Copybook of James McLaughlin, U.S.Indian Agent, Devils Lake Agency, Fort Totten, N.D, (Section Three of Eight Sections) February 3, 1877 to March 31, 1877, Original Material, First Time Published

This is Section Three of Eight Sections…The Third Batch (53 Letters)  of 493 Devils Lake Copybook Letters. 

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This copybook encompasses all the official letters written by Indian Agent, James McLaughlin, during this time frame.  It is the closest one can come to a diary of daily life at Devils Lake 1876-1878 (albeit from a white man’s perspective)

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Originals of this Material were Donated to National Archives November 2005, as requested, since it was stated that these letters had been written “on government time,”  hence they did not belong in private hands.

As copies of the letters are posted the index item will be highlighted.  Subject Matter of Letters deemed important will also be highlighted.  All letters in this copybook are included (no matter how routine sounding).

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February 1877

Letter No. 127, Feb. 3, Routine paperwork.

Letter No. 128, Feb. 3, An appeal to Catholic Church for assistance in keeping the Indian School open.

Letter No. 129, Feb. 3, Increasing pressure to keep Catholic Indian School open.

Letter No. 130, Feb. 6, Argument for better flour rather than switching Indians to “hard bread.”

Letter No. 131, Feb. 10, We will run out of pork in six weeks.

Letter No. 132, Feb. 10, Routine payment.

Letter No. 133, Feb. 10, Employees clothing order.

Letter No. 134, Feb. 10, Nine bad barrels of pork.

Letter No. 135, Feb. 10, Appointment of Indian Trader.

Letter No. 136, Feb. 16, Evil influence of Medicine Dance.

Letter No. 137, Feb. 17, Need ‘Fulfilling Treaty Funds’ as incentives.

Letter No. 138, Feb. 17, Need to replace burst water pump before Spring.

Letter No. 139, Feb. 17, Medicine Dance wanderers.

Letter No. 140,  Feb. 17, Congratulations to a winning candidate.

Letter No. 141, Feb. 17, Asking General Sibley to help this Agency from being closed down and to help the Sisters reinstate their school or they will have to leave.

Letter No. 142, Letter No. 127, Feb. 21, My predecessor did not leave any papers or letters.

Letter No. 143, Letter No. 127, Feb. 24, Printer’s fees in dispute.

Letter No. 144, Letter No. 127, Feb. 24, Record of Indians staying and passing through this Reservations since Custer Fight.

Letter No. 145-148, Feb. 24, Four letters requesting bids on seeds.

Letter No. 149, Feb. 27, Ordering supplies for fiscal year ending June 30th, 1878.  Much detail on populations and needs of the Reservation.

March 1877

Letter No. 150, Mar. 1, Need to survey and create wood lots.  Indians are extremely ambitions.

Letter No. 151-154, Mar. 3, Four routine letters.

Letter No. 155, Mar. 9, Requesting help in convincing Hon. Com. of needs to survey Reservation and continuance of the School.

Letter No. 156-160, Mar. 10-17, Five routine letters ordering seeds.

Letter No. 161, Mar. 17, I can do a better job of contracting for livestock than current practices.

Letter No. 162-169, Mar. 17, Eight letters regarding bids on livestock, seeds, etc.

Letter No. 170, Mar. 24, Exchanging news with Sisseton Agency Agent.

Letter No. 171, Mar. 24, What do I do with rotten pork?

Letter No. 172, Mar. 28, Want to make issues to the Indians every two weeks rather than weekly.

Letter No. 173, Mar. 30, Get rid of damaged pork before the hot weather sets in.

Letter No. 174-180, Mar. 30-31, Eight letters regarding pork handling.

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February 1877

Letter No. 127, Feb. 3, Routine paperwork.

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Letter No. 128, Feb. 3, An appeal to Catholic Church for assistance in keeping the Indian School open.

Rt Rev Bishop Seidensubh, St Cloud, Minn       February 3rd 1877

I have the honor to herewith enclose for your Lordship’s information, copies of correspondence relative to the school at this Agency to show the steps taken by me, and asking your Lordships advice in regard to conducting the school and continuation of this Mission in case the Rev. Sisters discontinue the same, if they do not get the salary that they have been getting, they will discontinue the school, and abandon the mission at once, and then it will be necessary to try and have this Mission School conducted on a less expensive plan.

If these good Sisters should leave, it would be a great loss to these poor Indians, now that the school is so well established, with an attendance of 46 children all that the present building will accommodate.

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Letter No. 129, Feb. 3, Increasing pressure to keep Catholic Indian School open.

Very Rev. Father                           February 3rd 1877

I take the liberty of trespassing upon your already much occupied time, and enclose herewith copy of a communication mailed this day to the Hon.Com of Indian Affs. relative to the school at this Agency, so that you may the better understand the whole state of affairs how the school is situated at the present time and the steps that I have taken in the premises.

The Rev. Sisters do not feel disposed, nor are they willing to undertake the task of continuing the school in accordance with the articles of the new contract, and unless something better can be obtained for them, I fear that they cannot be prevailed upon to remain even until the end of the present fiscal year.  It would be a great misfortune should any thing (of the kind) occur that would jeopardize the present prospects of a brighter future for these people.  I beseech your kind assistance in the settlement of this most important question, and also respectfully ask that if nothing further can be hoped for, that you notify me at your earliest convenience and advise me if any plans that you may deem the best course for me to pursue, – I rely upon the Goodness of Gods Mercies, and trust that he will continue to bless this Mission in bringing light to these benighted people to his greater honor and glory, for the salvation of man.  Trusting that you will succeed in being able to have something more conceded to us, and thanking you for your many past kindnesses,

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Letter No. 130, Feb. 6, Argument for better flour rather than switching Indians to “hard bread.”

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.    February 6th 1877

Sir,

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of office letter under date of the 10th ultimo, relative to issuing hard bread to the Indians in lieu of flour. – In reply I would respectfully state that hard bread never having been issued to the Indians of this Agency, I am unable to judge from personal experience, but having seen the damaged condition that hard bread is frequently found in, in the Commissary Department, and from conversations with Army Officers on the subject, I am led to believe that flour is a more economical article of food for the Indians and not any more liable to damage in transportation and storing.  Hard Bread is undoubtedly a more healthful diet than the bread which is made by the Indians themselves.  They are very fond of hard bread, but only for a change, and always prefer flour when obtainable.  It might be well to have a small proportion of the supplies in Hard Bread, and I would therefore respectfully recommend that if deemed advisable to try the experiment at this Agency, that no more than 25 per cent of the annual supply of flour be so substituted the first year.

I would also respectfully say that in my opinion a better grade of flour than is usually furnished Indians would be preferable and more economical, even if it should be necessary to diminish the quantity to make up the quality.

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Letter No. 131, Feb. 10, We will run out of pork in six weeks.

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington,D.C.     February 10th 1877

I have the honor to respectfully state that I have but 23 bbls (4600 lbs) of pork on hand, and that my present issue is as small as I can possible make it, and it requires 4 bbls (800 lbs) of pork weekly, with this issue my present supply will be exhausted in six weeks time.  I would therefore respectfully ask that some pork be shipped me as soon as practicable.

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Letter No. 132, Feb. 10, Routine payment.

Rev. A.L.Riggs, Greenwood, D.T.                February 10th 1877

Please find enclosed draft from Treasury Department in payment for the books purchased for use of this Agency.  Am sorry for delay in payment of same.

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Letter No. 133, Feb. 10, Employees clothing order.

Mesrs. Campbell, Burbank and Co., St. Paul, Minn.   February 10th 1876

Please forward at your earliest convenience by express, two business suits different patterns, and three extra pairs of pants, select the clothes, such as I have been in the habit of purchasing for the employees.

J. Stetsils order:  Cut away coat.  Double breated best.  Coat No. 37. Pants waist                      32 or Length 33.

J. Kennedy.  Cut away coat frock.  Single breated.  Buttoned high. And long. Stylish.  Coat No 38.  Pants waist 33 or 34.  Length 33.

F. Cavenaugh two prs. Pants waist 36.  Length 34 different patterns.

D. Kennedy, one pr pants waist 33 length 32.

Send bill and I will remit by return mail.

P.S. You will also oblidge me by sending me a pair of rubber boots No. 7 to come above the knee.

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Letter No. 134, Feb. 10, Nine bad barrels of pork.

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.   February 10th 1877               .

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of Office letter marked “F” under date of January 24th relative to the pork received on the contract of Jas. E. Booze Esq.   And in reply I would respectfully state that I have taken the heads out of all the barrels on hand (which is 26 bbls) and examined each one carefully, and I find three more in a bad condition.  I also found one on last ration day, (5th inst) making a total of 9 bbls that is unfit for use out of the 85 bbls received.  There were three other bbls a little tainted, but knowing that the longer it was kept the worse it would become, I thought best to issue it, owing to the small supply of pork that I have on hand at the present time. – With the exception of the damaged barrels mentioned, this pork is of excellent quality, being sound and sweet.  The packers brand is the same on the lot, scarcity of brine seems to have been the cause of the damage.

The nine barrels set aside is such as not to be accepted by the Indians.  The loss of the lot of 85 barrels, as near as I can judge, is about ten (10) percent.

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Letter No. 135, Feb. 10, Appointment of Indian Trader.

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.   February 10th 1877

I have the honor to respectfully submit herewith bond and letter of D.R.Kennedy, Esq. Applying for the appointment of Trader for the Indians of this reservation.  And I would respectfully recommend that should Mr. Kennedy be licensed to trade here, that permission also be granted him to trade at Turtle Mountain and Mouse river, which points are North, and Northwest, respectively, each about 80 miles distant from this Agency.  And the Indians who frequent those places for the purpose of hunting during the fall and spring of the year are (with a few exceptions) belonging to this reservation.  And without permission to trade there much of the furs rightfully belonging here would find an outlet through the Canadian Traders who are located near the Boundary line on Turtle Mountain.

Mr. Kennedy was engaged in the Indian trade at the time of the Sioux Massacre in Minnesota in 1862, at which time he lost his store and stock of goods, barely escaping with his life, he speaks the Sioux language very well, and is well liked by the Indians.  He is about 50 years of age and a married man.

I think that this appointment would be a safe one.

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Letter No. 136, Feb. 16, Evil influence of Medicine Dance.

Hon. J.G. Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.   February 16th 1877

I have the honor to submit this communication relative to the “Medicine Dance” the  evil influences wrought by countenancing it upon the reservations, and the opposition to civilization manifested by the numbers of this society, and the means that I have adopted for the suppression of it. – At the time of my assuming charge of this Agency and for some time previous, this dance was steadily on the increase, until it had assumed such proportions as to be very detrimental to the advancement of these people.

I have had the honor to mention the evil effect of these Medicine Dances in some of my former letters, and which I will here respectfully explain.

This society is organized to uphold and continue in force all of the pagan and superstitious practices of the Indians, and oppose civilization in discouraging and ridiculing the Indians who adopt the habits and customs of the whites, – This is the greatest obstacle we deal with with in getting children to attend schools. – It is also the cause of much misery and suffering among the poorer Indians who are hoodwinked by the shruder Medicine Man, giving everything they have for the purpose of having the evil spirits satisfied by these conjurors. – All who are initiated into this society have to make a feast for their Medicine once every moon, and invite a certain number of the society.  When any relative dies they have to make a General Medicine Dance, which commences at Midnight and lasts twenty four hours.  A majority of those participating being almost naked and remaining so during the entire ceremony.  These gatherings always take place in the open air, and at all seasons of the year, and as a natural consequence much sickness usually follows one of these dances. – One reason for the healthy conditions of these Indians the present winter is there has been no Medicine Dance since October last until yesterday. Knowing the demoralizing effect of these dances I thought of trying to abolish them, but not having any clothing or supplies, I did not want to take a determined stand until I could carry it into effect.  Therefore upon my arrival here from St. Paul on the 4th of November last (where I had been to awards contracts &c) and before the receipt of clothing, I called a general council of all the Indians, and after showing them the folly of this dance, the evils of it &c, I announced that Medicine Dances after that day, would not be tolerated upon this reservation, that any Chief or Head man participating in one, would be deprived of his Chieftainship, and any others taking part would be held in disfavor as disobeying the rules established. – Since that time nothing of the kind had been attempted, until yesterday, when some of the Great Medicine Men persuaded a poor widow woman, whose husband died last winter, to get up one of these Dances, simply as an experiment, to see what would be the result.  Only a few of the Indians attended but among the numbers attending were three Chiefs, Ecanajinka, Cantamanza and Mantocatka, two of whom had promised to assist me in breaking up the dance.  I had to sustain myself by reducing these Chiefs in accordance with my speech and the warning given them. – My firmness and action is approved by all the best men, and the leading chiefs, but it will doubtless cause some dissatisfaction with these deposed Chiefs, and they with a few of their followers may leave and go to the Sisseton Agency in the Spring. – I would therefore respectfully ask that if they should leave and go there that they be ordered to return here forthwith, as it would have a salutary effect, and would be the end of the Medicine Dance among the Indians of this reservation.

I trust that my action in this matter will meet with your approbation as I consider it but for the welfare of these people.

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Letter No. 137, Feb. 17, Need ‘Fulfilling Treaty Funds’ as incentives.

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.    February 17th 1877

I have the honor to respectfully ask what proportion of the proceeds of Sale of Sioux Reservations in Minnesota and Dakota, will be available this year for the purchase of Milch cows, Oxen, Pigs &c. for this Agency.  This stock is very much needed as there is not a cow owned by the Indians of this reservation, and they are very anxious to try stock raising.  If 50 Milch cows, 2 good bulls, and 200 Pigs could be purchased and distributed among the most deserving, the coming summer, it would be an incentive to the whole tribe, and greatly encourage them.

I would also respectfully ask to be informed of the amount of Fulfilling Treaty fund due this Agency for the present fiscal year, and whether the R.R.Transportation of the supplies, and the expense incurred in taking four Indians to St. Paul last October, R.R. fare, Hotel Bills, &c will be charged to this fund.

These Indians will need summer clothing in early spring and some few articles of groceries, sugar, soap &c.  Also some agricultural implements, at least one doz plows and absolutely necessary.  And a few cultivators, and harrows would be required.  Respectfully asking information regarding the several subjects contained in this communication.

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Letter No. 138, Feb. 17, Need to replace burst water pump before Spring.

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.    February 17th 1877

I have the honor to respectfully state that whilst running the saw mill in November last the water was left in the cold water pump that feeds the boiler over night and the frost bursted the cylinder.  We thought at the time it was repairable, but on trying to repair it find it unfit for use, and one is needed before we can operate the mill in the spring.  I would therefore respectfully ask permission to order one from St Paul, the cost of same will not exceed Twenty five dollars.

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Letter No. 139, Feb. 17, Medicine Dance wanderers.

J.G.Hamilton, Esq, U.S.Indian Agt., Sisseton Agency D.T.

Dear Major,

I suppose that you have received the new ration check.  What do you intend to do in regard to issuing weekly, will you continue to issue as formerly, or adopt the new system throughout.

I have broken up the Medicine Dance upon this reservation, and as a matter of course many are dissatisfied, and some will probably leave here in the spring and go to your Agency.  I would respectfully request that you order them back forthwith unless they have a letter of permission, as it will be the end of the Medicine Dance on this reservation, and have a salutary effect upon the Indians of both Agencies.  Is the Medicine Dance ever practiced now among your Indians, these Indians claim that it is.  Please reply to this as soon as convenient, and oblige me

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Letter No. 140,  Feb. 17, Congratulations to a winning candidate.

Hon J.P.Kidder, Washington, D.C.                February 17th 1877

I have the honor to address you this communication, and at this late day to congratulate you upon your reelection to Congress by such an overwhelming majority.  I was certain that you would be elected without any close vote, but the majority was so large as to be highly complimentary to yourself and pleasing to your friends.  I am confident that you would have received a still larger majority had it not been for the frauds perpetrated along the line of the Northern Pacific R.R.

We are having a lovely winter here, since the 20th of January the weather resembles April weather in the latitude.  With my sincere regards and best wishes for your good health.

P.S. What is going to be the end of the Presidential muddle.  The defeated party will now accept the situation on the compromised plan.

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Letter No. 141, Feb. 17, Asking General Sibley to help this Agency from being closed down and to help the Sisters reinstate their school or they will have to leave.

Genl H.H.Sibley, St. Paul, Minn.,   My Dear General,           February 17th 1877

Knowing the interest manifested by you for the welfare of the Indians, I wish to state that I think Tuwakan (Gabriel Renville) is the cause of considerable dissatisfaction among the Indians of the reservation, as he is constantly writing to his relatives here, asking them to leave here and move to the Sisseton Agency where they can all live together, and thus save the expense of two Agencies and two sets of employees.  Whilst this has no effect upon the Indians in general, still it is one of those things that Indians have to harp upon, and among nearly 1100 Indians there are always some ready to sow dissention, and others to listen, to anything detrimental to their welfare.  As his ambition wishes to make himself more powerful by bringing the Indians of this Agency there, whilst it will do him no good, it will do many of these Indians a great injury, as it keeps them undecided which course to pursue.  Many have spoken to me about Gabriel’s letters to them and said they did not wish to leave here, but that Gabriel wrote to them that he had an object in having his friends all come there, and he would give each man a yoke of cattle and Wagon and help them to fence and break 50 acres of land, and get them a patent for their land, and that they were but one people and ought to be together.

Many Indians here feel under obligations to Gabriel from his kindness as to their near relations, and feel as if they would like to obey his wishes.  There must be some undercurrent at work besides Gabriel, and the object in view seems to be the breaking up of this Agency.  It would benefit to these people if Gabriel would leave them alone, and not trouble them with such letters, and there is no person that has the confidence of the Indians and could do this but yourself, and I would respectfully ask that the first opportunity that you have to communicate with him, that you will speak to him in regard to this matter.

I have some fears that the Good Sisters will discontinue the school here, as the school has been changed to a day school, and their salary has been reduced from $840 and subsistence to $1250 this year and they are to subsist themselves, as there are 4 sisters, I interpretress, 5 lay sisters, or working girls, and the Chaplain in all eleven persons who give their whole time to the school and care of the sick, (one of the Sister being Agency Physician), and as the cost of subsistence alone would be about $100 per year each, they cannot afford to continue at that price.  They notified me that they would discontinue the school upon Jan 31st/77, but I requested them to continue on until I could lay the matter before the Hon. Com.  I have written at length showing that it is not practicable to have a day school at present, and that a boarding school is the only successful method of instructing the Indian Children upon this reservation at the present time, and showing the necessity for the same and asking that the same be continued, I trust that it will turn out all right.

Dear General if you were not so kind you would not be troubled by so many bothering you, and I ask pardon for this trespassing upon your already much occupied time, but knowing the interest that you take in the success of this Agency, and the general welfare of the Indians, I thought it was my duty to inform you of my fears.

I ask to be kindly remembered to Mrs. Potts, Mr. Kettson, Mrs. Forbes and family, Mr. Blum and family, and my old friend Hypolite Dupuis, and with the most sincere thanks, and kindest regards, believe me to be Dear General, Most respectfully your Obedient servant,

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Letter No. 142, Letter No. 127, Feb. 21, My predecessor did not leave any papers or letters.

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.    February 21st 1877

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of office letter marked “A” under date of January 30th 1877 relative to the disposition to be made of miscellaneous receipts.

In reply I would respectfully state that I have no funds derived from any sources mentioned.  The hides of the forty six (46) head of beef cattle were divided among the Indians when slaughtered, who tanned them and made moccasins, mitts &c for their own use.

The office letter of June 10th/76 referred to was never seen by me, and must have been taken away by my predecessor who left no letters or papers in the office.

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Letter No. 143, Letter No. 127, Feb. 24, Printer’s fees in dispute.

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.    February 24th 1877

I have the honor to forward herewith letter of Mr. Driscoll and duplicate bills of Pioneer Press and Tribune Co. for publishing advertisement for proposals for supplies in October 1876. – Authority was granted in office letter marked “FPB” under date of Sept 20/76 to advertise for same. – Mr. Driscoll was not willing to accept of the rate allowed for “printers fees” as per circular letter of August 14/76 until he had heard from some eastern publishers that he was in correspondence with in regard to the same.  The rate charged in this bill not being in conformity with said circular letter regulating printers fees.  I respectfully ask to be instructed in regard to settlement of same.

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Letter No. 144, Feb. 24, Record of Indians staying and passing through this Reservations since Custer Fight.

Capt. R.E.Johnston, Standing Rock, D.T.             February 24th 1877

Replying to your communication of the 10th ultimo, I would respectfully state that since the date of the Custer fight 13 men – 10 women – 21 children – in all (49) Indians have arrived at this Agency and are now here.  There were about (300) others who passed through here at different times during the summer from Standing Rock Agcy. Going northwest towards Fort Peck.  This is apart from a number who arrived here in May and June last and have remained.

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Letter No. 145, Feb 24, Request for Seeds

Mesrs Bruns and Finkle, Moorhead, Minn.               February 24th 1877

Gents, can you furnish me 40 or 50 bushels of seed corn, that will ripen in this latitude, one that will make good corn meal, also a good bush bean that will mature here, and what would the same cost, please reply and Oblige .

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Letter No. 146, Feb. 24, Request for Seeds

Mesrs Hubbard and Tyler, Fargo D.T.                February 24th 1877

Gents, can you furnish me 40 or 50 bushels of seed corn, that will ripen in this latitude, one that will make good corn meal, also a good bush bean that will mature here, and what would the same cost, please reply and Oblige .

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Letter No. 147, Feb. 24, Request for Seeds

Mesrs Busch, Hollester & Co, St. Paul Minn     February 24th 1877

I am in receipt of your seed catalogue for 1877, and would respectfully ask for information regarding a good article of seed corn that will mature in this northern latitude, and one that will make good Indian Meal.  I would require from 40 to 50 bushels for seed, also about 10 bus of field peas, and about 30 or 40 bushels of beans for seed, beans that will not require poles, and whether you think the common army bean will ripen or not this far north.  I will need about $200 worth of seed, and would like to patronize home enterprise.  The seeds grown at St Paul must be better adapted to this climate than if grown further south,  if I order from you I would not be able to send money with order, but upon receipt of bill would remit check for amount when you would sign receipts and return to me.  My seeds would consist principally of onion, pumpkin, squash, beet, carrot, rutabaga, beans, peas and corn, please reply at your earliest convenience and inform me as to the best kind of corn and beans to plant here, as we usually have frost between the 20th of August and 1st of September,

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Letter No. 148, Feb. 28, Claims against the Agency

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.  February 26th 1877

I have the honor to transmit herewith claims against this Agency as follows

Auerbach Finch & Sneffer St Paul Minn 77.50

Maxfield & Co                   “     “       “    54.70

J.P.Allen                            “     “       “      7.60

Brenner & Terry   Fort Totten D.T.         10.50

Henry F.Elliott

John J.Nichols

Q.M.Dept U.S.A. Fort Totten D.T.

In submitting these claims I would respectfully state that I received these bills at different times last summer but I wished to ascertain the facts in each case as far as practicable and wishing to forward all together, hence this delay in submitting the same

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Letter No. 149, Feb. 27, Ordering supplies for fiscal year ending June 30th, 1878.  Much detail on populations and needs of the Reservation.

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.       February 27th 1877

I have the honor to herewith submit estimate for supplies required at this Agency for the fiscal year ending June 30th 1878.  I would respectfully state that this estimate is prepared carefully and covers only what is absolutely needed.

The number of Indians at this Agency at the present time is 1058, but I am quite certain that a number of Sisseton families from near Fort Peck, will arrive here early in the spring in time to plant. “Snipto” a chief of this reservation, who is a good and industrious Indian, sent his brother out north last fall, for the purpose of bringing in his relations, he is closely related to nearly all of the wandering Sissetons composing the remnant of Standing Buffaloes band, who are with the roaming Indians in the neighborhood of Fort Peck, and I have no doubt that he will succeed in bringing many of them here to settle down and try agriculture, and a life of civilization.

 

With this expected accession, my numbers will be as near as I can judge about 1200 Indians who will remain here permanently throughout the year.  And I trust that the roving and visiting bands of Cut Head Sioux and Chippewa will be prevented from troubling us with their annual visits during the coming summer, as their frequent visits make inroads upon the limited subsistence stores of this agency.

The 200000 pounds of flour estimated for if deemed advisable might be reduced to 150,000 pounds and hard bread substituted for the 50000 pounds thus reduced.

The flour, pork, beef cattle, heavy hardwood and miscellaneous articles, I think could be contracted for and purchased by Agent, some articles in St. Paul, and others nearer the Agency with an advantage to the department, and a swing in the cost of transportation, last October I received several bids for flour, one was for a good straight grade of flour, delivered at Jamestown, D.T. in double sacks, for $2.90 per 100 pounds.  This was from a merchant miller whose mill is located near the line of the Northern Pacific Rail Road, 175 miles east of Jamestown, and it was in answer to my advertisement for proposals of Sept 30/76 for 500 sacks of flour, but before the day of awarding contracts, I received office instructions that Mesrs Castner and Penner would furnish the additional flour required on their contract, and as the bidders for flour had not bid on any other articles, I did not enter them on Abstract of Proposals.

The pork could be purchased in St Paul, at as reasonable rates as elsewhere, and transportation on carload lots from St Paul to Jamestown is but $160 and a car load consists of  65 barrels of pork, which cost about $2.50 per bbl, whilst the transportation on the pork shipped from Sioux City this year cost $6.12 per bbl.  I am of the opinion that car load rates could not be obtained when consigned to this company by another R.R.Company.  And the contract rates being $1.00 regardless of classification, the pork, sugar and other heavy articles of supplies, costs much more than if purchased in St. Paul or along the N.P.R.R. & shipped in car load lots, at an average cost of 80 cents per 100 pounds from St. Paul and less in proportion further up the line.  I think that a better rate can be obtained from St Paul to Jamestown on way freight than last year, as they carried freight through to Bismarck 100 miles farther at much lower rates.

One objection in purchasing in eastern markets for shipments to this far off post is the delay in receiving the goods, the 27th ultimo a bill of goods was shipped to this Agency from N.York, and one on the 31st from Philadelphia, and nothing can be heard of them yet this side of St Paul, and the difference in the first cost there, and what they could be purchased for in St Paul is not more than will pay the difference in freight, apart from the long delay in receiving the goods.  In the regard to the transportation from St Paul to Jamestown there is no other route by which supplies for this Agency can be shipped except St. Paul and Pacific R.R. to Breckenridge Minnesota, which point is 180 from this Agency over which the supplies would have to be shipped by wagon transportation.  Late Indian Agent Forbes, had a special rate “over the Northern Pacific R.R. from St Paul to Jamestown” of $1.50 for 100 pounds, and the Quartermaster Dept U.S.A. has a rate of $1.25 over the same route, by shipping from St Paul or any other point along the N.P.R.R. in car load lots we can obtain special car load rates.

The beef cattle can be purchased at about .03½ cents per pound “gross” and should not be delivered earlier than the 15th of October, as the beef does the most good to the Indians during the winter months, and if delivered earlier would require a great deal of care and trouble to keep them until the weather is cold enough to slaughter and freeze the beef.  The shirts, shoes, hats, caps & socks, furnished last year were all very satisfactory, the hickory shirts excepted, which were too small for men, being all boys sizes.  The fine combs were worthless.  The pants although being purchased at low prices were not profitable as an article of wear, they were a very poor quality of goods and pants of a stronger material would be more economical, and if there could be some difference in the goods, so as not to have all the same pattern it would be better.

The tobacco, sugar and coffee were all very good, and very satisfactory.  The tea was good of the kind, but a Japan tea would be preferred by these Indians to the Oolong.

The estimated cost of annuity goods and miscellaneous articles, herewith submitted is $10,511.98,  supplies $15,877.00 Total $26,388.98.  These supplies clothing &c estimated for, are really necessary, and with which I hope to be able to carry these Indians through the next year without suffering, and at the same time to increase their farms, and raise larger crops this year if the season s favorable, and with the cows & pigs, that I hope to get for them, the coming summer, so that they can begin to raise their own pork.  And by preparing ground for sowing wheat another year.  I am in hopes that it will foreclude the necessity of purchasing so much pork and flour in the future, and leave more money for clothing, groceries, and meet with your approval.

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March 1877

Letter No. 150, Mar. 1, Need to survey and create wood lots.  Indians are extremely ambitious.

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.   March 1st 1877

I have the honor to herewith transmit Farmer, Carpenter, Blacksmith, Storekeeper & Clerk, Sanitary, and School reports, for month ending February 28th, in connection with the Farmer’s report I would respectfully recommend that this reservation be surveyed as soon as practicable and that at least four townships be subdivided into 40 acre tracts, so as to enable the Indians to have a more satisfactory and equitable proportion of the timbered land.  It is difficult to make the Indians understand the necessity or have them consent to take a piece of timber in the woods and have their farms on the prairie, each man tries to hold all the timber he can, to exclusion of his neighbors.  This can be obviated only by the land being divided into 40 acre tracts, each man can have his farm of 160 acres in the shape of the letter L giving to every man 120 acres of prairie and 40 acres of timbered land, and in most all cases joining each other.  With the surveyors lines there will be no difficulty in explaining the matter, and they will accept the claims thus laid out, but without these lines it is impossible to explain, or satisfy them, and much time will be lost to some who are anxious to open up farms.  I have never seen anything like the spirit evinced by these Indians this winter, in their determination to commence in earnest the work of agricultural improvement, and opening up farms.  With this dispute of claims settled and they once satisfied that the work done by them is on their own farm, there will be more harmony existing among them, and their improvement would be more rapid and sure.  And as this question of lines has been one of much vexation and disappointment to many of the Indians for some time past, I would therefore respectfully urge the necessity for the survey of the reservation to be completed as early as practicable.

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Letter No. 151-154, Mar. 3, Four routine letters.

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Letter No. 155, Mar. 9, Requesting help in convincing Hon. Com. of needs to survey Reservation and continuance of the School.

Hon. M.K.Armstrong, Washington, D.C.,                March 9th 1877

Your very kind letter of Dec 28th 1876 was duly received and I was pleased to hear from you.  I would have answered sooner only waiting for something of interest to write about.  On the 1st inst. I addressed the Hon. Commissioner upon the necessity of the completion of the survey of this reservation at as early a day as possible, as much dissatisfaction present among the Indians in regard to the location of individual farms _____________ being defined they trespass upon each others claims, which if once settled, divided, and alloted satisfactorily would be an encouragement to the Indians, and when they were certain that the labor done and improvements made, was on their own farms they would undoubtedly progress more rapidly. I have asked to have at least four townships subdivided into 40 acre tracts, so as to enable to make an equitable distribution of the timbered land.

I trust that the survey will _________ and that you will get the work to do, as I should be pleased to see you _________again this summer.

____________ rumor that Fort _________ is to be abandoned, also Forts Abercrombie and Ripley, and that the 7th ____________ to Fort _______ and the 20th ________________ Governor Grover I presume, I would as soon not let loose the 20th Infantry from this ___________.

These Indians are feeling happy and contented and evince a determination to plant largely this coming season _______ I can succeed in getting some milch cows, and pigs, which I have asked for, (the coming summer) it will be an incentive to their advancement in civilization, and at the same time enable them to commence raising cattle, pigs &c, and leave less pork to be purchased annually for their subsistence.  If you should be at the Indian Office you would do me a favor by ascertaining as near as possible the feelings of the Commissioner in regard in allowing the purchase of these cattle and pigs, the survey of the Reservation, and in what light he looks upon this Agency in general.

I fear for the continuance of the school owing to reduced rates of compensation for teachers, or rather in changing the boarding school into a day school, and the sisters having to subsist themselves.  I have written at length to the Hon. Commissioner in regard to the School but have not yet received an answer.

Please present my kindest regards to Mrs Armstrong and with sincere thanks

I have the honor to be, most

Respectfully your obedient servant

James McLaughlin

U.S.Ind.Agt.

 

P.S. What do you think of the new cabinet, will the change of Secretary of the Interior affect me any

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Letter No. 156-160, Mar. 10-17, Five routine letters ordering seeds.

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Letter No. 161, Mar. 17, I can do a better job of contracting for livestock than current practices.

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.   March 17th 1877

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of office letter marked “F” under date of 2nd inst., relative to the purchase of cattle, pigs &c, requesting statement of probable cost and best method of purchasing same.  In reply I would respectfully state that in my opinion the purchase could be made in open market to the interest of the department and benefit of the Indians, and that if I could spare the time to go into some of the settlements in Minnesota and buy from farmers would be better still.  But that would require much time and trouble, and my absence from the Agency too long at one time would interfere with my plans for the summer improvements.  Having been raised on a farm and had considerable experience in handling stock, I flatter myself to be a fair judge of cattle, and I think that by advertising for the cattle and specifying the kind required, Milch cows, not younger than 3 nor older than 7 years, and Oxen not younger than 4 nor older than 7, and to be gentle and well broke, and no others accepted, that I could not be much deceived in receiving them from the Contractor, but the principal objection to advertising and contracting for cattle is the risks of getting the poorer kinds.  Breachy cattle, poor milkers, &c, which could be more easily obviated by purchasing in open market.  Farmers are always desirous of getting rid of their unruly cattle at reduced prices, and such are always picked up by cattle dealers.  Breachy cattle would be the cause of much annoyance among the Indians and should be avoided if possible.  There is a Mr Palmer who is located about 30 miles from this Agency, who has been engaged in stock raising and farming there for the last two years, he is very anxious to sell off some of his stock, and offers 30 head of milch cows at $30 each delivered at his ranch, aged 3 and 4 years.  I have not seen his cattle but I am informed that they are a fair average lot.  I would respectfully state that in my judgment the best and surest means of getting good milch cows and work Oxen, would be to notify several cattle dealers in Minnesota, describing the kind and quality desired requesting them to give the lowest price that they would furnish them for delivered at St. Paul, Jamestown, D.T. or at the Agency. There are several such dealers around St., Paul and Minneapolis, from whom the cattle and pigs could be purchased to advantage at the present time, as the grasshoppers have left many farmers in such straitened circumstances as to oblige them to sell their stock at a sacrifice, in purchasing pigs I think that Shoats from 3 to 6 months old would be the most economical to purchase.  As regards the feeding of them if the grasshoppers do not trouble us any more than they have for the past two years, I am confident that a large crop of corn and potatoes will be harvested by the Indians this year unless we should have frost exceedingly early in the fall, even then I would have no fears of the pigs starving as there are abundance of acorns and haz nuts on the reservation, which would be gathered by the Indians to feed them with, and these Indians are so anxious to try raising pigs that they have promised extra exertions on their part if I can but succeed in getting this stock for them.  I would respectfully ask to be instructed what method is deemed the best for the purchase to be made.  The grass not being good here before the 25th of May, this stock need not be delivered before that date, but knowing that by inquiring beforehand, better bargains would be obtained, therefore I have written to several cattle dealers by this mail, to ascertain the market value of the proposed purchases.  If the cattle that Mr Palmer offers should be found to be as reasonable as others could be obtained for, “delivered at Jamestown” it would save considerable trouble, and have cattle that are accustomed to this section of country.

I take the liberty to herewith respectfully submit estimates, which is (as near as I can judge) about what the cost will be delivered at Jamestown, D.T.  The pair of Horses estimated for are very much needed for the service at the Agency, there is a team here that was purchased 4 years ago but from age and hard service one of them is unfit for use any longer, and has been almost worthless for the past year, he is wind-broken, and sickly, the other is old and only fit for use on the tread power for sawing, _____., thrashing &c.  The light wagon is for use at the boarding school to enable the sisters in charge of sick to visit the different settlements of reservation.  The plows and cultivators are required for spring and summer use, all of which is respectfully submitted.

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Letter No. 162-169, Mar. 17, Eight letters regarding bids on livestock, seeds, etc.

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Letter No. 170, Mar. 24, Exchanging news with Sisseton Agency Agent.

Friend Hamilton,                                                           March 24th 1877

Yours of the 2nd inst received for which please accept thanks.  My Indians seem very contented at the present time with the exception of their “Cantes being a little sica” at not having ammunition for the spring hunting, it is really too bad to prevent these Indians from having powder furnished them as $200.00 worth of ammunition is worth more to them than $1,000 worth of any other kind of subsistence.

In regard to the wood at Fort Totten the distance that it has to be hauled is about 6 miles.  The wood is good and plenty of it, the price paid the past year from $3.85 per cord, quantity furnished 1600 cords.  The decreased garrison here has left a sufficiency on hand to last another year, there is none to be let this year.

The hay was let last year at $4.68 per ton, quantity 500 tons, there is but 200 tons advertised for this year, hay is usually very plentiful here and the first 1000 tons easily obtained at from 2 to 5 miles distance, but larger quantities would have to be hauled much further, this post is well situated for both wood and hay.

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Letter No. 171, Mar. 24, What do I do with rotten pork?

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.     March 24th 1877

I have the honor to respectfully ask to be instructed what to do with the nine (9) barrels of damaged pork that I have on hand furnished by Mr. Booze of Sioux City on his contract.  It might either be sold for soap grease or issued to the Indians and enough realized out of it to pay for the transportation.

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Letter No. 172, Mar. 28, Want to make issues to the Indians every two weeks rather than weekly.

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.     March 28th 1877

I have the honor to respectfully ask permission to issue to the Indians of this reservation for two weeks in advance after the first of May next, most of the Indians being located on individual farms at from 5 to 18 miles from the Agency and being obliged to come weekly after  rations much time is lost thereby that might profitably employed in working on their farms during the planting, harvesting, and hoeing seasons and as it requires the limited employee force of Agency to assist upon ration days, much time could be economized and more needful assistance given the Indians during the important summer season which is very short in this latitude.  It is at the request of the Indians that I make this application.

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Letter No. 173, Mar. 30, Get rid of damaged pork before the hot weather sets in.

James E. Booze, Esq., Sioux City, Iowa.                     March 30, 1877

Yours of the 20th inst inclosing draft for $44.50 received, and in acknowledgement same I would respectfully say that Bills of Lading having been signed by me for the whole lot (85 bbls) which included the 9 bbls damaged, and as the freight was paid out of “Transportation Fund”, I could not settle it, but have transmitted it to the Hon. Com. Of Ind. Affairs to be Cr. to that fund.

I have written one week ago to the Hon. Comr. to be instructed what disposition to make of the damaged pork.  Something could be realized out of it by offering it for sale.  I will dispose of it to the best advantage, if you so instruct me.  The sooner it is disposed of the better before the warm weather sets in.  Awaiting your wishes in the matter..

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Letter No. 174-180, Mar. 30-31, Eight letters regarding pork handling.

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indians Affairs, Washington, D.C.   March 30th 1877

I have the honor to transmit herewith correspondence of James E.Booze, Esq. of Sioux City Iowa, one of which contained the draft herewith enclosed.  The Bills of Lading having been signed by me for the full amount when the Pork was received, and the freight being charged to “Transportation Fund”  I forward the Draft to be so applied as I thought it proper disposition to make of it.,

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Letter No. 175, Mar. 30, Buying Oats

My Dear Harris,                         March 30th 1877

I am sorry that you bought those oats of Armington.  Not hearing from you for so long, I concluded that you could not get them for me, and I made other arrangements.  George Veniem offers me 200 bushels or less at 55 cents delivered at Jamestown, the price that you paid is too high, as Brenner offers me oats delivered at the Agency for 90 cents and I could not haul from Jamestown for less than 25 cents per bushel at this season of the year.  I bought 75 bushels from Bourelt here for 75 cents per bus.  I trust that it will not incommode you and that you have not closed the bargain with Armington so that you will lose by it, I am with much respect your sincere friend.

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 Letter No. 176, Mar. 30, Arguing about weight of pork

T.B.Harris Esq, R.R.Agent, Jamestown D.T.     March 30th 1877

Yours of the 28th Inst enclosing expense bills for 75 Bbls of Pork is received, and I have forwarded to Washington for instructions, as office regulations requires permission before issuing vouchers, and I have no funds in bank for payment, of same, I will forward to you as soon as instructed.  I see by expense bills that the Pork as billed averages 342 2/3 pounds per bbl, last fall it averaged but 330 pounds, how does it happen.

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Letter No. 177, Mar. 31, More about pork vouchers

Hon. J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.   March 31st 1877

Sir,

I have the honor to enclose herewith correspondence and expense bills of N.P.R.R. Co. for transportation of Pork recently arrived at Jamestown, and I would respectfully ask to be instructed in regard to same whether I shall issue Certified Vouchers for the amount or not.

The shipment of Pork as billed averages 342 2/3 pounds per bbl.  The shipment from same consigners last November averaged but 330 pounds.  I have written to the Agent for an explanation of differences.  The rate from Sioux City to St. Paul is the same as last fall with the exception of the difference in weight, but from St. Paul to Jamestown as will be seen it is 35 cents per 100 lbs less than contract rate.

The transportation on 55 bbls of the contract Pork arrived at Jamestown in month of February is yet due this company, the Bills of Lading having not been forwarded to me for signature.

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Letter No. 178, Mar. 31, Woops, more bbls of Pork have arrived

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington D.C.    March 31st 1877

I have the honor to respectfully state that 75 bbls of Pork have arrived at Jamestown consigned to me for use of this Agency.  This is in addition to 55 bbls of the contract Pork that is still there and as this 55 bbls will be sufficient to last until the end of this fiscal year unless a greater number of Indians than I am expecting should come in in early spring, as the Estimate which I had the honor to transmit on the 27thof Feb. last was made without the knowledge of this additional 75 bbls, I would therefore respectfully recommend that said estimate be so changed as to reduce the quantity of Pork estimated for from 36000 (180 bbls) to 26000 pounds (130 bbls) which will (I think) be amply sufficient with the (66 bbls) that will remain of the 75 bbls mentioned, after the 9 bbls is taken to make good the damaged lot received last November, and which 66 bbls will not be required for use before the month of July.  I would have estimated for 200 bbls of Pork, but I based my estimate upon the actual requirements of the service, averaging the quantities asked for in proportion to the wants of the Agency, and the amount of funds applicable.

Notwithstanding the large number of Indians that have been at this Agency this winter in proportion to former years, and the limited supplies that I had to subsist them upon, and which compelled me to issue but a small ration of Pork, sugar and coffee throughout the winter, but this small ration they received regularly, and all shared alike, and I am pleased to be able to report that no suffering from hunger has been known among them this winter, and I am quite positive in asserting that less misery, better state of feelings, and more general contentment exists among these Indians than ever before since the establishment of this Agency, in all of which I thing the Army Officers stationed here will bear me out.

To explain the reason why the small quantity of Pork that was furnished me lasted so long is that fearing that the 140 bbls was all that I had to depend upon for the fiscal year, and receiving but 85 bbls of it before the winter set in, and 9 bbls of that being damaged, I was compelled to issue a very small ration of Pork, which did very well whilst the beef lasted, but since then it has been necessary to increase the Pork ration.  I have borrowed 12 bbls (2400 pounds) from the Quarter Master at the Military Post here, to be returned when I receive my supply and I hope to be able to get some through from R.R. next week if the weather continues fine.  After returning the (12 bbls) borrowed from Q.M.D. there will be 43 bbls of the 55 bbls contract lot which with the 9 bbls furnished by contractor Booze to replace damaged lot, will make 52 bbls which will be sufficient for the next three months (the last quarter of this fiscal year) leaving 66 bbls still on hand at the end of the fiscal year.  By reducing the estimate to 130 bbls making a total of 196 bbls, “which will be all that will be required for next fiscal year.” And will leave the value of 50 bbls thus reduced to be expended in flour, groceries, or clothing, as may be needed for the benefit of these people.  I would also respectfully recommend that this amount be left unexpended until after harvest, as we could then judge better what articles would be the most needed after being ensured of the quantity of crops harvested.

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Letter No. 179 (Check)

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Letter-No-180, Mar. 31, Monthly Statements to Hon. Com.

Hon.J.G.Smith, Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.    March 31st 1877

Sir – I have the honor to transmit herewith farmers, Clerk, blacksmith, Carpenter, Sanitary and School reports for month of March, also statement of the harness making and repairing, done at different times throughout the winter, which has been of good service and very pleasing to the Indians, as there are a number who owned single wagons but had no harness for same, there are others who have not yet got harness, but the leather purchased last October, being worked up, and the time of the employee being required at general work of Agency from this season of the year until next fall no more harness work can be done before next winter.

I also have the honor to forward herewith statement of Receipts and Disbursement for this quarter and shall forward quarterly accounts next mail.

 

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