“A Hawaiian by the name of Frank Grouard is living as a scout in the American Army under General Crook, fighting Sioux Indians.” (Kuakoa, September 30, 1876; Krauss)
Whoa, that’s getting waaay ahead of ourselves … let’s look back.
May 23, 1843, Elders Benjamin F Grouard, Addison Pratt, Noah Rogers and Knowlton F Hanks, intending for the Hawaiian Islands, set sail as the first Mormon missionaries to the Pacific Islands. Rather than Hawai’i, they ended up in the Solomon Islands. (Cluff)
In 1846, Elder Grouard married Ana, a local chieffess; a few years later, on September 20, 1850, Frank Grouard was born. A couple years later (1852,) the Grouards and Pratts left Polynesia. In California, young Grouard was turned over to Addison and Louisa Pratt, for care. (His own mother had returned to the islands and later died; Elder Grouard died in 1894.) (Trowse)
The Pratts, with Grouard, emigrated to Utah. Grouard ran away and at the age of nineteen, ended up a Pony Express mail carrier … “out West” through hostile Indian Country (between California and Montana.) (Trowse)
“During one of his trips on a lonely trail he was captured by Crow Indians and taken prisoner. The Crows took him many miles from the road, and in a lonely forest, stripped off his clothes and possessions, then released him to wander alone.”
“He wandered, cold and hungry, a piece of fur for clothing, eating grasshoppers and other bugs for food. When he had given up hope of surviving, he was discovered by a group of Sioux Indians. Because of his expressions of aloha, they took a liking to him.” (Kuakoa, September 30, 1876; Krauss)
There were two factions in the camp – one led by Chief Sitting Bull, the other led by Chief Crazy Horse. Grouard was held for nearly seven years, during the first two of which he was practically a prisoner.
He all but became an Indian, and, though he declared he never, as an Indian, fired upon a white man, he took part in scores of battles against other enemies of the Sioux and in hundreds of forays after game and the horses and cattle of settlers. (Trowse)
“The Sioux took him into a heavily forested area where he was cared for. Chief Sitting Bull adopted him to be his own child of his own blood but with a different language. He grew in stature to be greatly admired by the Indians for his skill and wit.” (Kuakoa, September 30, 1876; Krauss)
He was given the name ‘Standing Bear.’
“In a very short time, he became one of the best riders of wild Indian horses and he became one of the best shots. For nine years he lived with the Indians, his manner becoming much like them.” (Kuakoa, September 30, 1876; Krauss)
He learned the landscape, customs and traditions – all the while constantly on alert to escape captivity. Around age 26, he eventually escaped from his Indian captors. Then, Grouard became an Indian Scout in the American Army under General George Crook, fighting Sioux Indians.
Almost every summer for nearly a dozen years, Grouard was in the field as a scout, commanding as many as 500 scouts and friendly Indians with all the Indian fighters who made reputations in subduing the Indians. He was wounded many times, suffered almost incredible hardships, saved small armies on several occasions and often saved the lives of individual men and officers.
He never led a party to disaster, was invariably chosen to head any “forlorn hope” enterprise or to make any particularly perilous ride; with Grouard, victory followed victory. Gen. Crook never wearied of telling anecdotes of Grouard and praising his favorite. (Trowes)
Crook noted, “he would sooner lose one-third of any command than lose Grouard and accredits him as the greatest scout and rider and one of the best shots and bravest men that ever lived.” (Berndt)
By February 1876, believing there was peace, many Indians were leaving the reservations in search of food. Orders had been given by the American government to return, but they did not take it seriously. General Crook began his winter march from Fort Fetterman, March 1, 1876 with many companies of troops.
When Sitting Bull learned that Grouard was the scout for General Crook, he saw the chance to kill Grouard in battle. By March 17, Grouard located Crazy Horse’s village on the Powder River in Montana. (Dodson) In May 1876, in preparation for the summer campaign, the Army was fitted out at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.
Fort Laramie, founded as a local trading post in 1834 at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers, soon served as a stop for folks emigrating West on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails (the westward migration peaked in 1850 with more than 50,000 traveling the trails annually.)
The US military purchased the post in 1849 and stationed soldiers there to protect the wagon trains. The US Civil War took soldiers away from it and other outposts. The Western migration continued. With the ending of the Civil War, soldiers came back. (Talbott)
Tension between the native inhabitants of the Great Plains and the encroaching settlers resulted in a series of conflicts … this eventually led to the Sioux Wars. The most notable fight, fought June 25–26, 1876, was the Battle of Little Big Horn (Lt Col George Armstrong Custer lost – Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and others won.) (Grouard was not involved in that fight.)
Most native Americans were confined to reservations by 1877. In September 1877, Chief Crazy Horse left the reservation and General Crook had him arrested. When Crazy Horse saw he was being led to a guard house, he resisted and was stabbed to death by a guard. (Denardo)
In the fall of 1877, Sitting Bull headed north to Canada; life there was tough and in 1881 he surrendered to the US. In 1889 Sitting Bull was shot by Police. (NPS)
Grouard continued in the service of the US government until the end of the Indian Wars. Frank Grouard died at St. Louis, Missouri in 1905 where he was eulogized as a “scout of national fame”.
“To him perhaps more than to any other one man is due the early reclamation of that rich section of the mainland embraced in South Dakota, a large part of Montana, the whole of Northern Nebraska, and the whole of Northern Wyoming. Let us, then, write him as a factor – a Polynesian factor – in the making of the nation of nations.” (Trowse)
(There is conflicting information on the ethnicity of Grouard – Kuakoa reported in 1876 that Grouard was half-Hawaiian; he, himself, claimed to be “partial Hawaiian” (Dobson) and he told Trowse that his mother was a “woman of the Sandwich Islands”. (Trowse) Several others note he was son of a chiefess from the Solomon or ‘Friendly’ Islands (Tonga.))
There is more to the story … After serving with the Confederate Army during the Civil War, John Carpenter Hunton came West to work at Fort Laramie. His brother James came to join him in 1876; James’ headstone tells the rest of his history that ended later that year – “Killed by Indians”.
As noted above, the Sioux Wars military campaign provisioned at Fort Laramie, prior to heading north to South Dakota and Montana. Hunton was fort sutler (providing provisions out of the camp post) – Hunton and Grouard were at the fort at the same time, so it is likely they met.
They had closer ties than that. Hunton lived with/was married to LaLie (sister to fellow scout (and half-breed) Baptiste Garnier (Little Bat.)) LaLie later left Hunton and married Grouard – that marriage didn’t last either, and she left Grouard, too.
Oh, one other ‘rest of the story’ … John Hunton is Nelia’s Great Great Uncle. On a number of ocassions, we visited Fort Laramie and the John and James Hunton gravesites in Wyoming.