Updated: Jul 13
The following article was originally printed in The Boys of the World, a serial printed by Street & Smith, the same publisher that produced Ned Buntline's Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack stories. This is Jack's account of his 1874 trip into the Yellowstone with Lord Dunraven, George Kingsley, and Captain Wynne.
TEXAS JACK’S EXPERIENCE
Three Months in the National Park,
The Yellowstone Region.
His description of that marvelous country after a hunting expedition there with The Earl of Dunraven and others.
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF
I left New York August 1st, 1874, to go as guide and hunter to an English party, among whom were the Earl of Dunraven, Doctor Kingsley, and others.
I joined the party in Denver City, Colorado, and, after a few days of recreation there, started alone to Salt Lake City, where I met the superintendent of the Overland Stage Line, and succeeded in chartering a coach to carry us from Corinne to Virginia City.
My party came up the next day to Salt Lake, and, after seeing Brigham Young and other curiosities, we hurried on to Corinne.
The next morning the coach was at the hotel door at seven “sharp” as the earl would say, and guns, pistols, dogs, servants, scouts, English lords and other bundles were tumbled in promiscuously, and before we could get half a view of the beautiful country our driver shouted “all aboard,” and away we went at breakneck speed.
We reached the first twelve miles station before I had got comfortably seated, for there was such a confusion of baggage in the coach one would have thought the Grand Duke and the Prince of Wales were along, and here our first trouble began, for, to “cap the lay out,” one of the dogs had taken sick, for Salt Lake hash did not seem to agree with that canine’s English stomach; but then we had only four hundred and forty-eight miles to go, and, as a little thing like that wouldn’t amount to much, I chucked the dog on top the coach, and had just time to jump astride of a ten-gallon keg of whiskey when the driver shouted “hoop la!” and away we went again.
I had given the driver a drink, and that settled it, for in vain did I cry out to him to make the horses pace that me might go easy over the stones. He took my wailing for cries to make better time, for all that is said to these Western drivers they understand to mean go faster and make time.
At this rate, we soon pulled up at the next station, where we got in a balky horse. He would not budge, and the driver called out for some of us to get out, and throw a stone at his head.
I only got a chance to throw one at old balky when back went his ears, and out came his two hind feet at my head, and off like a shot went coach and horses.
I had just time to grab on to one of the straps behind when I was towed for half a mile, and then rescued by the earl, who dragged me in.
The remainder of the trip to Virginia City was made under similar circumstances, we arriving there in four days and a half after leaving Corrine; for a wonder everybody alive, and nobody robbed.
The next day I hired a team, and the earl and myself drove to Sterling, distant twenty-nine miles, and on the way we passed Alf Slade’s old ranch.*
Sterling is a place that started up upon “quartz” prospects, but, like the butcher’s calf, it “kinder gin out.”
Here we expected to meet George Ray, one of the noted hunters and trappers of the Yellowstone, for he was to join us at Sterling.
Buying some ponies, we rode on to Boseman City, distant ninety miles, and on the way passed through Gallatin Valley, which was by far the prettiest country we had seen thus far.
Boseman is a nice little town, situated upon a tributary of the Gallatin, and three miles from Fort Ellis, and here it was I bought my outfit of saddle ponies, pack-mules and other necessaries, the earl going, in the meantime, in company of some officers of the fort, to visit the Crow village and see a war-dance by some Indians of that friendly tribe.
After leaving Boseman I shot a small bear on Trail Creek—first blood of the trip.
The next day we entered the great and wonderful Yellowstone Valley, striking the river at a point about a hundred miles below Yellowstone Lake.
The valley here is wide, the rolling hills extending back some distance to the main range, and the country grandly beautiful.
Here we met some friendly Indians of the Bannock tribe, who were hurrying back toward the Gallatin, as they said there were Sioux across the river. These tribes have long been deadly enemies. They admired my Winchester and Remington rifles greatly, and when I told them that Dr. Evans, of Lewiston, Maine, was making me a gun that shot thirty-five times without reloading, they were immensely tickled, and also curious, one of them saying:
“Me habee dat gun me stay here and kill em heap Sioux every time.”
A few hours ride brought us to Bottler’s ranch, the last regular settlement up the river.
It was late when we got here, but the tents were soon pitched in a nice little grove, and things began to look to me like old frontier times.
Mr. Bottler came to see me soon, a stout, healthy-looking, American born Dutchman who had spent half his life in the mountains, and from him we heard nine good bear stories, while he showed us signs where one had gone off with a good piece of his left leg. Also he told us that there were plenty more bears around his ranch, and as I knew this to be a good part of the valley for that kind of sport, we concluded to stay here a short while hunting, and trout fishing in the streams.
The next day some of the party went into the hills on a deer hunt, and I took to the river for some fish, and had landed, perhaps, a couple of dozen of trout and white fish, when I discovered a band of ponies coming at full speed down the opposite side of the stream.
Satisfied that there were Indians, running off stock, I didn’t hesitate an instant, but dropped the fishing tackle, seized my rifle, mounted, and swam across the river, which at that point was a hundred yards wide.
Reaching the other banks, I headed off the ponies, and they turned into the hills, and in pursuit of them were several Indians, to whom I gave chase, but soon drew off, as after ten minutes I discovered they were too well mounted for me to overhaul them.
As I turned to ride back I saw a lone Indian coming up in my rear; but he was out of range, yet I fired a shot at him just for luck, and after returning the fire he dusted, and was soon out of sight.
Returning to the river I recrossed, and was soon back in camp.
The next morning we moved up the river, and turned into the rough mountains, where we ran upon a band of elk, killing four or five before they got out of range, and had plenty of fresh meat.
Camped that night on the bank of a small brook, and had just started to pitch tents when we heard the whistle** of an elk close by.
Every one sprang for his rifle, and the earl took the first shot, and brought him down nicely, and we soon had his hide and horns in camp, the antlers being an exceedingly fine pair.
Before we finished supper we could hear bear growling at the remains of the elk, and several of the party who had not seen grizzlies, prepared to surround the place and take a shot at them; but I gave it as my opinion that grizzlies were nice little pets, and should not be disturbed at a quiet lunch at so late an hour, and Mr. Bottler, who was with us, hoped they would make out a meal on the elk as he had no more legs to spare.
Thus we decided to await until the morning; but no bears were in sight at that time, so we divided into two parties, and started out on a hunt for one.
Owing to the rough country it was impossible to keep together, and soon each man had to look out for himself.
One of the party soon found a large grizzly, but, being alone at the time in a dark valley, he concluded to climb a tree before he opened fire—a very wise conclusion, by the way.