Fort Pierre Letters, 1860-61.     5 pages. H88.50, 3750B
"The three letters in this collection are [typed] copies of transcripts of letters at the Montana State Historical Society. A note with the transcripts indicates that these three letters were the only things at the MHS that dealt with South Dakota or Fort Pierre. The letters deal with trading with the Indians and Indian attacks. The letters were all written to men living at Fort Pierre. The dates and correspondents are as follows:
  1. Andrew Dawson to W. D. Hodgkiss, 25th Sept. 1860
  2. Chas. P. Chouteau to Thos. Primeau, Oct. 14, 1860 ["Thos." should be "Chas."]
  3. P. Chouteau Jr. & Co. to Charles Primeau, Feby. 6, 1861
The Dawson letter is written from Fort Benton, Montana?. The other two were written from St. Louis. " [the rest of the "Manuscript/Photograph Accession Record" was covered over in the photocopy by the SD State Historical Society clerk to not include/hide the provenance/donator of the letters. -tpk 5 august 1998

letter 1

Fort Benton  25th Sept. 1860
W. D. Hodgkiss Esq.,
    Fort Pierre
        My Dear Sir
We have had busy times here this Summer but Thank God all is now quiet and
business begins to assume its old form at this place - Independent of the
presence of numerous Companies of troops I have been engaged transporting some
40000 lbs across the Mountains a distance of 340 miles all of which is now 
hapily accomplished at profitable rates. My last trains got back on the 22nd 
Inst.  The entire Flat Head annuities (40 Tons) are still in store here and 
I fully expect to have a large job with this also, but at present Vaughan and
Owen cannot agree as to the delivery of the goods and they have had to send to 
Supt. George at Portland Oregon for instructions and it will yet some two weeks 
before we can hear from them - Vaughan I think will be highly censured in the 
whole matter.

By Lt. White I sent $11703 48/100 to the House in Checks and Dfts. and 
I replaced to a man here $500. Cost of his taken below by Mr. Chouteau, 
all of which please see that the Oitfit is credited with - I have some 
$3000 still on hand have given Col. Vaughan $900. on loan paid some $6000. 
part Cash but mostly goods and Horses to our own and Clarke Primeau & Co's 
men of last year and I still expect to take in a pile so that you see 
I shall come out this year if I ever did.

All here is peace and plenty - I never yet saw such a pile of meat as 
that I have at present - The Indians are now quite reconciled to the 
consolidation though at first they were greatly disatisfied and as Bufo. 
are very plenty the prospects are most flattering for trade here - I have 
200 head of Horses on hand - my Robes I need not mention as you know 
trade here does not begin until February.

[p2] I am anxious to hear how you all get along below - How the Steam Boats
dorn[?] &c. &c. I expect that Paul Gentard will return here from St. Louis
sometime in winter by whom you must write me all particulars - Did you visit 
St. Louis?

Send me by first opportunity a copy of Clarked Primeau & Co.'s Inventory 
at this place as I omitted to retain one.

Wishing you a fine trade and plenty money to of us I remain

Most truly yours

Andr Dawson

Expect me as usual say 25th April.

I am undecided whether or not to start an Express this Winter to St. Louis 

I am afraid of the Sioux and should it not arrive at the usual time conclude 
that I have not sent it and act as you see best for the interest of your post. 
With one Company an Express is now not of so much importance as I have 
instructed the house that if at any time they should not receive the 
Requisition in convenient season to fill up from previous years.

Best respects to friend Primeau and to Wickham if he is with you.

Andrew Dawson September 25, 1860
letter 2

Saint Louis  Oct. 14, 1860

Thos. Primeau Esq. [this should be "Chas." Primeau.  have never found a "Thos."] 
Fort Pierre

Dear Sir

Your favor of 9th Sept. is recd. but only returning day before yesterday
from the East I have only the first opportunity to answer it.

We regret to learn that you too are to be annoyed by a small opposition - 
we beg to leave it entirely with you as regards to Purchasing out 
Laframboise & hiering him, be guided according to circumstances - 
If he is likely to annoy you, buy him out but under strong conditions.

We receive good accounts from Dawson & the Amt. of business done with the 
troops - He also looks forard for good returns.

Our expenses brought down to proper figures & we trust that you keep a close 
eye to that. We have every prospect for good results next season. But we must
avail ourselves of quantites of Robes - The Inferior kinds - summer Robes, 
small calves & ? are worthless  the Eastern market is prefectly overstocked 
with  them & a larged number carried over to next year.

By the Florence we sent you a Lot of Corn, not being able to do so by 
means of our small Boats - By Means however of your Wagons we trust 
that you will be able to get it up to your Post in good season.

It is yet too early for me to be able to give you any idea as to prospects 
for another Military Expedition to Fort Benton but yet I am in hopes of 
finding something for the Benifit of the outfit.

Give my Best regards to Mr. Hodgkiss & Believe me

Truly Yrs. Chas. P. Chouteau


Paul Gentard and Chas. Aubuchon whom we send as express men to Benton, may need
an additional man to get through. Please furnish them every facility to get 
them through as speedily as possible - Dawson has been obliged to Rob himself 
of nearly all his men to get the military expedition through to Wallawalla.

Enclosed please find a/c ourfit 1860 which please hand Mr. Hodgkiss.
letter 3

Saint Louis, Feby. 6, 1861

Charles Primeau Esq., Fort Pierre

Dear Sir: -

We had been in hopes suring the Winter we should have heard from you
occasionally, by way of Fort Randall and been informed of your actual trade and
prospects. However we are in hopes that we shall not be long kept in suspense. We
received letters from Mr. Dawson dated 18th sept. who informs us that the Sioux
Indians had again this season made an attack on Fort Union 250 strong and killed
25 Head of Cattle, burnt all the out-houses & 280 Tons of Hay & Two Mackinaw
Boats. They even attempted to burn down the Fort, when one Indian was kiled &
several wounded - at this they left. Fortunately only two days before Clark had
sent off 65 Head of Cattle & 27 horses to Fort Benton. Larpenter, Jeff. Smith &
Co. had reached destination in safety. We fear some annoyance from the, they may
create disatisfaction among the Indians. Thus far we have had a very mild winter
- We much fear that a large number of Inferior Robes will be caried over the
dealers. Political Troubles Involving every thing in a commercial way is creating
the utmost distress all over the country - Times are harder now than ever known
in all this Western Country - All of Cotton States seceded  The fact is we are in
a state of revolution and the greatest fear that civil war may be the result,
although every possible effort is being made to prevent it - 
a few days more will decide the question.

Try to find out which of the Bands made the attack on Fort Union, we must try 
and obtain redress in some way or other, Major Schoonover who was in the midst 
of the fray has fully reported the whole matter to the Superintendent of Indian 

Give all details which may be of any interest to us, and Oblige

Truly Yrs.

(Signed) P. Chouteau Jr. & Co.

Lake Shetek captives story 1862 map
showing "Galpin Discovers Captives" and
"Primeau's Store" - north of Fort Pierre

Primeau's store - north of Fort Pierre - Lake Shetek captives story
... When Charles Galpin arrived at Fort Randall he substantiated the story, saying that his Indian wife had learned of two women and six children who were being held by the Santees.
... On December 1, still two days from Fort Pierre, [Major Pattee's] force encountered two half-breeds named Frederick Dupree and Louis la Plant, who were escorting the women and children. The captives, taken at Lake Shetek [Minnesota] in August, had been ransomed from the Indians through the efforts of Charles Primeau, bourgeois at Fort Pierre. Pattee later wrote that the purchase had been made at this behest, since he had only 175 men and did not think it safe to attempt a forceful rescue.
- Robert G. Athearn, Forts of the Upper Missouri (University of Nebraska 1967) 99

a faithful & accurate transcription
from the SD Historical Society transcriptions
research & webwork: