The Caches
1822-1823

     James Baird and Samuel Chambers and a company of traders left St. Louis area in August, enroute to New Mexico. Partners with Baird were William Anderson Sr., Paul Anderson Jr., John Foughlin and Wilson McGunnegle. By one 1822 report there were 20 men and sixty pack animals, by another account the company numbered 50, and in 1823 it was stated 40 men made up the party. What ever their number, the adventures made a late season start out of Missouri and experiensed diffculties.

     On the Arkansas in present Ford County Section 29, Township 26w, Range 25s, West side of present Dodge City, Kansas, they were caught in the blizzard, took shelter on a large island, lost most of their animals from staravation and freezing to death. They were stranded for three months, enduring a servere winter. In the early spring of 1823, they dug deep pits on a slope on the north side of the river above their winter camp, stored their merchandise, and proceeded to Taos.
Note: Each pack animal could carry approximately 300 lbs. Fifty pack animals could transport 15,000 lbs or close to 7 1/2 tons of merchandise and goods.

     Writing from "Touse" June 20, 1823, McGunnegle stated; Since I came to this place I started with two Andersons, and a few Spaniards to lift two "Caches" that we made on the Arkansas river; when within a short distance of them we fell in with a large War Pary of the Panis Indians, sixty in number, who robbed us of 13 Mules and 1 Jack Ass, together with several other articles of less value. We were then obliged to put back to this place, which we reached after undergoing a pedestrain tour of fifteen days." On November 10, 1823, the St. Louis Enquirer noted that several members of the expedition had returned -- "M'Gunnegle, Anderson & company. They do not yet despair, we understand, of realising the objects of the expedition." Baird and Chambers had remained in New Mexico."

     The excavations made by the Baird party were known thereafter as "The Caches" and remained many years a noted landmark on the Santa Fe Trail about five miles west of Present Dodge City, Kansas. In 1846 a woman traveler, Mrs Susan Shelby Magoffin, wrote in her diary, "the Caches are large holes dug in the ground some what the shape of a jug. They are situated about a quarter of a mile from the river, on the rather elevated piece of ground, and with in a hundred yards of the road which runs at present between their and the river. They are quite as noted as any point on the road and few travellers pass without visiting them."

     Footnotes;
St. Louis Mo. Enquirer, September 2, 1822, November 10, 1823.

     Missouri Intelligencer, Franklin, September 3, 1822, reprinted in Niles' Weekly Register, v. 23, p. 177.

     Missouri Republican, St. Louis, August 27, September 3, November 8, 1823, Bullentin of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, v. 15, pp. 190, 191.

     Stella M. Drumm, ed., Down The Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico: Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, New Haven, 1926, pp. 53, 54.

     R. W. Strickland's article on Baird, in L. R. Hafen, editor, The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, 1968, v. 3, pp. 27-37.

     Alphose Wetmore in his Gazetteer of the State of Missouri 1837, p. 269, called the pits "Anderson's Caches on the Arkansas."




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