Letter dated December 21, 1886, to Professor Spencer F. Baird, Secretary of the Smithsonian, about collecting bison specimens for an exhibit

 
William Temple Hornaday Letter - Dec 21, 1886 - Page 1

Smithsonian Institution
Spencer F. Baird, Secretary. Miles City, MT
Washington , DC Dec. 21, 1886

Professor Spencer F. Baird,

Dear Sir: --
My lost courier turned up alive after six days and nights out in the blizzard with only a raw sage hen for food, and although he came very near perishing he is now all right. As soon as possible three teams were sent to us, and we all arrived here yesterday safe and well with our entire collection in the best of order. I am now busy packing the collection and setting up the affairs of the expedition, so that at the earliest date possible we can start homeward.
I have received the three drafts you were so kind as to send me, for $250, $100, and $200, 

William Temple Hornaday Letter - Dec 21, 1886 - Page 2

respectively, and I think they will prove quite sufficient to meet all our obligations and get us back to Washington in good shape. Pray accept my thanks for the amount which was "not nominated in the bond."
It is impossible to say when we can start home, but it will probably be about Dec. 27th I will certainly get as far as Chicago by the 31st, and if you will kindly procure for me an extension of my pass of Mr. Frank Thompson, for "W. T. Hornaday and one," from Chicago to Washington good until Jan. 15th we will say, we will be greatly obliged. If this can be forwarded to me at No. 18. North Kendall St. Battle Creek. Mich as soon as possible, I will go to that place and bring take my family back to Washington with me.
I think we can say without boasting that we have by long odds the finest and most complete series of buffalo skins ever collected for a museum, and also the richest collection of skeletons and skulls. Of skins we have enough to make four sets, with several skins to spare. 

William Temple Hornaday Letter - Dec 21, 1886 - Page 3

2
Smithsonian Institution
Spencer F. Baird, Secretary.
Washington, D.C. ______ 18__

Of skins we have the following:
8 old bulls
1 young bull
6 old cows
5 young cows
3 calves
Total 23
Of skeletons of all kinds we have a total of 16, and of extra skulls 50.
The total number of buffalos killed on by the Expedition, including last springs work, was 25.
I consider that we have been extremely lucky in finding a sufficient number of buffalo where it was supposed by people generally that none existed. Our "outfit" has been pronounced by old buffalo hunters "The luckiest outfit that ever hunted buffalo in Montana," and the opinion is quite generally held that our "haul" of specimens could not be equaled again in Montana by anybody, no matter what their resources for the reason that the buffalo are not there. We killed very nearly all we saw and I am confident there are not over thirty-head remaining in Montana, all 

William Temple Hornaday Letter - Dec 21, 1886 - Page 4

told. By this time next year the cowboys will have destroyed about all of this remnant. We got in our Exploration just in the nick of time, -- the last day in the evening, so to speak, and I do not hesitate to say that I am really rejoiced over the fact that we have been successful in securing the specimens we needed so urgently. With the life studies I have been able to make, & the specimens that our good luck has brought us, I think we can have a series of mounted specimens that will be envied by all other museums.
Yesterday I did myself the honor of calling on Col. Gibson, and was very cordially received. We are under great obligations to the officers at Ft Keogh for the great aid they have rendered us, and the promptness and cheerfulness with which it has been given.

Yours obediently and respectfully,
W. T. Hornaday