Frank Joshua North, 1840-1885 [RG2321.AM]


RG2321.AM: Frank Joshua North, 1840-1885

Papers: 1862-1958, mostly 1864-1893
Platte County, Neb.: Soldier; scout
Size: 0.75 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


Frank J. North was born in Tompkins County, New York, in March 1840. In 1842, the family moved to Richland County, Ohio, where Frank’s brother, Luther, was born in 1846. Hard times drove them to look for new land, and in 1856, Frank brought the family to Omaha where his father and older brother, James, had a contact clearing timber. The father froze to death while surveying on Big Papillion Creek in 1857 and Frank and James moved the family to Florence. In 1858 Frank and James staked a claim near Columbus, which they lived on until 1860 when Frank first went to work at the Pawnee Agency as a clerk and interpreter at the trading post. In 1864 he accompanied the first Pawnee Scouts to the field under General Curtis. After an unsuccessful campaign against the Sioux, he was ordered to organize his own company of Pawnee Scouts and given the rank of captain.

In 1865 after the Scouts were mustered out for the winter, he married Annie Louise Smith at Columbus. Nearly every year until 1876, the Scouts were organized in the early spring and mustered out in the late winter, each time under Frank North, who was promoted in 1867 to the rank of major. The Pawnee Scouts under Major North participated in many important campaigns and earned a great reputation as a fighting unit. In 1877 the Pawnee were mustered out for the last time. Frank then went into partnership with William F. Cody in a cattle ranch at the head of Dismal River in Western Nebraska. The business was sold out in 1882. After serving one term in the Nebraska Legislature, Frank traveled with Cody’s Wild West Show. In 1884 he was severely injured in a riding accident in Connecticut. He was brought home to Columbus, Nebraska, where he died on March 14, 1885.


This collection consists of two boxes of papers relating to Frank North’s life and career. Included are correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, biographical information and miscellaneous other materials. Also included are several items relating to Stella North (Frank’s daughter) and Mrs. Jane North (Frank’s mother). The bulk of the papers date from 1864 to 1893.

This material relates to: pioneer life in Nebraska; the organization of Frank North’s Scouts; General Curtis’ 1864 campaign against the Sioux; General Connor’s Powder River Campaign in 1865; guarding the Union Pacific railroad against the Sioux in 1867-1868; General Carr’s campaign in 1869 which saw the Battle of Summit Springs and killing of Chief Tall Bull; the final campaign of 1876 under General Crook in which the villages of Red Cloud and Swift Bear were captured and McKenzie defeated the Cheyenne; life among the Pawnee Indians; and cattle ranching in Western Nebraska.

Correspondents include: George Crook, Thomas P. Kennard, Alvin Saunders, and William T. Sherman.

NOTE: For related materials, see RG2322.AM for papers relating to Luther Hedden North. See RG0018 for additional information about the Pawnee Scouts. See the library catalog and the Nebraska History magazine for published materials relating to Frank North and the Pawnee Scouts.


Box 1

  1. Correspondence, 1870-1958
  2. Diary, 1869
  3. Diary, 1876-1877
  4. Orders, resolutions, commissions and certificates, 1862-1870 (see also oversize)
  5. Notebook in which Frank North recorded words of songs he heard while in the service, n.d.
  6. Autograph book kept by Frank North while in the Nebraska Legislature, 1883
  7. Frank North’s autobiography as told to and written by Alfred Sorenson (manuscript)
  8. Frank North’s autobiography as told to and written by Alfred Sorenson (typescript)
  9. Biographical materials
  10. Tax receipts and other financial papers, 1867-1884

Box 2

  1. Jane A. North’s diary, 1899
  2. Stella North’s autograph book given to her by her father in 1883
  3. Stella North’s wedding book, 1888
  4. Newspaper clippings, 1891-1893
  5. Miscellaneous


Subject headings:

Bruce, Robert, 1872-1954
Carr, E. A. (Eugene Asa), 1830-1910
Conner, P. E. (Patrick Edward), 1820-1891
Crook, George, 1829-1890
Curtis, Samuel Ryan, 1805-1866
Dennard, Thomas Perkins, 1872-1920
Grinnell, George Bird, 1849-1938
Indian Scouts
Indians of North America
Military life
North, Frank J. (Frank Joshua), 1840-1885
North, Luther Heddon, 1846-1935
Pawnee Indians
Powder River Expedition, 1865
Ranch life
Red Cloud, 1822-1909
Saunders, Alvin, 1817-1899
Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891
Sorenson, Alfred Rasmus, 1850-1939
Summit Springs, Battle of, Colo., 1869
Swift Bear
Tall Bull
Union Pacific Railroad Company


JEP/DDS/ht      09-04-1973
rev. TLR/kfk      01-31-2003
Rev. TMM         12-29-2023

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