Depredation, Horses Stolen by Indians, 1872
In 1888, Colorado notary John W. Douthit, of Las Animas County, took the sworn statement (affidavit of depredation) of a livestock dealer from Trinidad, Colorado, that Arapahoe Indians had stolen a horse valued at $250, sixteen years earlier in 1872.
The statement was one of several affidavits sent as evidence for a depredation claim filed with the Office of Indian Affairs, under the Department of the Interior.
Colorado Territory existed from 1861 until statehood in 1876. So, although Douthit was a notary for the State of Colorado in 1888, the horse was stolen in 1872, in former Colorado Territory.
Colorado Affidavit of Depredation, 1888
The horse theft occurred after the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, where Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians were killed by soldiers from Denver, led by Colonel John Chivington, in their village on Sand Creek, in eastern Colorado Territory.
State of Colorado, County of Las Animas
In the matter of claim of Thomas E. Owen, now of Capulen, New Mexico, and formerly of Colorado, for loss of horses and mule in 1872, by depredations of Arapahoe Indians, before me, a notary public, in and for the State and county aforesaid, personally appeared G. W. Thompson, of said county, who, being duly sworn according to law deposes and says:
That he is personally acquainted with the claimant, Thomas E. Owen, and has known him over sixteen years.
That he knows that in 1872 the claimant owned a fine bay horse which deponent saw at different times on claimant’s ranch in Colorado, and which, amongst other stock (as the deponent was informed and believes), the claimant had taken from him by Arapahoe Indians in 1872.
The said horse was a bay, and aged about seven to nine years in 1872, and in my judgment was worth $250. The horse was an American horse and a good driver. I am a judge of the value of horses, being a dealer in livestock, and am at present running a stock farm in Colorado at Trinidad.
G. W. Thompson
Sworn and subscribed before me this 21st day of September, A.D. 1888.
John W. Douthit, Notary Public
My commission expires September 11, A.D. 1890.
Historic Value of Notary Records
Old notary records provide a glimpse into history, whether reflecting important events or everyday life. This affidavit provides evidence of Indian raids on ranch livestock, continuing after the Sand Creek Massacre.
It was not unusual for notaries to take an affidavit of livestock depredation during that era.
The Indian Depredation Act authorized an action by, and judgment for, the owner of property taken by force or destroyed. The Indian tribe, members of which were charged with the commission of a depredation, was a necessary named party to the suit.
In southeast Colorado, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians and pioneers previously met and traded goods at Bent’s Fort on the Santa Fe Trail, along the Arkansas River at La Junta.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal headquarters is now located in Concho, Oklahoma, west of Oklahoma City.
Reference: federal government records, public domain
1. Painting of Black Man, an Arapahoe warrior with face paint and feathers, by Elbridge Ayer Burbank (Life time: 1858-1949) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2. The Silenced War Whoop, oil on canvas, 1908, Charles Schreyvogel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
3. Arapahoe Village 1868, photo, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons