Going back to Levi and the Indian depredations. After discussing his losses, the deposition turned to who allegedly committed the thefts.
Levi responded that he knew it was Indians because he “trailed the cattle, found horse trakes and Indian tracks following the trail.” He said he knew they were Navajo for two reasons. First, a friendly Indian called Indian Frank warned him about the Navajos. Second, the tracks of the Navajos were long, slim and neat, while the tracks of other (unspecified tribes) of Indians were broad and short. He claimed the thefts occurred in January 1866.
The questions then moved to why he had left his land. He claimed he was in fear of his life because 2 men had been killed and another wounded. Apparently the man who was wounded was in his group when they were leaving. Levi said between 6-12 Indians participated in the attack. Upon cross-examination, Levi used the word “emphatically” to emphasize how much he was in fear of losing his life, not just his property if he remained in Kanab.
Then the government asked if he had ever transferred the property to another, or either provoked or acted in revenge towards the Indians. Levi replied No.
When Levi returned six months later, most of the buildings were still standing. The government official clarified that he felt he was sustained the loss of the land because he felt that remaining there put in his life in danger, not because he was forcibly removed or the buildings were actually destroyed.
The US attorney then asked whether the land he was claiming was unsurveyed land belonging to the US government. Levi replied in the affirmative. Then it gets interesting. “Counsel for the government moves to strike out all testimony with regard to the injury of this land, buildings, corrals, and crops for the reason that it appears that the land belonged to the defendant [US government], that claimant was a squatter or trespasser upon said land, and that the defendant is not responsible for any loss he sustained.”
A blow to Levi who had purchased the land and built improvements, albeit perhaps illegally. It seems that he knew in the 1890s that it was US land. This has consequences when the final judgment of his claim is made.
Did you ancestors live through raids or attacks? Did they leave their property because they felt unsafe? I think it’s important to understand the other side of the story–the Native American viewpoint. I am still looking for sources, but trying to understand all sides when conflict is involved helps put the situation in historical context.
Information from the Indian depredations claims are from: Record Group123, Records of the United States Court of Claims, Indian Depredation Case File #9173, Levi Savage (this is how NARA referred to it when asking if I wanted a copy).