Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fearless Females # 13 Sarah's Courage

Thank you to Lisa at The Accidental Genealogist for the great Fearless Females prompts for the month of March. Prompt # 13: Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

The following family story has been told, and retold over the years -- with a few variations -- however, the gist of the story remains the same. My historian's bent backgrounds this story, however the story of Sarah remains true to family lore.

The Shoshoni battles of the early 1860s had subsided and the Shoshoni were mostly relegated to the Indian lands near the Steen Mts. or the Warm Springs Reservation. Things were not good for the Shoshoni. Promised food was not provided; trailing herds of sheep and cattle trampled their native food, the camus; the seemingly endless swarm of emigrants had seriously depleted  the herds of deer and elk; hoplessness permeated Shoshoni lodges.

By the summer of 1868, it was fight or starve. The battle chief, Has No Horse, and one of his war chiefs, Pony Blanket, fought a blizgreg type battle. Has No Horse and his braves fought a hit and run campaign against the U.S. Army, while Pony Blanket and his braves started moving the women and children on their flight north to Canada. Has No Horse and his band hit the soldiers and ranchers all over eastern and southern Oregon -- in such a wide circle that the army could not believe it was indeed one fighting band. Even though Has No Horse tried to distract the army with his wide spread attacks, still the army hunted, followed, and fought against Pony Blanket and his band of warriors -- and women and children.

It was amidst this background, so the story goes, one of the Shoshoni braves came to my great-great grandmother's door. He had a broken arm. Great-great-grandmother Sarah, who was reputed to be part Indian, Cherokee, was well known as a healer in the area, and she set the man's arm. The result of this act of kindness was when the skirmishes were closing on their eastern Oregon ranch, Sarah was warned to take family and friends to Ft. Dalles. And so women and children, loaded into wagons, made the more than 150 mile dash to the Fort and safety.

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