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Gilbert Fosdick

The material here, except for the final item, was the source of the Buffalo Tales article published in the May-June 2002 issue. The last piece of information was received a year or two after the article was written.

Letter from Gilbert Fosdick II to his sister, Mary Fosdick Helms
(written on front and back side of stationery from “Kearney Junction_________1877”. The stationery heading is missing but a name on the left side, top half gone, seems to be “L. H. Johnson, deputy”. Since Gilbert stayed with Sheriff David Anderson and his family when he first came to Kearney, it would be reasonable to guess that this was stationery from the sheriff’s office. The letter written by David Anderson to C. W. Helms is on Sheriff’s Office stationery which confirms that Gilbert’s letter was written on the same stationery.)

sWan Lake May 18, 1877
Dear sister And Brother it is With pleasure I Wright these few lines too you hopeing it Will find you And your family enJoying Good health As it Leaves Me At present i Am Now Driving stage on the Kearney And Black hills stage line the reason I Did Not (right [inserted]) No Weather i Would stop hear or Not (i Did Not [inserted]) for it is A New route And i Did Not No What Wages they Would pay i Am Now stationed At swan Lake the lake takes its Name from the Number of Wild swans that freguents hear i Am All A lone in My tent righting this letter With A Cracker Box for My table And A sack of Corn for My Chair My Nearest Neighbor is twenty Miles on eather side of Me My Drive is twenty Miles from snake river too this Lake And Back i had some slap jacks for Breckfast And some Coffee And Backer for Desert i Am expecting the stage in _earery minute And then i Will have to go on too snake river i Was out this Morning And gatherd some Wild flowers And put them up in My tent i hope you Will excuse this short letter And paper for it is All i have Got And i Am too hundred Miles from the Nearest town in your Next Letter please too Let Me No how Gertrude Brown is Getting Along Also her folks tell Gertrude Brown that Gill often thinks of her When hee is Alone in this God for sachen Country Dear sister And Brother Not having Mutch to right At present i remain your loving Brother G. C. Fosdick Direct too Mee G. C Fosdick Cair, C. W. Dake Kearney Nebraska
Station. No. 8

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Newspaper ad - Text of an article which appeared in the Paterson, NJ newspaper shortly thereafter ---


The following explains itself, and will read with interest by those of our citizens who may have knowledge of the unfortunate young man’s antecedents:

Kearney, Neb., June 22, 1877

To the Editor of the Press:
Dear Sir, -- A young man by the name of G. C. Fordic, or L. C. Fordic, was murdered by the Indians between this place and the Black Hills, on the 18th. Day of this month, while employed as mail carrier on a station on the mail route running from Kearney Junction, Neb., to Deadwood D. T.. The above named was a young man, about twenty-three or twenty- four years of age, five feet nine inches high, light hair and beard. There was nothing found on his person by which we could ascertain the whereabouts of any of his friends, but if my memory serves me I think he told me he had a sister living in Paterson, N. J., and I think her name began with an “H”. He also told me he had been on a visit to Paterson a year or so ago, and was returning west to seek his fortune in the gold fields of this Territory. Any friend or relative of the above named can get further information by addressing the undersigned.

David Anderson,
Sheriff of Buffalo Co. Neb.

Letter on Sheriff’s Office stationery, dated July 5, 1877

Mr. C. W. Helms Esq
     354 Market St
          Paterson N. J.
               Dear Sir. Your letter of June 28th came to hand afew days ago. and in reply would say in reguard to G. C. Fosdick. that my first acquaintance with him was about the 15th of February last. he came to me for aplace to Stop over night as he was out of money – (we have agreat many of that kind to call on us in this county – and donot pretend to – or at least we cannot accommodate them all) – but I liked Dicks general appearance (we called him Dick) I took him in and Kept him untill about the 25th of April when I got him a job that he wanted very much driving Stage from here to the Black Hills. he had nothing in the Shape of property that I kno of and I cant say whether there is anything in the Shape of wages coming or not – you can find out by addressing C. W. Dake. Kearney Juncion Neb. I was very Sorry when I learned of his death as I had taken an interest in the yong man. My wife and family thought a great deal of Dick. he was always So pleasant about the House. and always in a good humer. and I think after he had Swon his wild oats as every yong man has to. he would have Setled down and made one of our very best citizens –

The Particulars about the Killing as I learned it are as follows – On the morning of his death he was told there was indians on the line and that he had better not go with the mail. but – thinking it would look cowardly on his part he sadled a mule and Started. and when last Seen alive he was about Seven miles from the mail Station – and Some distance from the road running from the Indians. The company looked for him for a week and found his body Striped and Scalped – his body was buried by Mr. Hardenburgh the agent of the road and another employee – the mule was Shot and male Sack has not been recovered. Dick was Shot through the head and Shot through the Body. his clothes and papers taken

Mr C. M. Dake is proprieter of the Stage line that imployed Dick. his address is given

Yours. David Anderson

Newspaper notice – A notice which appeared in the Paterson, NJ newspaper

A Former Patersonian Killed by the Indians

A young man named Gilbert Vosdic, who has a sister living at Sandy Mill, went out West about a year or so ago, and got a position as mail carrier on a route leading to Deadwood, D. T. Word has just been received of his death, he having been overtaken and killed by Indians while on his way over his lonely mail route. The only relative he has in this city is his sister, who is almost heart-broken over the circumstance. His father lives in Newark. Vosdic was a young man of good qualities and those who knew him here will be shocked to hear of his violent end.



Photograph Reverse side


Gallery of Art,



Gilbert C



[stamped at an angle]



Caldwell Block,

Douglas St.

Omaha, Neb.

Negatives Retained for Future Orders



From Buffalo Tales, Vol. 19, No. 5, September-October, 1996, “George Zebedee Richards, ‘A Pioneer on the Move’".

His daughter is writing about the family’s move from Kearney to the Black Hills during the gold rush days after her father, a surveyor, had surveyed the Kearney-Black Hills route.

This was an experienced pioneer family that left Kearney on May 15, 1877 and would reach Rapid City by June 20th. They left Kearney with three heavily loaded wagons, two pulled by two yoke of oxen and one pulled by two yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows. The mother, Caroline, drove a driving team and spring wagon with her four sons, ages four through ten, and her 15-year old daughter. The family was assisted in this move by two hired men and a boy.

Eldora's letter to the editor describes experiences on the trail: "My mother made enough clothing to do the family all summer and purchased enough food for a year. She also made about sixty yards of rag carpet, knowing these things would be hard to get in a new country. ...We cooked over a campfire in a Dutch oven, iron kettles, frying pans and had a small tent for the family to sleep in; killed enough game after the first hundred miles so that we had fresh meat most of the time. ...We had to stop about once a week to let the stock rest -- then mother would do the washing and bake light bread...

"We crossed the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The first morning we were on it we met the mail carrier going back on the trail, and we heard the next day that he was killed before noon by Indians. We were fortunate enough to cross the Reservation and never see any Indians, except a Frenchman's wife-a squaw man they called him."

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The following information was sent by Tom Powers ( who found it in a report of a Cavalry officer who investigated the killing of Gilbert Fosdick. [Department of the Platte, Ltrs Recv’d, Box 51; National Archives.]

29 June 1877 – Fast Thunder, High Bear and Good Voice with Charles Tackett as interpreter guided 2nd Lt., Frederick Schwatka, 3rd Cav, to the site where the body of the mail carrier Fosdick had been buried. Schwatka reports of 8 and 9 July 1877 argues that Fosdick, a driver on the Kearny-Deadwood mail route, had been killed by a white man named Hardenburg, not by Indians because he was speaking out about the regular theft of Indian ponies from the agencies. The body, when unearthed, had not been shot or scalped as described by Hardenburg, and Good Voice demonstrated that Fosdick’s mule had not been stolen but led down a canon and there shot by a man riding Hardenburg’s horse. Hardenburg and George P. Clark were arrested, but freed at Camp Sheridan for lack of evidence.


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