In 1864, Josiah and Fanny Kelly headed to Montana with their seven-year-old niece, Mary Hurley. They were traveling with another couple, William and Sarah Larimer, as well as their eight-year-old son, Frank. The party also included Gardner Wakefield, the Rev. Sharp, Noah Taylor, and two black employees of the Kellys, known only as Franklin and Andy. The wagon train was small, only 5 wagons, all of which were heavily stocked for the commercial enterprises the Kellys and Larimers hoped to start in the gold fields of Montana. They presented an inviting target to the Indians.
Late on the afternoon of July 12, the wagon train was approached by some 100 Sioux warriors about ½ mile east of Little Box Elder crossing. Initially friendly, the warriors suddenly attacked as the wagon train members began to prepare dinner. The Rev. Sharp, Noah Taylor, and Franklin were killed instantly. Both William Larimer and Gardner Wakefield were seriously injured. The women and children were taken hostage.
That night, Mary Hurley managed to escape. Following scraps of paper carefully dropped by her aunt, she managed to make her way back to the trail. The next day, she saw soldiers returning to Deer Creek Station. She motioned to them but when the soldiers saw several warriors nearby, they abandoned the rescue attempt. Mary’s little body was found the next day. She had three arrows in her, had been scalped and gnawed on by wild animals. She was buried at this spot by her grief-stricken uncle, one of only two to escape the attack.
Sharp, Taylor, Franklin, and another victim in a wagon that happened upon the scene of the attack, were buried in a common grave some distance away. When that grave was threatened by a reservoir in 1954, the four other victims were moved to a new gravesite next to Mary’s.
Service Comprehensive Management Plan
About 14 miles west of Douglas.