Yellowstone Park Indian Captivity

99 [Yellowstone Park] Carpenter, Frank D. The Wonders of Geyser Land. A Trip to the Yellowstone National Park of Wyoming, Together with a Thrilling Account of the Capture by the Nez Perces Indians and Subsequent Escape by the National Park Tourists. Black Earth, Wis.: Burnett & Son, Printers and Publishers, 1878. 8vo, original teal printed front cover wrapper, with plain green protective wrapper attached at spine, 176 pp., woodcut frontis illustration of Lower Yellowstone Falls, piece missing from upper right border corner of cover wrapper, some light edge wear, generally very good.

First edition of the one of the rarest Yellowstone Park narratives and Indian Captivities; so rare as to be unrecorded by nearly every Western bibliography. Not in Howes, Streeter Sale or Eberstadt. Not in the Siebert Sale (which had a vast number of rare Indian captivities). No copies found at auction (or online, needless to say). Nevertheless, OCLC
finds a few locations (Montana State, BYU, LC, Yale, Wisconsin Hist., and Indiana St. Lib.)

An extremely detailed account of the journey of these Montana tourists to the Yellowstone
National Park (nearly all of which is in Wyoming, by the way). They happened to visit during the summer of 1877, when the Nez Perces Indian War was ongoing. Most of this
narrative is from Carpenter’s journal, which fortunately survived their capture by the Nez
Perces, and which he recovered afterwards. At one point deep in the park (after gathering
souvenir specimens for some time in the journey) they encounter this notice posted on a
tree: “Tourists are requested not to break, destroy or take away any specimens, under a
penalty of fifty dollars fine, or one year in the penitentiary.” At one point after their capture by a band of Nez Perce the author sees one aiming a rifle at his head and he realizes that most of these Indians probably have some experience with Catholic missionaries; he makes the sign of the cross, and the rifle is lowered. Later his captor tells him, “Me no like white man. Kill’m my friends. Kill’m my squaw, my papoose, my friends in Big Hole fight. Me no like you.” But then he crossed himself and said, “Me Catlic, you Catlic.” Later, after most of the men in his party are dead, he makes himself useful driving horses for the Indians and showing them the trail through Yellowstone Park. He ended in the camp of Chief Joseph (whom he describes at some length) with his sister, Emma (who had seen her husband of two years killed that day). The narrative includes the personal accounts of several of the survivors in chapters at the end, including one of the captured women, Carpenter’s teenage sister, Ida Carpenter. The final chapter is entitled “Reminiscences of Early Life in Montana,” and gives the Carpenter family story of moving from Black Earth, Wisconsin to Colorado in 1864; en route they ran into a large company heading to the Idaho Gold mines and concluded to go there. After traveling through Wyoming they arrived at Virginia City, where he relates his father’s experiences with the ‘flour riot,’ in 1865, and with setting up store to supply miners in 1865. An extraordinarily rare narrative.

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