Death

Exactly where the Corps of Discovery was when William Clark took men to a beaver dam that day no one really knows. Historians guess the place was once somewhere above Macy, Nebraska; but wherever it was, it isn’t. Too bad.

It’s not altogether clear what kind of gear they employed to catch fish. Clark described the technology this way: “the men picked up Some Small willow & Bark [and] we made a Drag.” A seine of some sort, I’m sure, which would have required a couple of the men to drag the ends through the water to thereby trap fish within.

James Schaap

The only means of getting man and woman, beast and wagon across the rain-swollen Niobrara was by rope, hand over hand. Dozens of oxen and as many as 500 horses had to get to the other side, as did 523 Ponca men, women, and children. 

And the rain wouldn't stop. All those wagons were disassembled and shouldered through and over the raging Niobrara. It took a day to recover, yet another rainy day.

So says Death in  Matthias Claudius's poem "Der Tod und das Madchen," the poem that inspired Schubert's song of the same name, composed in 1817. Seven years later the composer would revisit the song, extending the theme and tenor into String Quartet No. 14, D 810. The seven years that passed were not happy ones. Schubert had lost what little of his health remained, and he was without money, thanks in part to Anton Diabelli, the music publisher whose name has been immortalized by Beethoven's Diabelli Variations.