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The Diary of Jake Thomas Part 11

Short story By: Chuck Smith
Westerns


Young boy grows into manhood in the old West


Submitted:Sep 23, 2009    Reads: 145    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


The next month were some of the happiest days of my life as Sparkles, (as I started calling her) and I shared, loved, laughed and just enjoyed the days and nights together. I started putting out my traps and would be gone for a day or so but could not wait to get back to Sparkles and my love for her. But then we made the trip back to see Archie and the Cheyenne camp was gone. Archie said; "They left just after you two did". That bothered me some, but then Archie; "Running Horse left you this", and under a cover he showed me my saddle as Running Horse never used a saddle…………………………….
Editor's note: Although Jake Thomas never mentions it; it was believed that the beaver fur trading industry finished about 1850 as silk hats became the style over beaver hats. But records from the Hudson Bay Company show that over three million beaver pelts were auctioned off between 1853 and 1873 in London. London was where most of the pelts had always been sent to. That is just one of the existing fur trading companies still operating during that time frame. Probably was just the price paid to the mountain man for trapping the beaver went so low that many quit that business and went into real estate or the timber business……………………………………………………………………..
Now I were 24 years old and Sparkles said she were 19 winter moons old. Between the trapping and Sparkles want to fix up the cabin more we stayed busy thet fall into early winter. Many times she would ride with me on my visits to our traps and we would camp out and return the next day or two. But as it always seemed to come bout, there be change that were coming and no way for either us to knowed what that would be. One day I rode over to the next valley where the brothers had there cabin but hollering and got no answer and the cabin was deserted and all there things were gone. Guess jest figured they had enough of mountain living and went back to the flatlands. I want to remember this as being maybe 1854 or 55, but don't remember exactly. Not finding them was a bother to me, but guess jest let it pass. Then Sparkles told me one morning; "Jake, I am with child". "Whooha, whooha", were all I could come up with, but nothing could have made me happier. I feared going off and leaving her but she would jest smile and say; "Jake Thomas, you do what you have to for I'm just fine". Then I decided to visit Archie as had not seen him in a month or two, I asked Sparkles if she would like to ride over but she said; "No, think I will stay here". Not wanting to leave her but she insisting and the next morning I left for Archie's cabin. There were snow on the ground but my pony took to it easy and soon I were close to Archie's. Noticed there were no smoke from the cabin and thought I might have missed him and he be out on his traps. Riding up and it looked the same but something told me it wernt and dismounting and looking in the cabin it were a mess as everything was turned upside down or busted. Walking down to the corral and his mule was gone but the donkeys were still there. Now jest what happened here were my thoughts and where do I look and what do I look fer. It wuld be something that haunted me the rest of my days for I would never see Archie again. But mounting the pony and starting back to tell Sparkles that I were going to hunt for Archie and try and find out what happened here at his cabin. It had started snowing pretty hard and was really coming down as I approached the stream and guess I wernt thinking or looking that hard when I heard a horse sniker. I looked up and on the other side were seven Crow braves wearing the black strips under there eyes of the war paint watching me ride up. I pulled up short and thought to make the peace sign that Archie had shown me, but it were to no good, fer two pulled the arrows back and one hit my pony in the neck and the other slammed into my left shoulder. The pony just dropped down and I were pinned by my right leg. But always carrying my pistols, I was able to get one out as the Crow started across toward me. Firing six times and four of those braves were down in the stream and the other three where trying to flee back the way they had came up. Again events happen so fast and only reaction sometime is the way.
Even knowing I be in a bad way my thinking was about Sparkles for the Indians had come from that direction. I were able to slide my leg out from the pony and then my Henry rifle and then on my knees tried to pull the arrow out of my shoulder but it would not pull out. Looking up I could see one of the Crow braves lying in the stream but still holding onto the halter on his pony. Thinking if I could jest catch that pony I could make my way back to Sparkles. The pony shied and I thought it wuld pull away but I were able to grab the rope and hold on as it tried to pull away. Mounting took a little doing but I were soon on its back and heading for the cabin. What a relief as riding up to the cabin and Sparkles standing in the door waving to me but seeing me on a different pony jest put her hand over her mouth. I got off and staggered to the door and her holding and helping I made it inside. Only thing I guess that saved me were that old baer coat for it helped stop that arrow from going all the way in and between Sparkles an me we finally were able to pull it out. I were bleeding bad and only getting back to her saved me from sure death. Even so it were awhile fore I could stand and get around from loss of blood and the wound even though Sparkles had lotion and herbs that she kept putting on the wound.
Even as bad off as I were I spent most days setting close to the door for fear of more of the Indians coming for us. But after a week or so and no Indians, I begin to relax somewhat. Never knew what caused that to happen unless those Crow were looking for Running Horse and his band. When I were able to get around some Sparkles said; "Jake, think it would be good for us to go to my fathers camp and stay awhile". "You know whur they be now, Sparkles?" "Yes". We packed up and left what Sparkles now called "Happy Valley" and left to find the Cheyenne band of her father. We passed by Archie's cabin but it were like I'd seen it the last time and we started down the mountain. Took us several days to reach Running Horse's camp along side a series of hills and streams but we were welcomed and they soon had put a tepee up for us in the camp. Swift Deer on hearing about the Crow braves wanted to take a party and try to find them, but I told him that four of the seven would not be bothering anyone agin. That seemed to satisfy him and then I found out he had taken a wife and me and Sparkles spent many a day and night visiting with each other. I slowly gained back my strength and use of the shoulder although it would always bother me some. It was again a happy time for Sparkles and me and in the spring, Sparkles birthed our furst son. We named him after my father as Frank Thomas. But the spring also made me want to leave and get back to Happy Valley for we had been away too long. So with much regrets and good byes we left the Cheyenne camp and the three of us started back to my mountains. Now the only thing that stuck in my mind were just the night afore we left and Running Horse and I were talking he said; "Jake, I was sorry to hear about Archie but am happy that you and Sparkling Water are one and now have my grandson for we will visit your Happy Valley but I want to tell you a story from long ago". "Our band of Cheyenne have camped in the valleys of both yours and Archie's for many years and this is what I was told, In one of the valleys is a richness that is not for the Cheyenne but has been used by the white man and is and will cause more trouble for not only the Cheyenne but all the Indians of the plains". "If you find it I only hope it will be for the benefit of Sparkling Water and you and my grandson". Now that was all he told me and I soon forgot about it on the way back to Happy Valley….. We made the turn toward Briskin as not having trapped that winter we wuld need supplies and upon reaching there we bought pack animals and supplies. I drew out more of the gold from the bank as Sparkles wanted everything in that town to take back. A proper crib for little Frank and a table to eat on and on and on. I kept trying to tell her that getting all that up the mountains were going to be hard, but she just smiled and went about her buying spree, now whut were I to say. I picked up things for building and the like. There were now a freight company in Briskin and I paid for them to haul all the furniture to a place I wuld show them and then figure out how to get it up the mountain to Happy Valley. Arnold had allowed us a room over the saloon during our stay in Briskin. Our last morning there shopping and Arnold's wife keeping Frank, and Sparkles doing some last time shopping, I went to the freight company and made sure they were ready to leave the next morning. Coming back and there was a crowd standing outside Arnold's saloon. Walking up and Arnold with Sparkles standing behind him and then I could see two strangers trying to grab hold of Sparkles. My mind went red and stepping between Arnold and the strangers, I asked whut the problem be. The tallest one jest said, "We want that squaw and by damn we will have her". I turned and told Sparkles to go inside the saloon and turning back the shortest stranger had pulled a knife and took a swipe at me with it. Reaction agin came in to play and pulling a pistol out I bashed him across the head and down he went, but the tall one pulled out his pistol and I shot him dead on the street of Briskin, Wy. Now there wernt no call for all that but it jest be the way it played out and wernt nothing I could have done to change it. The deputy of Briskin called it self defense and ordered the short stranger to take his partner and get out of town and never return. Jest knowed it made our trip turn sour and we left the next morning with the wagon carrying the furniture for Happy Valley.
Reaching a place where the freight wagon could go no further, we unloaded the furniture and having bought a large tarp we set it down in a stand of timber and covered it. We did take everything we could on the pack animals and started up to Happy Valley. Passing Archie's cabin on the way and the hurt returned in my heart for not knowing whut had happened to him. But finally we were back home and everything were like we left it. Having missed the roundup, I didn't know how bad the price be on furs and pelts that year but I got all the traps ready to start my trapping fer the year. One day in setting out traps I rode over to the brother's valley and I'll be dern if they weren't back again. Had a good visit and they said they had gone back to Texas fer a spell but missed the mountains and decided to return? Were nice to have neighbors agin. They said they would come and visit soon and I told them anytime. A week or two passed and then Sparkles come to me one morning and said; "Jake, come walk with me and carry Frank". Not knowing whut this were about but walking and her talking seems she now wanted a new and bigger cabin. Sparkles stopped and turned up into a stand of aspen and pines and just a little ways we came to an opening in the stand of timber. There was a small stream at the back of the clearing and Sparkles said; "Would you build me a home right here?" Now I jest had plans to build on the old cabin but guess that be out the wind now. For whut else could I say but; "Ok". Sure glad I had bought the building tools when we were in Briskin. That night Sparkles drew out a crude sketch of the home she wanted me to build for us. It sure be big were my thoughts. But I started the next day on felling the logs and trimming them up for the walls. Three days later the brothers, Bob and Doug Johnson came to visit. Seeing me working on the cabin and offered to help and I sure wernt going to turn down the offer. Bob went back and got there tools and the three of us with Sparkles and Frank giving all the instructions we could take on, we got the sides up and started on the roof. Like I said it were a big cabin. The weather held off and working all day into early evening we finally had the cabin in the dry. Doug were very good at making shingles for the roof and Bob and me wuld place and shingle the roof……….
Then we could step back one day and see it were finished on the outside. Then Sparkles reminded me of all the furniture that were down the mountain. Dang, I had plum forgotten bout that. But, Doug and Bob and me left the next morning and started hauling up the furniture. Some we had to take apart to be able to load and bring up. But after two trips we finally had it all in Happy Valley. But there were one more thing that Sparkles wanted and thet be a wood floor. Well, I couldn't ask the brothers for any more help but they being good neighbors stayed and we fell more trees and split them to put down in the cabin for a floor. Now all was finished and there be no way I could repay Bob and Doug but they jest said we be glad to help and I knowed they had missed out on some good trapping time, so all I could say were; "I be in your debt, ifn you ever need anything". I went back to my trapping but still had to make the shutters for the windows as we had no glass to put in them. The fire place was built with stones and mud from the main stream and I built a heavy door for the entrance. It were a nice big cabin with four rooms and a big eating and cooking area. Sparkles were very happy with her new home and I were happy cause she were happy. Sure glad we were finished fer the snow set in and it snowed for one solid week but the cabin fer the most part stayed warm and dry and I had laid up a big stack of firewood just behind the cabin……………………………….
The winter passed and it were a good year for pelts and fur and I used the old cabin to hang and dry the pelts as it made a good work place for me. Sparkles was learning how to speak English and many nights I wuld take out the guitar and we would sing together and like her being a beauty, so was her voice in singing the songs. I made a couple of trips back over to Archie's during that winter and went through all the things that were not broken up and brought them back to Happy Valley. I also visited the Johnson's a couple times that winter. Then spring came and they rode up one day and asked if we were ready to go to the roundup. I had everything ready and my family and the Johnson's started to the roundup. For some reason I had taken a part of the gold that I got while in Briskin, don't know why but I carried it with me. The roundup was a big disappointment as only bout a third of the mountain men from past roundups were there. There were only three fur buyers and the prices they paid were very low for the pelts and furs. There were still a large amount of goods to be bought but with the low prices there wernt much money to buy with. But it were a good time to pay the Johnson's back fer all there help. I took the gold and split it with them to be able for us and them to buy the supplies we needed. They both tried to give the gold back but I wuldnt hear bout it and finally they did take and buy there supplies. The fur buyers did tell us this would be there last time to come to a roundup and ifn we wanted to sell furs next year we would have to come to Briskin to sell. We stayed there a week renewing old friends and I jest wernt allowed to do all the carousing I had before but I didn't care as I were with my family. Did buy me a couple of jugs of whiskey to take back to Happy Valley though……………………………………..
When we got back to Happy Valley, Running Horse and his band of Cheyenne were camped along the stream and waiting for us to come back. The rest of the spring and summer we fished and hunted together and Swift Deer and I spent a few night alone with the whiskey jugs. He sure were funny when he got drunk and couldn't stand up straight and we laughed at each other and jest had a good old time together that summer……..
Running Horse spent all his time with Frank and wuld keep him at there camp many nights and I know the young un loved all the attention he were getting. Then one night jest before they were going to leave and go back down the mountain. Running Horse, Swift Deer and two more braves with me were setting out side the cabin by a fire and Running Horse said to me; "Jake, did you ever find the treasure?" Well, I had plum forgot about that with all the building of the cabin and could only say; "Nope, haven't found no treasure here except Sparkles and Frank". He just laughed and made a grunt and said; "I have no idea where it be, but from what you say bout the fur trading you might will need to look to keep living in your valley". I didn't say anything bout the gold I had left in the bank of Briskin, but jest said; "I spect we will be ok here with all the game and now Sparkles having that big garden she growed and put up this summer". For I never wanted to have to leave Happy Valley, ever. Then the day the Cheyenne were leaving and Running Horse and Swift Deer came up to the cabin to say good bye, and Sparkles came out to tell her father bye also, she said to her father; "I am with child again and this time it will be a girl for you to love and hold, father". Running Horse had a big smile and reached over and hugged his daughter. Now me, it were the first time I had heard bout the child but it being a Cheyenne thing to let the grand father know was all I could guess…..
Spent the last part of the summer in felling trees for firewood and putting it up and getting traps ready, for trapping was what I loved doing and jest couldn't think of anything else I might want to do. Jest figured to take what the furs would bring and keep on doing whut I loved doing. Sparkles took several of my deer hides and made me two new pants and shirts out of the deer hides. They were soft and smooth and I could not have asked for anything better to wear. Wearing my new clothes I left to set traps and my thoughts drifted back to Running Horse and the "treasure", now what culd that be this treasure he were talking bout. The snow came early that winter and it were going to be a hard winter it seemed. For days the wind came down the valley and snow drifted up and I had to keep it cleared from the front of the cabin. The animals suffered some but I had built a strong lean to for them to stand in out of the weather. Then every time it seemed like things were going like you like them, there be a change in my life. But will say these be one of the good changes I experienced during my life, like in finding Sparkles. The snow being so deep I had to snow shoe to the traps and this particular day were walking through a stand of aspen trees next to a high bank not to fer from the cabin when I noticed something very strange. There were smoke or steam coming out of a crevice in the bluff bank and curious, I walked over and the opening were not very wide but I was able to squeeze through and there be a opening in the bank and the smoke were drifting out of the opening. I went back to the aspen grove and found a small pine tree that were losing it sap and cut it down to make a torch to be able to see inside the opening. Going back and striking flint and getting the torch burning I stepped inside and got a whopping surprise, for it were warm inside and I could make out a stream jest a little ways inside. I walked to the stream and put a hand down into the water and the water was very warm and the stream was clear and running through another crevice. Walking back the other way and could see the room I were in was quite large and there were a pool of the warm water bout half way across this room. It being so warm I shucked off my coat and set on a rock and enjoyed the heat coming out of the stream. Was this the treasure that Running Horse had talked bout, but then thought probably not for he claimed the white man all wanted the treasure. Did not seem that warm water wuld be that men might want. The stream disappeared at the end of the room and the water gurgled up and kept the pool full of water. Well now I were curious and stuck the torch into a small crevice and took off my clothes and eased down into the pool and it came up to jest my stomach. It sure felt good and soothing to me and I ducked down under the water and jest enjoyed the next little while bathing in the warm water. Where it came from and why it were warm I didn't know but looking at the direction the water flowed and I wondered if maybe it flowed close to the cabin as it were not that far from here. I got out and dressed although wet and put out the torch and left putting on the snow shoes again and started back to the cabin. Coming through the door and Sparkles thought something were wrong for I had steam still coming off my hair and body from the warm water and cold air. She looked frightened but I told her bout the warm water and the pool. Well it wernt nothing to do but her get on warm clothes and bundle Frank and me take her back to the pool. I took along a lantern for light inside. We both left our snow shoes outside and I lit the lantern and inside we all went. I don't guess I ever saw Sparkles, sparkle like she did that morning and bathing in the pool with Frank and I even joined them again. I knowed it sure beat the tub with the stream water by the fire to get it warm enough to bathe in and even Frank standing on a small ledge at the edge of the pool splashed and played until I thought both wuld pucker from staying in so long for I had got out and dressed and watched them enjoy the water. Always wondered why I had never notice the steam from that crevice before and Sparkles had many questions that right then, I couldn't answer but it were a wonderful find for the Thomas family that morning……………………………..
Several times I walked along side of the bluff to where it played out behind the cabin but never did see any steam coming up out of all the snow and decided I would look agin in the spring. During the winter Sparkles came heavy with our about to be born child. Sparkles would always say; "Jake, I know this will be a girl". My thoughts were who and how would help in the birth but she wuld jest smile and say; "Why, Jake Thomas, you will be my help". I had much worry bout that part until one evening late and Sparkle started labor and it went on through the night until jest at morning light and we had us a beautiful little girl baby. Sparkles did great during the night and kept assuring me she was fine and guess I was in worse shape than she be. Sparkles named her Morning Light and I thought that be a fine name for her. Even with all the goings on the trapping were good that season but I didn't know how I would be able to take the furs down to Briskin with a new born but the brothers solved that by taking my furs with there to make the trip to the buyers. Both Sparkles and me made out a list of things we needed depending on the price the furs and pelts would bring as I had not more gold here in Happy Valley jest now….
As the weather started turning warmer I begin to take some things and put in the Warm Pool as Sparkles had named the pool. For we had spent time there during some very cold snowy days and really enjoyed always being warm and having a warm bath to jest step into anytime. One day and all alone in the room, I begin to wonder where and what was on the other side of where the water was gurgling up into the pool and going down and pushing against the flow were able to go jest a little ways and came up in another large pool but it being dark could not see how big and far the room went out. But I were certainly curious what lay in that other room and tried to figure out how to get some light in there to see whut was really there. I figgered the wall between the two rooms might only be a few feet across and later brought a pick and shovel and begin to try and make a way into the other room. Being careful as not wanting the wall to come down on me and the room I were in I started to make a small ledge through to the other room. It took several trips and digging and carrying out the rocks and dirt before getting a really good feeling on the distance between the two rooms. Then one day when Sparkles had brought the two children to bathe and me digging I broke through to the other side and then spent more time dressing up the narrow ledge that I had dug out between the rooms. Back at the cabin and the Johnson's came back the next morning and had done only fair at the buyers but had been able to purchase most of the things from our list. They stayed with us for two days before going back to there valley and each night we played games on the table in the cabin and sang during the evening. Bob Johnson had a beautiful deep voice and we made him sing songs over and over with Sparkles joining in. Enjoyed there visit and they were vying for attention from Morning Light all during there stay with us. The next few days it turned warmer and warmer and the remaining snow receded back to just the higher parts of the mountains. Not having been back to the Warm Pool room since there visit, I first went up behind the cabin and took a long metal rod and begin poking the ground for any sign of the warm water. And jest at the base of the bluff finally hit the warm underground stream which were only a few yards from the cold water stream behind the cabin. Now I had a plan to somehow funnel the warm water down into the cabin and we wuld always have warm water to bathe in. I cut down small aspen and pine trees and chopped away and made crude tubes that could carry the water and while I were at it cut enough for both the cold and warm water. Taking stones and mud from the creek I laid out a rough shaped water trough inside the cabin next to the fire place and then begin to join the funnels together until they both flowed into the trough in the cabin. I had also built a drain under the trough and had both water flowing down and away from the cabin but went toward where Sparkles had her garden laid out. When I had finished and Sparkles saw the fresh water flowing into the trough and then out, she hugged me and jest said; "Jake, you're the only person I ever will love or want to be with". Now that made me feel right good. Finishing that chore and my thoughts ran back to the Warm Pool and taking two lantern and Sparkles and the children we went up there to spend the day and Sparkles packed us a lunch to eat while there. Setting one lantern for them to bathe by and then lighting off the other and I made my way into the other room for my furst look see. It were a huge room and the pool were twice the size of the other one, but then the event of all events that seemed to change my life showed itself in the soft glow that lantern were putting out. For there on the far wall was the Treasure of the Cheyenne and the width of the gold buried in thet wall were wider than both my hands laid together. But seeing all that gold for the picking brought an even greater problem to me. For with the taking of the gold my family and me could live like royalty anywhere we culd choose. But to me, it would seem to be taking me away from Happy Valley and what I loved doing and whur I wanted to live… Now the thoughts ran clear that I wuld not have to worry bout the price of fur nor having money for the things that Sparkle might want, but right then it did not seem the way I wanted to live and I turned and rejoined Sparkles and Morning Light and Frank in the other room and not said anything. Later that evening after the children had gone to bed and Sparkles and me were setting at the table, I told her bout the Treasure of the Cheyenne and noticed the frown that came across her brow. She said; "Jake, I don't need treasure when I have you and the children for I don't want anything to change who or what we are". I gave her my best smile and said; "My loving wife you and the children and Happy Valley are all the treasure I need". I will only take out what we need to continue to live here and enjoy the mountains and our life together". That seemed to satisfy her and we set at the table for a long time jest holding hands and looking at each other.
Editor's note: The next several pages were the wet pages and it was very difficult to read some of the entries. Thomas did not give a lot of dates in his diary so time wise it was hard to know just what time frame he was talking about. But apparently through these particular pages several years passed. The parts I could read had one reference to the Civil War going on and another talked of the migration of settlers west. I decided not to try and add what I thought might have happened during these years and will just pick his accounts up from where I could make out the writing……………………………………..
This yaer were going to be not as good as others for some reason. For that spring, the Cheyenne sent a couple of braves to see Sparkling Water and told her that Running Horse was not well. She jest looked at me and I told her pack up and we will go back with the braves. Frank now being twelve year old could set his own pony and Morning Light rode beside Sparkles on her little pony and we took two pack animals with us. It were a long way to the Cheyenne camp but we finally arrived and the sad part was Running Horse had left this land he loved so much. Sparkles grieved for her father and went one time to the place where they had left him on the poles. Swift Deer were confirmed in the Cheyenne way as the new Chief of this band of northern Cheyenne. That gladden my heart in some ways but I jest knowed I would miss Running Horse. Sparkles did not want to leave and we stayed the whole summer with the Cheyenne. And once agin the change were coming and thur wuld be nothing nobody could do to stop it. For suddenly the lands of the Cheyenne, Souix, and the Crow were be over run with settlers coming from the east. That caused I guess from the end of thet war they had back east and the finding of gold in the Black Hills. Now the only two people that knew about the treasure of the Cheyenne thet I found were Sparkles and me, now thet Running Horse be dead. I once had tried to give Running Horse some of the gold from Happy Valley, but he never wuld take none, but jest said; "Jake, just take care of your family and nobody else". And thet were my promise to him and no body wuld ever know about the treasure of the Cheyenne from me or Sparkles…
The army of the US begin building more forts during the time we be at the camp and guess it riled the Cheyenne some whut for more invading of there home land. Swift Deer and some other braves and me did a lot of hunting that summer but there wernt no buffalo and sometime the pickens were slim from the hunts………………………………………
I sure hated to see all that coming on, but it were getting fall and I were anxious to get back to Happy Valley and guess Sparkles were too for she agreed to leave when I askt her to. So one morning we left the Cheyenne and started back to Happy Valley, jest hoping that the changes going on down in the plains wuld not be happening in our valley. Swift Deer did tell me the band wuld visit us in Happy Valley come the next spring…But I be thankful on reaching Happy Valley and it were the same. We settled down to the coming of winter and Frank helping we cut down the fire wood for the winter. I had put the tubes for the water to the cabin down a little deeper to allow for the cold of winter not to stop them from coming into the cabin. Sparkles and Morning Light spent some time at the Warm Pool and getting it ready for the winter. So things were great for the start of the winter in Happy Valley. But like I always said, change were coming…Frank and me put out a few traps jest to have something to be doing and a chance to spend time together in talking and sharing with each other. He were coming to be a mountain man like his pappy for he could set a trap as good as me…………………
Editor's note: I'm guessing a little but I think now we were in the later part of the 1860's now. For there would have been many of the changes that Jake Thomas writes about in the next several pages of his accounts. For some reason during these parts of his accounts, I too was saddened in reading them. For the life that he and Sparkles and the family had lived was changing faster than they, (I guess) were able to keep up with…..
If I use the year of 1867, that would make Jake Thomas (37 years old) and Sparkling Water would be (33 winter moons old)………………………………………………….
That winter were not a bad one, oh we had snow but it did not snow for a week like some other winters. It were still cold but jest didn't have the heavy snow and drifts to get around in. Frank and me visited the Johnson's a couple of times and they repaid our visits and would stay a few days. I wuld always take there fur and pelts down to Briskin with mine as the money we were getting on the pelts weren't much. So I wuld fill out the list they sent with me and pay with some of the gold from the Warm Pool. They never said much in getting the supplies they needed but don't really think they thought there pelts were bringing enough money to buy whut I brought back. Never had taken any of the gold out of the wall of the larger pool fer one day while bathing there I felt the stones on the bottom and scooping some up and laying them on the edge saw it were many gold nuggets too. Did not take out much but always kept a pouch full and hid it under a log at the back of the cabin. We spent a lot of time at the Warm Pool and Sparkles had fixed it up good enough we could stay the night ifn we took a notion to. Fer some reason, I had started trying to conceal the entrance and we wuld take different routes in coming in so as not to make a visible trail to the entrance. Guess maybe, the change thet were going on in the flatlands jest made me a little edgy. Guess only time I ever got angry with Frank were the time while playing stick ball (A Cheyenne game) in the house he knocked out one of Sparkles new glass windows we had brought into Briskin and put in all the windows of the cabin………………………Editor's note: Again the pages not able to read. There were sentences that I could make out but not enough to understand all that was happening to the Thomas family and Happy Valley. So skipping those pages and starting again on a readable page we find the year is 1875. Making Jake at least 45 years old and Sparkling Water, 41 winter moons…………………………..Them changes I felt coming jest kept coming and it wuld never be the same agin. The Sioux and Cheyenne had been locked in deadly battle with the US army and raised militia for several years. Treaties signed and both tribes given reservations to live on and one side or the other breaking the treaty and more fighting. The gold of the Black Hills have given rise to many gold miners and settlers coming into the plains to live. Swift Deer and his northern Cheyenne band having visited Happy Valley in the year of I believe it were 1874 wuld never return to visit Happy Valley agin. We had been bothered in the valley many times from hunters coming into the mountains after Elk as there were demand for the eye tooth of the big animal. Couple of times it looked like I wuld have to fight some of the intruders to keep them out of our valley. But so fer, a stand by Frank and me had made them all decide to leave with out any trouble. But like I been saying the changes going on were hard to keep up and I felt that our days of living and being alone were coming to a close. Sure made my heart sad to see it happen but it did anyway. Then sometime in June of 76 came word of a big battle between the Cheyenne, Sioux and the Calvary of the US army. Led by a chief of the Sioux nation named Sitting Bull and joined by the northern Cheyenne they fought the Calvary at a place called the Little Big Horn and kilt over 200 of the soldiers in the battle.
Guess that be the last effort of the Indians of the Plains and we also got the hated news that Swift Deer had been felled in the battle and had died several days later. Now I had lost my blood brother too. I jest knew that those Indians were like the ones I had fought in Texas those many years ago were jest trying to preserve a way of life for them…….
Now guess it be my turn to hold on to what I loved and where I love living. Even though we did not trap for furs or pelts none, I jest liked living in the mountains and wanted to be left alone.
The next several years wuld be hard on the Cheyenne and many wuld die from starvation and being forced to live on arid land that culd not support them. In 1877 the northern Cheyenne were forced to join the southern Cheyenne on there reservation to the south, but conditions were so bad they broke out and left only to be pursued and then were finally put on a reservation in South East Montana. The way of life they had lived came to an end the same as whut wuld happen to my family living in Happy Valley………….
The years passed swiftly and we made out alright still as we were. Frank went off to college and settled in Cheyenne, Wy. Morning Light was to meet a man in her first year of college and also leave the valley and now it jest be Sparkles and me to live there………………………………..
Then the year be 1890 and Wyoming were admitted to the states and Sparkles be 56 winter moons old and I were 60. Whur had the time gone but the love we stilled shared and the life we lived were all the two of us wanted. Over the years we had brought several cow and cattle up into the valley and now had a sizeable herd to bring fresh milk and beef to our table. Can say it were lonely with out Frank and Morning Light but they did come visit when ever they culd. Then one spring, Morning Light and her husband Jim Taylor showed up and Morning Light done brung our first grand-son. Can't ever remember being any more happy and proud less it be when Frank and Morning Light were born. And dern, ifn they had not named him Jake after his grandpa. Then a couple more years passed and we stayed busy and happy fer now we were the only two in that part of the mountains. The Johnson brothers had left several years ago for the last time.
But then came the last change, fer one day two men rode up on horses during the early part of the summer and said they be surveyors of the government. These mountains were to be part of a national preserve and no one culd live in the preserve. I jest stood there and looked at the two fer I had tried several times to claim or buy the valley but never were able to get it done. They set me a reasonable time to vacate and I thought that be ok, jest hated the thought of not being able to live whur I had been these many years. Sparkles jest said; "Jake, now we know how the Cheyenne, Souix and the Crow must have felt in losing there land". We started preparing for the move out of the valley, furst going down into Briskin and were able to find some good land to the west of the town. Bought 600 acres and had a builder from Briskin build us a house and big barn. While thet were being done, we stayed in the valley until the last. I spent some time in the Warm Pool and took out many pouches of gold nuggets and then closed off the entrance where no one wuld be able to find it agin. Frank, Morning Light and Jim came back jest before our move and helped take things that Sparkles wanted from the cabin and to help move the cattle down to our new place. But jest before leaving I put the torch to the cabin and Sparkles and me rode off and not look back at our home burning down to the ground. Be dern ifn Frank didn't take those cows right through Briskin on the way to our little ranch. The grass lands to the west of the ranch were still open country so we did not try and fence them in at thet time. The land had several stands of trees and a good running stream from out of the mountains. Our first night in the new house and Sparkles and me set on the wide front porch and looked across to the mountains where we had lived so happily and for so many years fer now it wernt our home but jest something we culd look at and have many memories………………………………….
Editor's notes and closing: There were a few more partially filled pages but apparently the move to Briskin stopped the diary and accounts of Jake Thomas. He did write about him and Sparkling Water traveling to Montana and the Cheyenne reservation to try and find any survivors of her father's (Running Horse) band of Cheyenne. But there was no mention of finding anyone still alive. His last entry just stated; "Well it sure been an exciting time all these years and guess I be happy and were glad I lived it"………….
Now my curiosity was aroused for the final chapter to be written and to know what finally happened to Jake Thomas. On the back cardboard cover of the book was a small sticker with Anna Belles Bookstore and had a phone number. I called the number and when she answered told her I had finished the account of Jake Thomas and was wondering if she knew what happened to him and Sparkling Water. Anna said; "No, I'm sorry to say but if you will give me your phone number, I'll ask around if anyone might still remember them" "It has been so long ago, I'm afraid there might not be anyone that still remembers them, but give me a few days". After a week and no call back from Anna, I called her again and she said; "Sure glad you called as I have misplaced your phone number, but what my friend at the newspaper found in the archives was this"; "Jake Thomas passed yesterday at his home outside Briskin, Wy. Mr Thomas was born in Arkansas in 1830 and died in Briskin, Wy , June 3rd, 1910. Survived by his wife of many years Sparkling Water and one son, Frank Thomas and daughter, Morning Light. Mr. Thomas had 3 grandchildren and will be buried tomorrow in a place called Happy Valley". Before I could ask, Anna said; "I'm sorry but there was no more mention of Sparkling Water or the two children in the archives and apparently no one here can say what happened to them"……………….
So with that too, I close the diary and account of Jake Thomas, just have to believe he had lived an exciting life and seen many things that we can only dream about………
Closure next………………
I hesitated in writing this chapter of Jake Thomas, but then felt, it should be told to end
and bring closure to the story. From that time in 1978, Anna Belle would always send us a Christmas card. I would always forget and have to rush down and buy one to send to her. Then in 1981 around Christmas time we received a large manila envelope from Anna. Inside was the Christmas card but there was also a long letter from the great-grandson of Jake Thomas.
Anna explained on the card that she remained curious about the family of Jake Thomas and began calling all the Thomas's in that part of Wyoming and one day hit pay dirt….
I will try to step back and as close as I can reconstruct this side of the family tree and then give the account of the letter. Jake Thomas, born 1830---Frank Thomas, born 1856---Richard Thomas, born 1898--- and then Terry Thomas, born 1925. This made the letter written by Terry Thomas as his age being 56 years old. Now for the letter I received from Anna Belle, written by Terry Thomas……………………………………………………...
Dear Mrs. Walker, I was curious as to why you were interested in the family tree of our family until you told me about the manuscript that you recently had and now no longer have. I had been told by my father that his grandfather had written about his life but the manuscript was no longer part of our family. I am certainly curious as how you came in possession of, may I say book of my great-grandfather Jake Thomas? As I told you over the phone I live in Blue Springs Wyoming and have for the last 56 years. I have two children from a previous marriage and one daughter from my present wife. I work for the state of Wyoming as a mining engineer and travel quite extensively over the state. I was certainly happy to hear from you and know the book is still in existence somewhere. For there are gaps in our family history that not only me but the rest of the Thomas family would like to know about. But putting that aside, this is what I do know and most of the information came from my father, Richard Thomas and some from my great-aunt, Morning Light who kept up correspondence with my father until her death……………
After Jake Thomas died in 1910, Sparkling Water stayed on at the ranch for four more years and then went to live with Morning Light, who was teaching school on the Cheyenne reservation. I was told that Sparkling Water made many trips back up to there Happy Valley to visit her husband. But when she left the ranch, my grand-father left his work in Cheyenne Wy. and came to the ranch to live. That was sometime in 1914 and my father, Richard Thomas was 16 years old. He always said; "I hated leaving Cheyenne to go live on that ranch outside of Briskin, but one day my father took me on a journey into the mountains and what he called Happy Valley". "He showed me the grave site of his father and where the ruins of the old cabin were and some how it made such an impression on me and I never regretted living on the ranch again". For the valley called Happy Valley was pristine and beautiful and one could not visit it and not share the memory of part of your family having lived there. My father said they would drive up to the Cheyenne reservation and visit with Sparkling Water and Morning Light a couple of times each year. Then my father told me that when he was 20 years old and in rapid succession, first Morning Light died in late 1918 and Sparkling Waters passed away in 1919 and his father (Frank) died that same year. Two generations of our family gone in such a short space of time. My father did say that before his father died from a long illness he talked about the happy times in the mountains and the Warm Pool and not suppose to know about the gold had heard enough to know it was there somewhere, The "Treasure of the Cheyenne", he called it. Then one day he showed me the vault buried in the cellar of the house and in it were still many pouches of gold nuggets that Jake Thomas had brought with him from Happy Valley. Then in 1924, my father sold the ranch for some reason, buying a smaller place and we moved to Blue Springs, Wy., and I was born in 1925. I have lived here all my life except for time spent away at college and a short stint in the service. My father, Richard, died of undiagnosed illness in 1962, and my mother, Audrey, died in 1969. That brings us to a conclusion of what I know about the Thomas family and hope this helps but I am still curious about the book of Jake Thomas and where it might be today, for I know we would love to have it back in our possession again. Any help that you could provide on this matter would certainly be appreciated………………………….
Sincerely, Terry Thomas………………………………………………………………….
Editor's note: After receiving this letter, I called Anna and told her give me a few days as I wanted to write the story in my own words, and you thought I had just written the book, and then would send her the diary and account of Jake Thomas. Now I hated to part with the original, but think anyone would have done the same and in 1982 I sent the original to Anna and she called to say that Terry Thomas had came by to pick it up and sent me a great big thank you. Heck and I thought I might have gotten one of the pouches of the "Treasure of the Cheyenne"……The End




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