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Williamson Grave

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 follows:
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 Cowboy Association.

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 amputated.

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.
Williamson, James185105-05-1879

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