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Charles Karner Bucknum

One of the early pioneers of the great west, where he has long been connected with business life under conditions that try men’s souls and one of the brave and daring soldiers of the Union army and later a scout of the Indian wars, Mr. Bucknum is now peacefully engaged in the unromantic but eminently useful occupation of a livery man at Casper, Wyoming standing prominently among its business men, He was born in Miami County, Indiana on October 12, 1847, son of Kelb and Evaline (Lumesdan) Bucknum, natives of New York who early removed to Peru, Indiana where the father conducted a drug business until 1852, then going to California where he died in 1854 Charles being his only child. In 1856 the mother transferred the family home to Minnesota where he son was a diligent pupil of the public schools when the “sounds of war’s alarms” were too attractive to resist and on July 25, 1863, he enlisted to serve his country in Co F, Hatch’s Cavalry Battalion, being mustered in at Fort Snelling and kept on garrison duty until the winter of 1864, when they were sent down to Savannah, Georgia in time to participate in its capture remaining there until April 1866 when they returned to Fort Snelling for muster-out on the 26th. Mr. Bucknum was thereafter a resident of Minnesota until 1868 when he went to Fort Stevenson, North Dakota to be the wagon boss of Wilder, Merriman and Company on their trip westward across the plains. On their first trip the U. S. mail carrier met them east of Fort Totten and warned them of danger from the Indians stating that two carriers had been killed at Big Hollow on the line of their route. On arriving at that place at nine in the evening they found the bodies of the carriers laying on the ground filled with arrows and scalped and here they camped. Soldiers arrived on the next day who buried the bodies and the wagon train experienced no trouble. At Fort Buford their party remained some months running a hay train and having several contests with the Indians who on one occasion attacked the train, shooting three men and on the same day killing four others at the hay camp. Amid these dangers the party finally went on to Fort Claggett and some time thereafter Mr. Bucknum engaged in trapping and hunting making headquarters at the mouth of the Musselshell at Clendenning’s trading post. Game and fur were plentiful and Mr. Bucknum was busily and profitably employed for several years the only drawback being the presence of the Indians, with whom he often had to contest sometimes driving them off and sometimes being forced to run and having several narrow escapes from death. In 1871 he made his first trip to Fort Benton there making headquarters until 1877 when during the Nez Perce War he was the guide to Colonel Ilges whit whom he was at Cow Island when the Indians made a crossing and burned 250 tons of government freight. Killing the guard they went up cow creek killed one of the Barker brothers and destroyed two ox teams of Barker Brothers and four ox teams belonging to a man by the name of Cooper now living in Montana. While at this work Colonel Ilges surprised them but was defeated losing one man and two wounded. Returning to Cow Island the next day the troops returned and buried the dead. Barker’s dog refusing to allow any one to touch his body until the brother came. That night Colonel Ilges was informed that Colonel Miles was crossing the Missouri below the Musselshell and Mr. Bucknum was sent to tell him the location of the Nez Perces and to be his guide. Starting at 10 in the morning Mr. Bucknum overtook Colonel Miles North of the Little Rockies at three o’clock in the afternoon of the next day being his guide until the Nez Perces were found when the great four day battle commenced. On the third night Colonel Miles sent a dispatch by Mr. Bucknum to General Terry who was 110 miles away. Making the ride safely in twenty hours he immediately retraced his steps with a message for miles and meeting him on the Missouri with Indian prisoners he was sent to Terry, who was hastening to the Canadian line to form a treaty alliance with Sitting Bull and then accompanied Terry to Fort Walsh, where the interview with the Indian Chief did not result in a treaty. The next winter Bucknam scouted for General Gibbons and the next summer for General Brooke whose operations were around the Bear Paw and Little Rockies with twenty-eight companies of U. S. soldiers. They also located Fort Assinniboine and when General Ruger was ordered to that post the next year Mr. Bucknam was instructed to report to General Ruger. Continuing in the government service at this fort for some months later Mr. Bucknam was seriously injured by the fall of a safe that was being loaded on a wagon breaking his ankle and from this injury he still suffers. He retired from the service of the government in April 1880 and thereafter conducted freighting operations until 1883 with good success later being engaged in profitable construction contracts on the Elkhorn Valley Railroad then being built to Casper, there establishing a livery business in which he is still engaged having a good feed stable in connection. He is also running a fine band of sheep of excellent character. Mr. Bucknum is actively interested in G. A. R. matters has attained to the thirty-second degree in freemasonry and takes more then the average share of public honors and duties being in political faith a Republican. He has been the efficient chairman of the board of county commissioners for two years and is at the present writing serving his third term as mayor of Casper. He has been twice married, first with Della Williams in July 1886, who died in 1889 leaving a daughter Winnie. In 1890 was consummated his marriage with Miss Ida Rowe of Montana. Their residence was one of the comfortable homes of Casper and the resort of many people for their friends are as numerous as their acquaintances holding as they do the reputation of aiding every public enterprise and private plan for the advancement of the community and the state of their home.

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