Scotty Philip: The open range | TSLN.com

Scotty Philip: The open range

Lonis Wendt

Cowboys seeking some entertainment set their hand at roping a grey wolf. This photo was snapped in Wyoming.

James “Scotty” Philip and wife Sally endured a few months of living in a small, primitive dugout while their log house was being built. (The dugout was located in a proximity, north of the old ranch site, and possibly beneath what is now Hwy. 14, nine miles east of Philip, SD.)

Soon after the house was completed, a second daughter, Emma, was born. Scotty and Sally vowed to take better care of this baby. The small herd of cattle they had driven to the Bad River were in excellent shape, cattle prices were high and the grass was growing.

Scotty sensed a growing animosity from scores of restless, white ranchers, who, without Indian wives, were unable to settle on the reservation or able to make use of the abundant grass. Things were soon to change on the reservation. Late in 1881, all white men living on the reservation were warned by the Indian Bureau that they must show proof of having married their Indian partner or be evicted from the reservation. Scotty and Sarah knew they had been legally married in 1879, but had never received a legal marriage license.

Being cognizant of the advantages of the allotment which allowed free, open range for as many cattle as he could accumulate, Scotty hurriedly rode the 100 miles in cold, wintery weather to the Pine Ridge Agency to request that missionary Robinson and the original two witnesses sign a form proving his marriage. All signed the Certificate of Marriage which, incorrectly, listed the marriage date as Jan. 1, 1882, rather than the actual wedding date in 1879. Nevertheless, Scotty was now legally married!

Later, in March of 1882, Scotty read another perturbing Public Notice in an old newspaper notifying all interested ranchers from several western counties to join a petition movement to, “have 45,000 square miles of grazing land within the Great Sioux Reservation opened for settlement.” The article claimed that the “opened” land would: “sustain a million head of cattle, increase wealth, bring employment and induce the railroads to build to the Black Hills.” Scotty and his neighbors knew that, “if they persisted long enough, the white man usually got what he wanted, it would be just a matter of when!”

Fortunately the Dawes Act, which was applied to every Indian Treaty after 1868, specified that three-fourths of the Indian males living on the reservation needed to sign each treaty to make it the law. Scotty felt confident that the only thing that percentage of the Indian population ever agreed on was to go to war or to hunt.

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Scotty’s growing herd of cattle, branded with a L-7 or S-7, ranged both north and south of the Bad River. His first set of steers for market were driven to Ft. Pierre, ferried across the Missouri river on the “Jim Leighton,” loaded on the train at Pierre and finally, sold in Chicago for $9.35/cwt. Scotty had never felt so rich! Without any ado, he bought several head of heifers to take advantage of the open range for as long as it lasted.

Scotty and Sally became good friends with nearby neighbors, among them: Dan Powell, a rancher living upriver a mile who, at an earlier time, helped Scotty in the hayfields near Camp Robinson and who had recently married Mary “Fanny” Charging Eagle; the Jarmin family, five miles down-river; George Waldron, another couple miles downstream; and the Louie LaPlante family, located 10 miles farther downstream. Scotty often stayed overnight at the LaPlante ranch on his trips up and down the Bad River to Ft. Pierre. Similar to his cowherd, Scotty’s own family was expanding. A third daughter, Olive, was born Dec. 3, 1883; a fourth daughter, Hazel, in early 1885; and a fifth daughter, Clara, was born in November of 1888. But still no son had seen daylight.

There were reports of huge herds of Texas cattle being driven to the grasslands north and west of the Black Hills, and that the big operators were unleashing a constant clamor for the government to open the reservation. However, like a rattlesnake, Mother Nature was about to strike! The winter of 1886-87 came early. Deep snow and minus 30 degree weather created an unprecedented disaster for area ranchers, as many, especially those without shelter or without a timbered bottom close by, suffered enormous losses. Most of the livestock were not acclimated to the fierce, freezing winds and skimpy food supply.

From this weakened condition, thousands of cattle, horses and sheep perished. The losses, often referred to as the “Big Die-up,” caused many ranchers to lose nearly everything they owned. Scotty lost most of his weaker stock, but, thanks to the thick timber around his ranch, fared better than most. Dishearteningly, it was estimated that more than 300 folks perished in these storms.

Following the nasty 1887 disaster, ranchers, for the first time, began putting up winter feed and erecting shelters where necessary. The winter of 1888 was even worse, bringing another series of blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, severe livestock losses and death to hundreds of settlers, including dozens of school children. Newspaper accounts of the day referred to the winter of 1888 as “The Children’s Blizzard,” and was the most deadly winter ever recorded in South Dakota history.

Thousands of southern cattle were lost as they could not withstand the severe cold of the northern plains. Two consecutive years of weather-related losses forced several large operators to go out of business. Besides the weather, many other news-making events of that day were shaping the future of Scotty Philip’s life on the frontier: The capitol fight between Yankton and Bismarck with its accusations of fraud; the decision of whether or not to admit a “North” and a “South” Dakota or a single state, “Dakota,” to statehood; and the first train to Rapid City from the south was welcomed by a raucous crowd on July 2, 1886. Scotty determined that, after just a single, chaotic decade, the “Iron Horse” would essentially end the era of freighting by team and wagon, surely, to never return.

For Scotty and his neighbors more bad news was spread. In February, 1889, the U.S. Congress passed the historic treaty opening the Great Sioux Reservation to white settlement. Scotty surmised that once opened, railroad tracks would be laid, bringing hordes of homesteaders, fences, town-builders and perhaps law and order to the now lawless, un-surveyed prairies. Their ranch on Sally’s allotment along the Bad River would probably be left unchanged, but the grass would have to be shared with sodbusters. Trying to protect his growing assets, Scotty, saddled up and rode to Ft. Pierre, to search out available land upon which to file when the time came. He would soon move part of his operation closer to the Missouri river. The open range, like the buffalo, was soon to disappear.

James “Scotty” Philip and wife Sally endured a few months of living in a small, primitive dugout while their log house was being built. (The dugout was located in a proximity, north of the old ranch site, and possibly beneath what is now Hwy. 14, nine miles east of Philip, SD.)

Soon after the house was completed, a second daughter, Emma, was born. Scotty and Sally vowed to take better care of this baby. The small herd of cattle they had driven to the Bad River were in excellent shape, cattle prices were high and the grass was growing.

Scotty sensed a growing animosity from scores of restless, white ranchers, who, without Indian wives, were unable to settle on the reservation or able to make use of the abundant grass. Things were soon to change on the reservation. Late in 1881, all white men living on the reservation were warned by the Indian Bureau that they must show proof of having married their Indian partner or be evicted from the reservation. Scotty and Sarah knew they had been legally married in 1879, but had never received a legal marriage license.

Being cognizant of the advantages of the allotment which allowed free, open range for as many cattle as he could accumulate, Scotty hurriedly rode the 100 miles in cold, wintery weather to the Pine Ridge Agency to request that missionary Robinson and the original two witnesses sign a form proving his marriage. All signed the Certificate of Marriage which, incorrectly, listed the marriage date as Jan. 1, 1882, rather than the actual wedding date in 1879. Nevertheless, Scotty was now legally married!

Later, in March of 1882, Scotty read another perturbing Public Notice in an old newspaper notifying all interested ranchers from several western counties to join a petition movement to, “have 45,000 square miles of grazing land within the Great Sioux Reservation opened for settlement.” The article claimed that the “opened” land would: “sustain a million head of cattle, increase wealth, bring employment and induce the railroads to build to the Black Hills.” Scotty and his neighbors knew that, “if they persisted long enough, the white man usually got what he wanted, it would be just a matter of when!”

Fortunately the Dawes Act, which was applied to every Indian Treaty after 1868, specified that three-fourths of the Indian males living on the reservation needed to sign each treaty to make it the law. Scotty felt confident that the only thing that percentage of the Indian population ever agreed on was to go to war or to hunt.

Scotty’s growing herd of cattle, branded with a L-7 or S-7, ranged both north and south of the Bad River. His first set of steers for market were driven to Ft. Pierre, ferried across the Missouri river on the “Jim Leighton,” loaded on the train at Pierre and finally, sold in Chicago for $9.35/cwt. Scotty had never felt so rich! Without any ado, he bought several head of heifers to take advantage of the open range for as long as it lasted.

Scotty and Sally became good friends with nearby neighbors, among them: Dan Powell, a rancher living upriver a mile who, at an earlier time, helped Scotty in the hayfields near Camp Robinson and who had recently married Mary “Fanny” Charging Eagle; the Jarmin family, five miles down-river; George Waldron, another couple miles downstream; and the Louie LaPlante family, located 10 miles farther downstream. Scotty often stayed overnight at the LaPlante ranch on his trips up and down the Bad River to Ft. Pierre. Similar to his cowherd, Scotty’s own family was expanding. A third daughter, Olive, was born Dec. 3, 1883; a fourth daughter, Hazel, in early 1885; and a fifth daughter, Clara, was born in November of 1888. But still no son had seen daylight.

There were reports of huge herds of Texas cattle being driven to the grasslands north and west of the Black Hills, and that the big operators were unleashing a constant clamor for the government to open the reservation. However, like a rattlesnake, Mother Nature was about to strike! The winter of 1886-87 came early. Deep snow and minus 30 degree weather created an unprecedented disaster for area ranchers, as many, especially those without shelter or without a timbered bottom close by, suffered enormous losses. Most of the livestock were not acclimated to the fierce, freezing winds and skimpy food supply.

From this weakened condition, thousands of cattle, horses and sheep perished. The losses, often referred to as the “Big Die-up,” caused many ranchers to lose nearly everything they owned. Scotty lost most of his weaker stock, but, thanks to the thick timber around his ranch, fared better than most. Dishearteningly, it was estimated that more than 300 folks perished in these storms.

Following the nasty 1887 disaster, ranchers, for the first time, began putting up winter feed and erecting shelters where necessary. The winter of 1888 was even worse, bringing another series of blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, severe livestock losses and death to hundreds of settlers, including dozens of school children. Newspaper accounts of the day referred to the winter of 1888 as “The Children’s Blizzard,” and was the most deadly winter ever recorded in South Dakota history.

Thousands of southern cattle were lost as they could not withstand the severe cold of the northern plains. Two consecutive years of weather-related losses forced several large operators to go out of business. Besides the weather, many other news-making events of that day were shaping the future of Scotty Philip’s life on the frontier: The capitol fight between Yankton and Bismarck with its accusations of fraud; the decision of whether or not to admit a “North” and a “South” Dakota or a single state, “Dakota,” to statehood; and the first train to Rapid City from the south was welcomed by a raucous crowd on July 2, 1886. Scotty determined that, after just a single, chaotic decade, the “Iron Horse” would essentially end the era of freighting by team and wagon, surely, to never return.

For Scotty and his neighbors more bad news was spread. In February, 1889, the U.S. Congress passed the historic treaty opening the Great Sioux Reservation to white settlement. Scotty surmised that once opened, railroad tracks would be laid, bringing hordes of homesteaders, fences, town-builders and perhaps law and order to the now lawless, un-surveyed prairies. Their ranch on Sally’s allotment along the Bad River would probably be left unchanged, but the grass would have to be shared with sodbusters. Trying to protect his growing assets, Scotty, saddled up and rode to Ft. Pierre, to search out available land upon which to file when the time came. He would soon move part of his operation closer to the Missouri river. The open range, like the buffalo, was soon to disappear.

James “Scotty” Philip and wife Sally endured a few months of living in a small, primitive dugout while their log house was being built. (The dugout was located in a proximity, north of the old ranch site, and possibly beneath what is now Hwy. 14, nine miles east of Philip, SD.)

Soon after the house was completed, a second daughter, Emma, was born. Scotty and Sally vowed to take better care of this baby. The small herd of cattle they had driven to the Bad River were in excellent shape, cattle prices were high and the grass was growing.

Scotty sensed a growing animosity from scores of restless, white ranchers, who, without Indian wives, were unable to settle on the reservation or able to make use of the abundant grass. Things were soon to change on the reservation. Late in 1881, all white men living on the reservation were warned by the Indian Bureau that they must show proof of having married their Indian partner or be evicted from the reservation. Scotty and Sarah knew they had been legally married in 1879, but had never received a legal marriage license.

Being cognizant of the advantages of the allotment which allowed free, open range for as many cattle as he could accumulate, Scotty hurriedly rode the 100 miles in cold, wintery weather to the Pine Ridge Agency to request that missionary Robinson and the original two witnesses sign a form proving his marriage. All signed the Certificate of Marriage which, incorrectly, listed the marriage date as Jan. 1, 1882, rather than the actual wedding date in 1879. Nevertheless, Scotty was now legally married!

Later, in March of 1882, Scotty read another perturbing Public Notice in an old newspaper notifying all interested ranchers from several western counties to join a petition movement to, “have 45,000 square miles of grazing land within the Great Sioux Reservation opened for settlement.” The article claimed that the “opened” land would: “sustain a million head of cattle, increase wealth, bring employment and induce the railroads to build to the Black Hills.” Scotty and his neighbors knew that, “if they persisted long enough, the white man usually got what he wanted, it would be just a matter of when!”

Fortunately the Dawes Act, which was applied to every Indian Treaty after 1868, specified that three-fourths of the Indian males living on the reservation needed to sign each treaty to make it the law. Scotty felt confident that the only thing that percentage of the Indian population ever agreed on was to go to war or to hunt.

Scotty’s growing herd of cattle, branded with a L-7 or S-7, ranged both north and south of the Bad River. His first set of steers for market were driven to Ft. Pierre, ferried across the Missouri river on the “Jim Leighton,” loaded on the train at Pierre and finally, sold in Chicago for $9.35/cwt. Scotty had never felt so rich! Without any ado, he bought several head of heifers to take advantage of the open range for as long as it lasted.

Scotty and Sally became good friends with nearby neighbors, among them: Dan Powell, a rancher living upriver a mile who, at an earlier time, helped Scotty in the hayfields near Camp Robinson and who had recently married Mary “Fanny” Charging Eagle; the Jarmin family, five miles down-river; George Waldron, another couple miles downstream; and the Louie LaPlante family, located 10 miles farther downstream. Scotty often stayed overnight at the LaPlante ranch on his trips up and down the Bad River to Ft. Pierre. Similar to his cowherd, Scotty’s own family was expanding. A third daughter, Olive, was born Dec. 3, 1883; a fourth daughter, Hazel, in early 1885; and a fifth daughter, Clara, was born in November of 1888. But still no son had seen daylight.

There were reports of huge herds of Texas cattle being driven to the grasslands north and west of the Black Hills, and that the big operators were unleashing a constant clamor for the government to open the reservation. However, like a rattlesnake, Mother Nature was about to strike! The winter of 1886-87 came early. Deep snow and minus 30 degree weather created an unprecedented disaster for area ranchers, as many, especially those without shelter or without a timbered bottom close by, suffered enormous losses. Most of the livestock were not acclimated to the fierce, freezing winds and skimpy food supply.

From this weakened condition, thousands of cattle, horses and sheep perished. The losses, often referred to as the “Big Die-up,” caused many ranchers to lose nearly everything they owned. Scotty lost most of his weaker stock, but, thanks to the thick timber around his ranch, fared better than most. Dishearteningly, it was estimated that more than 300 folks perished in these storms.

Following the nasty 1887 disaster, ranchers, for the first time, began putting up winter feed and erecting shelters where necessary. The winter of 1888 was even worse, bringing another series of blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, severe livestock losses and death to hundreds of settlers, including dozens of school children. Newspaper accounts of the day referred to the winter of 1888 as “The Children’s Blizzard,” and was the most deadly winter ever recorded in South Dakota history.

Thousands of southern cattle were lost as they could not withstand the severe cold of the northern plains. Two consecutive years of weather-related losses forced several large operators to go out of business. Besides the weather, many other news-making events of that day were shaping the future of Scotty Philip’s life on the frontier: The capitol fight between Yankton and Bismarck with its accusations of fraud; the decision of whether or not to admit a “North” and a “South” Dakota or a single state, “Dakota,” to statehood; and the first train to Rapid City from the south was welcomed by a raucous crowd on July 2, 1886. Scotty determined that, after just a single, chaotic decade, the “Iron Horse” would essentially end the era of freighting by team and wagon, surely, to never return.

For Scotty and his neighbors more bad news was spread. In February, 1889, the U.S. Congress passed the historic treaty opening the Great Sioux Reservation to white settlement. Scotty surmised that once opened, railroad tracks would be laid, bringing hordes of homesteaders, fences, town-builders and perhaps law and order to the now lawless, un-surveyed prairies. Their ranch on Sally’s allotment along the Bad River would probably be left unchanged, but the grass would have to be shared with sodbusters. Trying to protect his growing assets, Scotty, saddled up and rode to Ft. Pierre, to search out available land upon which to file when the time came. He would soon move part of his operation closer to the Missouri river. The open range, like the buffalo, was soon to disappear.

James “Scotty” Philip and wife Sally endured a few months of living in a small, primitive dugout while their log house was being built. (The dugout was located in a proximity, north of the old ranch site, and possibly beneath what is now Hwy. 14, nine miles east of Philip, SD.)

Soon after the house was completed, a second daughter, Emma, was born. Scotty and Sally vowed to take better care of this baby. The small herd of cattle they had driven to the Bad River were in excellent shape, cattle prices were high and the grass was growing.

Scotty sensed a growing animosity from scores of restless, white ranchers, who, without Indian wives, were unable to settle on the reservation or able to make use of the abundant grass. Things were soon to change on the reservation. Late in 1881, all white men living on the reservation were warned by the Indian Bureau that they must show proof of having married their Indian partner or be evicted from the reservation. Scotty and Sarah knew they had been legally married in 1879, but had never received a legal marriage license.

Being cognizant of the advantages of the allotment which allowed free, open range for as many cattle as he could accumulate, Scotty hurriedly rode the 100 miles in cold, wintery weather to the Pine Ridge Agency to request that missionary Robinson and the original two witnesses sign a form proving his marriage. All signed the Certificate of Marriage which, incorrectly, listed the marriage date as Jan. 1, 1882, rather than the actual wedding date in 1879. Nevertheless, Scotty was now legally married!

Later, in March of 1882, Scotty read another perturbing Public Notice in an old newspaper notifying all interested ranchers from several western counties to join a petition movement to, “have 45,000 square miles of grazing land within the Great Sioux Reservation opened for settlement.” The article claimed that the “opened” land would: “sustain a million head of cattle, increase wealth, bring employment and induce the railroads to build to the Black Hills.” Scotty and his neighbors knew that, “if they persisted long enough, the white man usually got what he wanted, it would be just a matter of when!”

Fortunately the Dawes Act, which was applied to every Indian Treaty after 1868, specified that three-fourths of the Indian males living on the reservation needed to sign each treaty to make it the law. Scotty felt confident that the only thing that percentage of the Indian population ever agreed on was to go to war or to hunt.

Scotty’s growing herd of cattle, branded with a L-7 or S-7, ranged both north and south of the Bad River. His first set of steers for market were driven to Ft. Pierre, ferried across the Missouri river on the “Jim Leighton,” loaded on the train at Pierre and finally, sold in Chicago for $9.35/cwt. Scotty had never felt so rich! Without any ado, he bought several head of heifers to take advantage of the open range for as long as it lasted.

Scotty and Sally became good friends with nearby neighbors, among them: Dan Powell, a rancher living upriver a mile who, at an earlier time, helped Scotty in the hayfields near Camp Robinson and who had recently married Mary “Fanny” Charging Eagle; the Jarmin family, five miles down-river; George Waldron, another couple miles downstream; and the Louie LaPlante family, located 10 miles farther downstream. Scotty often stayed overnight at the LaPlante ranch on his trips up and down the Bad River to Ft. Pierre. Similar to his cowherd, Scotty’s own family was expanding. A third daughter, Olive, was born Dec. 3, 1883; a fourth daughter, Hazel, in early 1885; and a fifth daughter, Clara, was born in November of 1888. But still no son had seen daylight.

There were reports of huge herds of Texas cattle being driven to the grasslands north and west of the Black Hills, and that the big operators were unleashing a constant clamor for the government to open the reservation. However, like a rattlesnake, Mother Nature was about to strike! The winter of 1886-87 came early. Deep snow and minus 30 degree weather created an unprecedented disaster for area ranchers, as many, especially those without shelter or without a timbered bottom close by, suffered enormous losses. Most of the livestock were not acclimated to the fierce, freezing winds and skimpy food supply.

From this weakened condition, thousands of cattle, horses and sheep perished. The losses, often referred to as the “Big Die-up,” caused many ranchers to lose nearly everything they owned. Scotty lost most of his weaker stock, but, thanks to the thick timber around his ranch, fared better than most. Dishearteningly, it was estimated that more than 300 folks perished in these storms.

Following the nasty 1887 disaster, ranchers, for the first time, began putting up winter feed and erecting shelters where necessary. The winter of 1888 was even worse, bringing another series of blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, severe livestock losses and death to hundreds of settlers, including dozens of school children. Newspaper accounts of the day referred to the winter of 1888 as “The Children’s Blizzard,” and was the most deadly winter ever recorded in South Dakota history.

Thousands of southern cattle were lost as they could not withstand the severe cold of the northern plains. Two consecutive years of weather-related losses forced several large operators to go out of business. Besides the weather, many other news-making events of that day were shaping the future of Scotty Philip’s life on the frontier: The capitol fight between Yankton and Bismarck with its accusations of fraud; the decision of whether or not to admit a “North” and a “South” Dakota or a single state, “Dakota,” to statehood; and the first train to Rapid City from the south was welcomed by a raucous crowd on July 2, 1886. Scotty determined that, after just a single, chaotic decade, the “Iron Horse” would essentially end the era of freighting by team and wagon, surely, to never return.

For Scotty and his neighbors more bad news was spread. In February, 1889, the U.S. Congress passed the historic treaty opening the Great Sioux Reservation to white settlement. Scotty surmised that once opened, railroad tracks would be laid, bringing hordes of homesteaders, fences, town-builders and perhaps law and order to the now lawless, un-surveyed prairies. Their ranch on Sally’s allotment along the Bad River would probably be left unchanged, but the grass would have to be shared with sodbusters. Trying to protect his growing assets, Scotty, saddled up and rode to Ft. Pierre, to search out available land upon which to file when the time came. He would soon move part of his operation closer to the Missouri river. The open range, like the buffalo, was soon to disappear.

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