The Martin boys heard galloping hooves in the distance.
It was an Indian attack.
Nathaniel and Robert leaped onto the mare and raced for home — Mr. Martin’s Road Ranche — near the area that later became Doniphan.
Their father took shelter in a wagon and fought back with a repeating rifle. The Indians passed him and rode after the boys.
In a flurry of arrows, two found their mark. One stuck in a boy’s arm and the other struck Nathaniel’s back. The arrow went through Nathaniel and into Robert, pinning the boys together.
They rode for a few yards before they fell off the horse. Then the attack was over as quickly as it had began.
Their mother saw the boys fall and knew they had died. She went to check on her husband and found he had taken an arrow to the neck. She removed it and closed the wound with safety pins from her apron. She took him to find a doctor.
Later, she returned home to bury her boys.
Only, she didn’t find their bodies. Instead, she found a blood trail that led her to the barn.
Inside, Nathaniel and Robert lay wounded, but alive. The arrow poked from Nathaniel’s torso and she had to remove it.
Both boys survived.
Dale Clark of Wessels Living History Farm in York said the Hastings Museum has a statue to commemorate the story and still has the arrow that was removed.
Clark spoke to area fourth-grade students about Nebraska’s history to celebrate the anniversary of its statehood Monday at the YWCA Adams County.
Longfellow Elementary fourth-grader Brayden Schram, 10, enjoyed hearing the Martin brothers’ story, as well as the rest of Clark’s presentation.
“He was really funny and told us a lot of cool stuff,” Brayden said.
Though Nebraska became a state on March 1, 1867, Clark didn’t start there.
He explained that the $15 million Louisiana Purchase was seen at the time as a terrible investment because it was uncharted territory. To prove the naysayers wrong, President Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to map the area and catalog the animals and plants found on the journey.
The expedition documented 122 new animals including a “barking squirrel” that Clark kept as a pet. The prairie dog later was shipped back east and found its way to the president’s desk. Unfortunately, it died on the last leg of the trip and was instead put in a new zoo project.
“A prairie dog from Boyd County, Nebraska, was one of the first animals in the national zoo,” Clark said.
He shared a series of stories about the history of Nebraska with 352 students from nine area schools: Adams Central East, Alcott, Doniphan, Giltner, Hawthorne, Lincoln, Longfellow, Morton and Watson.
His message to the students was that any of them could grow up to do great things, just like the ordinary people who are now legendary in Nebraska’s story.
Sayde Bell, 10, from Longfellow thought it was a fun presentation. Her favorite was the story about the prairie dog.
“He had a lot of interesting facts that our teachers didn’t know.”