HISTORY OF THE DEVILS NEST
Bounded on the north by Lewis and Clark Lake, and on the south and west by steep bluffs, and l tree-shrouded slopes, is the land of which legends are made of; the Legends of the Devils Nest. North of the tiny town of Lindy, Nebraska, in northern Knox County, the terrain drops sharply to form a deep hollow of wooded creeks and roiling grassland. Approximately 27,000 acres of hilly, rugged prairie form what both the white man and Indian have named the “Devils Nest.“ Described in the daily journal of Lewis and Clark, it is referred to in the 1912 History of the State of Nebraska (Alden Publishing Co.) as "a remarkable prehistoric earth work." Although there are similar areas along the banks of the Missouri River, the Devils Nest has long captured the imagination of many.
An old Indian legend, which William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition recorded in his journal, using his own unique style: "24th August Friday 1804. In a northerly direction from the Mouth of our Camp, in an immerse plain, a high Hill is situated, and appears of Conic form, and by the different nations of Indians in this quarter is Suppose to be the residence of Deavels...“ The late Harrison Good Teacher, a Santee Sioux, explained the origin of the Indian legend in this way: "My grandfather said, They came in from the west, which means from the Niobrara River area to this particular place to pick the ripe fruits. Coming upon bear tracks, the Indians A followed them to the present site of the Devils Nest. While they were camping there that night, an owl began making ungodly noises and ﬁnally flew away.
Someone remarked this could be the Devils Nest. The name stuck to the minds of those who were present and they told the story to anyone who wanted to listen. Naturally, it was handed down from one generation to another. As time went on and the Indians continued to camp Hobo Creek, they spoke of things that happened there during the night, of a pure white owl and a glowing light "in the shape of a round ball.”(From the "Lindy Lore," 1978)
Other legends concerned a government surveyor who came to the area around 1843. He is reported to have said, “If we have to go down in that, it looks as if it's going to be the nest of a devil."
Historians have said that a sheriff who had gone into the area sometime around the turn of the century to search for horse thieves, after ﬁnally having found his way back out, is said to have remarked to a country storekeeper, "That sure is a devil's nest. "
Through the years there have been rumors that Jesse and Frank James hid from the law in the Devils Nest, but the issue has long been clouded by the scattered appearances of those falsely claiming to be Jesse James."
In 1939, however, a half-breed Santee Sioux Indian name Joe Jesse Chase decided to relate the story that had been told to him by his mother and other older Indians. Joe Chase said he was born in 1370, the son of Jesse James and Maggie Wabusha. Although his skin was white, Chase spoke little English. His daughter-in-law interpreted as he revealed to an Omaha newspaper personally that the James boys had assumed the name of Chase when they came to the area and that they had each fathered a child by two Indian sisters named Wabusha.
Maggie Wabusha later married William Good Teacher after the "Chase" brothers went south on more train robbing expeditions. The other Wabusha giri went to Minnesota and was never heard from again. She left her female child, Emma, behind and she was raised in the Good Teacher home as a sister to Joe.
Chase stated that United States marshals had come to the Devils Nest three times looking for the notorious James boys. He also said that their mother, Mrs. Zerelda Sarnuels, had come to the Obert, Nebraska, and the brothers often rode to visit her.
In this area," wrote Sioux Indian Harrision Good Teacher "is where Jesse James and his brothers had a home away from home. That is, down Hobo Creek, for there is much foilage to hide, in inaccessible piaces. They usuaily go away somewhrere and do not come back to this place for two or three months. These men have done many good things for the Santee Sioux while they were in the area.“
Mr. Good Teacher related the story of a widow who was weeping because her husband had owed someone $8,000 and the man was coming to collect it in eight days. Hearing of it, "Jesse James disappeared and came back with money to give to the lady to pay the debt." (From the Knox County Pictorial Atias, 1970, Tri-Tabula Co.) Another story some consider the truth, concerns a French blacksmith named Anthony Jaenecque. Jaenecque owned and operated a thriving trading post in the Devils Nest.
The Indians believed the brothers had financed the trading post for their own convenience. Some believe Jaenecque had a distrust for paper money, which he regularly had converted into gold coins. These he buried in several locations while his Indian wife kept watch against observers from a nearby bluff. After his death, which some believe to be connected to the James Boys, Jaenecque's wife was unable to determine the exact location where the gold was buried. More than 60 years later, a local treasure hunter went over the area with a metal detector but the mysterious gold has never been found. Much of the area is now covered by the waters of Lewis and Clark Lake.
DREAMING IN DEVIL'S NEST
A wild and lonely place it is. Some date the apprehension associated with this forlorn landscape to its native inhabitants, the Ponca, or to their successors, the Santee Sioux, whose reservation borders Devil's Nest on the west. Given native reverence for the land, it is more likely the name grew from the early settlers fear of outlaws.
Frank and Jesse James and other bandits are said to have holed up on the rugged side of what became Highway 12, now celebrated as the Outlaw V Trail. In one story, the Yankton, S.D., sheriff chased the gang across the river, but wouldn‘t risk losing deputies by further pursuit. "Let the devils stay in their nest, " he reportedly said, " I'm not going to send my men in there to be shot."