Merrick County's 100th Year: 1858-1958


Indian Massacre of 1873

The summer of 1873, the sorrow stricken Pawnees passed across the county from Silver Creek to Genoa on their return from their last buffalo hunt. Bitter was the wailing and moaning of those suffering from the loss of children, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters. Their children were told that more than 150 Pawnee men, women, and children had been forced to give up their lives to the Sioux enemies.

The following was taken from W. H. Smith's store as related by an old scout, J. W. Williamson, who was trail agent at that time for the Genoa Agency.

"On the second day of July, 1873, the Pawnees to the number of 700 left Genoa for the hunting grounds. Of this number 530 were men.

We started on our journey by crossing the Loup River two and one-half miles south of the agency and camped on Prairie Creek about 5 miles from where Silver Creek now stands. From there were followed the Platte up as far as Grand Island, thence to Plum Creek and to the Republican River.

Before we reached the Beaver, signs indicated that buffalo had been there recently. No sooner than a halt had been made than the scouts came riding in and reported that a herd of 300 or 400 buffalo were feeding on the south slope of the divide between Beaver and Prairie Dog Creeks. So expert were the Pawnees in killing buffalo that not one animal escaped death out of the several herds attacked. That night there was a great feast in the camp.

August 5th we broke camp and started north up the divide between Republican and Frenchman Rivers. A few minutes later a buffalo scout signaled that buffalo had been sighted in the distance and Sky Chief rode out to engage the hunt. I never saw him again.

We had not proceeded more than a mile when I noticed a commotion at the head of the procession which had suddenly stopped and I was told that the Sioux were coming. We were about 100 yards from the head of the canyon that extended down to the river. Orders were shouted down for the squaws and pack ponies to take refuge in the canyon, that extended down to the river. It was suggested we fall back down the canyon, Chief Terra Recekone was in favor but Fighting Bear rebelled. We took his suggestion and made a stand on the grounds where we were. As the Sioux came over the hill, it was apparent that the Sioux outnumbered the fighting men of the Pawnees four to one. There were 1200 to 1500 Sioux warriors. The Pawnees put up a great fight but odds were against them. The Pawnee's chief gave orders to retreat.

As the Pawnees reached the river and crossed to the opposite bank, the Sioux cut off 700 ponies and had started down the stream to cross at another point to pursue the Pawnees when they suddenly stopped. Looking across the river, I noticed the flag bearer of the United States Cavalry troop. The Sioux beat a hasty retreat.

We camped that night on the banks of Red Willow Creek. There was nothing to eat. All our supplies had been left on the battlefield. I wired Barclay White, superintendent of Northwestern Indian Agencies, and he made arrangements with the Union Pacific to provide box cars for bringing the Pawnees to Silver Creek. They walked across the country to Genoa, a sorrowful return from the last buffalo hunt in a country that had been their home for many years."

Compliments of

Central City


Memorial Monument at
Silver Creek


Engraved on the beautiful memorial statue to service men erected in the Silver Creek Cemetery are the names of veterans of four wars, whose graves are in the cemetery.

BLACK HAWK WAR, 1832: McCormick

MEXICAN WAR, 1848: Matthias Ruff

   C. W. Peterson
    Arthur Hunt
   E. A. Wilson

CIVIL WAR, 1861-1865:
   W. E. Mason
   D. J. Towslee
   H. Haywood
   J. D. Williams
   T. P. Williams
   James A. Brown
   A. C. Smith
   W. V. Derimer
   U. C. Whiteaker
   L. H. Turk
   J. H. Conkling
   H. Davis
   J. E. Howland (sailor)
   T. M. Pethick
   Solomon Shepherd
   James Stingley
   Park Kinney
   George W. Clutter
   E. Mustard


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Site Updated: 03 December 2015