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8/21/2004

This Place Called Ellsworth

This place called Ellsworth sends my thoughts soaring. Through the mists of time a people whisper to us of a life of survival and experience of which we can only see in our mind's eye. Their world would come to an end with the surge of Europeans moving westward.  
Coronado led his famous expedition in search of the land of Quivira where it was said that Kings floated lazily down river on golden boats and immersed themselves in a world of golden paraphernalia. Coronado was gravely disappointed, but he opened up the ancient world of the plains to European culture and influence. Spaniard expeditions continued from 1542 into the 1700’s.  
The French, of course, claimed this land as their own calling the great expanse across the center of the continent Louisiana. French traders, known as Voyagers, were traveling over the plains by the late 1600’s spreading their own brand of culture as they came into contact with scattered villages. At about this same time the Sacred Dog came into the hands of the Comanche, Plains Apache and others. The horse changed the native American world more than any other European influence.  
Those who mastered the horse were masters of the plains. The Sacred Dog was the most advanced technology of the age allowing men who had always been bound to the ground to “fly” over great distances. By 1824, the Padouca (Comanche) people had become the dominant society on the plains. Their warfare was completely disrupting trade which was having a negative effect upon the French economy.  
French commander, Sieur De Bourgmont, was charged with restoring peace to the plains. With an entourage of 1,000 representatives of other peaceful tribes 32 French soldiers set out for the Grande Village of the Padouca in early July, 1724. Here’s one of those places where the pictures flood into my mind. Can you imagine? 1,000 Indians and 32 French soldiers marching along the Kansas River? They finally reached their destination. The Grande Village of the Padouca lay along the Smoky Hill River in Central Kansas very near the western edge of Ellsworth County. Here’s where the scene begins to come to life again in my mind. The great chief of the Padouca, the famous horsemen of the plains, the Comanche steps out to greet his guests. Here on a forgotten piece of prairie a great summit meeting of the most powerful men from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains takes place. Gifts are exchanged and words spoken bringing to a close the turbulence that had plagued villages and trade. Bourgmont rode home triumphant, proudly displaying the horses given to him by the equally proud Comanche chief. Peace had come to the sea of grass that would someday be known as Ellsworth, Kansas. 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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