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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1864
([1864])

Montana superintendency,   pp. 293-303 PDF (4.8 MB)


Page 295

MONTANA SUPERINTENDENCY. 
295 
outhouses from ruin. Mr. Vail, on taking possession, was instructed to repair
the buildings and farming implements, build a stock corral, prepare the land
for 
cultivation, and safely secure and protect all property found on the farm,
taking 
a full inventory of every article found. It was my intention to cultivate
at least 
one hundred acres of land, but, as the time drew near for planting, a serious
obstacle presented itself in procuring of seed, and as a last resort I was
com- 
pelled to send to Bitter Root, or lose all the labor thus far expended, and
defeat 
the main object I had in view. Another serious obstacle presented itself
in the 
procuring of hands; the close proximity of the gold mines, where hundreds
were rushing, had raised the price of labor two hundred per cent. and taken
away 
all the surplo s;laboring class, and it was difficult to secue a hand for
any length 
of time at any price. Another drawback was in the depreciation of "
treasury 
notes," which were thirty-three and a third per cent. discount, and
it was not 
till the 1st of April that one could be hired for the year. At that time
I secured 
the services of Mr. William Gay, who is still on the firm. My messenger to
Bitter 
Root failed to get seed corn, but potat, es, oats, barley, turnip-seed, and
some 
other seed, were procured in small quantities. This seed was all sown, and
bade 
fair to produce excellent crops; but during my absence at Fort Union the
heavy 
rains set in, and in the month of May the farm was inundated three times,
com- 
pletely destroying the potato crop, the most valuable of all, and seriously
dam- 
aging all the other crops. For the details in working the farm I refer you
to 
the letter of Mr. Vail, herewith enclosed. On my return from Fort Union,
learn- 
ing the disasters that had befallen the crops, I released Mr. Vail at his
request, and 
discharged all the remaining bands except Mr. Gay, who was placed in charge.
Subsequently I hired Mr. Oscar Thorp to assist in harvesting the damaged
crops. 
These men are now at work for forty-five dollars per month each, and treasury
notes are worth just fifty cents on the dollar, leaving them the enormous
sum of 
twenty-two and a half dollars each month for their services. As soon as the
crops are gathered, I shall make a detailed report with reference to the
expenses, 
condition, and location of the farm. On the 9th of May I left in a Mackinaw
boat for Fort Union, with eight men, to look after the annuity goods left
there 
last year. I arrived there the 19th of the same month, examined the goods
and 
reported their condition to the department in my letter of May 21, to which
you are respectfully referred for full particulars. 
The steamers Benton and Fanny Ogden arrived at Fort Union and passed up 
the river, the former the 30th of May, and the latter the 10th of June. On
the 
13th the steamer Yellow Stone arrived with the Blackfeet annuity goods for
this 
year. I was pleased to see these goods so near their point of destination,
and 
congratulated myself that the sad disappointments to the Indians of last
year 
were not to be repeated this. I went on board, when I met the contractor,
Mr. 
C. P. Chouteau and Special Agent H. W. Reed, my predecessor in office, both
of whom gave me a very cordial greeting. I was glad to learn from Agent 
Reed that he was on his way to this place to settle up his unfinished business,
and willingly offered him all the assistance in my power for accomplishing
that object. As he has probably given a detailed report of the trip of the
Yel- 
low Stone, and his failure to reach this place, I pass over this to other
matters., 
The Yellow Stone arrived at Cow island the 20th of June, and after repeated
attempts to pass the rapids, finally gave it up as being impossible, discharged
her freight and passengers, and started down the river July 1, leaving every-
thing on the banks of the river, one hundred and seventy-five miles by water
and one hundred and twenty-five by land to Fort Benton. To say nothing of
the causes that produced this failure to land these goods at Fort Benton,
the 
disappointment, harassment, loss of time and delay caused by such failure
is, 
to say the least, extremely irritating and disagreeable. These repeated failures
to deliver goods to their point of destination on the Missouri by steamer
as per 
contract is getting to be a nuisance unbearable, and might be easily avoided


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