Thunder Butte

October 29, 2010

A Spooky Name for a Local Waterway

With Halloween approaching, it’s the time of year when some might start wondering about a certain stream just south of Faith called "Spook Creek" – and how it came to be called that. Was it someone’s ghostly encounter that led to this name? Did someone see something in the nighttime gloom that gave them a fright? Or, was it something more mundane?

Writing some years ago in a 1985 area history book, Faith Country Heritage: 1910-1985, J. Maynard Jonas tells a gruesome little tale about the stream involving an unfriendly encounter between members of the Fox and Lakota tribes:

“There was a large hunting party of the Fox Tribe Indians on a buffalo hunt into Sioux Territory. The battle started near the Arrow Head hills. The Sioux drove the Fox hunters southwest, killing them as they could. The big battle took place about where Faith is now. A number of the Fox Indians were caught in the timber on Spook Creek near the north end of present Durkee Lake. All were killed and their bodies tied to trees along the creek where they hung for many years. Anyone riding there saw the skeletons and was plenty spooked! None of the Fox hunters were ever buried, as none of the hunting party survived. All bodies were left where they fell and for many years the bleached bones of the hunters could be seen. The old Lakota name was Wakan Wakpa or Spirit Creek.”

But, there is more than one story about how the creek got its name. The same book includes an anonymous narrative about two brothers, Hans and Henry Boke, who arrived in the area to establish a ranch in 1897. According to the story:

“The boys had little experience in branding cattle when they first arrived. Their branding irons burned too deeply. As a result, a range rider would often come across a letter B, or an 0, or a K on the prairie. That gave him an eerie feeling. The creek nearby came to be called Spook Creek and the Boke brothers, the Spook brothers.”

I don’t know whether either story is true or not. Perhaps there are other stories about the creek and its interesting name that are worth repeating. You can let me know by leaving a comment below!

--Mike Crowley

Editors Note—Spook Creek was dammed just south of Faith in the 1930’s. Today, Durkee Lake is an important local recreational and fishing spot and provides the town of Faith with much of its water supply.
Mike Crowley Friday, October 29, 2010


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