In the 1890s, the location of the Sand Creek event was seemingly lost. The 1894 United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) Topo map did not show the battleground. The map showed specific locations, and bends in the creek became important landmarks.
An interest in marking the Sand Creek site emerged when four of the Sand Creek veterans set off to document the location in July 1908–Morse Coffin, W. H. Dickens, David Harden, and P. M. Williams. The soldiers arrived by train at Kit Carson when they met to mark the spot.
One of the spots they looked at was the St. George Creaghe ranch on Sand Creek. While staying at the ranch, a cowpuncher played Ol’ Cheyenne on a phonograph. Enjoy the video below of Ol’ Cheyenne on Chuck’s Edison Phonograph and an excerpt of the veterans’ trip to mark the Sand Creek spot.
“The members of the First and Third Colorado cavalry who participated in the battle of Sand Creek in 1864, will hold a reunion at the site of the struggle on July 13th of this year, leaving Denver on the morning of that day,” the Littleton Independent reported June 26, 1908.
The following is from the Denver Post dated July 26, 1908:
The two Creaghe boys and their cowpunchers rode up. Dick Creaghe was the prankster. Paul’s introductions were simple.
“Here’s some of them old soldiers that knocked h—l out of the Injuns that time.” “Oh, yes, an’ a reporter,” he said.
The tow-headed cowpuncher slipped into the inner room and began fiddling with something on the other side of the partition. There was a grinding and whirring noise and then the tinkle of a piano on the phonograph. It was then drowned out by a loud off-key voice singing ol’ Cheyenne. Then the cowpuncher appeared in the doorway with a broad grin on his face and the other cowboy, his spurs clattering bravely on the loose boards, danced to the music of the chorus:
Shy Ann, Shy Ann, hop on my pony
There’s room here for two dear, but after the ceremony
We’ll both ride back home dear as one
On my pony from old Cheyenne
“What would Owen Wister the Western novelist say to the canned music of a phonograph? He once lamented that the prairie was covered with empty tin cans, marking the march of civilization. Truly the West is passing away, pursued by canned fruits and canned melodies,” Van Loan said. (Van Loan, C.E. “Veterans of 1864 Revisit Scene of Indian Battle on the Banks of Sand Creek, Colo.” Denver Post. July 26, 1908).
The full account of the four veteran soldiers can be found in our book.
We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site details the discovery of thousands of artifacts by Chuck and Sheri Bowen. Sheri was the researcher and Chuck was the archaeologist.
You can learn all about this discovery in the book. Buy it on Amazon here: We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site
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