about 67 years old, had one of the most trying experiences of
early pioneer life. He had become lost in a blizzard in the early days
and had his hands and feet frozen so that both legs had to be amputated
above the knees and his fingers and part of both hands also were
He had worked as a cowhboy and was a companion and friend of W.F.
(Buffalo Bill) Cody. It was while with Cody in a show troup as a young
man that he acted as part of a bear and used a bear hide for a make-up,
that he acquired the title of "Billy the Bear." He is a pioneer, very
widely known and respected in the northwesten and other parts of the state.
signe: Jay Higgins- Forest Supervisor.
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For corrections, please contact the Cherry County Coordinator.
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