"History and Stories of Nebraska"
by Addison Erwin Sheldon

Produced by Connie Snyder


A STAGE COACH HERO OF THE LITTLE BLUE


On the morning of August 9, 1864, the overland stage coach left Big Sandy station on the Little Blue River in Jefferson County, Nebraska. There were seven men and two women passengers. Robert Emery was the driver.

Two days before this the Sioux had attacked the travelers and stations on the overland trail from the Platte to the Little Blue. About forty white people were killed, scalped and cut to pieces, ranches and wagon trains were burned and all the stock run off.

Rumors of the Indian attack had reached Big Sandy, but no one knew the truth, -- that butchered men and burned wagons lined the road for two hundred miles. No signs of Indians were seen by the stage driver until eleven o'clock. The stage was not far from "the Narrows," a long ridge leading to the valley of the Little Blue with deep gullies on either side, when the driver saw, about two hundred yards ahead, a band of fifty Indians waiting for him. Quick as he saw them he wheeled his four horses and stage coach right about and started back, -- ten yards farther on and he could not have done this.


Stage Coach.
(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

It was a race for life. The Indians gave their yell and dashed after them in pursuit. The driver laid the lash on the horses' backs and the stage flew over the road. The passengers sprang to their feet wild with fright. "Keep your seats or we are lost!" commanded the driver and they obeyed. Arrows flew thick. Some stuck in the stage coach, some grazed the driver's cheek and one cut the rosette from the bridle of a wheel horse.

The driver kept a cool head. There were two sharp turns in the road. As he neared them he pulled up the horses, made the turns carefully and then whipped ahead again. The passengers held their breath in terror at these turns as they watched the Indians gain on them, but the splendid speed and mettle of the stage horses carried them on.

Three miles the race lasted. Far ahead a swaying line in the road showed an ox train of twenty-five wagons coming west. A mile away the master of the train saw the Indians and stage coach. He quickly made a corral of his wagons with an opening toward the west. Into this gap Emery drove his stage while the rifles of the wagon train began to bark at the Indians. The passengers were saved and could hardly express their joy. They hugged and kissed the driver and threw their arms about the necks of the noble horses that had brought them through in safety.

* * * * *

A year later the stage driver lay dying with a fever. Just before his death, Mrs. Randolph, one of the passengers in the stage coach that day, placed upon his finger a beautiful gold ring with these words engraved upon it:

E. Umphry, G. C. Randolph
and Hattie P. Randolph to
ROBERT EMERY
in remembrance of what we owe
to his cool conduct and good driving on
Tuesday, August 9,1864.

And, looking at the ring, this stage coach hero of the Little Blue gave up the lines at the end of his last drive.


QUESTIONS

  1. Have you ever seen a stage coach? Have you ridden in one?
  2. In what respects is a stage coach journey better fun than a journey by railroad?
  3. Was Robert Emery just the kind of a man to drive a stage coach? Why?
  4. What are such men as Robert Emery doing to-day?



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