History of Woods County's Fair Valley Community>

by - Elbert Piper's Article printed in Alva-Review Courier 1957 Reprinted by LK Wagner - 2 February 1998

Some people have commented that Mr. Piper's history article is the most blatant piece of "noble white man trying to civilize savage indian." What do you think?

Start of the Hog Business . . .

Hogs were given to the Indians in hopes of establishing this industry, but when the grass got green in the spring, and the call to hunt buffaloes came, the warriors would get permission to put their hogs in the pen of the Indian agent.

Coming back the Indian would find the hogs nice and fat and a big feast would finish their hog industry. They were always ready for another hog and for the agency to fatten it for them. This way only a little more than a hundred years ago and now many whitemen are gradually adopting the Indians method in a modified form.

Indians thought the White people had an unlimited amount of food which was very delicious after eating buffalo meat for months and they wished to get as much as possible with the least effort.

It is related how one Indian's hog became quite a pet. it stayed much of the time in his teepee and the children would ride it. At garden time it became very troublesome. Finally it was corraled after no heed was given to care for it.

The Indian missing his hog went to the agent and asked, Why has my hog been put in the guardhouse? I am sure he has done no wrong.

The agent told him how the hog had rooted up planted potatoes to which the Indian replied, The hog meant no harm. It is his nature to root. He likes potatoes and eats them because he is hungry. The fault is not with the hog but with the one who scattered the potatoes over the ground knowing the hog would root after them.

All of this industry stuff showed conclusively that these new ideas were only an amusement to the Indians. Buffalo were plentiful. Why worry over the white man's way of living.

More White Man's Teachings . . .

It is related how an agent built one and a half story house for a high up chief. He could hardly work for Indians crowding about to watch every move. When finally finished and presented to the chief he said, White man's tepee too small. Have seven wives. Each wife need a room or she will mar my peace. I will move my teepees close. Use for my dogs to sleep in and store buffalo hides there while my seven wives tan them.

One Quaker Indian agent who had worked long and hard with them with little success, resigned his post and was leaving. In leaving he said, I have been trying to get thee to follow the man's ways and thee has followed until thee get to the white man's table and there thee has stopped. I believe that some great calamity must befall thee before thee will be willing to go further.

Indian children were irregular in school. They had no clocks. School was called of a morning by the agent going through camp blowing a cow's horn. Discipline usually was in a name only. When the urge came to hunt and the buffalo moved north every Indian left camp. Pupils could not even wait for diplomas.

Fair Valley was near the middle of the great plains over which these herds would pass both in going north and returning south. So evidentally many tribes camped and killed many animals for their meat and hides.

Springs of water like our Fair Valley spring were favorite camping sites for Indians, explorers, trappers, traders, cowmen as well as homesteaders. A spring and bat cave on the Merrihew place, near the state line north of Fair Valley about 20 miles, shows evidence of a favorite camping ground. Here was found in the cave, bows, arrows, pottery of different design, knives and tomahawks. Bones were found that were estimated to be 1,000 years old by the Smithsonian Institute.

So it would seem that what later became our Fair Valley homes was used by the Plains Indians thousands of years before it was opened for settlement with many battles taking place for this choice spot.

Happy Hunting Grounds To Cow Country

Most of the buffalo were killed before 1883. It was a sad time for the red man when this food supply was shut off and he was compelled to talk to white man on white man's terms.

Eliminating this meat supply had gradually been going on from about 1870. Tribes who fought with the south lost many rights.

When it came to the point of giving up his hunting the red man had many good reasons to offer why he should not do so. He said, I don't know how to farm. I do know how to hunt. While I am learning to farm my family will starve. There are many buffalo. They belong to us. Why should we not hunt. White men like the robes. They send men from the rising sun to buy them. Why not sell to white men. I like hunting better.

Thus the sun went down on one of the most colorful scenes of history any community ever saw, never, never to return. Thus we see that Fair Valley was changed from a happy hunting ground to a cow country.