Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5 v. (lvi, 2731 p., [228] leaves of plates) : ill., maps (some fold.), ports. ; 27 cm.

1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 5 Part 2

The sale of Louisiana by France to the United States was not pleasing to Spain. The westward inclination of the American people was well known to the Spaniards. The western borders of Louisiana were indefinite - at least, not agreed upon. The activity of the Government of the United States in the exploration of the wilderness empire caused apprehension in Mexico. In that province measures designed to discourage expeditions from the American settlements were taken. As Pike expresses it: "In the year 1806 our affairs with Spain began to wear a serious aspect." The details of Pike's expedition were carried to Mexico, and a force was organized and sent out to check it and counteract its influence on the Plains tribes. The Spanish force arrived at the Republican Pawnee village ahead of Pike, who adequately describes the objects and movements of it. That this situation may be plain, the statement of Pike is given at length:

I will attempt to give some memoranda of this expedition, which was the most important ever carried on from the province of New Mexico, and in fact the only one directed N. E. (except that mentioned by the Abbe Raynal in his History of the Indes) to the Pawnees - of which see a more particular account hereafter. In the year 1806 our affairs with Spain began to wear a very serious aspect, and the troops of the two governments almost came to actual hostilities on the frontiers of Texas and the Orleans territory. At this time, when matters bore every appearance of coming to a crisis, I was fitting out for my expedition from St. Louis, where some of the Spanish emissaries in that country transmitted the information to Majar, Merior, [sic] and the Spanish council at that place, who immediately forwarded the information to the then commandant of Nacogdoches, Captain Sebastian Rodreriques [sic], who forwarded it to Colonel [Don Antonio] Cordero, by whom it was transmitted to [General Don Nimesio Salcedo, at Chihuahua,] the seat of government. This information was personally communicated to me, as an instance of the rapid means they possessed of transmitting information relative to the occurrences transacting on our frontiers. The expedition was then determined on, and had three objects in view:

1st. To descend the Red river, in order, if he met our expedition, to intercept and turn us back; or, should Major Sparks and Mr. [Thomas] Freeman have missed the party from Nacogdoches, under the command of Captain Viana, to oblige them to return and not penetrate further into the country, or make them prisoners of war.

2d. To explore and examine all the internal parts of the country from the frontiers of the province of New Mexico to the Missouri between the La Platte [sentence unfinished].

3d. To visit the Tetaus Pawnee republic, Grand Pawnees, Pawnee Mahaws, and Kans. To the head chief of each of those nations the commanding officer bore flags, a commission, grand medal, and four mules; and with all of them he had to renew the chains of ancient amity which was said to have existed between their father, his most Catholic majesty, and his children the red people.

The commanding officer also bore positive orders to oblige all parties or persons, in the above-specified countries, either to retire from them into the acknowledged territories of the United States, or to make prisoners of them and conduct them into the province of N. Mexico. Lieutenant Don Facundo Malgares, the officer selected from the five internal provinces to command the expedition, was a European (his uncle was one of the royal judges in the kingdom of New Spain), and had distinguished himself in several long expeditions against the Apaches and other Indian nations with whom the Spaniards were at war; added to these circumstances, he was a man of immense fortune, and generous in its disposal, almost to profusion; possessed a liberal education, high sense of honor, and a disposition formed for military enterprise. This officer marched from the province of Biscay with 100 dragoons of the regular service, and at Santa Fe, the place where the expedition was fitted out, he was joined by 500 of the mounted militia of that province, armed after the manner described by my notes on that subject, and completely equipped with ammunition, etc., for six months; each man leading with them (by order) two horses and one mule, the whole number of their beasts was 2,075. They descended the Red river 233 leagues; met the grand bands of the Tetaus, and held councils with them; then struck off N. E., and crossed the country to the Arkansaw, where Lieutenant Malgares left 240 of his men with the lame and tired horses, while he proceeded on with the rest to the Pawnee republic. Here he was met by the chiefs and warriors of the Grand Pawnees; held councils with the two nations and presented them the flags, medals, etc., which were destined for them. He did not proceed to the execution of his mission with the Pawnee Mahaws and Kans, as he represented to me, from the poverty of their horses and the discontent of his own men; but, as I conceive, from the suspicion and discontentment which began to arise between the Spaniards and the Indians; the former wished to revenge the death of Villineuve and party, while the latter possessed all the suspicions of conscious villainy deserving punishment. Malgares took with him all the traders he found there from our country, some of whom, having been sent to Natchitoches, were in abject poverty at that place on my arrival, and applied to me for means to return to St. Louis. Lieutenant Malgares returned to Santa Fe the ..... of October, when his militia was disbanded; but he remained in the vicinity of that place until we were brought in, when he, with dragoons, became our escort to the seat of government [in Chihuahua].

The Pawnees were not cordial in their demeanor toward the Americans. On the 26th Pike moved his camp to the top of a hill overlooking the Pawnee town, where he could see what was transpiring there. In the afternoon twelve Kansas Indians came in, having heard that an American officer was at the Pawnee village. A council between the Kansas and Osages was set for the 28th, and the representatives of those tribes present were made to smoke the pipe of peace. The great council with the Pawnees was held on the 29th of September. At this meeting there occurred an important incident, and concerning which much has been said in recent years. Here it is described in Pike's own words:

Sept. 29th. Held our grand council with the Pawnees, at which were present not less than 400 warriors, the circumstances of which were extremely interesting. The notes I took on my grand council held with the Pawnee nation were seized by the Spanish government, together with all my speeches to the different nations. But it may be interesting to observe here, in case they should never be returned, that the Spaniards had left several of their flags in this village, one of which was unfurled at the chief's door the day of the grand council; and that among various demands and charges I gave them was, that the said flag should be delivered to me, and one of the United States' flags be received and hoisted in its place. This probably was carrying the pride of nations a little too far, as there had so lately been a large force of Spanish cavalry at the village, which had made a great impression on the minds of the young men, as to their power, consequence, etc., which my appearance with 20 infantry was by no means calculated to remove.

After the chiefs had replied to various parts of my discourse, but were silent as to the flag, I again reiterated the demand for the flag, adding "that it was impossible for the nation to have two fathers; that they must either be the children of the Spaniards, or acknowledge their American father." After a silence of some time an old man rose, went to the door, took down the Spanish flag, brought it and laid it at my feet; he then received the American flag, and elevated it on the staff which had lately borne the standard of his Catholic Majesty. This gave great satisfaction to the Osage and Kans, both of whom decidedly avow themselves to be under American protection. Perceiving that every face in the council was clouded with sorrow, as if some great national calamity were about to befall them, I took up the contested colors, and told them "that as they had shown themselves dutiful children in acknowledging their great American father, I did not wish to embarrass them with the Spaniards, for it was the wish of the Americans that their red brethren should remain peaceably around their own fires, and not embroil themselves in any disputes between the white people; and that for fear the Spaniards might return there in force again, I returned them their flag, but with an injunction that it should never be hoisted again during our stay." At this there was a general shout of applause, and the charge was particularly attended to.

There is information in the account by Lieutenant Wilkinson not found in the record made by Pike, and it is given:

Early on the morning of the 25th we were joined by a few more savages of distinction, headed by the brother of Characterish, or White Wolf, chief of the nation, who was to act as master of the ceremonies to our formal entry. Preparatory to our march, we had our men equipped as neatly as circumstances would admit. About mid-day we reached the summit of a lofty chain of ridges, where we were requested to halt and await the arrival of the chief, who was a half a mile from us, with 300 horsemen, who were generally naked, except buffalo robes and breech cloths, and painted with white, yellow, blue, and black paint. At the word of the chief the warriors divided, and, pushing on at full speed, flanked us on the right and left, yelling in a most diabolical manner. The chief advanced in front, accompanied by Iskatappe, or Rich Man, the second great personage of the village and his two sons, who were clothed in scarlet cloth. They approached slowly, and when within 100 yards the three latter halted; Characterish advanced in great state, and when within a few paces of us stretched out his hand and cried, "Bon jour." Thus ended the first ceremony. We moved on about a mile further, and having gained the summit of a considerable hill, we discovered the village directly at its base. We here were again halted, and the few Osages who accompanied us were ordered in front and seated in rank entire. The chief squatted on his hams in front of them and filled a calumet, which several different Indians took from him and handed the Osages to smoke. This was called the horse-smoke, as each person who took the pipe from the chief intended to present the Osages a horse. Mr. Pike and Dr. Robinson afterward accompanied the chief to his lodge, and I moved on with the detachment and formed our camp on the opposite bank of the Republican fork of the Kansas river, on a commanding hill which had been selected as the most favorable situation for making observations, though very inconvenient on account of wood and water. which we had to transport nearly a quarter of a mile.

At a council held some few days after our arrival, Lieutenant Pike explained to them the difference of their present situation and that of a few years past; that now they must look up to the president of the United States as their great father; that he [Pike] had been sent by him [Jefferson] to assure them of his good wishes, etc.; that he perceived a Spanish flag flying at the council-lodge door, and was anxious to exchange one of our great father's for it; and that it was our intention to proceed further to the westward, to examine this, our newly acquired country. To this a singular and extraordinary response was given - in fact, an objection started in direct opposition to our proceeding further west; however, they gave up the Spanish flag, and we had the pleasure to see the American standard hoisted in its stead.

At the same council Characterish observed that a large body of Spaniards had lately been at his village, and that they promised to return and build a town adjoining his. The Spanish chief, he said, mentioned that he was not empowered to council with him; that he came merely to break the road for his master, who would visit him in the spring with a large army; that he further told him the Americans were a little people, but were enterprising, and one of those days would stretch themselves even to his town; that they took the lands of Indians, and would drive off their game: "and how very truly," said Characterish, "has the Spanish chieftain spoken! "We demanded to purchase a few horses which was prohibited, and the friendly communication which had existed between the town and our camp was stopped. The conduct of our neighbors assumed a mysterious change; our guards were several times alarmed, and finally appearances became so menacing as to make it necessary for us to be on our guard day and night.

It was obvious that the body of Spaniards, who preceded us but a few weeks in their mission to this village, were the regular cavalry and infantry of the province of Santa Fee, as they had formed their camps in regular order; also we were informed they kept regular guards, and that the beats of their drum were uniform morning and evening. The Spanish leader, further delivered to Characterish a grand medal, two mules, and a commission bearing the signature of the governor, civil and military, of Santa Fee. He also had similar marks of distinction for the Grand Pawnees, the Pawnee Mahaws, Mahaws Proper, Otos, and Kanses.

This Pawnee village was not one of great age. It was situated in the Pawnee country, and the regions surrounding it had doubtless been in possession of the Pawnee people for a long period of time - perhaps centuries. And the Republican Pawnees were of recent origin. About the year 1795 a warrior of the Grand Pawnees, or Pawnees Proper, became dissatisfied with the administration of affairs in the chief town of his nation, which was on the south side of the River Platte, about eighty miles up from the Missouri. He formed a faction in his interest, and the town was divided. The warrior led his adherents westward and founded the town and the division of the tribe denominated as the Republican Pawnees. He was ruler of the people and the town for some years, and until the arrival of a regular chief of the Grand Pawnees, probably from the town where the secession had occurred. This chief usurped the power of the warrior who had founded the new town and people. The followers of these two rulers were arrayed in hostile factions or parties even to the date of Pike's visit. The village then contained about three hundred warriors, and a population of fourteen hundred. Why they were called the Republican Pawnees is not known. They may have been so designated by French traders, and they may have accepted the name so bestowed. It is not improbable that some trader, finding himself losing business in the barter at the Grand Pawnee town on the Platte, induced the warrior to follow him to the Republican and there set up a town in his interest - where he should have a monopoly of the trade. The Osages were so divided by the Chouteaus. The Republican Pawnees maintained friendly relations with their mother town and their relatives there. Both towns were at war with the Pawnee Picts, the Great and Little Osages, the Kansas, the Sioux, the Aricarees, and the Comanches. And both were on terms of amity with the Loups, the Omahas, the Poncas, the Missouris, and the Iowas. There seems to have been other Republican Pawnee towns, but the inhabitants therein must have returned to the mother-village about a year before Pike's visit.

The incident of the flag came to be a matter of pride to the Kansas people. There is nothing just like it in the history of any other State. In 1896 the citizens of two townships about the site of this old Indian Village formed "The Pawnee Republic Historical Society." The exact location of the village was determined. It was found to be on the south bank of the Republican River, in Republic County, Kansas, and on land owned by George Johnson and his wife Elizabeth. They deeded a portion of it, described as follows, to the State of Kansas, in order that the State might erect and maintain a suitable monument to mark the spot where the Spanish flag was hauled down and the American flag hoisted to take its place on the soil of Kansas:

"Beginning at a point six chains west of the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of section 3, township 2 south, of range 5 west; thence west sixteen chains, thence north seven chains, thence east sixteen chains, thence south seven chains to the place of beginning, containing eleven and two-tenths acres, more or less, being in the site of Pike's Pawnee Indian village."

The Pawnee Republic Historical Society appears to have labored under the impression that the Pike incident was "the first raising of the American flag on Kansas territory." Of this assumption there is no evidence, and the probabilities are entirely against it. Lewis and Clark no doubt raised the first American flag on what is now Kansas soil at the mouth of the Kansas River, in the limits of Kansas City, Kansas, June 26th, 1804. But the Legislature appropriated the sum of $3,000 for the erection of a monument on the tract of land so conveyed. The act was approved February 14, 1901. The corner-stone of the monument was laid with impressive ceremonies by the Kansas Grand Lodge of Free Masons, under the auspices of Belleville Lodge No. 129, on the 4th of July, 1901. The monument was completed, and on the 29th of September, 1901, it was dedicated - ninety-five years from the day Pike there hoisted the Stars and Stripes to proclaim the sovereignty of the United States over the soil which became Kansas.

In the year 1906 there was held a Centennial Celebration of the raising of the American flag at the Pawnee village by Pike. The ceremonies of this celebration occupied four days. Those on the 26th of September were conducted by the Woman's Kansas Day Club. September 27th was Historical Day. On the 28th the ceremonies were in charge of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Kansas, and the public schools of the State devoted an hour to the subject of "Pike and the Flag." The day of the anniversary - the 29th - there was an immense gathering of people present. The principal address was delivered by Governor E. W. Hoch on the subject "This country of Ours." There were other speakers, and there were exercises for the entertainment and amusement of the people. The whole celebration was largely supervised by George W. Martin, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society. And the Society is charged with the oversight and care of the monument and grounds for all time.

The Republican Pawnee village was destroyed, many of the inhabitants slain and the remainder driven north of the Platte, by the Delaware Indians, in 1832. In the account of that tribe details of the battle between the Delawares and the Pawnees will be found.

The force of Pike at the Pawnee town was made up of two officers, the surgeon, eighteen soldiers, one interpreter, three Osage warriors, and one Osage woman. The hostility of the Pawnees increased dally. On the first of October Pike found it necessary to have a lengthy conference with the Pawnee Chief. The chief urged him to turn back and make no further advance towards the Spanish possessions, saying that he had prevented the Spanish force from continuing its advance towards the American settlements. He finally said he would stop Pike by force if he did not turn back. But Pike was firm with the savage chieftain, and declared that he would proceed, and if attacked he would fight to the death - the answer to be expected of an American soldier. But he returned to his camp with an anxious mind. It was with much difficulty that the required number of horses to continue the expeditions could be obtained from the Pawnees. On the 4th of October two French traders arrived at the village, bringing intelligence of the return to St. Louis of the Lewis and Clark expeditions.

Pike prepared to march on the 7th, but found on that morning that two of his horses had been stolen during the night. One was soon returned, but the other was not recovered. The expedition marched at two o'clock, going around the Indian town, with the men under orders for their action if attacked by the Pawnees. The savages were to be allowed to approach to within five or six paces, then the men were to fire and charge with the bayonet and saber. Pike believed he could thus kill one hundred Indians before his command was exterminated. He rode to the lodge of the chief with one soldier and the interpreter to demand the return of the stolen horse, which was not forthcoming. Pike left the Republican Pawnee village with the hope that he might be sent back at some future day to deal with the Pawnees with an iron hand.

The expedition followed the Pawnee Trail to the Arkansas River. On the route Pike found camps lately occupied by the Spanish expedition. The journal of his journey south is full of interest. To reach the Arkansas he passed through Jewell, Mitchell, Lincoln, Russell, Ellsworth, and Barton counties. The river was reached on the 18th of October, at a point near Great Bend, and the expedition remained in camp until the 28th. From this point Lieutenant Wilkinson descended the Arkansas in canoes made from the skins of the buffalo and the elk. Pike went up the Arkansas, marching on the north bank. On the first of November a herd of wild horses was seen. An attempt to capture some of the horses was made on the second. This was probably in Edwards County, near the Kiowa line. The party had crossed to the south bank of the river on the 30th of October, and the march was on that bank to the site of the future Pueblo, Colorado. The west boundary line of Kansas was crossed on the 11th of November. The Kansas counties traversed to this line, along the Arkansas, are Barton, Pawnee, Edwards, Kiowa, Ford, Gray, Finney, Kearny, and Hamilton.

On the 23d of November Pike camped on the site of Pueblo, and on the 24th he erected a small breastwork on the fortification over which our flag was raised - the first structure erected by Americans in Colorado. After the erection of the fort he set out with a party to ascend and explore the mountain now known as Pike's Peak. He supposed that he should arrive at the foot of the mountain that day, which he, of course, did not do. On the 27th he reached the top of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, the base from which his "Grand Peak" projects itself into the clouds. The peak was constantly receding. Standing in the snow waist-deep on the summit of the main chain, he saw the base of the peak fifteen miles away. His men were not clothed for such a trip as it would have required to reach the peak. It was his belief that no human being could have ascended to its pinnacle. The great mountain had been swimming in sunshine, while clouds rode the storms contending about its foundations. But now they were carried up and about the summit, hiding it from the gaze of man, and wrapping it in a maze of mystery. Pike came down from the height which he had attained and returned to his camp at Pueblo. He was not the first white man to see this peak, for it had been long known to the Spaniards. He did not give it any name beyond the Grand Peak. But his fellow-Americans called it Pike's Peak - an immortal monument to the American soldier and explorer.

It is not in the province of this work to follow particularly the route of Lieutenant Pike from his camp at Pueblo. He penetrated the country claimed by the Spaniards, was captured, and was carried into Mexico. He was released by the Spanish authorities, returned to the United States, and arrived at Natchitoches, in what is now Texas, July 1st, 1807. Here is what he said on his arrival there:

"Language cannot express the gayety of my heart when I once more beheld the standard of my country waved aloft. 'All hail!' cried I, 'the ever sacred name of country, in which is embraced that of kindred, friends, and every other tie which is dear to the soul of man!'"

The accounts of Pike's expeditions were published in 1810. They were widely read, and they proved of great interest to the people, especially to those Americans who had settled west of the Mississippi. The possibilities of trade overland with Northern Mexico were there first revealed, and the development of those possibilities produced a commerce unique in American history. Lieutenant Pike's name is forever linked with the Great West, and especially with Kansas and Colorado. And the mighty peak overlooking the Great Plains is the monument to his everlasting fame.


The principal authority consulted in the preparation of this chapter is The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, edited by Dr. Elliott Coues, three volumes, Francis P. Harper, New York, 1895. It is one of the great authorities on Western history.

The work next in importance is Discoveries made in Exploring the Missouri, Red River and Washita by Captains Lewis and Clark, Doctor Sibley, and Mr. Dunbar, Washington, 1806. This book contains much of value pertaining to the Western Indians of that day. The copy in the Library of the Kansas State Historical Society was once the property of John Randolph, of Roanoke.

Kansas Historical Collections contain much on this subject, especially volumes X and XI. The articles by John B. Dunbar are of the highest order.

For local information the History of Republic County, Kansas, is good authority for locations as now identified with the expedition of Pike. The book was written by I. O. Savage, and published at Beloit, Kansas, in 1901.

The History of Vernon County, Missouri, by R. I. Holcomb, Brown & Co., St. Ilouis, Mo., 1887, contains much of value about the Osages in Pike's time. It is one of the best of county histories.

In addition to the above I consulted various local works and the extensive files in the Library of the Kansas State Historical Society.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.