Along Hushpukney Creek

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May 5, 2007
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Tall Grass Prairie
I'm thinking about getting into reenacting again. I'm too old to play the young buck along the Santa Fe Trail like I used to. I think maybe portraying one of my ancestors, or perhaps someone who might have been a neighbor. In 1854 three sets og my GG grandparents settled near what is now Fontana, KS. You can find it easily on google earth. Specically one homestead was at 38°25'05"N94°53'05"W just up a steep hill wesr of Hushpuckney Creek. Today the old buildings are gone and the place is growing over. In 1854 the entire area around there was forested.

There were still Indians living in the bottom lands, down Hushpuckney to Middle Creek and so on. They were probably Pottowatamie. The Indians came up to the family farm and traded. They often brought deer to trade for smoked hams, which they dearly loved, and salt. They traded for other things but exactly what never got handed down in family lore. So, I'm wondering what sorts of things would the Indians have wanted from GGGp and what might they have offered in trade? Black powder maybe?

In 1854 none of the little towns around there existed. Until then i think the nearest place for Indians to have traded was actually Trading Post, KS, a long walk from the family place. So, i expect the Indians in the area may have been happy in a way to have settlers nearby willing to trade.

As I inch my way back into reenacting I'd like to incorporate as much of the 1854 indian trading activity into my role as possible.

Notchy Bob

32 Cal.
Apr 6, 2014
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kansas_volunteer, I enjoyed your post! I read a lot about the old frontier, and Kansas comes up un the literature pretty often.

Oral histories, passed down in families, are important. Given today's attitudes, many of us would like to think our own ancestors were kind to and on amiable terms with the native people, or did not own slaves, or did not despoil the landscape, or whatever, but the specific details of your family lore make it clear that your ancestors really were on good terms with the native folks. They must have been good people!

I would recommend that you look up Granville Stuart's Forty Years on the Frontier. Google Books has a long excerpt from this book available online. It is well worth reading. Stuart's early years were in Iowa rather than Kansas, but the situation must have been very similar. Stuart's family interacted with the local Mesquakie people in much the same way your ancestors must have related to the Potawatomies.

Farm and ranch people back in the day brought many skills with them. I think it is likely that most farms had a forge, and from the reading I've done, native people traded a lot for ironwork and hardware... Fire steels, knives and hatchets, but also awls, fish hooks, and muskrat spears, and who knows what else. Maybe some simple gun repairs. I'm suggesting these as possibilities. Your folks may have also journeyed to a town or trading center now and then, and picked up a few other items to pass on to the natives. In return, the Potawatomies may have offered peltries and hides. That may have made your folks middlemen, of sorts. The fur trade did not stop with the last rendezvous. The Mesquakie people described by Stuart also made maple sugar, but I don't know if that was done in Kansas.

I am curious... Do your family traditions mention anything about music? I am interested in old-time music, and play banjo and guitar. One of my favorite performing groups right now is Spencer & Rains, based in Lawrence, Kansas. I understand that Tricia Spencer's ancestors settled in Kansas about the same time yours did, and her family has carried on a tradition of fiddling. I think she learned to play from her grandpa, who was evidently not only a great fiddler, but a tremendous repository of old-time tunes.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob

Doc Ivory

45 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Jun 7, 2020
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Naples, Florida
Hey Bob!
I enjoy the old time music as well and there's precious little that I can find about it.
I've played electric bluz for many a decade but in retirement added mandolin and banjo to the mix.
Surprisingly, a lot of the mountain music and stuff from pre civil war days is discussed on British sites.