Charles E. Galpin

d.c. 1870

Galpin (Gilpin, Kiplin), Charles E., frontiersman (d.c. 1870). Galpin arrived in the North Plains by 1834, married a "very intelligent" Yanktonais Sioux woman of fine character and for many years engaged in the upper Missouri fur trade. He was at Fort William (the later Fort John, then Fort Laramie), Wyoming probably at the time it was built, in 1834. When the first stockade was up, he and John Sabille, another trader were sent to Bear Butte in the Black Hills where they induced Bull Bear with 100 lodges of Oglala Sioux to move to the Platte, "the first appearance of the Sioux in that region," it was said. Galpin still was trading in the Fort Laramie region in 1842, but later removed to the upper Missouri where he settled in to trade with his wife's people. In November of 1862 Galpin, descending the Missouri with some Idaho miners, ran into hostile Sioux moving into the Missouri country from the great Minnesota uprising. The Indians hailed the boat, urged that it tie up on their shore; Mrs. Galpin, although unaware of the Minnesota troubles as yet, sensed something wrong. She and the men of the party, after going ashore as requested, quickly pushed the boat back into the stream as an ambush was sprung. At this point a white woman ran down to the shore and called that white women and children were held captive by the hostiles. Galpin's party continued to Charles Primeau's trading house just above Fort Pierre where they told of the prisoners, who eventually were rescued. When the Jesuit, Jean-Pierre DeSmet in May 1868 reached Fort Rice, North Dakota with authority of the Peace Commission to visit the hunting, or "hostile" Sioux under Sitting Bull on Powder River and urged them to accept a formal peace, he persuaded Galpin and his wife to accompany him. DeSmet desired also at some point to extend his missions to the Sioux country; he had a reputation among that people for honesty and candor, as had Galpin. DeSmet and the Galpins left with an escort of 80 Sioux including many famous chiefs on this mission, which was attended by considerable risk. The Sitting Bull camp was located on the Yellowstone, four miles above the Powder, and included 600 lodges. The non-treaties were prepared for the delegation; it was hoped they would accept it peacefully, which they did. June 19 the party arrived. There was dissension among the Sioux, some urging that the whites be killed, but Galpin and DeSmet were taken into the lodge of Sitting Bull, where they were safe. Mrs. Galpin, a general favorite, visited other lodges, talking peace. A major council was held next day. Galpin recorded the speeches. Sitting Bull himself would not go to fort Rice to sign the treaty, but he sent Gall and Bull Owl and they did so July 2, 1868. Galpin was sutler at various army posts and Indian agencies during his late life. He died on the Indian reservation at Grand River, South Dakota.


George E. Hyde, Red Cloud's Folk. Norman, Univ. of Okla. Press, 1957; Doane Robinson, A History of the Dakota or Sioux Indians. Minneapolis, Ross & Haines, 1956; Stanley Vestal, Sitting Bull: Champion of the Sioux. Norman, 1969.