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Coshocton (Ohio) Age / March 19, 1875 [Special to the Chicago Tribune.]

The Smoky Hill Massacre by Indians in Kansas
Revolting Revelations Made by the Two Girl Captives

WICHITA, KAN., March 11. — From a courier direct from the Cheyenne Agency, I get something like an accurate history of the massacre of the Germaine family on the Smoky Hill, near Sheridan Station, Kansas, September 11, 1874. The names of those massacred were: John Germaine and his wife, Stephen W., James C., and Rebecca Germaine.

The two captive young ladies, Caroline and Lizzie, aged respectively 15 and 10 years, were brought to the agency last week, and will leave there within a few days to join their younger sisters Adelaide and Lucy, who were recaptured by the soldiers last January, and are now at Fort Leavenworth.

During their six months’ captivity they endured every species of torment known to savage devils, and now return from

THE HIDEOUS EMBRACES OF THE INDIANS

forlorn and haggard in physical appearance, and mentally on the verge of insanity. Caroline, the elder of the recently released sisters, is a young lady of fine intellectual accomplishments, who still retains the traces of natural beauty. She is described by the courier as a medium sized, slender young woman, of the blonde type, with light hair and deep, expressive blue eyes. When he saw her emerge from the ambulance, she was

THE MOST FORLORN AND PITIABLE SPECTACLE

of intensified mental and physical suffering that ever human eyes gazed upon. Since her body has been in possession of the most lecherous monsters on earth, she is only a wreck of her former self. She is now enceinte, and may not be able to leave Fort Leavenworth for her home at Blue Ridge, Georgia, before her confinement.

All the terrible scenes of the revolting captivity are vividly photographed in her memory, and she declares her ability to identify, from among all the Indians she met, the nineteen savages who brutally murdered her father, mother, and three other members of the family.

THE STORY OF THE MASSACRE,

as told by the little girls, differs somewhat from the account given by this young lady. She recollects that her father and brothers were instantly shot and killed while attempting to get out of the wagon, but that her mother was murdered with an ax after repeated violations of her person. An elder sister, an invalid, was completely ravished to death by the demons, although her corpse was mutilated after death.

Four female members of the family were carried away. The two children, Adelaide and Lucy, whose recapture was related in the Chicago Tribune, fared better than Caroline and Lizzie. During the captivity of the latter they were traded from one band of Indians to another, the payment for exchange being made in ponies. At one period, when the band met a Mexican train, the elder sister made an attempt to escape, but was quickly recaptured. Subsequently, the Chief whose mistress she was tried to barter her for a number of ponies. The bargain was never consummated, but a compromise was effected under which a Mexican greaser was permitted to pass the night with her. Language is inadequate to describe

THE REVOLTING HORRORS OF THE CAPTIVITY;

suffice it to say that it was a daily and nightly succession of heartrending trials, similar to those already described.

Toward the closing weeks of their captivity, Stone Calf, into whose possession both ladies were traded, grew more humane in behavior toward them, and, with a desire no doubt to soften the recital of the ordeal through which they passed, gave them 40 buffalo robes and a number of ponies.

Immediately after the massacre on the Smoky Hill, the Indians with their prisoners made rapid flight southward, and shortly joined other bands in the region of the Staked Plains. Through all the dreary months of a rigorous winter, in bleak and desolate country, the women were exposed to hunger and thirst, besides being compelled to undergo forced marches by day and by night. It is only a miracle that they are alive and sane today. There is hardly a doubt that Medicine Water, of the Cheyenne tribe, was the Chief that commanded the massacreing party, and it is hinted that rigorous efforts will be made to punish him and all the warriors of the party.

Fragments of silk dresses and other articles of clothing, indicate that the Germaine family was well-to-do in the world.

EPILOGUE: This event came to be known as the “German Massacre” (the spelling of the family name is inconsistent) and figured in the Cheyenne revolt of the 1870s. There seems to have been some confusion regarding the girls’ given names; in one 1875 account the two younger children were called Nancy Adeline (Adelaide, or Addie) and Julia Amanda; the older girls were 18-year-old Catherine Elizabeth (recorded in other contemporary accounts as Kate or Caroline) and 13-year-old Sophia Louise (possibly the Lizzie referred to earlier, although her older sister was an Elizabeth). In 1931 Sophie, by then Sophie German Feldman, age 68 and living in Humboldt, recalled her ordeal at a meeting of the Nebraska State Historical Society, chronicled in the Lincoln Star:

The John German family was trekking from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia to the gold fields of Colorado when their wagon was set upon by a band of marauding Cheyennes in western Kansas. The attack occurred in Logan County about the middle of August, 1874. [Probably an error. An article in the previous day’s Lincoln Star gives the date of the massacre as Sept. 11, in agreement with contemporary accounts. Also the family were on their way from Kansas (not Georgia) to Colorado, having moved some years earlier from the Blue Ridge to Missouri and then to Elgin. — Dave]

Only the four youngest children survived. Besides Mrs. Feldman, they were her elder sister, Catherine, and two younger girls, Addie and Julia.

While Catherine and Sophia were carried off to the south and west by the Indians, 5-year-old Addie and Julia were left alone on the plains. Six weeks later, the two were discovered by Indian scouts and brought to camp.

“They were almost starved,” Mrs. Feldman recalls. “Their fingers were like bird claws and they were so poor I hardly knew them. They had found hackberries and pulled up blades of grass to eat the tender ends. They also found a few pieces of crackers, and some grain where soldiers had camped.

“Addie, the youngest, found a whole cracker one time when Julia was away, and ate it. Julia could hardly keep from crying.”

Soldiers pressed the Indians, however, and the tribesmen kept constantly on the move. Finally they saw they would have to give the girls up.

“They began to threaten me. Once an Indian snapped his gun at me, but it failed to go off. Catherine was older and made some friends with the Indians but the squaw who had her was rather overbearing and sometimes treated her badly. Once they shot at her.”

Chief Stone Calf, of the Cheyennes, learned later that he was to be personally responsible for the girls and made sure that they were safe. He finally induced the braves to give the girls up and to go back to their reservation.

POST-EPILOGUE: One morning in 1990, the telephone rang at the home of Sophie German’s great-granddaughter Arlene Jauken, age 60. The caller was 39-year-old John Sipes of Norman, Oklahoma.

“I’m the descendant of Medicine Water and Buffalo Calf Woman, who killed your great-great-grandparents,” he said.

Recalled Mrs. Jauken: “I didn’t need my first cup of coffee to wake me up!”

And thus the stage was set for a “peace ceremonial” held September 9, 1990, near Russell Springs, Kansas, by descendants of the Cheyenne warriors for the offspring of the slain settlers, John and Lydia German.

John Sipes characterized his great-great-grandfather as a “harsh” man living in a time of conflict but said it was Medicine Water’s wife, Buffalo Calf Woman, who drove the axe into John German’s skull, and noted that she had survived the massacre of her own family when Army volunteers killed 98 Cheyenne women and children in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado.

Mrs. Jauken: “My message will be about love and forgiveness.”

Let the healing begin.

 

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