Steele Collection, Harwood Steele chase expanded

Harwood Steele's sketch of a chase

Transcription of the Graburn scene from Forty Years in Canada

Crozier, Cotton and Kennedy were playing tennis in front of the post and, when they saw the escape, followed the fugitives. I sent the first men who turned out after them, mounted. They caught up to the Indians in about half a mile. Ignoring their levelled rifles, they rode at them and soon had them back in their old quarters in the guard-room. Their attempt to escape having failed, the two asked to see Crozier at midnight in his quarters, and, after the windows had been covered with blankets so that no light could be seen from the outside, they gave him the name, description and full particulars of the Indian who had murdered Grayburn.

A despatch was then sent to Colonel Macleod, who was in Benton, to the effect that the murderer was lurking in the fastnesses of the Bear Paw Mountains, and he asked the American authorities in legal form for his arrest, but, unless he could pay at once 5,000 dollars in cash, the sheriff would not make the attempt, and  we were, in consequence, obliged to wait until the accused would venture back to Canada, for an opportunity to capture him. This did not present itself until 1881, when Sergeant Patterson at Macleod learned that he was in the Blood camp, and proceeded there, accompanied by Jerry Potts and two constables. They arrived at dawn and went to the lodge in which the murderer, Star Child by name, was concealed, their intention being to take him without alarming the camp, which, it was believed, was hostile.  The Indian came out at dawn, fully armed; covering Patterson with his rifle he told him that he would shoot if he  moved hand or foot, but the sergeant, as a ruse, spoke as if addressing someone behind Star Child, causing him to turn his head, whereupon Patterson threw himself upon him. In the struggle the rifle went off, rousing the whole camp, and the Indians turned out in hundreds. In the meantime Patterson had the murderer beneath him half choked, and finally handcuffed him while Jerry Potts, Chief Red Crow, Strangling Wolf,  One Spot and Constable Wilson, by threats and exhortations, kept the remainder at bay. The sergeant then took Star Child towards Macleod at the full speed of his horse, supported by Potts and the constables, followed by the majority of the band as far as the fort, where they were forced to halt and turn back.

Star Child confessed to the murder, and there was corroborative evidence, but in spite of it all the jury disagreed and he was set free, to be arrested for horse-stealing a few years later and sent to the penitentiary for five years. There is no doubt that the jurymen who were for acquittal were afraid that the conviction would bring on an Indian war, or cause the Bloods to kill their stock out of revenge. This idea was sheer nonsense, of course, but it was certainly in the minds of some of the jury.

Forty Years in Canada, 150-152


“Steele Collection, Harwood Steele chase expanded,” Bruce Peel Special Collections Library Online Exhibits, accessed September 25, 2021,