LETTERS FROM THE RANCH

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Dear Friends,

Just a few more notes on my stay at the Collum Creek School (camping there with my friend, Mrs. Keller -- who was the school's teacher).

First off, Clyde, you asked how Collum Creek got its name. That was the name of the first white settler in that area (a freighter who in 1874 built his cabin by a good spring near the creek which became known as "Collum Creek.") We assumed that the cabin which is now used for the "Collum Creek School" is that same cabin.

We understand that there are still Collum descendants living in the area -- though we haven't met any of them.

You are no doubt wondering why Collum wasn't killed by the Indians at the time of the Meeker Massacre and the defeat of Thornburg's command -- in September 1879 -- when all of the freighters accompanying Thornburg were killed.

Collum had been to the White River Indian Agency and had recognized the precarious position of the Indian agent (Nathan Meeker). Meeker had told Collum that he felt his life was in danger and that he loaded his family in a wagon and had attempted to leave the agency -- but had been intercepted by Indians who forced him to return to the agency.

Meeker was almost delirious and had told Collum that he had sent a request to Fort Steele for military aid. Collum felt certain that bringing a military force onto the reservation would turn the Indians' resentment of Meeker into all-out rage! Collum also knew that the more guns the Indians got possession of -- the more hazardous were the prospects for any and all Whites in the entire area. Collum left the White River Agency, "post haste," bent on collecting (if possible) enough guns to fill his wagon box.

At his cabin (near Axial), Collum exchanged his tired horses for a fresh team, and gathered enough emergency rations to last for a week or 10 days -- and hurried on toward Rawlins. At the Perkins trading post (where his trail crossed Little Snake River) Collum found a large number of new rifles -- although Perkins told him he had already traded the Indians enough new rifles and ammunition to "stand off" a fair-sized army!

Continuing on to Rawlins, Collum learned Major Thornburg and his company of cavalry had (the day before) departed for White River -- from Fort Steele.

The Thornburg and Meeker Massacre are another story (and another letter). I'll try to get back to Collum Creek with my next writing. 'Til then,

Sincerely,

Anna

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