The Killing of Bob Ferguson by Cheyennes
Posted by Forest B. Dunning (+22) 2 years ago
While the killing of Hugh Boyle in September of 1890 has been discussed in this forum quite extensively, there was another murder by Cheyennes in May of 1890.
Robert Ferguson and his brother established a ranch on the Rosebud near Kirby. After the winter of 1890 he complained to the Postmaster at the Muddy Creek Post Office that he was missing several head of cattle and suspected that they had been butchered by hungry Cheyennes in the vicinity of Busby.

On about May 6, 1890 he went searching for some missing horses and did not return. His brother searched for him for the next two days with no success. They then called out the neighbors for a more extensive search. The search party combed the hills and valleys around the ranch and up to five miles on the Cheyenne Reservation. Finding no sign of man or horse they reported the missing man to Agent Upshaw at the Lame Deer Agency and requested help from the soldiers at Camp Merritt which was just north of Lame Deer. The Cheyenne Police and soldiers searched that portion of the Reservation for a week with no success. The soldiers then called in Captain Casey and the Cheyenne Scouts from Fort Keogh for a more scientific grid search. They searched for an additional week without finding anything other than some of Bob Ferguson's missing horses.

During the search by the Cheyenne Scouts a white man who understood the Cheyenne language overheard two Cheyennes telling their fellow Scouts to stay away from the country in the northwest corner of the reservation. The white man told the soldiers what he had heard with the result that the search was concentrated in that vicinity. One of the white officers noted vultures circling an area about a mile north of the Reservation line in the Little Wolf Mountains. Further examination revealed Bob Ferguson's dead horse and saddle and also the remains of a butchered cow. However, Ferguson's body was not to be found.

The same man who had overheard the two Cheyennes telling others to stay away from the area also heard them say to try and keep the whites away from a dry wash at the bottom of the hill. When he rode down the wash he noted finger marks where it looked like dirt had been pulled down from the banks. Dismounting, he started kicking the sand and dirt at the bottom of the wash with the result that he hit something hard which proved to be Bob Ferguson's boot. The recovered body revealed that Ferguson had been shot twice, money, keys, and his weapons were missing.

Captain Casey immediately placed four recent recruits from the Cheyenne Scouts under arrest. Their names were Little Eyes, Black Medicine, White Buffalo, and Powder-On-The-Face. A search of the lodges of the men revealed one of Ferguson's pistols and his key ring in Powder-On-The-Face and Little Eyes teepees. They were transported to Miles City and lodged in the Custer County Jail.

All of the Cheyennes denied having murdered Ferguson or knowing who did. Little Eyes and Powder-On-The-Face said they found the pistol and key ring on the trail but did not know they belonged to Ferguson. Further checking revealed that Little Eyes, Black Medicine, and White Buffalo had been at Fort Keogh during the time frame that Ferguson had been killed. Powder-On-The-Face had joined the Cheyenne Scouts about a week after the murder.

White Buffalo and Black Medicine were released from custody in late June for lack of evidence and testimony from Fort Keogh that they couldn't have done the murder because formation records proved that they were at Fort Keogh at the time. Little Eyes and Powder-On-The-Face were questioned extensively but stuck to their stories and were released in late July for lack of evidence. Powder-On-The-Face departed the Cheyenne Reservation almost immediately following his release from the Custer County Jail.

The murder was never solved and the Yellowstone Journal railed against the Cheyenne release. However, years later the Cheyennes oral history says that Head Chief(Hugh Boyle's murderer)on the night before his "suicide by soldier" told his friends that he had killed three white men, the last being Hugh Boyle.
Since we don't know who the other two were, Bob Ferguson could have been one of them.
Maybe in the end, justice was done.
Top
+2
Posted by sally petersen (+10) 8 months ago
Hi Forest! I was very interested in your arrival about the death of a Ferguson by the Cheyenne Indians in 1890. I was excited to hear that a Captain Casey from Ft. Keogh was called in to search. My mother's maiden name was Casey and her family was from Miles City. Am wondering if there could be a connection. Her father, William John Casey was born and raised in M!miles City...went to high school there, joined the army and served at Ft. Keogh. His first wife, Mutual Take Casey, died in the 1918 flu epidemic there. He got sick too and was hospitalized, but recovered. When he got home to his family he discovered that his wife had died and was already buried leaving 2 young sons. He later married my grandmother, Ann Marquette (or Marquardt, originally) Casey and the settled in St. Paul. His FATHER, I think his name was John Casey, lived in Miles City, of course, but he was originally from England and had served in the British army in India. We believe he may have gone AWOL from that and maybe entered the US through Canada. He later, after 7 years, became a US citizen. I don't know if he served at Ft. Keogh or not, but your mentioning a Captain Casey caught my eye. Sorry to bore you with all this family stuff but it's exciting to think I may have found new family info. What do you think? Any help would be greatly appreciated! --Sally
Top
Posted by sally petersen (+10) 8 months ago
Hi. Me (Sally)again. Correction to my first reply: my grandfather's first wife's name was MURIEL DAKE CASEY. Sorry about that. --S.
Top
Posted by Forest B. Dunning (+22) 8 months ago
Hi Sally.

I doubt that Cpt. Edmond "Ned" Kelly was closely related to your relative John Casey. Cpt. Casey was deployed with the Cheyenne Scouts to help contain the "Ghost Dance Craze" in late 1890. He was killed shortly after the Wounded Knee Massacre by a young Sioux boy who wanted to be a warrior.


Forest
Top
supporter
Posted by ike eichler (+1215) 8 months ago
First LT, Casey was never a Caption. His name was Edward Watson Casey Born in 1850 to General Silas Casey and Abby Perry Casey.

Robert Ferguson was killed May 6 and Hugh Boyle September of 1890. Head Chief was in his mid 20s but Young Mule was only 13. If Head Chiefs brag of killing 3 white men was true, wonder who the 3rd one was?
Top
Posted by Forest B. Dunning (+22) 8 months ago
Hi Ike,
You are right about Ned Kelly's name. I think he was a 1st Lt.(P) which means he was selected for promotion to Captain pending Congress approval of tbe promotion list. Following his unfortunate death many referred to him as Cpt.out of respect.

On the Head Chief/Young Mule incident. The first white man that Head Chief said he killed was a cowboy near Stacy, MT. He was in the company of four other Cheyennes on a hunting trip. The other Cheyennes confirmed his story. They killed the cowboy and his horse and dumped them in a sink hole and covered the bodies with tumble weeds.
Top