Nancy Jane Fletcher Morton, 1845-1912 [RG3467.AM]


RG3467.AM:  Nancy Jane Fletcher Morton, 1845-1912

Memoirs, etc.:  1860-1868
Iowa:  Indian captive
Size:  1 folder; 1 reel of microfilm


Nancy Jane Fletcher, daughter of Samuel and Charlotte Fletcher, was born February 8, 1845, in Clarke County, Indiana. Four years later the family moved to Sidney, Iowa. In 1860 Nancy Fletcher married Thomas Frank Morton who operated a wagon freighting company. The couple had two children who died while very young. During a trip to Denver, Colorado, a party of wagons was attacked by a band of Indians west of Fort Kearney, Nebraska on August 8, 1864. During this attack, now known as the Plum Creek Massacre, Mrs. Morton was captured after her husband, brother, and cousin had been killed. She was ransomed and released in December of 1864 and returned to Sidney, Iowa on March 9, 1865. Later that year she married George W. Stevens. The couple had three children. She died in August of 1912, near Jefferson, Iowa, and was buried at Grand Junction, Iowa.


This collection of the papers of Nancy Jane Fletcher Morton is arranged in two series: 1) Accounts of the Plum Creek Massacre, 1860-1865; and 2) Claim of Depredations, 1865-1868. The bulk of the collection, contained in Series 1, consists of several versions by Nancy Morton of the Plum Creek Massacre, her capture and subsequent imprisonment by the Indians, and her eventual release. Most of the collection is only on microfilm, but there is one folder containing a typescript copy of the “History of Plum Creek Massacre and Captivity of Mrs. Thomas F. Morton” by Nancy Jane (Fletcher) Morton as copied by Cleon Skillman from an original manuscript.

The first item on microfilm in Series 1 is a handwritten manuscript by Nancy Morton. This manuscript contains accounts of trips from Sidney, Iowa to Denver, Colorado in 1860 and 1862 with her husband who operated a freighting company. A third trip in 1864 was interrupted west of Fort Kearney, Nebraska on August 18, 1864, when a band of Indians attacked the party, captured Nancy Morton, and killed her husband, brother, and cousin as well as other members of the party. The major portion of the manuscript concerns the period of Morton’s captivity and concludes with her release and return to Iowa in March of 1865.

Items 2 is a typescript of the major portion of this handwritten manuscript, edited with changes in punctuation and spelling by Musetta Gilman and Clyde Wallace. Item 3 consists of a few pages from another handwritten copy of the same account. Also included is a page describing several incidents of torture, which do not appear in the other versions. The date when any of these accounts were written is not known.

Item 4 is a bound copy of mounted clippings of a version of Nancy Morton’s account which appeared serially in the Bertrand Herald from June 28 through September 6, 1940. This version, which differs in style and in some details from the handwritten manuscript, was furnished as a typewritten copy to the newspaper by Mrs. William Lawton, daughter of Nancy Morton. Some differences between the two versions are discussed by Gilman and Wallace in the notes to their typescript.

Series 2 consists of photocopies of the file in the National Archives relating to the joint claims of Nancy Morton and the freighting firm of Pratt and Morton for damages due them for Indian depredations.

Note:  See the Library collections for Russ Czaplewski’s Captive of the Cheyenne: the story of Nancy Jane Morton and the Plum Creek Massacre [921 M891c]. Related materials can be found in the Laura Vance collection [RG1507] and the Martin Alexander collection [RG3803].


Series 1 – Accounts of the Plum Creek Massacre, 1860-1865


“History of Plum Creek Massacre and Captivity of Mrs. Thomas F. Morton” by Nancy Jane (Fletcher) Morton as copied by Cleon Skillman from an original manuscript; a typescript

Reel 1 (#16337)

  1. Handwritten Manuscript by Nancy Morton, including:
    “First Trip to Denver,” Apr. 20-Nov. 30, 1860 pg. 1-5
    “Second Trip to Denver,” Apr. 20-June 15, 1862 pg. 5-11
    “The Third Trip We Started,” July 31, 1864-Mar. 9, 1865 pg. 12-47, including the Plum Creek Massacre and captivity of Nancy Morton
  2. “Nancy Morton’s Own Story of the Plum Creek Massacre 1864” (transcript edited by Musetta Gilman and Clyde Wallace)
  3. Miscellaneous Manuscripts including miscellaneous pages from another handwritten version of Nancy Morton’s account
  4. “The Plum Creek Massacre,” newspaper clippings of a version of Nancy Morton’s account which appeared serially in the Bertrand Herald, June 28-Sept. 6, 1940

Series 2 – Claims of Depredation, 1865-1868

  1. Photocopies from the National Archives file of the “Claim of Nancy J. Morton and Pratt & Morton from Depredations by Cheyennes in 1864”

Subject headings:

Cheyenne Indians — Wars, 1864
Dawson County (Neb.) — History
Frontier and pioneer life — Nebraska
Indian captivities — Nebraska
Indians of North American — Nebraska
Morton, Nancy Jane Fletcher, 1845-1912

APD/ct   06-22-1976
nd   06-10-1997
KFK/dco   09-12-2003
Encoded TMM   11-17-2010

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