WALK'S CAMP 1872-1873
A NARRATIVE BY SAMUEL DAVIS
Generously contributed to this site by Karen
Walk, email email@example.com
A Narrative of Samuel Davis about his experiences at
Walks Camp, Lincoln County, Colorado in the winter of
1872-73. John J. and Martin Walk are brothers, their wives
are sisters and daughters of Samuel Davis. Ephraim,
Anderson, Orbena, James and Hiram are all brothers and sons
of the writer Samuel Davis. William Moore is also a
son-in-law. There are a few notations from Jackie Held.
I was raised to farming in Western Pennsylvania,
near Braddocks Field. On that battleground I have been
often. I moved to (what is now West) Virginia, and
resided some years near Sistersville. I have also boated
on the Ohio River. Some years ago I moved to Pike County,
Missouri, but have lived several years near Middletown,
in Montgomery County. Many interesting incidents and
adventures during the sixty years of my life might be
related, but I will ---- myself with a brief account of
my visit to Colorado in the fall and winter of
On my invitation to visit my children living in Colorado,
I made arrangements to accept it, and on the 22nd of
Oct., 1872 I started for River Bend, in Colorado, on the
Kansas-Pacific Railroad, and arrived there on the 25th,
being only three days out; having traveled 800 miles,
some of it over as beautiful country as one could wish to
see; but it will require many years to improve it, and
fully test its real value for agricultural purposes.
On my arrival, I met only W.M. Moore, a son-in-law, who
was keeping a boardinghouse. Ephraim K. Davis and John
Walk were at Hugo, 20 miles east on a hunt. They shipped
their game from Hugo to Orbena Davis at Denver, where he
had gone to sell for them.
I telegraphed to Hugo, asking if the boys were there.
The operator asked, Do you wish to know if they are
They are; what shall I tell them?
Samuel Davis is at the Bend.
Ephraim wrote by that evening mail, desiring me to come
down and go hunting with them.
After three days Hiram Davis and Martin V. Walk came down
from Pueblo, 90 miles from River Bend, to join the
others; Hiram and Anderson Davis, Martin V. Walk and
myself went down to Hugo in Hirams spring-wagon, drawn by
his fine match span of California ponies which he was
just breaking. There were spry, so we let them have a
Arrived at Hugo but the boys were out hunting. On
reaching their camp 10 miles out, we found some hides and
two dogs, but no person. Following their wagon travel, we
came to their 2nd camp about miles farther Ephraim,
finding Dutch George, (a young butcher they had hired,)
and a team of horses, but the boys were out hunting. They
came in some 2 or 3 hours afterward, in good spirits, but
desperate-looking, being covered with blood and dirt.
Dined about 3 p.m., and all went out to haul in the
game-5 buffalo killed that day.
Nov. 2 Game being rather scarce in this section, we moved
about 10 miles northward, over fine rolling prairie,
killing three rattlesnakes on the way. It was a
delightful day. At night we camped by a fine natural pond
of good water. Here we gathered sufficient buffalo chips
and small willows to make a good fire: other fuel rather
scarce. About an inch of snow fell during the night, but
we lodged in a comfortable tent.
Nov. 3 As game was scarce here, we set out for Hugo this
morning. As Anderson and Martin wanted to have a chase
with their horses, they took their guns and loped off.
They soon overtook two buffalo, one which Anderson shot,
but Martin V. ran his some distance. It finally circled
back to the dead one. We soon drove up with our wagons,
and Anderson rode up, saying, Father, I know you want
to have it said, when you go back, that you killed a
buffalo while out here.
Yes, I do.
Well, heres my gun, take it and shoot him, but dont go
too nigh him, as he is very angry, he might run at
I replied, I can beat him running to the wagon,
I took the gun and fired, being about 30 yards from the
animal. He didnt seem to mind it. Martin ran up, saying,
Here, take my gun and try him. I did so: he
staggered and fell.
After the deed was done, I said, Boys, this is Sunday
and it is not right; but I have been rather crowded into
it by you.
I measured the one I shot, and found it ten feet from the
tip of the nose to the root of the tail. We did not skin
them, but cut off the hind quarters and left the
The sun being low and our horses suffering for water, we
had to strike out for some place for water and camping.
Being only about 8 miles from Hugo, we made that place,
and camped in a good earth cave that had been made by
some soldiers formerly stationed there. It was a
comfortable place. Next day (Nov. 4) we returned to River
Bend, where we met Orbena who had returned from Denver,
where he had sold over $300s worth of buffalo meat,
selling at 4 @5 cents a lb.; but it came down to 2 cents
a lb., so he closed out and came home.
After a few days, Martin & John W. Walk, Hiram and
Orbena Davis, and self, took our wagons and struck for
Pueblo, about 90 miles distant, S.W. We passed thro a
beautiful prairie country having some excellent farming
land in it. In Bijou Basin were some half dozen fine
little farms and springs of running water. This is
probably 30 miles east of Pikes Peak, which we passed the
In the morning Dutch called our attention to a cloud on
the Peak. It was like a belt round its middle, as both
top and base were visible. The cloud seemed descending,
and finally settled so that coming up, we drove through
it as thro a dark, dense fog. It was quite dark and
chilly, and the air frosty. It was a strange sight to me.
He said it was about two miles from the mountain.
We now came to a little stream called Fountain River,
formed altogether by springs from the Peak. Small but
constantly flowing, it affords sufficient water for the
farmers to irrigate their lands. We kept down this stream
to Pueblo, where it enters the Arkansas River.
After a few days, John and I went in his wagon southward
54 miles, to see my son James, where Johns wife (Emmaline
Davis Walk) was on a visit. We passed through some
farming country, having some small farms on the little
streams where they could irrigate. Arrived at Jamess next
morning, finding all well but himself, he had a
I remained here two weeks, but John and his wife returned
in a few days.
James lives about 18 miles from Spanish mountain, up
which I expressed a desire to go, but he said it would be
very unpleasant, as the snow always made it disagreeable
at that season of the year.
I could not enjoy this visit as well as I wished, as the
neighbors used the Spanish language, which I could not
understand. My little grandson, Samuel, could understand
and speak some Spanish, and he is only five years
This is on Chatarras River, a fine small stream of clear
water constantly running from Spanish mountain. Fine
farming could be done here; for the Mexicans are
generally poor farmers and work but little, yet receive
good return for all their labor. They generally enjoy
themselves, and have one or two social dances every week
in their little town. James and John and their wives were
invited to one. James could not go, but curiosity led me
to go in his place. The ladies were decently dressed, but
the men very slovenly in attire generally in their dirty
clothes. This slovenliness made John unwilling for
(Seems that a couple pages are missing at this point.
The houses are made of adobe or sun dried brick.
Their brick are larger than ours. They make very
comfortable, but rather rough-looking houses. They are
built about 8 or 9 beet high, and covered with plank and
Nov. About 8 oclock this evening I started in a stage for
River Bend, traveling 20 miles to Johnson station, where
(on Saturday, 30) I changed and took passage in a
carriage to Pueblo with the road Agent, distance about 30
As I expected to take the Narrow-gauge R. R. northward to
Denver, 120 miles, I had to lay over on Sunday, as no
trains ran on that day. (An excellent arrangement that
all hands may rest.)
Monday, Dec. 2 At 8 oclock we left Pueblo to Denver,
running up the west side of Fountain River to the
mountain chain of Pikes Peak. After crossing the ridge,
we went down cherry creek sixty miles, arriving at Denver
just after dark, having passed through fine mountain
scenery. The red and brown rocks, and patches of snow on
the mountainsides, showing thro the green pines, afforded
a delightful view, very agreeable to the eye.
There is some apparently fine farming land along this
route. Wheat is the staple grain of the country. But with
good soil & a delightful climate, it can not be a
good farming country unless the seasons change so they
can have rain as in the States. However, it is a good
grazing country, and thousands of cattle are being
brought in from Texas and other places, and seem to do
(By planting forest trees freely over these plains, as
has been done in Lower Egypt, and along the Suez Canal, a
very great change might possibly take place, and rains
come in sufficient quantity to meet the requirements of
the agriculturist, and the land yet blossom as the
I remained in Denver one day to view the city, and do say
it is a fine place, the only place I saw from the time of
leaving home, for which I would desire to live. It is
about eighteen miles east of a chain of mountains,
apparently very delightful and seemingly only 2 or 3
miles off. In this mountain there is plenty of silver,
and many miners are constantly engaged in collecting it,
- daily loading a car with the silver-bearing quartz, and
sending it east.
Denver is a beautiful town, extending about 2 miles along
the R. R., with plenty of room to grow in every direction
except west; in this direction it is only 18 miles to the
mountains; in all others as far as the limit of vision,
which is the blending of the cedars and pines on the far
distant mountains with the sky. Occasionally, clumps of
trees may be seen on the high prairies, but these would
not prevent they would rather aid in the extension of the
city. Nineveh or Babylon of old was not so extensive or
grand as Denver has room to be, excepting a grand
Euphrates to pass thru it to water it. Their fuel is
principally coal from the mountains, where it abounds in
large quantities and of excellent quality.
At 8 oclock in the evening, (Dec. 3,) I took the train on
the Kansas Pacific R. R., for River Bend, where I arrived
after a delightful four hours ride, finding all well
except Martins child, which was very sick.
A doctor from Denver came down on the same train, but I
did not know it until we got off at the Bend and he
walked with me up to Wm. Moores, 200 yards from the
station. Anderson had a horse ready saddled to take him
to John Walks. The child was not expected to live at the
time of telegraphing for the doctor. (That is their way
of sending for the doctor here, and the Iron Horse brings
him.) He administered some medicine, and it soon began to
Martin and John Walk and Ephraim Davis were at this time
out on a hunt, and knew not that the child was seriously
ill. Wm. Moore went for Martin Walk the next day, but did
not find him and also got lost; but in wandering round he
found one of their camps, bundled up in buffalo skins,
staid till next morning and returned not in a very good
humor, after a poor nights rest.
He jumped on the horse immediately, struck back, and
brought Martin in the same evening. He did not hunt any
more for some time, but Ephraim, John and Dutch George
kept it up.
About this time Ephraim and John went out for a brag days
hunt, each taking a direction that would not bring him in
the others way. They found their droves. Ephraim killed
23, and returned to camp; John killed 24, but had to
remain out all night, (which was quite cold,) saying,
when he came in next morning, that he had to keep moving
about all night to keep from freezing, holding his horse
with one hand, and his gun in the other. Ephraim was
somewhat uneasy, lest the Indians had got him; but after
he came in, laughed at him, saying, I believe you killed
some of those buffalo last night, is what kept you out;
but that kind of count wont do me. Being tired and
hungry, he did not reply, but hastened to his breakfast.
After gathering in their hides and meat, and putting
things to rights, Ephraim came to River Bend for
horse-feed, and some provisions. This was Dec. 15.
On the 17 of Dec., I went out with him to their camp
about 30 miles off. As we passed Cedar Point, - 7 miles
out we collected and took with us some pine limbs for
fire in camp. This made quite a heavy load, and we were
benighted before reaching camp. Not knowing how far we
had driven before dark, we could not determine how soon
we should strike camp. I asked Ephraim if he was going
the right direction. He said, I believe so; and walking
ahead, I drove after him. After a while he halted and
fired his gun, hoping to get an answer from camp; but no
response. I referred to a dark cloud, supposed to be in
the N.E., asking in what direction he thought the camp
from it. He said, toward the west end of it. I observed a
star --- that end of the cloud, and I watched it as I
drove along, so as to keep the direction in which we
supposed the camp to lie. Traveling a mile farther, he
fired two more rounds, but without response. Still we
moved on as nearly in the direction of the star as the
several ravines we had to cross would permit. We stopped
near a ravine, and I proposed striking fire and waiting
till morning, but he said, No, it is too cold; but we may
strike a fire and wait till the moon rises; and while you
start a fire I will go to the top of the hill and fire a
couple of rounds, for I think we must be near the camp.
He did so, and his second discharge was answered. He
returned, we smothered our fire, and drove over to camp,
probably one-half mile from the place he fired the last
time. Found all right. It was about 10 o clock. Ephraim
seems almost as successful in navigating the plains as
Kit Carson, for in his four years experience, I have
never heard of his being lost. John Walk is a good
hunter, but gives up to Ephraim.
On the morning of Dec. 18, Ephraim said he would take me
where we could find some buffalo. We went westward and
John Walk and Dutch George went eastward. We killed five
and saw many more. We did not follow, but returned to
camp, - 2 or 3 miles. Of the other party, John said he
killed 15, but George didnt know whether he had killed
any or not, but he had shot one. They had a rather funny
incident: - John wounded a buffalo and sent George to
kill it. When near enough, he dismounted to shoot, and
the buffalo made at him. He dropped his gun, lost his
hat, in jumping on his mule fell over its head, and if
the buffalo had not become alarmed at this antic and
stopped, it could have caught him. This saved him. George
is a good butcher but a poor marksman.
Next day, Dec. 19, we went and skinned the 15 John had
killed. They were somewhat frozen. Whilst thus engaged,
several buffalo came in sight: Ephraim took his gun, went
over the point, and shot 5, which we left till the next
day, when John and myself went to skin them whilst
Ephraim and George went for the five killed on Wednesday
---- but they found them frozen so they only cut off the
hind quarters, loaded them into the wagon, and returned
to camp. Cold increased, and some snow was falling so we
concluded after eating some, to prepare for home, lest we
should be caught in a storm. As we had no wood, and
buffalo chips were scarce, we were not very well prepared
for such an event.
As we started homeward, I cast my eyes northward and saw
three or four large herds of buffalo feeding leisurely
along, but we had to turn our backs on them, as the snow
We drove in a S.W. direction for about 10 miles, as we
supposed, to find water in the ravine where we had
stopped, but found none; so we were obliged to do without
supper that night for want of water, and a small pine
stick about two feet long made all the fire we had in our
camp for the night. For want of wood and water we had to
do without breakfast next morning (Dec. 21). It was
severely cold, and snowing a little. After hitching up,
Ephraim asked if I would drive.
I will if you will bundle me up with robes and blankets.
This he did and marched ahead while Dutch George and I
drove the wagons. The winds were very tart and the cold
sufficient intense to frost our whiskers. We arrived at
River Bend about 3 oclock that day Saturday, Dec. 21,
having a good appetite after our long fast. The girls
soon prepared us a good dinner, and we very much relished
the buffalo and antelope sausage, which is a common
article of diet in this region. The boys were now tired
of hunting and thought they would quit for the
On Christmas day I went out with Orbena and Anderson on
an antelope hunt. We fell in with an old gentleman from
Mo., who had stopped at the Bend to buy up meat. He had
an old muzzleloader. We didnt hunt much, but looked
about, and spent the time talking. The boys had gone on.
Finally we returned and they came in at night, bringing
eleven antelopes in their horse-cart, which they had
rigged up themselves for hauling in their game. This
gentleman bargained to buy all their antelope saddles at
5 cents a pound, wishing, as he had but small capital, to
pay for it as he received remittances on his shipments.
They said they didnt do a credit business with strangers.
He bought several lots, paying cash; but finally they
sold him a lot on his promise to pay in a few days; but
he failed to come to time, and left for another station.
Here they afterward met with him, asked for their pay,
and were answered, I have no money to pay with. They said
he must go to the Bend with them. Rather than do that he
suddenly found that he had money enough to pay them
Their average, while hunting was about 10 a day. They
killed some 400 noting to go to so far as the R. R. for
antelope as the others had for buffalo.
I went out the other day with Anderson and Orbena on an
antelope hunt. When we came to sight of a flock, we
unhitched our horses and crept cautiously along toward
it. It was feeding up a slope toward us. When near enough
Anderson said, Make ready. We rose, counted one, two,
three. And all pulled. My piece missed fire, the others
did not hit, but before the flock was out of reach they
brought down two and crippled a third; this their
greyhound caught after a splendid chase.
The same day as were walking over the prairie, a
jackrabbit jumped up about thirty yards from us. The dog
started, Anderson hallooed to stop him, but he made no
halt. I said, Let him run, I want to see the chase. It
was a nice rising prairie, and I could see him a long
way. Probably a mile off he ran over the rise out of
sight a little while but I could soon see him again
running southward, but did not think he gained on it.
Anderson thought he would catch it going down the other
slope, as he could run faster down hill and it not so
fast. A dark cloud of weeds could be seen in the
distance: should it reach that, he could not catch it as
he ran altogether by sight. The rabbit was invisible to
us. The dog being somewhat foot sore running over cactus
on the prairie when after antelope, failed to catch the
rabbit. He came back and Anderson whipped him, as I
though rather severely, for running without bidding. We
gathered up our game and returned to the Bend.
After the holidays were over, the boys having enjoyed
high living and rest, began to talk of another hunt; so
Ephraim, Martin, and John went back about 20 miles N. E.
and built a fine camp, dug in the ground and well covered
with small poles and dirt, so as to make it warm and
comfortable. Having finished their camp, John came in
with his team for horse feed and asked me to go out with
him, as the weather was pleasant. I went. This was about
the 7th of Jan. 1873.
This is a big prairie country but water is scarce, very
little rain falls and most of the streams from mountains
sink in their beds early in the summer.
While Ephraim and Martin were building a meat house, on
the 9th John and I went about 9 miles eastward from camp,
looking for buffalo but saw none. We however saw a gang
of antelope, on which we fired and shot one, the skin of
which I brought home with me. Finding no more game we
returned to the camp. As we rode up, Ephraim said, Ah!
Boys, you have no blood on your hands, you have killed no
Nothing but this antelope.
Jan. 10 Leaving Ephraim and Martin still engaged on
their place for salting and drying, we hitched up the
mule team, took our guns and saddles to be ready for an
emergency, and went some 6 or 8 miles down the dry stream
on which we were encamped, to bring in the hides and meat
of game killed some days before. Just as we finished
leading, John looked westward, spied a herd of buffalo
quickly feeding. We unharnessed and saddled our mules,
took our guns, mounted, and rode toward it. Halting, we
found the wind toward the buffalo, so we changed our
position to avoid discovery, for should they scent us,
they would quickly take to flight.
In circling to the east of them, we rode by a herd of
antelope, of which I counted 55 near enough to be shot,
but durst not shoot lest we should affright the buffalo.
Riding as near the buffalo as we deemed prudent, we
dismounted, tied our mules, and crept slowly forward down
a ravine, sometimes having to slide on our belly snake
fashion, to prevent their seeing us, John being 4 or 5
yards ahead of me. While moving on in this way my gun was
accidentally discharged by some grass catching on the
cock. This alarmed him and the buffalo. He looked back
and asked, In what direction was your muzzle?
Dont be alarmed, Johnnie, as I never carry the muzzle of
my gun toward a person, even when empty.
We had to lie still for sometime, as they moved off
slowly in the direction they had come down, and we had to
go back as we came until we reached the top of the slope
on the other side of which they went up. We aimed to meet
them at the top of the little ridge. It was hard work,
boys, but we made the desired point. When we rose up they
had scented us and were turning off a little, but were
near enough to us to fire on them. John killed one and I
hit another so that after running near 200 yards it
staggered and fell. As John could load much faster than
I, he ran on and wounded two more, which he got
afterward. We had to be very expeditious just now to get
to our mules. We ran, each carrying a heavy gun, mounted
our mules and rode hard for some two miles along the side
of the little ridge in order to get ahead of the herd.
When we were on the other side, John asked me to hold the
mules, while he crept nearer to bring down the leader.
Being tired, I was willing to rest. I tied their bridles
together and sat down on a prairie dog mound. While
sitting here, I could see grasshoppers jumping round
quite actively as on a midsummer day. This was a curious
site to me on the 10th of January. It was a warm pleasant
day, and I was sweating freely after such hard exercise.
He finally got ahead of them, and was near a mile off
when I heard his gun two or three times and started
toward him. Getting in sight I saw him on his knees
loading and firing. I tied the mules and thought I would
join in the sport, but John saw me start and beckoned for
me to stay, lest I should affright the buffaloes which
were standing still, then I, feeling like a bound boy at
a husking bee, sat with loaded gun in hand, looking at
him shooting the buffaloes. He shot eleven in a space
less than an acre of ground, but only crippled the last
one. I ran up caught it, threw it down and cut its
throat, saying, You shall not have it to say that you
killed all of them. He was in quite a sweat from his
great exertion and excitement. I was obliged to laugh
some. It was now 3 oclock and we had killed 17 buffaloes
since 11 a.m. John said, No time to skin them but we
will gut and leave them until tomorrow, then return and
By the time we had finished this job the sun was near
setting. We had to go about two miles north to our wagon,
which, as I said before, was loaded with meat and hides.
We drove for camp, but were out so late that the boys
began to think the Indians had taken us, or that we were
lost, but rather supposing the latter, they built a fire
on some high ground, making quite a blaze which we saw
about 5 miles distant. To let them know we saw it we
fired one of our sharpshooters.
Having a heavy load, we experienced considerable
difficulty in driving across and around ravines, but
reached camp all right at 10 oclock.
The anecdotes of the day, while we were engaged, some
rendering tallow, some running bullets, all being
occupied, furnished us with entertainment till we were
ready for bed. Our room was very comfortable and well
furnished with robes and blankets.
Jan. 11 Hitching up two teams, all four went out to skin
and bring in our game which, as before stated, was some
10 miles east from camp on the same dry stream.
As we had suffered for water the day before, we took a
keg of water with us, but were very much disappointed on
going for a drink to find our keg empty. In crossing a
ravine it turned over, let water out and we had to do
without all day. Soon after this we came upon some snow
on north side of bank and I lay down and licked up some,
which relieved but got nearly as much dirt as snow.
The bed of this stream is probably 26 to 50 yards wide
and is filled with gravel all sizes and colors and is
some 34 ft. deep as I saw from holes made by a person
digging for water. The reflection of sunlight upon gravel
was very brilliant as from glass of all hues of color.
While Ephraim and John were out after a buffalo and
antelope, I picked up about 100 different specimens of
pebble and put them in my pocket to bring home. After
they killed the game, we drove with the wagon and got it.
Soon we came to those we had killed the day before, and
commenced our work of, skinning them. This made us a big
days work, and heavy loads for our teams; - one antelope
and the hides and meat of 18 buffaloes over 3000 lb., and
it was almost sundown when we were ready to start for
camp, where we arrived about 10 o clock; all right but
A drink of good water was very refreshing after doing
without all day, having had only a little ice, which we
found in some sheltered places, and by which our thirst
had been somewhat relieved. A cup of good coffee, with
antelope ham and good bread and vegetables, made us an
excellent supper. The boys are good cooks and bakers.
Jan. 12 Sunday. Leaving Martin and Ephraim at camp, John
and I set out for the Bend. He was to take back a load of
horse-feed and some salt. As we drove quite fast, my
valise was lost off the wagon, and we had gone some
distance before missing it. I wished to go back for it
but John said No, I can find it tomorrow as I go
After getting to the Bend I concluded to return home,
and asked Orbena to ride out and bring back my valise. He
willingly went, but did not find it, and I supposed the
wolves had carried it off. The day (Monday) was very
severe, on account of a cold wind, and some snow was
falling. He returned Tuesday, and I prepared to come home
without my valise.
As Orbena was going to camp looking for my valise, he met
Ephraim after a troop of wild horses, one of which he
shot, causing it to fall but breaking no bones. Orbena
rode up and threw a lasso over its head and took it back
to camp. Since coming back home I have been informed that
I enjoyed myself excellently all the time of my visit and
should like very much to take another and be able to tell
you more about the country through which I should travel.
The boys enjoy themselves as well as they ever will in
this world, - having good guns, good dogs, good horses,
and can go hunting whenever they please, and rest when
If I have made any mistakes in this, it was not
intentional, and if I can ever visit that country again
and go on the mountains, I will be able to give better
information of things and scenes.
My pretty pebbles were in my valise, which, I have
learned since coming home has been found.
Wednesday, June 16, 1873, I took the cars for home
bringing with me the skin of one buffalo (the one I
caught and killed with the antelope, one wolf ----
jackrabbits, and three prairie dogs showing samples of
I arrived home on the 18th, having had a pleasant ride
and a tolerably plain view of the prairie country for
200-300 miles seeing no timber until near Kansas.
Now, patient readers the old Pennsylvanian has finished
his narrative, wishes you a prosperous life-journey, and
bows himself out.