The Legend of Prairie Flower

One of the most intriguing folklore stories from the olden days of Milford is about the Indian princess buried somewhere around Milford. This story has different versions due to the oral tradition of the story through many generations. Her story is a touching and interesting part of Milford's heritage.

In 1877, the Ponca tribe, living along the Niobrara River, was forced to relocate to Indian Territory in Oklahoma by the U.S Army soldiers. The following accounts tell of a young Indian maiden named Prairie Flower, the daughter of the chief, who died an untimely death on the trail and was buried by the people of Milford.

E.A. Howard's account indicates the Ponca tribe arrived in Milford on June 6, 1877. He states that there were terrible storms during that time, causing problems for the Indians. Many women and children were not prepared for such weather conditions on their journey, and injuries, or consumption took the lives of a few of the tribe—one being the Indian princess, Prairie Flower.

Seward Historian, W.W. Cox, recorded that trouble started when a wagon overturned, killing a child. At the same time Prairie Flower became ill and died. Her death was looked upon as a bad omen, which led to havoc within the Indian train. Then a confrontation followed between the tribe and the white teamsters, which eventually ended in a truce.

Another version of the story, told by Dr. Stanley Welch, states that Prairie Flower died of tuberculosis in Camden, and was returned to Milford for burial. He also says that his mother, Mary Welch, made her burial dress, and Milford carpenters carved her coffin.

All stories conclude that Chief Standing Bear's daughter, Prairie Flower, died and was buried in, or near, Milford in 1877. She was believed to have had a Christian burial, possibly along with other members of the Ponca tribe.

Information courtesy of Eldon Hostetler.

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