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Ioway Cultural Institute : History :
General History

1834 Blacksnake Hills Iowa's Village and Trading Locations

From the 1834-35 Journal of John Dunbar. Contributed by Susan K. Suttle White

Missionary John Dunbar was on his way by horseback from Cantonment Leavenworth in present day Kansas to the Agency near Bellvue, present day Nebraska, but traveling on the east side of the Missouri river, through the Iowa's Reserve, by 1837 called the Platte Purchase. Joseph Roubidoux had located his trading house on Blacksnake Creek in 1827, being a mile south of Jean Baptiste Roy's trading house located on Roy's Branch before 1826, both were traders on the upper Missouri as early as about 1810. Both trading houses are located so close to the Missouri River that the Ioways location of "5 miles" distant must be to the east, and perhaps a little south, "not to be seen from the route we traveled."

Journal of John Dunbar 1834-1835, excerpt Sept. 22-25, 1834 "September 22, [1834] Near night rode down to the Cantonment, crossed the Missouri, and took lodgings for the night at the house of the ferryman. Here I found Mr. Merrill, who had determined to pass up to the agency on the north [or east] side of the Missouri. Our company consisted of four persons, Mr. M. myself, Mr. O'Neil, (assistant Otoe blacksmith) and a young Delaware woman, who was going up to live in Mr. M's. family. This young woman is a member of the baptist church, and a descendent of "Brainerd's church members."

"September 23, [1834] About 10 this morning we set forward on our journey. Our route to day lay through a fertile and finely timbered country. Toward night we passed a camp of Delaware Indians. They had come to this place for the purpose of killing deer and other game. They invited us to stop with them during the night, but having made little progress to day, we thought proper to decline their invitation. They had killed plenty of venison, and kindly furnished us with a savory piece. We continued our journey till night and pitched our tent in the forest."

"September 24, [1834] This morning it rained quite fast, and we did not leave our encampment, till 10, when the rain ceased. The former part of this day's route lay through a fine forest. We at length emerged from the dense woodland and entered the open prairie, -- passed the Sac village which was now without inhabitant, the Indians being out on their autumnal hunt. After passing the village our way wound through the high bluffs, till we came down on the Missouri bottoms, which for some distance above are exceedingly rich and beautiful. Our trail now led along the rising ground next the bluff, from which we had a fine view of the prairie bottom off to the left. It was dark before we arrived at Roubidou's trading house at the Black Snake hills. The village of the Ioways is about 5 miles from the trading house, but is not to be seen from the route we travelled. At this establishment we passed the night."

"September 25, [1834] A Young Ioway accompanied us as guide from the trading house. About a mile from Roubidou's we passed Roy's trading house. The former part of the day we kept down on the bottom, sometimes very near the stream. The latter part of the day our course diverged from the Missouri, and led over more elevated ground. The whole of this day's journey was through forest. About sunset we crossed the Nodaway, and encamped on its bank. The fording of this stream was good, the banks were neither steep nor miry, and the water was not deep."

Excerpt above from Kansas Historical Collections, 1915-1918, Vol.XIV pages 592-3, Chpt. "Letters Concerning The Presbyterian Mission in the Pawnee Country, Near Bellvue, Neb., 1831-1849," pages 570-784, Journal of John Dunbar, completed and sent May 27, 1835, addressed to Rev. David Green, Missionary Rooms, Boston, Mass., pages 578-619.

Contributed by Susan K. Suttle White

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