Hubby and I are big fans of national parks and national monuments. Many of them provide a glimpse back into history. Whenever we’re close, we like to visit and see what’s there. We both have Golden Age passes so it’s free to get into National Parks and Monuments so why not go see them. I have one the little passport books that is full of stamps and stickers showing which NPS sites we’ve visited. I love looking back through it and remembering all the places we’ve been.
This past weekend, Hubby and I traveled to the Alibates Quarry National Monument. For thousands of years, the First Americans dug Alibates flint from the deposits there. Quality rock for knapping into tools was very important to their way of life. Their mining holes are still visible, much like the exploration pits found in the Black Hills where miners dug to see if gold might be there. The national monument is isolated, at the bottom of a hill in the middle of nowhere. The visitor center is small but it’s a nice one. The people were really helpful.
After our visit there, we drove an hour or more away to find the Adobe Walls historical site on the Turkey Track Ranch. The route wends its way down farm roads, dirt roads, and past signs that say to stay on the road, otherwise you’ll be prosecuted. We finally found the monuments that mark the spot where the old trading post used to be. It was first built by William Bent and his partner, Ceran St. Vrain. Both were famous fur traders who started at Adobe Walls, but when the harassment of the local tribes was too much, they moved their venture to a new spot in southeastern Colorado and built Bent’s Fort. The U.S. Army used the facilities as a post to protect the wagon trains on the Sante Fe Trail.
The first battle at Adobe Walls involved Kit Carson commanding the First Cavalry of New Mexico Volunteer who were sent to deal with the Comanche, Kiowa, and Plains Apache tribes who were making things tough for people on the trail and living in the area. In November 1864, Carson set camp in the ruins of the old fort and was surprised to find his 300+ men to be surrounded by thousands of warriors reading to drive them out of their native territory. Had it not been for the two howitzers he had with him, Carson and his men might have suffered the same kind of defeat Custer did at Little Big Horn twelve years later.
The second battle of Adobe Walls happened in June 1874 when 28 buffalo hunters were surrounded by a large force of Comanche, Cheyenne, and Kiowa warriors, including Quanah Parker who was the son of a Comanche chief and a captured white girl who’d grown up in the tribe. The later-famous Bat Masterson was one of group of hunters under siege. The hunters took refuge inside the ruins of the old fort. Four people were killed, one of whom accidently shot himself. Billy Dixon made his renown shot where he killed an Indian on a bluff almost a mile away. Years later, Dixon was the postmaster for the little settlement of Adobe Walls and is buried on the grounds of the old fort, along with the man who killed himself accidently during the second battle.
Two big monuments mark the area where Adobe Walls trading post used to be, one dedicated to those 28 men at the second battle and one to the First Americans who died there. The two graves are also there. Otherwise, there little in the middle of the broad plane surrounded by bluffs that tell of all the historical events and the people who were there.
Years ago, I read the book Bent’s Fort by David Lavender and was totally enthralled by it. William established the successful trading post in Colorado and eventually went on to be governor of New Mexico. I also read a book about George Bent, William’s brother, who married a Cheyenne woman and went to live with her people. He was involved in a number of battles fighting against the white man. The brothers were the same family, yet such different paths taken by both of them.
Like Solomon said, there’s nothing new under the sun. A lot of families had children who take diverse paths. The story of this family is worth reading about.