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Archives On the Air 314: Diary of an Army Paymaster – Robert Dunlap Clarke Papers

Robert Dunlap Clarke was a paymaster for the U.S. Army. In 1867 he traveled by wagon along the Bozeman Trail through parts of present-day Wyoming and Montana. The trail followed a route used by Native Americans for centuries. Clarke and his traveling party covered as many as 30 miles a day.

He kept a diary, full of running commentary on the geography, geology and fauna of the area. They encountered deer, bison, antelope and even grizzly bear. Clarke was also an amateur artist and made numerous sketches of the sights seen on his journey. He documented the discovery of two human skulls lying by the side of the road. They were said to be those of immigrants fired upon by the Sioux.

Near the Big Horns, Clarke encountered a tribe of more than 500 Crow, led by their chief, Crazy Head. Concern about hostile Native Americans hounded the traveling party.

Read the army paymaster’s diary in the Robert Dunlap Clarke papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.