Pioneer Settlers Met With Tragedy

Pioneer settler John German and his family were victims of a Cheyenne raid in Western Kansas.

| Good Old Days

Pioneer settler John German and his family had been warned against Indians and traveling alone through wild, unsettled country, but when they made camp on the banks of the Smoky Hill River September 10, 1874, they felt safe. They were only a few miles from Fort Wallace and at the site of present-day Scott City, Kansas. They had one wagon, six oxen and one horse. They had left a wagon train of home seekers a few days before. They were from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the South and instead of taking up a Kansas homestead, they were headed for Colorado where they heard there were streams and trees.

It was a tragic error in judgment. They left their campfire burning that night, and the next morning Indians swooped down on the little camp. No tragedy of the plains ever exceeded in horror the raid of the Cheyenne Indians on the German family.

This family was a sturdy one, fitted for pioneer life in the West. John German and his buxom wife had one son, Stephen, 21, and six daughters, Rebecca, 23; Catherine, 19; Joanna, 17; Sophia, 15; Julia, 10; and Adelaide, 5.

Three of the girls were mature young women, all pretty and well-formed. Catherine was considered the prettiest of the six. Sophia, too, was a winsome girl, and Joanna had long, luxuriant, curly hair that fell in shimmering beauty about her shoulders.

It was the custom of wagon travelers to rise early and get started by daybreak. The Germans were ready to be on their way by sunup. Stephen was out a little way from the wagon to try to get a prairie chicken or a rabbit for their supper that night when the family heard the shrill, bloodthirsty yell of Indians.

Up from the gulch behind them rode the red warriors. Young Stephen was shot down before he could fire one shot. Vigorous John German fell next with a bullet through his head.

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