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MENT 419 

Emmet and Dickinson Counties 




Emmet and Dickinson Counties are situated in the northern tier of 
Iowa counties. They are about midway between the forty-third and 
forty-fourth parallels of north latitude, and the ninety-fifth meridian of 
longitude west of Greenwich passes through the latter county, about 
five miles west of the line dividing it from Emmet. Between Dickinson 
County and the western boundary of the state lie the counties of Osceola 
and Lyon. 

The County of Emmet is bounded on the north by the State of 
Minnesota; on the east by Kossuth County; on the south by Palo Alto 
County, and on the west by the County of Dickinson. It includes con- 
gressional townships 98, 99 and 100 north, of ranges 31, 32, 33 and 34 
west. The townships along the northern border are fractional, so that 
the extent from north to south is only seventeen miles. From east to 
west it is twenty-four miles, and the total area of the county is 408 
square miles. 

Dickinson County is the same size as Emmet. It is composed of 
congressional townships 98, 99 and 100 north, of ranges 35, 36, 37 and 
38 west. About one-twelfth of the area of this county is covered with 
lakes. On the north it is bounded by the State of Minnesota; on the 
east by Emmet County; on the south by Clay County, and on the west 
by the County of Osceola. 




In a general classification, this portion of Iowa would be set down 
as undulating or rolling prairie, though in places there are high and 
precipitous hills, such as are seen along the west fork of the Des Moines 
River in Emmet County. Dickinson County occupies the most elevated 
position of any, county in the state, being situated on the water-shed 
that divides the Mississippi and IMissouri river systems. Concerning 
the hills of Emmet County, Thomas H. MacBride, in his report of a 
geological survey, published in 1905, says they "are characteristic and 
best displayed west of the Des Moines, yet tliey are by no means lack- 
ing in other places. They are prominent north of Estherville, about 
Dolliver, and extending in broken series in a southeasterly direction 
past Armstrong. . . . They were piled up and abandoned here by 
an agency of which they are at once result and evidence; an agency 
in the ages past, efficient over wide areas, determining the shape and 
features of the land sui-face of a considerable portion of the northern 
world — the agency of glacial ice. Erosion atfects these hills, no doubt, 
today as it has for centuries, but it did not make them." 

The same authority says of the more level portions of this region: 
"These are conspicuously two-fold in their origin and position. We 
have, in the first place, the level of the general prairie, a grass grown 
level, almost without drainage or slope in any direction. Where the 
lands are better drained the fields ai-e yet flat, the streams long, crooked 
and shallow, sluggish and easily overflowed. . . . Such a level as 
this is known everywhere as a Wisconsin drift plain. 

"But the river valley proper shows us a plain topography of yet a 
different character. On either side of the river, now chiefly on this side, 
now on that, is a peculiar gravel plain, abutting plump against the hills 
where these approach ; distinct at once in structure as in position. This 
is no alluvial plain in the ordinary acceptance of the word, as might be 
at first surmised. Indeed, here is no alluvium at all resultant from 
the action of the present stream. Here is a plain, generally moi-e than 
a mile in width, sometimes two or three, composed entirely, except for 
a little oiganic matter at the top, of coarse, water-laid sand, bowlders 
and gravels fifteen or twenty feet in depth, resting often on blue clay. 
If we study the course of the present stream we shall discover that it 
has indeed its own alluvium, its own alluvial plain, its flood plain at 
high water, enriched by falling silt, but this is an entirely different mat- 
ter. Over the gravel plain the river never, in its highest waters, sweeps 
at all; it never reaches to that lofty level. Yet, as just stated, here are 
water-laid sands and gravels of wide extent. These valley plains are 


not the alluvium of our present stream: They are hardly to be reckoned 
the alluvium of any stream. They are rather the bottom of an ancient 
river that came down the valley, occupjang its total width in its sweep- 
ing flood, when the whole country, new-born, was taking shape as we 
see it now." 

The city of Estherville and the to^^■n of Wallingford are located on 
this old river bottom or gravel plain. The alluvial plain of the present 
Des Moines River, spoken of by Mr. MacBride, begins at Estherville 
and follows the course of the river to the southern boundary of the 
county. It varies in width from less than a half mile at the north to 
nearly two miles near the southern border of High Lake Township. 

Mr. MacBride made a survey of Dickinson County about three years 
before his visit to Emmet. In describing the hills of that county he 
uses language that is somewhat poetical. Says he: "The hills about 
Diamond Lake, those northwest of Silver Lake, those of Fairview Town- 
ship in Osceola County, simply defy classification or description; they 
pitch toward every point of the compass, they are of every height and 
shape, they rise by gradual ascent and fall off by precipices so steep 
that the most venturesome animal would scarcely attempt the descent; 
they enclose anon high tablelands, anon wide low valleys that open 
nowhere ; they carry lakes on their summits and undrained marshes at 
their feet; their gentlei' slopes are beautiful prairies easily amenable to 
the plough, their crowns often beds of gravel capped with bowlders and 
reefs of driven sand." 

In various places on the hillsides of this county, especially by the 
margins of the larger streams, there are gravel deposits greatly unlike 
the ordinary gravel beds of Northern Iowa. Now and then these deposits 
widen out into plains of considerable size. The most notable formation 
of this character is seen directly south and west of the town of Milford, 
in Okoboji Township. It is sandy, gravelly prairie, two or three miles 
in width, following the general course of the Little Sioux River and 
extending to the southern boundary of the county. About two miles 
southwest of MHford, after the Little Sioux River enters the plain, the 
erosion has left on the west side of the valley a peculiar terrace, which 
is easily traced to the middle of Section 22. It has been given the name 
of "Milford Terrace." Farther down, in Section 33, the bluffs of the 
drift approach much nearer to each other — not more than half a mile 
apart — and here the terrace may be seen on the west side of the stream 
as a "narrow shelf, lifted at least fifty feet above the level of the present 
river." Similar terraces, though not so well defined, are to be seen at 
other places along the streams. 

The irregular topography of these two counties has a tendency 
to render the streams more than usually tortuous. This is especially 


true of the eastern part of Emmet County and the western and southern 
parts of Dickinson, as may be seen in the windings of the east fork of 
the Des Moines River in the former and the Little Sioux River in the 


In Emmet County the principal stream is the Des Moines River, 
which enters the county from Minnesota near the northwest corner and 
flows in a southeasterly direction through the townships of Emmet, 
Estherville, Center and High Lake, crossing the southern boundary near 
the southeast corner of Section 33, Township 98, Range 33. Its prin- 
cipal tributary is Brown Creek, one branch of which rises near the vil- 
lage of Huntington and the other in Grass Lake, in the northern part of 
Ellsworth Township. The east fork of the Des Moines has its source in 
Okamanpadu or Tuttle Lake, in the northeast corner of Lincoln Town- 
ship. From the lake its course is generally southward for about four 
miles, when it turns toward the southeast through Armstrong Grove Town- 
ship and enters Kossuth County near the north line of Denmark Town- 
ship. Its principal tributary is Soldier Creek, which rises in the north- 
east corner of Ellsworth Township, passes through Birge Lake and empties 
into the east fork of the Des Moines in Section 1, Swan Lake Township. 

The Sioux Indians called the Des Moines the In-yan-sha-sha-wapa-ta, 
which means "the Redstone River," and the east fork they called In-yan- 
sha-sha-watpa-sun-kaku, "brother of the Redstone River." 

The Black Cat Creek, another tributary of the east fork, rises 
northwest of the center of Denmark Township, where it is formed by 
the junction of several small streams, and flows in a southeasterly direc- 
tion, crossing the eastern boundary of the county about a mile and a half 
north of the southeast corner. 

Dickinson County's principal watercourse is the Little Sioux River, 
which is composed of two branches — the east and west forks — both of 
these rise in the marshes of Jackson County, Minnesota. The east fork, 
which is the main stream, flows in a southwesterly course through Dia- 
mond Lake Township. The west fork winds along near the eastern 
border of Silver Lake Township and receives the waters of Dug-out 
Creek, which is the outlet of Silver Lake. The two forks unite near 
the southeast corner of Section 6 in Lakeville Township. From that 
point the Little Sioux's course is generally southward through the town- 
ships of Lakeville and Okoboji until it enters Clay County, neai- the south- 
east corner of Section 32, Township 98, Range 37. 

Stony Creek has its source in Stony Lake, a little southwest of 
the center of Excelsior Township. Its course is southward through 


Excelsior and Westport Townships until it crosses the southern border 
of the county near the middle of Section 34 in the latter township. 
There are a few minor creeks, but the above are the only watercourses 
of consequence in the two counties. 


Both Emmet and Dickinson Counties are well supplied with lakes. 
The largest lake in Emmet County is Okanianpadu or Tuttle Lake in 
the northeastern part of Lincoln Township and extending northward into 
Minnesota. Its total area is about four square miles. Originally the 
shores were covered with native timber, but much of this has been cut 
off to supply the settlers with lumber and fuel. 

Iowa Lake, which gives name to the northeastern township of the 
county, is situated on the line between Iowa and Minnesota at the extreme 
northeastern corner of Emmet County. In Iowa it covers not more 
than one square mile, but it has been described as "an attractive and 
permanent body of water." 

On the line between Lincoln and Ellsworth Townships is Birge 
(also called Tremont) Lake, which is the source of one of the tributaries 
of the east fork of the Des Moines River. About four miles due west 
of Birge Lake, in Ellsworth Township, is Grass Lake, which is drained 
by one branch of Brown Creek. Both are small lakes, less than one 
square mile in area. 

The largest lake lying wholly within Emmet County is Swan Lake, 
which is located a little south of the geographical center of the county 
in the townships of Center and Swan Lake, which is thus described by 
Mr. MacBride: "Lake and swamps together, Swan Lake affects half a 
dozen sections and extends more than six miles from east to west. How- 
ever, the east end is but a wide marsh full of rushes and all aquatic 
vegetation. Swan Lake proper is at all seasons a fine sheet of water 
surrounded by good banks, some of them high and generally covered 
with native woods; trees of the finest varieties; beautiful primeval wal- 
nuts still standing. The depth this year (1903) is reported fifteen to 
twenty feet. Singularly enough, the locality is comparatively high. From 
the west end of the lake the view extends for miles in every direction; 
the wooded, high, western banks of the West Des Moines River stand like 
a wall of green. The village of Raleigh appears beyond, while on this 
side Graettinger, Wallingford, Gruver, Dolliver, and even the groves 
of Estherville are plainly visible." 

West of Swan Lake, in the southern part of Center Township, is 
Ryan Lake, while almost due south, in High Lake Township, are High 
and Mud Lakes, and in Sections 18 and 19 of Jack Creek Township is 


a small body of water called Crane Lake. Eagle Lake, in Sections 11 
and 14 of Emmet Township, near the northern boundary of the county, 
completes the list of lakes east of the main branch of the Des Moines 
River. West of the Des Moines are Four-mile Lake and Cheever Lake 
in Estherville Township, and Twelve-mile Lake, which gives name to the 
southwestern township of the county. 

Dickinson County can boast of having the largest lake in Iowa. 
It was known to the Indians as Min-ne-wau-kon, or '"Spirit Water," and 
was supposed to be the home of evil spirits or demons. In English it 
is known as Spirit Lake. Not only is it the largest lake in the state, 
but it is also one of the most historic on account of the massacre of 
settlers in its vicinity by the Indians in the early spring of 1857, an 
account of which is given in another chapter. Spirit Lake is more than 
four miles in length and has an area of about ten square miles. It 
occupies the greater part of the township of the same name. Its greatest 
depth is about thirty feet. The shores are for the most part low and 
sandy at the water line, affording a beautiful beach, while farther back 
is a fringe of trees. 

South of Spirit Lake lies East Okoboji, which the first white explorers 
reckoned part of Spirit Lake, and it is so shown on the early maps of 
this region. It is nearly six miles in length, beginning within a quarter 
of a mile of Spirit Lake and extending south and west to Section 20 in 
Center Grove Township. Near Arnold's Park it is joined by a narrow 
strait to West Okoboji Lake, which occupies practically all the eastei-n 
tier of sections in Lakeville Township. It is nearly six miles long and 
its greatest width is almost three miles, but owing to its irregular out- 
line the area is not more than seven square miles. Says MacBride: 

"The shores of Okoboji are for the most part high walls of bowlder- 
clay and drift. Sandy beaches are less frequent. Everywhere the ero- 
sion of the waves has shaped the shox-es, undermining them and soil- 
ing their materials. The fine clays have been carried 'out to sea,' while 
the weighty bowlders are left behind every winter to be pushed up 
closer and closer by the ice. at length piled over one another in ramparts 
and walls, often riprapping the shore for long distances as if to simulate 
the work of civilized man. A beautiful illustration of this is along the 
shore of Lake East Okoboji, Section 20. The less attentive observer would 
surely conclude that those stones were piled up by 'art and man's device,' 
a sea-wall to prevent further encroachments of the tide. At the south- 
ern end of Okoboji, near Gilley's Beach, is another fine display of bowlders, 
notable not so much perhaps for their position as for their variety and 
beauty. Here are bowlders of limestone, bowlders of granite of every 
sort, porphyry, syenite, trap, greenstone, quartzite, what you will, the 
debris of all northern ledges. Similar deposits are visible all around 


the lake, more especially on the eastern side, probably because the pre- 
vailing winds being westerlj^ the waves have exerted their more constant 
energy along the eastern bluffs." 

Immediately west of Spirit Lake are thi-ee small lakes— Mai'ble, 
Hottes and Little Spirit Lakes — draining one into the other and the 
waters of all fmally reaching Spirit Lake. About three miles farther 
west is Diamond Lake, which gives name to the township in which it is 
located, and in the southern part of Silver Lake Township is the lake 
from which the township derives its name. Its greatest length is about 
two miles and the village of Lake Park is on its northeastern shore. 
Directly south of Silver Lake, about four and a half miles distant in 
Excelsior Township, is Stony Lake, which is drained by Stony Creek 
into the Little Sioux River. At the southwest, corner of Lakeville Town- 
ship is a group of three lakes — Sylvan, Pratt and Pillsbury — Sylvan 
Lake extends for a short distance into Excelsior Township and the greater 
part of Pillsbury Lake is in the Township of Okoboji. Center Lake is 
situated in the northwestern part of Center Grove Township, Swan Lake 
is in Supei-ior Township, about two miles from the eastern boundary, 
and there are two small lakes in the western part of Richland Town- 


The absence of timber throughout Northwestern Iowa has caused 
considerable speculation among geologists and botanists as to the cause 
of the vast, treeless plains called prairies, none of which existed east 
of the State of Ohio. Professor Whitney, who made some early scientific 
observations in Iowa, says: "The cause of the absence of trees on the 
prairies is due to the physical character of the soil, and especially its 
exceeding fineness, which is prejudicial to the growth of anything but a 
■ superficial vegetation, the smallness of the particles of the soil being 
an insuperable barrier to the necessary access of air to the roots of deeply- 
rooted vegetation, such as trees. Wherever in the midst of the extraor- 
dinary fine soil of the prairies, coarse and gravelly patches exist, there 
dense forests occur.^' 

Prof. James Hall, another early Iowa geologist, agrees in the main 
with Whitney's theory, but not so with Dr. Charles A. White, who was 
Iowa's state geologist in the early '70s. In one of his reports, after call- 
ing attention to the fact that prairies are found resting upon all sorts 
of bed rock, from the Azoic to the Cretaceous ages, and that all kinds 
of soil — alluvial, drift and lacrustral, including sand, gravel, clay and 
loam — are often found upon the same prairie, he says: 

"Thus, whatever the origin of the prairies might have been, we have 
positive assurance that their present existence in Iowa is not due to the 


influence of the climate, the character or composition of the soil, nor 
to the character of any underlying formations. There seems to be no 
good reason why we should regard the forests as any more natural or 
normal condition than are the prairies. Indeed, it seems the more natural 
inference that the occupation of the surface has taken place by dispersion 
from original centers, and that they encroached upon the unoccupied 
surface until they were met and checked by the destructive power of 
fires. The prairies doubtless existed as such almost immediately after 
the close of the glacial epoch." 

White's statement that the prairies are not due to the character 
of the soil is borne out by the fact that shade trees planted along the 
streets of prairie towns and groves set out about farm houses on the 
prairie have grown with as much vigor as though the surface had orig- 
inally been covered with a growth of native timber. 


Although America is called the New World, many geologists believe 
that it is really older than any of the continents of the Eastern Hemis- 
phere. Says Agassiz: "Here was the first dry land lifted out of the 
waters; here the first shores were washed by the ocean that enveloped 
all the earth besides; and while Europe was represented only by islands 
rising here and there above the sea, America already stretched in one 
unbroken line of land from Nova Scotia to the far West." 

It is not within the province of a work of this nature to discuss the 
methods by which the geologists arrived at this opinion, but other author- 
ities, equally eminent with Agassiz, are inclined to the same view regard- 
ing the age of the continent upon which we live. If their hypothesis be 
true, the region now included in Emmet and Dickinson Counties was 
probably inhabited by creatures of the reptilian type during the Jura- 
Trias and Cretaceous eras, while the so-called Old World was still under 

The first published account of the country about Spirit Lake and 
along the Upper Des Moines River was that of J. N. Nicollet, who was 
appointed by the secretary of war in President Van Buren's cabinet to 
make a map of the hydrographic basin of the Upper Mississippi. His 
appointment was dated April 7, 1838, and his report was made in the 
spring of the following year. Subsequently David Dale Owen and Pro- 
fessor Whitney made some observations in Northwestern Iowa, and Dr. 
Charles A. White gives a brief description of the counties of Emmet 
and Dickinson, which description is published in Volume II of the Iowa 
Geological Survey. In 1900 T. H. MacBride made a survey of Dickin- 


son County and in 1903 of Emmet. His reports on the two counties are 
published in Volumes X and XV respectively. 

The geologic structure of the two counties, so far as exposed to the 
oi'dinary view, is extremely simple. Says MacBride: "The Pleistocene 
deposits here, as elsewhere in Northern Iowa, consist entirely of sheets 
of clay, gravel, sand, or of these inextricably mingled together. In fact 
a pure clay is probably nowhere to be found within our present limits; 
so that we may say our Quarternary and Pleistocene deposits here are 
wholly drift, mingled clay and pebbles or bowlders, or beds of gravelly 

When Mr. MacBride made his survey of Emmet County, he found 
the firm of Robinson «& Stewart at Armstrong making brick from clay 
taken from a peaty slough. Concerning the structure of the clay he 
says: "The clay is reasonably free from the lime pebbles, but still gives 
so much trouble as to suggest plans for their elimination. This is the 
only attempt at present in Emmet County toward the prosecution of the 
clay industry." 

As there is no building stone found in either of the counties and the 
clay is usually of an inferior character for brick making, the chief 
economic importance of the geologic deposits centers about the gravel 
beds, which are found at Esthei'ville, along the Des Moines River both 
above and below that city, and at various places in the eastern part of 
the county. From the gravel deposits at the bridge across the Des 
Moines River in Section 28, Emmet Township, the geologist can gain 
a fair idea of the immense erosion that took place when the ancient 
glacial river mentioned in the early part of this chapter swept down 
what is now the valley of the Des Moines River. Here the gravel on 
either side of the river is seen fifty or sixty feet above the level of the 
ordinary plain. The blufl's at this point are a half mile or more apart 
and between them lies a gravel plain, the bottom of the ancient river. 

In the gravel pits operated by the Minnesota & St. Louis Railroad 
Company, near Estherville, in 1903, MacBride found that "storm-water 
erosion has supplemented the artificial excavation to the complete uncov- 
ering of the old blue clay. Resting directly upon this bed of blue clay 
is the same more or less indurated, brownish gravel seen in other excava- 
tions, while farther north appears the typical sands and gravels of the 
Wisconsin age." 

In Dickinson County the old river terraces and outwashed gravel 
plains and mounds furnish in all parts of the county supplies of sand 
suitable for building purposes, while the gravel, with which the sand is 
uniformly mixed is ued in the construction of sidewalks, concrete for 
foundations, culverts, and in fact in all places where artificial stone is 
considered a necessity. Foundations here are frequently constructed of 


bowlders, which the ingenuity of man has found a way to render tract- 
able, despite their irregular shape. The gravel is used largely in ballast- 
ing raili'oads and its construction is such that it forms a fine material 
for the building of highways. MacBride concludes this part of his report 
as follows : 

"Among the several natural economic resources of this region the 
vast supplies of gravel found, as stated, along all streams and not infre- 
quently remote even from watercourses, seem deserving of special men- 
tion. These gravels are today carried by hundreds of car-loads to be 
used as ballast along the great railway lines of the Northwest. Nor 
is such material less serviceable in the locality where found. Gravel 
makes excellent country highways; excellent causeways across marsh 
and flat, as every traveler along the valley of the Des Moines will grate- 
fully testify. The old glacial gravels of Northern Iowa are the sure 
promise of good public roads." 


Frequent mention has been made in this chapter of an ancient 
glacial river, of glacial sands and bowlders, and it may interest the 
reader to know something of how these sands and bowlders were deposited. 
Far back in the geologic past, about the close of the Tertiary era, came 
the Pleistocene or "Ice Age," during which the entire present State of 
Iowa was one vast sheet of ice, called a glacier. This sheet of ice 
extended from the countiy about the Great Lakes, westward to the Rocky 
]\Iountains and southwai'd to the central part of Missouri. It was formed 
in the northern portion of the continent by successive falls of snow. The 
weight added by each successive snowfall had a tendency to compress 
the great mass below into a solid body of ice and in this way was 
formed a glacier. After many years of this formative process, the entire 
glacier began to move slowly southward, carrying with it great bowlders, 
clays, soils, etc., to be deposited upon the bed rocks of a region far dis- 
tant from the place where they were first laid by Nature's hand. As 
the huge mass moved slowly along, the bowlders and other hard sub- 
stances at the bottom of the glacier left marks or scratches (called 
strife by geologists) upon the bed rock, and from scorings the 
course of the glacier may be determined with a reasonable degree of 
accuracy. There are no bed rocks exposed in Emmet and Dickinson 
Counties, but an examination of the strife at other places in Iowa, where 
the bed rock is exposed, indicates that the course of the great central 
glacier was in general toward the southeast. 

As the glacier moved into a warmer climate the ice began to melt 
and the materials carried by the glacier were deposited upon the bed 


rocks in the form of "drift." At the close of the ice age or glacial epoch 
the earth's surface over which the glacier had passed was void of either 
animal or vegetable life. The action of the rain and winds gradually 
leveled the surface, the heat from the sun warmed the earth and life in 
its most primitive forms made its appearance. How long the great 
glacier covered what is now the upper IMississippi and Missouri vallej^s 
is uncertain. Some geologists estimate the duration of the Ice Age at 
500,000 years, and that the last of the glacier disappeared at least one 
hundred thousand years ago. 

Everywhere in this region the soil is the product of rock disintegra- 
tion. Prof. Samuel Calvin, at one time Iowa's state geologist, in com- 
menting upon the fertility of the soil of the state, says:' "And for this 
i-ich heritage of soils we are indebted to the great river^ of ice that over- 
flowed Iowa from the north and northwest. The glaciers, in their long 
jouiney, ground up the rocks over which they moved, mingled the fresh 
i-ock flour from granites of British America and Northern Jlinnesota 
with pulverized limestones and shales of more southern latitudes, and 
used these rich materials in covering up the bald rocks and leveling the 
irregular surface of preglacial Iowa. The materials thus deposited vary 
from a few feet to hundreds of feet in depth." 

It was by this slow and tedious process that the surface of Iowa 
was formed. As the glacier moved forward it left at the edge of the 
ice a ridge called a "lateral moraine." Where two glaciers came together 
a larger ridge called a "median moraine" was formed, and at the terminus 
of the ice sheet, where all the residue carried by the glacier was deposited, 
the ridge thus formed is known as a "terminal moraine." In the western 
part of Emmet County the geologist can find abundant evidence that 
the ancient glacial river left here a median moraine, where it came in 
contact with another glacier that covered the County of Dickinson. 

The bowlders commonly called "nigger heads" that are to be seen 
in nearly all parts of the state, were deposited by the glacier. These 
bowlders are found in large numbers all over Northwestern Iowa, parti- 
cularly along the Little Sioux River, to which the Sioux Indians gave 
the name of Ea-ne-ah-w^ad-e-pon, or "Stone River." In the southern 
part of Cherokee County is a red granite bowlder 40 feet wide by 60 
feet long, and standing twenty feet or more above the surrounding sur- 
face. It is called "Pilot Rock," for the reason that it can be seen for a 
considerable distance and serves as a landmark "to guide the weary 
traveler on his way." 

Naturally, the water from the melting ice of the glacier sought the 
low places and in this way rivers and creeks were formed. Here and 
there water settled in a depression, the bottom of which was below the 
sources of the adjacent streams, and these bodies of water became lakes of 


more or less permanency. All the lakes of Emmet and Dickinson Counties 
are of glacial origin. 


At the bottom of the glacial deposits is the till — sometimes called 
the lower till — composed of a blue clay charged with bowlders, with 
pockets of sand in places. Next to the till comes the loess, a fine ash- 
colored silt, or a porous clay, rich in the carbonate of lime. Above the 
loess lies the alluvium or soil, which is composed of the lighter materials 
carried by the glacier, to which has been added a large volume of decayed 
vegetable matter that has accumulated since the close of the glacial epoch. 
As this portion of the drift constitutes the surface and is seen everywhere 
in Emmet and Dickinson Counties, it is not considered necessary to go 
into any extended description of its character or composition. 

None of the true loess is to be seen in either Emmet or Dickinson 
County, but it is distributed all over the eastern and southern portions 
of the state, where it ranges in thickness from tw'O feet to fifteen feet 
or more. Throughout the two counties under consideration the Wis- 
consin drift is the common surface formation. It is composed of a 
pebbly clay, is strongly calcareous, usually of a whitish color when dry, 
though sometimes yellowish or buff-colored. Reports of well diggers 
(almost the only source of information and not always to be regarded 
as accurate) show that the true Wisconsin drift throughout the two 
counties does not average over fifteen feet in depth. It is generally 
covered with a rich, black surface soil and is visible only where uncovered 
by erosion or exposed by artificial excavation. 

In Emmet County the nine eastern townships and a strip along the 
east side of Emmet and Estherville townships, east of the Des Moines 
River, this drift is known to geologists as the "Wisconsin Plain." West 
of the Des Moines the drift is thicker and is morainic in character, 
aff"ected by knobs and ridges. In Dickinson County nearly all the south- 
ern tier of townships, the greater part of Richland, the southeast corner 
of Superior and a strip on the south side of Excelsior lie in the Wiscon- 
sin Plain. The remainder of the county is in the morainic, knobby drift, 
which extends southward into Milford Township in the form of a tri- 
angle. In the "Milford Terrace," previously described, the drift is par- 
tially stratified. 


In the morainic belt are found a number of fine springs, but by fai- 
the greatest part of the water for domestic purposes is taken from wells, 
a few of which have been sunk to a considerable depth. From the record 


or log of these wells some idea of the geological structure of the region 
has been obtained. The deepest well in Emmet County is one at Ring- 
sted, near the center of Denmark Township, the log of which shows as 
follows : 


Surface drift 12 

Blue clay : 138 

Gray or bluish sand 10 

Yellow sand 38 

Black and white shale 164 

Blue shale 2 

Limestone 136 

Total depth of well 500 

In 1888 an attempt was made to sink an artesian well at Estherville. 
The di'ill went down to a depth of over five hundred feet, but no record 
of the well has been preserved. The log of a well drilled on the farm of 
a Mr. Lardell and mentioned in MacBride's report shows : 


Soil and drift 20 

Blue clay 130 

Water-bearing gravel 4 

Blue clay 40 

Black muck 3 

Yellow sand 80 

Depth of well 277 

In Dickinson County attempts have been made to drill wells through 
the blue clay in several places near the lakes, but after going from 150 
to 300 feet into the clay the operators became discouraged and gave up 
the effort. Enough of these borings have been made, however, to show 
that the blue clay underlies the entire county. 

The black muck in the Lardell well represents organic matter, plant 
or animal remains in a state of partial oxidation or decomposition. The 
decomposing matter sometimes sets free inflammable gases in considerable 
quantities, and such gases held under the blue clay find vent only as 
the covering is pierced. What is known as the Burnett well, in Emmet 
County, near Swan Lake, emitted a strong flow of gas, which was lighted 
and "burned for three months," giving rise to the theory that the county 
was in the "natural gas belt." 

More frequently the gases thus liberated are not inflammable, being 


either common air imprisoned under the blue clay, or they are choke 
damp or carbonic acid gas. It is said that all the wells in Center Town- 
ship from Ryan Lake north are "blowing wells" when first the blue clay 
is penetrated during the drilling process. A well on the farm of George 
Weir, in Emmet Township, blew for several days after the drill went 
through the blue clay, throwing good sized pebbles and pieces of wood 
more than one hundred feet into the air. 


As already stated, Dickinson County occupies the most elevated por- 
tion of the state. The only official figures relating to the height above 
sea level that the writer has been able to obtain are those contained in 
the report of J. N. Nicollet in 1839. He made an observation in latitude 
43° 30' 21" north, longitude 95" 6' 30" west, and found the altitude to 
be 1,310 feet above the Gulf of Mexico. The point where this observa- 
tion was made is on the north shore of Spirit Lake, near the state line. 
Railroad surveyors some years ago determined the altitude of Esther- 
ville as being 1,298 feet, and Armstrong, 1,237 feet. From these figures 
the generally level character of .the surface may be seen, the north shore 
of Spirit Lake, the highest known point, being only seventy-three feet 
higher than Armstrong, which is thirty-two miles farther east. 




Who were the first inhabitants of the American continent? This is 
a question over which ethnologists and archaeologists have pondered and 
speculated for at least a century. When Christopher Columbus made his 
first voyage to the Western Hemisphere in 1-192, he believed that he had 
reached the goal of his long cherished ambitions, and that the country 
where he landed was the eastern shore of Asia. European explorers who 
followed him, entertaining a similar belief, thought the country was 
India and gave to the race of copper colored people they found here the 
name of "Indians." About a century and a half after the first white set- 
tlements were made, indications were discovered that the interior of the 
continent had once been inhabited by a peculiar people, whose mode of 
living was difi'erent from that of the Indians. These evidences were 
found in the mounds, earthworks, fragments of pottery, stone weapons 
and implements, etc. A report of the United States Bureau of Ethnology 
says : "During a period beginning some time after the close of the ice 
age and ending with the coming of the white man — or only a few years 
before — the central part of North America was inhabited by a people 
who had emerged to some extent from the darkness of savagery, had 
acquired certain domestic arts, and practiced some well defined lines of 
industry. The location and boundaries inhabited by them are fairly well 
marked by the mounds and earthworks they erected." 

The center of this ancient civilization — if such it may be called — 
seems to have been in what is now the State of Ohio, where the mounds 
are more numerous than in any other part of the country. Iowa may be 
regarded as its western frontier, though traces of this ancient i-ace have 



been noted west of the Missouri River. From the relics they left behind 
them, archaeologists have given to this peculiar people the name of 


Most of the mounds discovered are of conical form, varying in 
height, and when opened have genei-ally been found to contain human 
skeletons. For this reason such mounds have been designated by 
archaeologists as burial mounds. Next in importance comes the trun- 
cated pyramid — that is a mound square or rectangular at the base and 
flattened on the top. On account of their greater height and the fact 
that on the summits of several of these pyramids have been found ashes 
and charcoal, the theory has been advanced that they were used as look- 
out stations, the charcoal and ashes being the remains of signal fires. 
In some parts of the country may still be seen well defined lines of fort- 
ifications or earthworks, sometimes in the form of a square, but more 
frequently of oval or circular shape and bearing every indication that 
they were erected and used as places of defense against hostile invaders. 
A work of this character near Anderson, Indiana, was connected by a 
subterranean passage with a spring on the bank of the White River, 
some fifty feet below the level of the earthwork. Still another class of 
relics, less numerous and widely separated, consists of one large mound 
surrounded by an embankment, outside of which are a number of smaller 
mounds. The smaller mounds in these groups rarely contain skeletons 
or other relics, and even in the large mound within the embankment only 
a few skeletons, implements or weapons have been found. The absence 
of these relics and the arrangement of the mounds have led antiquarians 
to believe that such places were centers of sacrifice or religious ceremony 
of some kind. 


Among the first to make a systematic investigation of the mounds 
were Squier and Davis, who about 1850 published a work entitled 
"Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley." Between the years 
184.5 and 1848 these two archaeologists, working together, explored over 
two hundred mounds and earthworks, the description of which was pub- 
lished by the Smithsonian Institution. Following these pioneer investi- 
gators came Baldwin, McLean and a number of other writers on the sub- 
ject, practically all of whom held to the theory that the IMound Builders 
belonged to a separate and distinct race and that many of the relics were 
of great antiquity. Some of these early writers took the view that the 
Mound Builders first established their civilization in the Ohio Valley, 
from which region they gradually moved southwestwardly into IMexico 


and Central America, where the white man found their descendants in 
the Aztec Indians. Others, with arguments equally plausible, contended 
that the people who left these interesting relics originated in the South 
and slowly made their way northward to the country abo.ut the Great 
Lakes, where their further progress was checked by a hostile foe. Upon 
only one phase of the subject were these early authors agreed, and that 
was that the Mound Builders belonged to a very ancient and extinct 
race. The theory of great antiquity was sustained by the great trees, 
often several feet in diameter, which they found growing upon many 
of the mounds and earthworks, and the conclusion that the Mound Build- 
ers were a distinct race of people was supported by the fact that the 
Indians with whom the first white men came in contact had no traditions 
relating to the mounds or the people who built them. 


The United States Bureau of Ethnologj% soon after it was estab- 
lished, undertook the work of making an exhaustive and scientific inves- 
tigation of the mounds and other relics left by this ancient people. Cyrus 
Thomas, of the bureau, in analyzing and compiling the information col- 
lected, has divided the country once inhabited by the Mound Builders 
into eight districts, each of which is marked by certain features not 
common to the others. In thus classifying the relics Mr. Thomas evi- 
dently did not adhere to any of the proposed theories as to the origin 
or first location of the Mound Builders, as he begins in the northwestern 
part of the country and proceeds toward the east and south, to-wit: 

1. The Dakotah District, which includes North and South Dakota, 
Minnesota, Wisconsin and the northwestern part of Iowa. 2. The 
Huron-Iroquois District, embracing the country once inhabited by the 
Huron and Iroquois Indians, viz : the lower peninsula of Michigan, 
the southern part of Canada, a strip across the northern part of Ohio, 
and the greater part of the State of New York. 3. The Illinois District, 
which includes the middle and eastern portions of Iowa, Northeastern 
Missouri, Northern Illinois and the western half of Indiana. 4. The 
Ohio District, which takes in all the State of Ohio, except the strip across 
the northern part already mentioned, the eastern half of Indiana and the 
southwestern portion of West Virginia. 5. The Appalachian District, 
which includes the mountainous regions of Southwestern Virginia, West- 
ern North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee and Northern Georgia. 6. The 
Tennessee District, which adjoins the above and includes Middle and 
Western Tennessee, the southern portion of Illinois, practically all the 
State of Kentucky, a small section of Northern Alabama and the central 


portion of Georgia. 7. The Arkansas District, which embraces the 
state from which it takes its name, the southeastern part of Missouri 
and a strip across the northern part of Louisiana. 8. The Gulf District, 
which inchides the country bordering on the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Dakotah District includes the counties of Emmet and Dickinson 
and is therefore the only one in which this history is directly interested. 
As a rule the burial mounds of this district are small, but what they lack 
in archaeological interest is more than made up by the beautiful effigy 
mounds — that is, mounds constructed in the form of some bird or beast. 
Some are of the opinion that mounds of this class were made to repre- 
sent the totem of some tribe or clan, while others think they are images 
of some living creature that was an object of veneration. Near Prairie- 
ville, Wisconsin, there is an effigy mound resembling a turtle, fifty-six 
feet in length, and not far from the town of Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, 
is the figure of a man lying on his back, 120 feet long. No mounds have 
been found in Emmet County, but along the Little Sioux River a number 
have been explored, and farther south and east, near Lehigh, Webster 
County, are the remains of an elaborate system of earthworks. The prox- 
imity of these relics on either side seems to indicate that, though the 
Mound Builder established no permanent domicile within the limits of 
Emmet and Dickinson counties, he doubtless passed back and forth 
thi-ough that region as he made his pilgiimages between the ancient set- 
tlements on the Little Sioux River and the old fort near Lehigh. Perhaps 
he trapped muskrats and hunted waterfowl about Spirit Lake and along 
the upper Des Moines River centuries befoi-e the white man knew that 
such a country as Iowa even existed. 


Going back to the various theories regarding the origin and age of 
the Mound Builders, it is worthy of note that in the more recent inves- 
tigations the theory of great antiquity has been discredited. Archaeolo- 
gists who have made extensive research among the mounds in connection 
with the work of the Bureau of Ethnology have also come to doubt the 
separate race theory and are practically a unit in the belief that the 
Mound Builder was nothing more than the ancestor, more or less remote, 
of the North American Indian. The principal reason for discarding the 
great age theoiy is found in the records left by the early French and 
Spanish explorers in the southern part of what is now the LInited States. 
These records show that the Natchez Indians always built the house of 
their chief upon an artificial mound. As eminent an authority as Pierre 
Margry says : "When a chief dies they demolish his cabin and then 
raise a new mound, on which they build the cabin of the chief who is to 


replace the one deceased in this dignity, for the chief never lodges in the 
house of his predecessor." 

How long this custom prevailed no one knows, but it may account 
for the large number of small artificial mounds seen tliroughout the coun- 
try once inhabited by the Natchez and their ancestors. Through the 
work of the Bureau of Ethnology it has also been learned that the Yama- 
see Indians of Georgia built mounds over the warriors slain in battle, 
and Charlevoix found among the Canadian Indians certain tribes who 
built earthworks similar to those described by Thomas as having once 
existed in the Huron-Iroquois District. 

Early investigators found in many of the small mounds burnt or 
baked clay and charcoal, for which they were at a loss to account. Sub- 
sequent inquiry has disclosed the fact that among certain tribes of 
Indians, particularly in the lower Mississippi countiy, the family hut was 
frequently built upon an artificial mound. This has led Brinton to 
advance the hypothesis that the house was constructed of poles, the 
cracks between them being filled with clay. When the head of the family 
died, the body was buried in a shallow grave under the center of the hut, 
which was then burned. This custom, which might have been followed 
for generations, would account for the burnt clay and charcoal, as well 
as the great number of small mounds, each containing a single human 
skeleton, the bones of which have sometimes been found charred. 

Still another evidence that there is some relationship between the 
ancient Mound Builder and the Indian of more modern times is seen in 
the pottery made by some of the southwestern tribes, which is very 
similar in texture and design to that found in some of the ancient 
mounds. In the light of all these recent discoveries, it is not surprising 
that scientists are discarding the theories of separate I'ace and great 
antiquity and setting up the claim that the Mound Builder was nothing 
more than the ancestor of the Indian found here by the first white men 
who came to America. Some archaeologists have even gone so far as 
to assert that the cliff dwellers of the Southwest are the remnant of the 
once numerous and widely distributed Mound Builders. However, the 
discovery of these evidences that the modern Indian is the oifspring of 
the Mound Builder has not caused interest in the aboriginal inhabitant 
to diminish. Says Thomas: "The hope of ultimately solving the great 
problems is perhaps as lively today as in former years. But with the 
vast increase in knowledge in recent years, a modification of the hope 
entertained has taken place." 


The name "Indian," which was given to the natives of North Amer- 
ica soon after the continent was discovered, although a misnomer, has 


remained to the present time. At first the Indians were regarded as all 
belonging to one family, but it has since been learned that they were 
really divided into several groups or tribal confederacies, each of which 
differed from the others in certain physical and linguistic characteristics. 

At the beginning of the Sixteenth Century these groups were dis- 
tributed over the continent of North America as follows: 

In the far North, the country about the Arctic Circle was inhabited 
by the Eskimo, a tribe that has never played any conspicuous part in 
history, except as guides to polar expeditions. 

The Algonquian family, the most numerous and powerful of all the 
Indian groups, occupied a lai'ge triangle, roughly bounded by the Atlan- 
tic coast from Labrador to Cape Hatteras and lines drawn from those 
two points to the western end of Lake Superior. This group was com- 
posed of numerous tribes, the best known of which were probably the 
Delaware, Ottawa, Miami, Sac, Fox and Potawatomi. 

Along the shores of Lake Ontario and the upper waters of the St. 
Lawrence River, in the very heart of the Algonquian triangle, was the 
domain of the Iroquoian tribes, viz : The Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, 
Mohawk and Cayuga. To the early colonists these tribes became known 
as the "Five Nations." Some years later the Tuscarora Indians were 
added to the confederacy, which then took the name of the "Six Nations." 

South of the Algonquian country was a large region inhabited by the 
Muskhogean tribes, the principal ones being the Creek, Chickasaw, Choc- 
taw and Cherokee. The last named, so far as known, is the only Indian 
tribe that ever had a written language based upon a regular alphabet 
— a fact that bears out Adair's statement that the Muskhogean stock was 
the most intelligent of all the North American tribes. 

In the Northwest, about the sources of the Mississippi River and 
extending westward to the Missouri, was the territory of the Siouan 
family, which was composed of a number of tribes noted for their physi- 
cal prowess and warlike disposition. 

South and west of the Siouan country the great plains and the foot- 
hills of the Rocky Mountains were inhabited by the bold, vindictive 
Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Pawnee and other tribes, and 
still farther south, in what are now the states of Arkansas and Louisiana, 
lay the region occupied by the Caddoan group. Scattered over the coun- 
try, here and there, were a number of isolated tribes that claimed kin- 
ship with none of the great families. Inferior in numbers and often 
nomadic in their mode of living, these tribes are of little historic sig- 

Volumes have been written about the North American Indians — 
their legends, traditions and customs — and the subject is practically 
inexhaustible. In a history such as this it is not the design to enter into 


any extended account of the entire Indian race, but to notice only those 
tribes whose history is intimately interwoven with the territory now 
comprising the State of Iowa, and especially the northwestern part, 
where the counties of Emmet and Dickinson are situated. These tribes 
were the Iowa, Sac and Fox, Sioux, Winnebago and Potawatomi. 


Although the Iowa Indians were not the most numerous or of the 
greatest importance historically, they are first mentioned because it was 
this tribe that gave the Hawkeye State its name, and they were probably 
the first Indians to establish themselves in the territory included in this 
history. Ethnologically they belonged to the Siouan group, but, accord- 
ing to their traditions, they became allied at an early date with the 
Winnebago and lived with that tribe in the country north of the Great 
Lakes. They are first mentioned in history in 1690, when they occupied 
a district on the shores of Lake Michigan, under a chief called Man-han- 
gaw. Here they separated from the Winnebago and with the Otoe, 
Omaha and Ponca tribes moved toward the southwest. At the time of 
this separation the Iowa received the name of "Pa-ho-ja," or "Gray Snow 
Indians." They were also known as the "Sleepy Ones." 

Schoolcraft says this tribe migrated no less than fifteen times. After 
separating from the Winnebago they took up their abode on the Rock 
River, in what is now the State of Illinois, where they were temporarily 
affiliated with the Sacs and Foxes. From there they removed to the 
valley of the Iowa River. In 1848 an Iowa Indian prepared a map show- 
ing the movements of the tribe from the time they left the Winnebago 
nation. Connected with this map was a tradition giving the following 
account of the occupation of the Iowa Valley: 

"After living on the Rock River for several years, the tribe left the 
Sacs and Foxes and wandered off westward in search of a new home. 
Crossing the Mississippi, they turned southward and reached a high 
bluff' near the mouth of the Iowa River. Looking ofi: over the beautiful 
valley spread out before them, they halted, exclaiming 'loway! loway!' 
which in their language means 'This is the place!'" 

Following their residence in the valley of the Iowa, they lived suc- 
cessively in the Des Moines Valley, on the Missouri River, then in what 
is now South Dakota, and in what is now Northwestern Iowa, about 
Spirit Lake and the headwaters of the Des Moines and Big Sioux rivers. 
As the Indian had no way of keeping an accurate record of time, the 
dates when these various places were occupied are somewhat problema- 
tical. A Sioux tradition says that when that tribe first came to the 
country about the Falls of St. Anthony they found the Iowa Indians there 


and drove them out. Le Sueur found some of them in that locality in 
1700 and supplied them with firearms. In his report of the e.xpedition 
up the Mississippi River, Le Sueur says the principal villages of the 
Iowa were "at the extreme headwaters of the River de Moyen." 

In 1707 William de Lisle compiled a map of the northwestern part 
of Louisiana, on which is shown a traders' trail marked "Chemin des 
Voyageurs," beginning at the Mississippi River a few miles below the 
mouth of the Wisconsin and running westward across Northern Iowa to 
the vicinity of Spirit Lake. There, on the shore of a small lake, the 
identity of which is I'ather uncertain, is marked a "Village des Aiaouez." 
From this village the trail continued almost due west to the Big Sioux 
River, where two more "Villages des Aiaouez" are shown, one on either 
side of the river. Jacob Van der Zee, in his "Reminiscences of the 
Northwest Fur Trade," mentions this trail, and it is also mentioned by 
Chittenden in his "American Fur Trade." Its existence, coupled with 
Le Sueur's report, makes it certain that the Iowa Indians once inhab- 
ited the country now comprising Emmet and Dickinson counties. 

Dorsey divides the tribe into eight gentes or clans, to-wit: Bear, 
Beaver, Buffalo, Eagle, Elk, Pigeon, Snake and Wolf. They worshipped 
a Great Spirit and had a tradition of a great flood which destroyed all 
the animals and people except those who escaped in a great canoe. The 
Great Spirit then made a new man and a new woman from red clay, and 
from this couple were descended all the Indian tribes. Hawks and rattle- 
snakes were objects of veneration and were never killed by these Indians. 

Mahaska (White Cloud), one of the most noted chiefs o"f the Iowa 
tribe, claimed to be a direct descendant of the great chief Man-han-gaw. 
It is said that during his chieftainship he led his warriors in eighteen 
battles against the Sioux on the north and the Osage on the south and 
always came off victorious. Mahaska County, Iowa, bears his name. 
In 1824, accompanied by his wife, Rant-che-wai-me, he was one of a 
pai'ty of chiefs that visited the Great White Father at Washington. Upon 
their return Rant-che-wai-me cautioned the women of her tribe against 
the vices and follies of their white sisters as she saw them in the nation- 
al capital. The following year the Iowa Indians ceded all their interest 
in Iowa lands to the United States. 


These two tribes, which at one time inhabited practically the entire 
State of Iowa, are generally spoken of as one people, though as a matter 
of fact they were two separate and distinct tribes of the great Algon- 
quian family, which foi-med an alliance for their mutual protection 
against their common enemies. 


The Sacs — also called Sauks and Saukies — were known as the "Peo- 
ple of the outlet." Some writers refer to them as "People of the yellow 
earth." Their earliest known habitat was in the lower peninsula of 
Michigan, where they lived with the Potawatomi. The name Saginaw 
as applied to a bay and city in Michigan, means "the place of the Sac" 
and indicates the region where they once dwelt. According to their tra- 
ditions, they were here allied with the Potawatomi, Fox, Mascouten and 
Kickapoo tribes before they became an independent tribe. They are 
first mentioned as a separate trilje in the Jesuit Relations for 1640, 
though even then they were confederated with the tribes above men- 
tioned and also with the Miami and Winnebago nations. Father Allouez, 
one of the early Jesuit missionaries, writing of these Indians in 1667, 
says: "They are more savage than all the other peoples I have met; 
they are a populous tribe, although they have no fixed dwelling place, 
being wanderers and vagabonds in the forest." 

Sac traditions tell how they were driven from the shores of Lake 
Huron by the Iroquois and Neuters before the middle of the Seventeenth 
Century. Upon being expelled from their hunting grounds there they 
retired by way of Mackinaw and about the middle of the century found 
a new abode along the shores of Green Bay, Wisconsin. This portion 
of their traditions is first told by Father Dablon, in the Jesuit Relations 
for 1671. Says he: "The Sacs, Pottawatomies and neighboring tribes, 
being driven from their own countries, which are the lands southward 
from Michilimackinac, have taken refuge at the head of this bay, beyond 
which one can see inland the Nation of Fire, with one of the Illinois 
tribes called Oumiami, and the Foxes." 

In the same year that this was written by Father Dablon, the Huron 
and Ottawa Indians started out to invade the country of the Sioux. On 
the way they persuaded the Sac and Potawatomi warriors to join the 
expedition. The allied tribes were defeated by the Sioux and suffered 
heavy losses. The surviving Sacs returned to the shores of Green Bay, 
where it seems they were content to remain quiet for several years before 
making any further warlike demonstrations against their enemies. 

According to Dorsey, the tribe was divided into fourteen clans or 
gentes, to-wit: Bass, Bear, Eagle, Elk, Fire Dragon, Fox, Great Lynx, 
Grouse, Potato, Sea (or Lake), Sturgeon, Thunder, Trout and Wolf. 
Ordinarily marriages were made between men and women belonging to 
diff'erent clans, though they were not foi'bidden between couples of the 
same clan. Polygamy was practiced to some extent, though in this 
respect the Sacs were not so bad as some of the other Algonquian tiibes. 
Their religion consisted of a belief in numerous "Manitous" and was 
rich in myth and fable. 

The Foxes were also Algonquian Indians and resembled in many 


respects the Sacs, with whom they ultimately became confederated. 
Their Indian name was Mesh-kwa-ke-hug (nearlj^ always written Mus- 
quakie), signifying "People of the red earth." Sometimes they were 
designated as the "People of the other shore." Their original dwelling 
place is somewhat uncertain. According to their traditions they lived 
at a very early date on the Atlantic coast, in the vicinity of the present 
State of Rhode Island. Subsequently a portion of the tribe occupied 
the country along the southern shore of Lake Superior, from which they 
were driven by the Chippewa. In the early part of the Seventeenth Cen- 
tury Nicollet found a band of these Indians living on the Fox river, not 
far from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and in 1676 Father Allouez found some 
of them on the Wolf River, in the same state. In his writings of that 
year he speaks of a "Musquakie village with a population of about five 

The name "Fox" originated with the French, who called these 
Indians "Reynors" or "Renards." They were regarded by neighboring 
Indian tribes as "avaricious, thieving, passionate and quarrelsome." 
With an intense hatred for the French they planned the attack on the 
post at Detroit in 1712. The timely arrival of reinforcements saved the 
post and the Indians suffered an overwhelming defeat. Those who took 
part in this assault on Detroit then went to the village on the Wolf River 
spoken of by Father Dablon. 

About 1730 the English and Dutch traders operating in the country 
about the Great Lakes, knowing of the hatred of the Foxes for the 
French, decided to take advantage of it for the purpose of driving out 
French competition. An alliance was therefore formed with the Fox 
chiefs, who were incited to make war on the French. In opposition to 
this movement the French enlisted the cooperation of the Huron, Ottawa, 
Potawatomi and some minor tribes. In the conflict which ensued the 
Foxes were defeated and found shelter among the Sac bands in the 
neighborhood of Green Bay. The French authorities in Canada, think- 
ing the tribe had not been sufficiently punished and desiring to make 
their victory more complete, sent a detachment of French soldiers and 
Indian allies, under a Lieutenant-Colonel De Villiers, to the Sac villages 
to demand the surrender of the fugitives. The demand was indignantly 
refused by the Sac chiefs, whereupon De Villiers ordered an attack upon 
the Sac village. A hard-fought battle followed, in which the French were 
the victors, but the refugees were not surrendered. 

This occurred in 1733 and resulted in the alliance between the two 
tribes, who have since been generally regarded as one people. Their 
alliance, however, was more in the nature of a confederacy, each tribe 
retaining its identity, while one chief ruled over both. 

Twelve Fox gentes are mentioned by Dorsey in one of the reports 


of the United States Bureau of Ethnology, viz: Bass, Bear, Big Lynx, 
Buffalo, Eagle, Fox, Pheasant, Sea, Sturgeon, Swan, Thunder and Wolf. 
It will be noticed that nine of these clans bear the name and totem of 
the same number of the Sac gentes, which seems to indicate that the 
two tribes sprang from the same stock. The principal deities worshiped 
by the Fox Indians were Wisaka and Kiyapata. The former ruled the 
day and the latter the night. Animal fable and mythology were the 
leading features of their religion and the tribe had many ceremonial 
observances. They practiced agriculture in a primitive way, raising 
corn, beans, tobacco, squashes and some other vegetables. In a few 
instances some big chief or warrior of note was permitted to have more 
than one squaw, but as a rule polygamous marriages were discounte- 

Of all the Indians the Fox tribe was perhaps the only one that had 
what might be called a "coat of arms." This was a design consisting of 
an oblique line (supposed to represent a river) with the figure of a fox 
at each end on opposite sides. After a victory in war this emblem was 
painted or carved on rocks and trees to tell the story of their valor and 
at the same time serve as a warning to their enemies. 

In 1731 the Sac village of Sau-ke-nuk on the Rock River, in Illinois, 
was founded. After the expedition of De \ illiers the Sacs and Foxes 
living in Wisconsin were driven from that part of the country by the 
Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, allies of the French, and joined those 
living at Sau-ke-nuk. At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century there 
were some eight thousand of the allied tribes living along the Rock River 
near its mouth. About 1780, or perhaps a few years before that date, 
some of these Indians crossed the Mississippi River near the present city 
of Prairie du Chien and took up their aljode near the place where the 
city of Dubuque, Iowa, now stands. In 1788 these Indians granted to 
Julien Dubuque a concession to work the lead mines and sold him part 
of the lands claimed by them. Before the close of that year Dubuque 
established upon his concession the first white settlement in what is now 
the State of Iowa. 


Two of the greatest chiefs in the history of the North American 
Indians belonged to the allied tribes of the Sacs and Foxes. They were 
Black Hawk and Keokuk, both born of Sac parents, but recognized as 
chiefs by both tribes. Black Hawk was a warrior and Keokuk a politi- 

Black Hawk, whose Indian name was Ma-ka-ta-wi-mesha-ka-ka, was 
a member of the Thunder clan and was born at the village of Sau-ke-nuk, 


on the Rock River, in 1767. His father, Py-e-sa, was a direct descend- 
ant of Nan-a-ma-kee (Thunder), the founder of the clan and custodian 
of the great medicine bag of the Sac nation, which had been intrusted to 
him by the Great Spirit. Black Hawk was trained in the ails of war 
by his fathei- and established his prowess in battle before he was nine- 
teen years old. About that time Py-e-sa was mortally wounded in an 
encounter with the Cherokees and the custody of the medicine bag passed 
to his son. This medicine bag represented the soul of the Sac nation 
and had never been disgraced. To prepare himself for the onerous duty 
of preserving it unsullied. Black Hawk took no part in the military 
affairs of his tribe for some five years. During that period he passed 
his time in pi'aying to the Great Spirit for the necessary strength and 
wisdom to perform his duty as custodian of the sacred bag. Hour after 
hour he sat upon the promontory near his home on the Rock River, 
■smoking and meditating. The promontory is still called "Black Hawk's 
Watch Tower," now a favorite summer resort connected with the city 
of Rock Island by an electric railway. At the end of his five years he 
assumed the chieftainship of his tribe and the custody of the medicine 
bag, and fi'om that time to his death he guarded carefully the sacred 
I'elic and the interests of his people according to his view. 

By the treaty negotiated at St. Louis in the fall of 1804 between 
some of the Sac and Fox chiefs and Gen. William H. Harrison, the United 
States was given permission to build a military post on the west side 
of the Mississippi River. In 1808 the old post of Fort Madison was 
established where the city of that name now stands. Black Hawk and 
some of his followers were dissatisfied with the terms of the treaty and 
insisted that the building of Fort iMadison was a violation of Indian 
rights. When the relations between the United States and Great Britain 
became strained in 1812, the British Government took advantage of this 
dissatisfaction and secured the cooperation of the Black Hawk band. 
Colonel Dixon, the English ofiicer in command at Green Bay, sent two 
large pirogues loaded with goods to the Sac and Fox village on the Rock 
River, and then went in person to superintend the distribution of the 
goods among the Indians. No better man could have been selected for this 
purpose. Dixon was naturally crafty and thoroughly understood the 
Indian character. When he took the hand of Black Hawk he looked 
straight into the eyes of the chief and said : "You will now hold us fast 
by the hand. Your English father has found that the Americans want 
to take your country from you, and has sent me and my braves to drive 
them back to their own country." 

This speech won Black Hawk, who joined the British and was with 
the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, when the latter fell in the Battle of the 
Thames. After the close of the War of 1812 a large part of the Sacs 


and Foxes entered into a treaty of peace with the United States and 
agreed to remove to the west side of the Mississippi River. Black Hawk 
and liis immediate followers remained obstinate and their obstinacy 
finally culminated in Black Hawk's War, in 1832. At the close of that 
war further negotiations between the allied tribes and the United States 
were undertaken. In these negotiations the representatives of the Gov- 
ernment ignored Black Hawk and recognized Keokuk as the principal 
chief of the Sac and Fox confederacy. It is said that when the an- 
nouncement of Keokuk's recognition was made in open council, Black 
Hawk was so enraged that he jerked off his loin cloth and slapped 
Keokuk in the face with it. A report of the United States Bureau of 
Ethnology says: "The act of creating Keokuk chief of the Sacs has 
always been regarded with ridicule by both the Sacs and Foxes, for the 
reason that he was not of the ruling clan." 

After Black Hawk was thus unceremoniously deposed as chief, he 
retired to his new village on the Des Moines River, near lowaville, where 
he passed his last years in peace. He died there on October .3, 1838. 
About a year later it was discovered that his grave had been robbed, but 
through the efforts of Governor Lucas the bones were recovered and sent 
to St. Louis, where they were properly cleaned and the skeleton was 
wired together. It was then returned to the governor and the sons of 
the old chief were content to permit it to remain in the custody of the 
state. The skeleton was afterward presented to the Burlington Geolo- 
gical and Historical Society and it was among the relics destroyed by 
fire in 1855. Black Hawk probably was never in that portion of Iowa 
now comprising Emmet and Dickinson counties, but his people claimed 
the land in this section of the state. Through the treaty of 1832, which 
followed immediately after the Black Hawk War, the first land in the 
State of Iowa was opened to white settlement under the laws of the 
United States. Gradually the white settlements were extended west- 
ward until Emmet and Dickinson counties came within the domain of 

Keokuk (the Watchful Fox) was born near Rock Island, Illinois, in 
1788, and was therefore Black Hawk's junior by about twenty years. It 
has been claimed by some that his mother was a French half-breed. If 
so he was not a chief by heredity, but won that distinction through his 
political ingenuity and power of intrigue. One of his biographers says: 
"He was ambitious and while always involved in intrigue never openly 
exposed himself to his enemies, but cunningly played one faction against 
the other for his personal advantage." 

It was during the War of 1812 that Keokuk inaugurated the policy 
that made him a leader among his people and afterward resulted in his 
being recognized as chief by the LTnited States. While Black Hawk and 


some of his warriors were absent from the village on the Rock River 
fighting on the side of the British, news was received that a body of 
Federal troops was marching into the Sac and Fox country. Consterna- 
tion reigned in the village and some of the Indians began making prep- 
arations to cross the Mississippi. Keokuk saw his opportunity and was 
quick to grasp it. Calling the inhabitants of the village together, he 
addressed them thus: "I have heard with sorrow that you have deter- 
mined to leave our village and cross the Mississippi, merely because 
you have been told that the white soldiers are coming in this direction. 
Would you leave our village, desert our homes and fly before an enemy 
approaches? Give me charge of your warriors and I will defend the 
village while you sleep." 

This little speech won the confidence of the people and Keokuk was 
placed in command. The troops failed to appear and many of the 
inhabitants of the village, with that superstition which formed a part of 
the Indian character, believed that an attack was prevented through the 
precautions taken by Keokuk. By the time of the Black Hawk War his 
influence was great enough to prevent a large number of the young men 
from taking part. It was chiefly because he was the leader of the peace 
party that the United States officials recognized him as the principal 
chief of the allied tribes after the war, and in all subsequent dealings 
with the Sacs and Foxes. 

During the Black Hawk War an incident occurred that illustrates 
the manner in which Keokuk molded public opinion. A number of war- 
riors grew dissatisfied and wanted to join Black Hawk in the eflfort to 
recover the Rock River country. They importuned Keokuk to permit 
them to take part in the war, and some of them even went so far as to 
hold a war dance and commence preparations for taking the field. 
Keokuk apparently acquiesced in the demands and took part in the war 
dance, at the conclusion of which a council was held. With solemn mien 
Keokuk arose and addressed the council as follows: 

"Warriors: I am your chief. It is my duty to lead you to war if 
you are determined to go. (Here the speaker made a long pause while 
a murmur of approbation ran through the council, after which he con- 
tinued.) But, remember, the United States is a great nation. The great 
father at Washington has a long arm. Unless we conquer we must 
perish. I will lead you to war against the white men on one condition. 
That is we shall first put our old men, our women and children to death, 
to save them from a lingering death by starvation, and then resolve that 
when we cross the Mississippi we will never retreat, but perish among 
the graves of our fathers, rather than yield to the white men." 

This speech had its eff"ect, checked the warlike sentiment, and 
resulted in the abandonment of the expedition. It was a typical instance 


This half-tone portrait is from a daguerreotype taken 
in 1874, when the great chief was sixty-seven years of 
age. This has been generally accepted by historical 
writers as a faithful likeness of that celebrated chief. 




of the wily chief's methods — deftly raising doubts in the minds of his 
followers, skilfully interposing objections while apparently being in sym- 
pathy with a movement, until he won a majority over to his view and 
thus strengthened his position for the next crisis. 

After the treaty of 1832 Keokuk lived on a reservation of 400 square 
miles on the Iowa River. In 1836 this reservation was sold to the United 
States and he removed to what is now Wapello County. There he lived 
until the treaty of October 11, 1842, when he removed to a new village, 
about five miles southeast of Fort Des Moines. In 1845 he went with 
his tribesmen to Kansas, where he died in April, 1848. In 1883 his 
remains were brought to Iowa and interred in Rand Park at Keokuk, 
upon a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. On October 22, 
1913, a monument over his grave was unveiled by the Keokuk Chapter, 
Daughters of the American Revolution. 


Prominent among the Sac and Fox chiefs were Appanoose, Powe- 
shiek and Wapello, each of whom was the leader of a considerable band 
and stood high in the tribal councils. In the language of the tribe the 
name Appanoose means "A chief when a child," showing that he was 
a chief by inheritance. He was a Sac and was a member of the peace 
party at the time of the Black Hawk War. Poweshiek, a chief of the 
same rank as Appanoose, escorted Gen. Joseph M. Street through the 
lands ceded by the treaty of 1837, and after the removal of the Indians 
to the west of what was called the "Red Rock line" in 1843 he located 
on the Skunk River, near the present City of Colfax, in Jasper County. 
When the main body of the tribe removed to Kansas in 1845-46, a por- 
tion of Poweshiek's band located in Tama County, Iowa. Wapello was 
born at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in 1787, and died near the forks 
of the Skunk River on March 15, 1842, more than six months before the 
negotiation of the ti-eaty that forced his people from their hunting 
grounds in Iowa to a strange land beyond the Missouri River. He was 
a warm personal friend of General Street, agent of the Sacs and Foxes, 
and was buried by his side at the Sac and Fox agency (now Agency 
City, Wapello County). All three of those chiefs were with the party 
that visited Washington, D. C, in 1837, and the people of Iowa have 
named counties in their honor. 

Matanequa, the last war chief of the Sacs and Foxes, deserves more 
than passing mention. He was born at Dubuque about 1810 and is said 
to have been a typical Indian, both physically and intellectually. Like 
Keokuk, he was not a member of the ruling clan, but won his title of 
chief through his bravery in battle and his skill in controlling men. His 


high order of executive abihty was recognized by his people in July, 
1857, when he was selected as one of the five men to choose a new place 
of residence in Iowa for the band. He and his four associates purchased 
eighty acres of land in Tama County, to which they removed the mem- 
bers of their band. Subsequently other tracts were purchased until they 
owned about three thousand acres. Matanequa was the last survivor of 
the five men who selected the location. His death occurred on October 4, 
1897, and such was the esteem in which he was held by the white people 
that many of the citizens of Tama City closed their places of business 
to attend his funeral. He has been called "The Warwick of the Musqua- 
kies" — a man who elevated others to positions of power but was never 
king himself. .' •'•.>.-.!.■'. m. . ■ 


This tribe was at one time one of the powerful tribes of the great 
Algonquian family. They were closely allied with the Sac and Fox 
Indians and many of the early treaties made with those tribes were 
approved or ratified by the Pota\\-atomi before they became effective. 
When the French missionaries and traders first came in contact with 
the Potawatomi they were living near the northern limits of the lower 
Michigan peninsula, where they were known as the "Nation of Fire." 
In 1664 Nicollet met with some of them in Wisconsin, and Bacqueville de 
la Potherie, an early French writer, says: "In 1665 or 1666 the Pota- 
watomi took the southern and the Sac the northern shores of Green Bay, 
and the Winnebago who were not fishei-men, went back into the forests 
to live on venison and bear meat." 

About the close of the Revolutionary War a part of the tribe moved 
eastward and in the early years of the Nineteenth Century occupied 
practically all that part of Indiana north of the Wabash River. On 
August 24, 1816, this branch of the Potawatomi ceded to the United 
States the greater portion of their lands about the head of Lake Michi- 
gan, including the site of the present City of Chicago, and received in 
exchange therefor some of the Sac and Fox lands in Western Illinois. 
In 1833 they ceded all their lands in Indiana and Illinois and received a 
reservation of 5,000,000 acres in Southwestern Iowa, to which they were 
removed in 1835. Peter A. Sarpy was one of the first traders among 
them after they came to Iowa, and in 1838 Davis Hardin' opened a farm 
and built a mill for them near Council Bluft's, which city is the county 
seat of a county bearing the tribal name, though their agency was located 
in what is now Mills County. At the time they removed to Iowa the 
tribe numbered about three thousand people. 

By the treaty of -June 5, 1846, the Potawatomi relinquished their 
title to their Iowa lands and received in exchange a reservation thirty 


miles square in Kansas. At that time there were some Mormons Hving 
in the vicinity of Council Bluffs and on May 8, 1846, one of the Mormon 
elders wrote: "No game or wild animal of any description is to be 
seen around here, having been thinned out by a tribe of Indians called 
Pottawattamies, whose trails and old camping grounds are to be seen 
in every direction." 

By the winter of 1847 all the Potawatomi were removed to Kansas, 
except a small band which remained to hunt about the headwaters of 
of the Des Moines River. After the removal to Kansas a few members 
of the tribe grew homesick for theii- old hunting grounds in Iowa and 
wandered back under the leadei'ship of a minor chief known as "Johnnie 
Green." For several years they hunted, fished and roamed about, unmo- 
lested by the white people, until the majority of them died and the 
remaining few were merged with the Musquakies near Tama City. A 
remnant of the tribe still lives in Kansas. 


Although a tribe of the Siouan family, far back in the past the 
Winnebago becanre allied with the Algonquian tribes living about the 
Great Lakes, and some ethnologists class them as being members of 
the Algonquian group. As early as 1669 Jesuit missionaries and French 
traders found them allied with the Iowa, Potawatomi, Chippewa, Sac and 
Fox and other Algonquian tribes. In the Revolutionary war a large 
number of Winnebago warriors fought on the side of the British. A 
portion of the tribe was in the battle of Fallen Timbers against the 
forces commanded by Gen. Anthony Wayne in the summer of 1794 and 
again in the battle of Tippecanoe in November, 1811, a number of Win- 
nebago braves were engaged. In 1812 some of them joined the Pota- 
watomi in the assault upon Fort Dearborn (now Chicago). They were 
friendly to Black Hawk at the time of his uprising in 1832, though it 
was through the treachery of certain members of the tribe that Black 
Hawk was captured. 

After the Black Hawk war they ceded their lands in Wisconsin and 
Illinois to the United States and removed to the "Neutral Ground" in 
Iowa, where they acted as a sort of buffer between the Sioux on the 
north and the Sac and Fox on the south. In 1846 they were given a 
reservation near Mankato, Minnesota, where they lived until after the 
Sioux hostilities in 1862, when they were removed to a new reservation 
on the Missouri River in South Dakota. One of the Winnebago chiefs 
was Wee-no-shiek (or Winneshiek), for whom one of the northeastern 
counties of Iowa was named. Another chief was De-co-rah, who deliv- 
ered Black Hawk a prisoner to the Indian agent at Prairie du Chien 


at the close of the Black Hawk war. By intermarriage with the Sacs 
and Foxes they became closely affiliated with the allied tribes and roamed 
freely all over the State of Iowa. Doubtless some of the Winnebago in 
their wanderings left their footprints upon the soil of what are now 
Emmet and Dickinson Counties. 


Last, but by no means the least in importance in the history of 
Northwestern Iowa, were the Sioux or Dacotah tribes, the principal branch 
of which was the Santee or I-san-yan-ti Sioux — divided into the Mdewa- 
kanton, Sisseton, Wahpekute and Wahpeton bands. T. S. Williamson, 
who spent several years among the Sioux, studying their language and 
traditions, says their original habitat was along the shores of the Lake 
of the Woods and the country north of the Great Lakes. French explorers 
and missionaries first came in contact with them in 1640, but they are 
first mentioned in history by Radisson and Grosseliers, who in 1662 held 
a council with a large number of their chiefs and head men near Mille 
Lacs, now in the State of Minnesota. When Father Hennepin ascended 
the Mississippi River in 1680, he found the country now comprising 
Minnesota and the northern part of Iowa inhabited by the Sioux, whose 
numerical strength he estimated at about forty thousand. Hennepin 
and his associates were captured by the Sioux in April, 1680, and held 
prisoners until the following September, when they were rescued by Du 
Luth. Says Williamson: 

"From what was written on this subject by Hennepin, La Hontan, 
Le Sueur and Charlevoix, and from maps published under the superin- 
tendence of these authors, it is sufficiently clear that in the latter part 
of the Seventeenth Century the principal residence of the Isanyanti Sioux 
was about the headwaters of the Rum River, whence they extended their 
hunts to the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers and down the latter nearly 
or quite as far as the mouth of the Wisconsin." 


The name of this tribe, or band, was derived from three words in 
the Sioux language, to wit: Mde "lake," Wakon "sacred mystery," and 
Otonwe "village." They were therefore known as "The people of Mys- 
tery Lake village." The Mdewakanton claimed to be the parent stock, 
from which all the other Sioux tribes had sprung. When first encount- 
ered by the French explorers they were living about Mille Lacs (called by 
them Knife Lake), in Minnesota. Early missionaries mentioned them as 
the Nadowessioux. Long described them as "good-looking, straight, not 


overly tall and remarkable for symmetry of form." This band did not 
figure so prominently in the events of Northwestern Iowa as some of 
the others. 


Some ethnologists say the Sisseton was one of the original seven 
Siouan tribes. Hennepin found some of them in 1680 near Mille Lacs, 
where their hunting grounds adjoined those of the Mdewakanton. Lewis 
and Clark, when tiiey went up the ]\Iissouri River in 1804, met some of 
the Sisseton chiefs in v,'hat is now the southeastern part of South Dakota 
and estimated the number of warriors belonging to the band at about 
two hundred. Neill says that in 1850 they could muster twenty-five 
hundred fighting men. At that time they lived in Western Minnesota 
and the southeastern part of South Dakota. In their hunting expeditions 
they came into Northwestern Iowa, but there is no evidence to show that 
they ever claimed a permanent residence within the limits of the state. 


The name of this tribe meant in the Sioux language "Shooters in the 
leaves," indicating that they were huntsmen and lived in the forests. One 
of their early chiefs was White Owl, the Chippewa name of whom was 
"Wa-pa-cut," and some writers claim that the tribal name was derived 
from this similarity. They had no fixed villages and lived in skin lodges 
or tepees that were easily transported from one place to another as 
they roved around on their hunting migrations. In 1766 Carver met 
them on the Minnesota River. Lewis and Clark found them in 1804 
on both sides of the Minnesota, below the mouth of the Redwood, and 
estimated the number of warriors at less than two hundred. Two years 
later Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike spoke of them as being "the smallest band 
of the Sioux, residing generally between the Mississippi and Missouri 
rivers and hunting commonly at the head of the Des Moines." 

Pike also pronounced them "the most stupid of all the Sioux." and 
when Maj. Stephen H. Long made his exploration of the St. Peter's 
River in 1824 he met some of the Wahpecute, of whom he said: "This 
tribe has a very bad name, being considered to be a lawless set of men. 
They have a regular chief, Wiahuga (the Raven), who is acknowledged 
as such by the Indian agent, but who, disgusted by their misbehavior, 
withdrew from them and resides at Wapasha's." 

At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century they occupied the country 
of Northwestern Iowa and Southwestern Minnesota. They joined in 
the treaties of 1830 and 1851, but six years after the latter treaty some 


ten or fifteen lodges, under the disreputable chief, Ink-pa-du-ta, com- 
mitted the Spirit Lake massacre, a full account of which will be found in 
another chapter. 


Students of Indian history and tradition are practically unanimous 
in the belief that the Wahpeton was one of the seven primary tribes 
of the great Sioux nation. The name signifies "Dwellers among the 
leaves." Like the Mdewakanton, the warriors of this tribe were well 
formed, good-looking men. In 1680 their principal place of residence 
was near Mille Lacs, but fifty years later they occupied the country along 
the lower Minnesota River, their headquarters being near the present 
City of Belleplaine. Long visited the tribe in 1824, and in his report says: 

"They wore small looking glasses suspended from their garments. 
Others had papers of pins, puixhased from the traders, as ornaments. 
We observed one, who appeared to be a man of some note among them, 
had a live sparrow-hawk on his head by way of distinction; this man 
wore also a buffalo robe on which eight bear tracks were painted. The 
squaws we saw had no ornament of value. The dress of the women 
consisted of a long wrapper, with short sleeves, of dark calico. Others 
wore a calico garment which covered them from the shoulders to the 
waist; a piece of blue broadcloth, wound around the waist, its end tucked 
in, extended to the knee. They also wore leggings of blue or scarlet 
cloth. Hampered by such a costume, their movements were not graceful." 

Chief Other-Day, who played such a conspicuous part in the Indian 
uprising of 1862, was a Wahpeton. Between the various Sioux tribes 
and the Sacs and Foxes there was a deadly enmity. The ITnited States 
government ti'ied to establish a boundary between them that would 
keep them fi'om being at constant wai' with each other, but with only 
partial success. The treaties negotiated for this purpose, as well as 
those by which the lands of Northwestern Iowa passed into the hands 
of the white men, are described in the next chapter. R. A. Smith, in his 
History of Dickinson County says the last hostile meeting between the 
Sioux and the Sacs and Foxes was in Kossuth County, Iowa, In April, 
1852, "between two straggling bands, both of whom at that time were 
trespassers and had no legal right on Iowa soil. The number engaged 
was about seventy on each side and the result was a complete victory for 
the Sacs and Foxes." 




Civilization is the product of a gradual evolution. Emmet and 
Dickinson counties, like all the political divisions or subdivisions of the 
civilized nations of the world, are the outgrowth of a series of events 
dating back for many years. Bastiat, the eminent French writer on 
political economy, once wrote an essay entitled "The Seen and the Unseen," 
the object of which was to show how necessary it is to be able to reason 
from the effect (the Seen) back to the cause (the Unseen). The theories 
advanced in that essay will apply to history as well as to economics. 
The people of Emmet and Dickinson counties see now on every hand 
the evidences of progress; the great State of Iowa, with its busy com- 
mercial centers, its fertile fields and miles of railroad; the thriving 
towns in their own counties, with their banks and public buildings; but 
do they ever pause to consider the forces which brought about the pres- 
ent state of development? Long before the counties, as such, were even 
dreamed of, the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, was 
the first link in a chain of events that culminated in the establishment 
of the American Republic and the division of the interior of North 
America into states and counties. In order that the reader may under- 
stand how Iowa and its counties were called into existence by this process 
of evolution, it is deemed advisable to give a general account of the 
events that preceded and led up to their establishment. 




Spain was the first European nation to lay claim to the New Woi'ld. 
In 1493, the year following the first voyage of Columbus to America, 
the pope granted to the King and Queen of Spain "all countries inhabited 
by infidels." The extent of the continent discovered the year before was 
not then known, but Spain was a Catholic nation, the whole of what is 
now the United States was inhabited by Indians who knew not the 
religion of the Catholic Church and therefore came within the category 
of "infidels." Hence, in a vague way, the papal grant included the 
present State of Iowa. 

Three years later Henry VII of England granted to John Cabot and 
his sons a patent of discovery, possession and trade "to all lands they 
maj^ discover and lay claim to in the name of the English crown." Dur- 
ing the next four years the Cabots, acting under this patent, explored the 
Atlantic coast and made discoveries upon which England at the begin- 
ning of the Sixteenth Century claimed pi'actically all the central portion 
of North America. 

Farther northward the French Governiiient, through the discoveries 
of Jacques Cartier, laid claim to the Valley of the St. Lawrence River and 
the country about the Great Lakes, from which base they pushed their 
explorations westward toward the sources of the Mississippi River and 
southward into the Valley of the Ohio. 

Thus at the very beginning of American history, three great Euro- 
pean nations were actively engaged in making explorations and estab- 
lishing dominion over certain portions of the Western Hemisphere. Fol- 
lowing file usage of nations, each claimed title to the lands "by right 
of discovery." It is not surprising that in course of time a controversy 
arose among these three great powers as to which was the rightful pos- 
sessor of the soil. 


In November, 1519, Hernando Cortez landed in ^Mexico with a strong 
force of Spanish soldiery, captured Montezuma, the "Mexican Emperor," 
and after a two years' war succeeded in establishing Spanish supremacy.- 
It was not long until Cortez fell into disfavor with the Spanish author- 
ities at Madrid, but possession of the country was retained and I\Iexico 
was given the name of New Spain. Military governors failed to give 
satisfaction in controlling the afl'airs of the conquered province, and in 
1535 Antonio de Mendoza was appointed viceroy, with almost unlimited 
powers. He was known as the "good viceroy." By his diplomacy he 
succeeded in establishing friendly relations with the native inhabitants 


and did much toward advancing their interests. Under Mendoza and 
his successors, many of the Indians were converted to the Cathohc faith 
and exploration and settlement were pushed northward into California, 
New Mexico and Texas. 

The grant of the pope to infidel countries was further strengthened 
in 1540-42 by the expedition of Hernando de Soto into the interior of 
the continent. De Soto was born in Spain about 1496 and had been 
connected with some of the early expeditions to Peru, in which service 
he demonstrated his qualifications to command. Charles I appointed him 
governor of Florida and Cuba in the spring of 1538 and one of his first 
official acts was to issue orders for the fortification of the harbor of 
Havana. About a year later he was ordered by his royal master to 
explore the interior of Florida. 

With about one thousand men, he left Havana on May 12, 1539, 
and the following month marched his little army into the interior. At 
a place called Tascaluza he met a large force of hostile Indians and a 
battle ensued which lasted for several hours, resulting in the -defeat of 
the savages. The Spanish loss was seventy killed and a number wounded, 
among who was De Soto himself. This battle delayed the movement of 
the expedition until the wounded were sufficiently recovered to resume 
the march. Like all the early Spanish explorers, De Soto's chief object 
was to discover rich mines of the precious metals. After wandering 
about through the forests until the spring of 1541, he came to the Missis- 
sippi River, not far from the present City of Memphis, Tennessee. He 
then tried to reach the Spanish settlements in IMexico, but was stricken 
with fever and died in the wilderness, his body being buried in the river 
he had discovered. A few of his men finally managed to reach Florida 
and gave an account of the country through which they had passed. 
Upon their report Spain claimed "all the land bordering upon the Grande 
River and the Gulf of Mexico." 


While Spain was operating in the West Indies and along the coast 
of the Gulf of Mexico, the English were by no means idle. In 1620 the 
British crown, ignoring Spain's papal grant and the claims based upon 
the explorations of De Soto, issued to the Plymouth Company a charter 
which included "all the lands between the fortieth and forty-eighth 
parallels of north latitude from sea to sea." The entire State of Iowa 
was included in this grant. Eight years later (1628) the Massachusetts 
Bay Company received a charter from the English Govermnent to a strip 
of land one hundred miles wide, "extending from sea to sea." Had the 
lands of the Massachusetts Bay Company been surveyed, the northern 


boundary of this one-hundred-mile strip would have crossed the Missis- 
sippi River not far from the present Cit.v of McGregor and the southern 
not far from Davenport. 

Thus it was that Iowa, or at least a portion of it, was early claimed 
by both Spain and England "by right of discovery," though no repre- 
sentative of either country had ever set foot upon the soil. No efforts 
were made by either Spain or England to extend settlement into the 
interior. The Spaniards were so intent upon discovering rich gold and 
silver mines that no attention was paid to founding permanent settle- 
ments, wliile the English were apparently content with their little colonies 
at Jamestown, Virginia, and in New England. 


In the matter of extending her explorations and planting colonies, 
France was perhaps more aggressive than England and Spain put 
together. Port Royal was settled in 1604 and Quebec was founded by 
Samuel Champlain in 1608. As early as 1611 Jesuit missionaries from 
the Frencli settlements in Canada were among the Indian tribes along 
the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. In 1616 a French 
explorer named Le Carron visited the country of the Ii'oquois and Huron 
Indians. The reports of Le Carron and the missionaries showed the pos- 
sibilities of opening up a profitable trade with the natives, especially in 
furs, and French explorations were extended still farther westward. In 
1634 Jean Nicollet, agent of the "Company of One Hundred," which was 
authorized by the King of France to engage in the Indian trade, explored 
the western shore of Lake Michigan about Green Bay and went as far 
west as the Fox River country, in what is now the State of Wisconsin. 
He is said to have been the first white man to make a report upon the 
region west of the Great Lakes. 

Early in the year 1665 Claude Allouez, one of the most zealous of the 
Jesuit missionaries, visited the Indians in the vicinity of what is now 
known as Ashland Bay, on the southern shore of Lake Superior. In 
the fall of the same year he held a council with representatives of several 
of the western tribes at the Chippewa village, not far from Ashland Bay. 
At this council Chippewa, Sioux, Sac, Fox, Potawatomi and Illini chiefs 
were present. To them and their people Allouez promised the protec- 
tion of the great French father and paved the way for a profitable trade. 
Here Allouez also learned from some of th^ Sioux and Illini chiefs of a 
great river farther to the westward, "called by them the l\Ie-sa-sip-pi, 
which they said no white man had yet seen (they knew nothing of 
Dc Soto's discovery of the river more than twenty years before), and 
along which fur-bearing animals abounded." 


Three years later Father Allouez and Claude Dablon, a Jesuit asso- 
ciate, founded the mission of St. Marj''s, the oldest white settlement 
within the present State of Michigan. The French authorities in Canada, 
influenced by the reports of Nicollet and the missionaries, sent Nicholas 
Perrot as the accredited agent of the French Government into the country 
to arrange for a grand council with the Indians. The council was held at 
St. Mary's in May, 1671. Before the close of that year Father Jacques 
Marquette, one of the most influential of the Jesuit Fathers in America, 
founded the mission at Point St. Ignace for the benefit of the Huron 
Indians. For many years this mission was regarded as the key to the 
great unexplored West, and its founder was destined to play an import- 
ant part in the early history of the country. 


Father Marquette had heal'd the reports concerning the great river 
to the westward and was filled with a desire to discover it, but was 
deterred from making any attempt in that direction until after Perrot's 
council in 1671, which placed the French and Indians upon a more 
friendly footing. Even then he was delayed for nearly two years with 
hi;- preparations and in obtaining the consent of the Canadian officials. 
In the spring of 1673, armed with the proper credentials, he went to 
Michilimackinac to complete his arrangements for the voyage. It is said 
the friendly Indians, who had formed an attachment for the missionary, 
tried to dissuade him from the undei-taking by telling him that the 
Indians living along the great river were cruel and bloodthirsty, and 
that the stream itself was the abode of terrible monsters that could easily 
swallow a canoe loaded with men. 

Such stories had no efi'ect upon the intrepid priest, unless it was 
to make him the moi'e determined, and on May 13, 1673, accompanied 
by Louis Joliet, an explorer and trader, and five voyageurs, with two large 
canoes, the little expedition left the mission. Passing up the Green 
Bay to the mouth of the Fox River, they ascended that stream to the 
portage, crossed over to the Wisconsin River, down which they floated 
until June 17, 1673, when their canoes shot out upon the broad bosom 
of the Mississippi. The bright June morning white men beheld for 
the first time the bluff's of Iowa, near the present city of McGregor. 
Turning their canoes down stream they descended the great Father of 
Waters until the 25th, when they landed on the west bank, "sixty leagues 
below the mouth of the Wisconsin River," where they noticed footprints 
in the soft earth. Sixty leagues below the mouth of the Wisconsin would 
throw this landing place about twelve miles above the present City of 


Keokuk, Iowa. There is little doubt that Marquette and Joliet and their 
voyageurs were the first white men to set foot upon Iowa soil. 

When Marquette and Joliet saw the footprints they decided to follow 
them and learn something of the natives. Leaving the voyageurs to guard 
the canoes and supplies, they followed the trail for several miles, when 
they came to an Indian village and noticed two other villages in the 
vicinity. The Indians informed the two Frenchmen that thej^ belonged 
to the mini tribe and that the name of their village, as well as the river 
upon which it was located, was "Moingona." After a visit of several 
days among the Indians Marquette and Joliet were accompanied back 
to the river by the chiefs and a large party of braves. As they were 
about to reembark, one of the chiefs addressed Marquette as follows: 

"I thank the black-gown chief for taking so much pains to come 
and visit us. Never before has the earth been so beautiful nor the sun 
so bright. Never has the river been so calm and free from rocks, which 
your canoe has removed. Never has the tobacco had so fine a flavor, 
nor our corn appeared so beautiful as we behold it today. Ask the 
Great Spirit to give us life and health, and be you pleased to come and 
dwell among us." 

One of the chiefs then presented Marquette with an elaborately 
decorated calumet, or peace pipe, as a token of the tribe's good wishes, 
after which the canoes were pushed out into the stream and the voyage 
was continued. They descended the Mississippi to the mouth of the 
Arkansas River, where they met with a tribe of Indians whose language 
they could not understand, when they tui'iied back up the river. They 
reached the French settlement at Michilimackinac after an absence of 
some four months, during which time they had traveled about two thou- 
sand five hundred miles. Joliet was a good topographer and he prepared 
a map of the country through which they had passed. The reports of 
their voyage, when presented to the French governor of Canada, made 
the knowledge of the Mississippi's existence a certainty and steps were 
soon afterward taken to claim the country it drained in the name of 


In 1674 Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was granted the seigneury 
of Fort Frontenac, where the City of Kingston, Canada, is now situated, 
and on May 12, 1678, Louis XIV, then King of Finance, granted him a 
permit to continue the explorations of Marquette and Joliet, "find a 
port for the King's ships in the Gulf of Mexico, discover the western 
parts of New Franco, and find a way to penetrate Mexico." 

La Salle's ambition was to follow the Mississippi from its source to 
its mouth. Late in the year 1678 he made his first attempt to reach 


and descend the river, but it ended in failure, chiefly because his prepa- 
rations had not been made with sufficient care. Afl'airs at Fort Frontenac 
then claimed his attention until December, 1681, when he started upon 
what proved to be his successful expedition. He was accompanied by 
his lieutenant, Henri de Tonti; Jacques de la Metarie, a notary; Jean 
Michel, who was surgeon ; Father Zenobe Membre, a Recollet missionary, 
and "a number of Frenchmen bearing arms." It is not necessary here 
to follow this little expedition through all its vicissitudes and hardships 
in the dead of winter and a wild, unexplored country. Suffice it to say 
that on April 8, 1682, La Salle and Tonti passed through two of the 
channels at the mouth of the Mississippi, both reaching the Gulf of Mex- 
ico. The next day La Salle formally took possession of "all the country 
drained by the great river and its tributaries in the name of France, 
and conferred upon the territory the name of Louisiana, in honor of 
Louis XIV, the French King." Under this claim, which was afterward 
acknowledged by the European powers, Iowa became a dependency of 

In the meantime La Salle had sent Father Louis Hennepin in 1680 
on an expedition from the mouth of the Illinois River to the headwaters 
of the Mississippi. In April of that year Hennepin reached the Falls of 
St. Anthony, where the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, now stands, and 
on April 8, 1689, Nicholas Perrot took formal possession of the upper 
Mississippi Valley. He built a trading post on a river which he named 
the St. Nicholas. 


Before the close of the year 1682, immediately after La Salle reached 
the mouth of the Mississippi, small trading posts were established by 
the French at Kaskaskia and Cahokia — the oldest settlements on the 
river. Soon after the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, France 
decided to send colonists to Louisiana. Consequently, in 1712, a charter 
was granted to Antoine Crozat, a wealthy merchant of Paris, giving him 
exclusive control of the Louisiana trade under certain conditions, one 
of which was that he should send a given number of colonists to the prov- 
ince within three years. When Crozat's agents arrived in America to 
carry out his orders they found the Spanish ports closed against his 
vessels, for Spain, while recognizing France's claims to the province, as 
based upon the explorations of La Salle, was jealous of French ambi- 
tions. At the end of five years, tired of combatting this Spanish opposi- 
tion and the many other difficulties encountered, Crozat surrendei-ed his 

About that time John Law organized the Mississippi Company as a 


branch of the Bank of France. This company succeeded Crozat in the 
control of tlie Louisiana trade and in 1718 Law sent some eight hundred 
colonists to the province. The next year Philipe Renault went up the 
Mississippi to the Illinois countiy with about two hundred immigrants, 
his object being to establish posts and open up a trade with the Indians. 
Law was a good promoter but was lacking in executive ability to carry 
out his ideas. In 1720 his whole scheme collapsed, and so disastrous 
was the failure that his company is known in history as the "Mississippi 
Bubble." For a few years he tried to reorganize, but finally on April 10, 
1732, he surrendered his charter and Louisiana again became a crown 
province of France. The white population at that time did not exceed 
three hundred and fifty. 


In the meantime the English had been gradually pushing the fron- 
tier of their civilization farther toward the west. On May 2, 1670, the 
Hudson's Bay Company was chartered in London, being the first of the 
great trading associations. Within a short time its trappers and traders 
were ope]-ating among the Indian tribes of the interior, in spite of 
the French claim to the Mississippi Valley and oblivious to French pro- 
tests against their trespasses. Its agents were generally English or 
Sc;.tch, though a few Frenchmen entered the employ of the company. 
Many of the representatives and employees of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany intermarried with the Indians, which placed them upon a more 
friendly footing with the natives. A. F. Chamberlain, of Clark Univer- 
sity says: "The method of the great fur companies, which had no 
dreams of empire over a solid white population, rather favored amal- 
gamation with the Indians as the best means of exploiting the country 
in a material way. Manitoba, Minnesota and Wisconsin owe much of 
their early development to the trader and the mixed-blood." 

What is true of IManitoba, Minnesota and Wisconsin is also true in 
a lesser degree of every northwestern state. Agents of the North-West, 
Missouri and American fur companies, as well as the "free trappers and 
traders," intermarried freely with the Indians. The rivalry between the 
French and English traders soon brought on a conflict of interests that 
embroiled their mother countries. In 1712 the English traders incited 
the Fox Indians to hostilities against the French. Again in 1730 the 
English and Dutch traders joined in an eff'ort to drive the French out 
of the country by inciting some of the Indian tribes to acts of hostility. 
The first open rupture between France and England did not come, how- 
ever, until 1753, when the French began building a line of forts from 
the Great Lakes down the Ohio Valley to prevent the English from 


extending their settlements west of the Allegheny Mountains. One of 
these forts was located upon land claimed by Virginia and the governor 
of that colony sent George Washington, then only twenty-one years of 
age, to demand of the French commandant an explanation of this inva- 
sion of English territory while the nations were at peace. The reply 
was insolent and unsatisfactory, and in 1754 Washington, who had been 
promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the Virginia militia, was sent with a 
detachment of troops into the disputed territory. 

A few years prior to this time a charter had been granted by the 
British Government to an association called the Ohio Company, including 
a grant to a large tract of land on the Great Miami River and the right 
to trade with the Indians. In 1750 the Ohio Company built a fort and 
established a trading post near the site of the present City of Piqua, 
Ohio. Regarding this as an encroachment upon French territory, the 
Canadian authorities sent a detachment of French soldiers and Indians 
to break up the post. The Ohio Company then began a new post at the 
head of the Ohio River, where the City of Pittsburgh now stands, but 
again they were driven out by the French. Part of Washington's instruc- 
tions in 1754 was "to complete the fort already commenced by the Ohio 
Company at the forks of the Ohio, and to capture, kill or drive out all 
who attemped to interfere with the English posts." 


The order given to Washington naturally aroused the indignation of 
tlie French people and in May, 1756, that nation formally declared war 
against Great Britain. The conflict which followed is known in Eui-o- 
pean history as the "Seven Years' War," and in America as the "French 
and Indian War." This war was concluded by the treaty of Fontaine- 
bleau on November 3, 1762, by which France ceded to Great Britain all 
that part of Louisiana lying east of the Mississippi River, "except the 
City of New Orleans and the island upon which it is situated." The 
treaty of Fontainebleau was ratified by the treaty of Paris on February 
10, 1763, at which time it was announced that, by an agi'eement pre- 
viously made in secret, "the city and island of New Orleans, and all that 
part of Louisiana lying west of the Mississippi, including the whole 
country to the headwaters of the great river and west to the Rocky 
Mountains," was ceded to Spain. Thus ended France's jurisdiction in 
that part of North America now included in the United States, and Iowa 
became a Spanish possession. Most of the French people living in New 
Orleans and west of the Mississippi River remained in the province as 
Spanish subjects and took an active part in business and public affairs. 
East of the Mississippi a different feeling prevailed. Many of the French 


in that region refused to acknowledge allegiance to Great Britain and 
remo\'ed to the west side of the river. 


During the twelve years following the French and Indian war the 
British established several military posts in the territory acquired from 
France by the treaties of Fontainebleau and Paris. The most important 
of these posts were the ones at Detroit, Michigan, Vincennes, Indiana, 
and Kaskaskia and Cahokia, Illinois. Then came the Revolutionary war, 
which again changed the map of Central North America. At the begin- 
ning of the Revolution Detroit had about two hundred houses, Vincennes 
and Kaskaskia about eighty each, and Cahokia about fifty. As soon as 
it became certain that the English colonies were to be involved in a 
war with the mother country, a large number of the French who had 
gone over into the Spanish possessions recrossed the Mississippi and 
joined the colonists in their struggle for independence. 

Virginia then claimed a large e.xpanse of country extending west- 
ward and including the British posts in what are now Indiana and Illinois. 
In 1778 the Legislature of that colony, upon the recommendation of 
Gov. Patrick Henry, authorized an expedition under Gen. George Rogers 
Clark for the reduction of the posts upon Virginia territory. The expe- 
dition was successful and all the British establishments in the North- 
west, except the one at Detroit, fell into the hands of the Americans. 
One of the most thrilling campaigns of the War for Independence was 
Clark's conquest of the Northwest. 

At first glance it may seem that this expedition of Clark's had little 
or no effect upon the fate of the country now included in the State of 
Iowa. But this is another case of "The Seen and the Unseen." It 
be borne in mind that the capture of the British posts by General Clark 
resulted in the western boundary of the United States being fixed at the 
Mississippi River by the treaty of 1783, which ended the Revolutionary 
war and established the independence of the American colonies. Had 
it not been for Clark's successful campaign, the territory of the United 
States would in all probability have been confined to the thirteen original 
colonies, in which case the history of the great Mississippi Valley can 
only be conjectured. But by extending the limits of the new republic 
westward to the great Father of Waters the way was opened for the 
acquisition of the country west of that river, and in time Iowa became 
one of the sovereign states of the American Union. 



Soon after the independence of the United States was established 
the new nation became involved in a controversy with the Spanish auth- 
orities of Louisiana over the free navigation of the Mississippi River. 
The final settlement of this controversy had a direct and important influ- 
ence upon that part of the country now comprising the State of Iowa. By 
the treaty of September 3, 1783, which ended the Revolutionary war, 
the western boundary of the United States was fixed at the Mississippi, 
though the lower course of that river passed through Spanish territory. 
Having possession of the outlet, the Spanish assumed control of the navi- 
gation of the entire river. Posts were established at various places along 
the stream and every boat descending was compelled to land at such posts 
and submit to arbitrary revenue charges. As the Mississippi constituted 
the natural outlet for a large part of the commerce of the United States, 
it was a humiliation to the American citizen to see it controlled by a 
foreign power. Moreover, the system of revenue duties inaugurated by 
the Spanish authorities materially decreased the profits of the American 
trader. After much discussion and diplomatic correspondence, the ques- 
tion was finally settled, temporarily at least, by the treaty of Madrid, 
which was concluded on October 27, 1795. One article of the treaty 
provided that "The Mississippi River, from its source to the Gulf, for 
its entire width, shall be free to American trade and commerce, and 
the people of the United States shall be permitted, for three years, to 
use the port of New Orleans as a port of deposit, without payment of 

During the three years that the Americans were allowed the free 
use of the port of New Orleans the commerce of the states bordering 
on the Mississippi River showed a marked increase in volume. At the 
expiration of that period Spain manifested a disposition to return to 
the old order and the free navigation of the river again became a sub- 
ject of vital importance to the people of the United States. President 
Adams and his cabinet pointed out to the Spanish officials that the lan- 
guage of the treaty of Madrid was such that the three years' provision 
applied only to the use of the port of New Orleans, and not to the navi- 
gation of the river. While the question was under discussion the secret 
treaty of San Ildefonso, between France and Spain, was concluded on 
October 1, 1800, by which Spain agreed to cede Louisiana back to France, 
under certain conditions. The recession of Louisiana to France changed 
the whole situation, inasmuch as the United States must now negotiate 
with France for the free navigation of the Mississippi. 



The French Revokition brought into prominence two of the most 
noted characters in European history — Napoleon and Talleyrand. These 
two great Frenchmen, feeling deeply the loss of their country's American 
possessions, soon began planning for the rebuilding of a colonial empire, 
one of the chief features of which was the recovery of Louisiana. At 
that time Don Carlos IV was King of Spain, but Channing says: "The 
actual rulers in Spain were Dona Maria Luisa de Parma, his queen, and 
Don Manuel Godoy, el Principe de la Paz, which title writers of English 
habitually translate 'Prince of Peace.' " 

Godoy, who had been influential in the formation and adoption of 
the treaty of Madrid in 1795, which gave the United States the free 
navigation of the Mississippi, knew that he was not liked by Napoleon 
and Talleyi-and. Therefore, when they began oxertures for the transfer 
of Louisiana back to France, he resigned from the Spanish ministry, 
leaving the king without his most efficient adviser. In exchange for 
Louisiana Napoleon and Talleyrand offered "an Italian kingdom of at 
least one million inhabitants for the Duke de Parma, prince presumptive, 
who was at once son-in-law and nephew of the ruling monarchs." The 
State of Tuscany was selected and its ti'ansfer to Spain was the condition 
imposed by the secret treaty of San Ildefonso. 

The secret treaty was confirmed by the treaty of Madrid (March 21, 
1801), a copy of which was sent to President Jefferson by Rufus King, 
then the LTnited States minister to England. It reached the White House 
on May 26, 1801. In August following Robert R. Livingston went to 
France as United States minister and immediately upon his arrival asked 
Talleyrand, then French prime minister, if the province of Louisiana 
had been receded to France. Talleyrand replied in the negative, and 
in one sense of the word he was justified in doing so, as the treaty of 
Madrid was not signed by the King of Spain until October, 1802. When 
President Jefferson received the copy of the treaty sent by Mr. King, he 
wrote to James Monroe: "There is considerable reason to apprehend that 
Spain cedes Louisiana and the Floridas to France. To my mind this 
policy is very unwise for both France and Spain, and very ominous to 
us." ■ 

During the next twelve months Pi-esident Jefferson and his cabinet 
officers were kept in a state of suspense as to the status of Louisiana 
and little progress was made toward a satisfactory adjustment of the 
navigation matter. On April 18, 1802, the President wrote to Mr. Liv- 
ingston at Paris, advising him that the American people were anxiously 
watching France's movements with regard to Louisiana. In his letter 


he summed up the situation as follows: 1. The natural feeling of the 
American people toward France was one of friendship. 2. Whatever 
nation possessed New Orleans and controlled the lower reaches of the 
liver became the natural enemy of American progress, and therefore 
of the American people. 3. Spain was then well disposed toward the 
United States and as long as she remained in possession of New Orleans 
the people of this countrj' would be satisfied with conditions. 4. On 
the other hand, France possessed an energj^ and restlessness of a charac- 
ter which would be the cause of eternal friction between that country 
and the United States. In concluding his letter he said : 

"The day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the 
sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low water mark. 
It seals the union of two nations who in conjunction can maintain exclu- 
sive control of the ocean. From that moment we must marry ourselves 
to the British fleet and nation. The first cannon which shall be fired in 
Europe will be the signal for tearing up any settlement she mad have 
made, and for holding the two continents of America in sequestration 
for the common purpose of the united British and American nations." 

Jefl'erson did not desire an alliance with England, but was firm in 
the conviction that French possession of Louisiana would foixe the United 
States to adopt such a course. In November, 1802, news reached Wash- 
ington that the Spanish authorities at New Orleans had suddenly and 
without warning withdrawn the right of deposit at that port. The coun- 
try — particularly in the new settlements in the Mississippi and Ohio 
valleys — was ablaze with indignation. The Federalists, Jeff"erson's polit- 
ical opponents, tried to force the administration into some policy that 
would give them a political advantage, but their efforts were futile. Says 
Channing: "Never in all his long and varied career did Jefferson's fox- 
like discretion stand him in better stead. Instead of following public 
clamor, he calmly formulated a policy and carried it through to a most 
successful termination." 

In his message to Congress at the opening of the session in 1802, the 
President merely stated that the change in ownership of Louisiana would 
necessarily make a change in our foreign relations, but did not intimate 
what the nature of that change was to be. On January 7, 1803, the 
lower house of Congress, acting upon the President's recommendation, 
adopted the following resolution : "Resolved, That it is the unalterable 
determination of the United States to maintain the boundaries and i-ights 
of navigation and commerce through the Mississippi River, as established 
by existing treaties." 

On the 13th of the same month Mr. Jefl'erson wrote to James Mon- 
roe that the Federalists wei-e trying to force the United States into war, 
in order to get into power. About the same time he wrote to Mr. Liv- 


ingston that if France considered Louisiana indispensable to her inter- 
ests, she might still be willing to cede to the United States the island of 
Orleans and the Floridas. Or, if not willing to cede the island, she 
might be induced to grant the right of deposit at New Orleans and the 
free navigation of the Mississippi, as it liad previously been under the 
Spanish regime, and directed him to open negotiations with that end in 
view. A few days after writing this letter, thinking the cession could 
probably be more easily accomplished by sending an emissary direct 
from the United States for that purpose, he appointed James Monroe as 
minister plenipotentiary, to cooperate with Minister Livingston. The 
senate promptly confirmed Mr. ilonroe's appointment and Congress placed 
at his disposal the sum of $2,000,000 to be used by him and Mr. Liv- 
ingston to pay for the island. 

It may be well to note, in this connection, that the ultimate success 
of Livingston and Monroe was no doubt furthered by a letter wiitten 
about this time by Pichon, the French minister to the United States, to 
Talleyrand, in which he advised the French prime minister that the 
people of the United States were thoroughly aroused over the suspen- 
sion of the right of deposit, and that the administration rnigh be forced 
by public opinion into an alliance with Great Britain. War between 
England and France had just been renewed and Napoleon, realizing the 
superior strength of the British navy, saw that it would be a diliicult 
undertaking to hold Louisiana if an alliance should be made between 
England and the LTnited States. He had a force of troops under Gen- 
eral Victor ready to send to New Orleans, but learned that an English 
fleet was lying in wait for Victor's departure and countermanded the 

In the meantime Livingston had opened negotiations for the cession 
of the island of Orleans and West Florida, believing the Floridas were 
included in the treaty of San Ildefonso. On April 11, 1803, Napoleon 
placed the entire matter of the cession in the hands of the Marquis de 
Marbois,. minister of the French treasury, and the same day Talleyrand 
startled Livingston by asking if the United States would not like to own 
the entire Province of Louisiana. Livingston gave a negative reply, but 
Talleyrand insisted that Louisiana would be worth nothing to France 
without the city and island of New Orleans and asked the American 
minister to make an offer for the whole province. Another conference 
was held the next morning, and that afternoon Mr. Monroe arrived in 
Paris. That night the two American envoys spent several hnui's in con- 
sultation, the result of which was that Mr. Livingston was selected to 
conduct the negotiations. 

Several days were then spent in discussing the matter, Marbois at 
first asking 125,000,000 francs (.$25,000,000) for the whole province. 


though it afterward cropped out that Napoleon had directed him to accept 
50,000,000 francs, provided a better price could not be obtained. The 
price finally agreed upon was 80,000,000 francs, three-fourths of that 
amount to go directly to the French treasury and the remaindmer to be 
used in settling claims of American citizens against the French Govern- 
ment. The next step was to embody the terms in a formal treaty. As 
this treaty gave to the United States a territoiy of nearly nine hundred 
thousand square miles, in which was situated the present State of Iowa, 
it is here given in full. It is knowm as the 


"The President of the United States of America and the First Consul 
of the French Republic, in the name of the French people, desiring to 
i-emove all sources of misundertsanding relative to objects of discussion 
mentioned in the second and fifth articles of the convention of the 8th 
Vendemaire, an 9 (30 September, 1800), relative to the rights claimed 
by the United States, in virtue of the treaty concluded at Madrid, the 
27th of October, 1795, between his Catholic Majesty and the said United 
States, and willing to strengthen the union and friendship which at the 
time of said convention was happily re-established between the two 
nations, have respectfully named their plenipotentiaries, to wit: The 
President of the United States of America, by and with the advice of 
the senate of said states, Robert R. Livingston, minister plenipotentiary 
of the United States, and James Monroe, minister plenipotentiaiy and 
envoy extraordinary of the said states, near the Government of the French 
Republic; and the First Consul, in the name of the French people, the 
Fiench citizen, Bai-be :\Iarbois, minister of the public treasury, who, 
after having exchanged their full powers, have agreed to the following 
articles : 

Article I — Whereas, by the article the third of the treaty concluded 
at St. Ildefonso, the 9th Vendemaire an 9 (October 1, 1800), between 
the First Consul of the French Republic and his Catholic Majesty, it 
was agreed as follows: 'His Catholic Majesty promises and engages on 
his part to retrocede to the French Republic, six months after the full 
and entire execution of the conditions and stipulations herein relative 
to his royal highness, the Duke of Parma, the colony or province of 
Louisiana, with the same extent that it now has in the hands of Spain, 
and that it had when France possessed it; and such as it should be after 
the treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and other states,' and 

"Whereas, in pursuance of the treaty, particularly of the third article, 
the French Republic has an incontestible title to the domain and pos- 
session of said territory ; the First Consul of the French Republic, desir- 


ing to give to the United States a strong proof of his friendship, doth 
hereby cede to the United States, in the name of the French Republic, 
forever, in full sovereignty, the said territory, with all its rights and 
appurtenances, as fully and in the same manner as they have been 
acquired by the French Republic in virtue of the above mentioned treaty, 
concluded with his Catholic Majesty. 

"Article II — In the cession made by the preceding article, are 
included the adjacent islands belonging to Louisiana, all public lots and 
squares, vacant lands, and all public buildings, fortifications, barracks 
and other edifices v/hich are not private property. The archives, papers 
and documents relative to the domain and sovereignty of Louisiana and 
its dependencies, will be left in the possession of the commissioners of 
the United States, and copies will be afterward given in due form to the 
inagistrates and municipal officers of such of the said papers and docu- 
ments as may be necessary to them. 

"Article III — The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incor- 
porated in the Union of the United States and admitted as soon as pos- 
sible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the 
enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of 
the United States ; and in the meantime they shall be maintained and 
protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and the religion 
which they profess. 

"Article IV — There shall be sent by the Government of France a 
commissary to Louisiana, to the end that he do every act necessary, as 
well to receive from the officers of his Catholic Majesty the said country 
and its dependencies in the name of the French Republic, if it has not 
already been done, as to transmit it in the name of the French Republic 
to the commissary or agent of the United States. 

"Article V — Immediately after the ratification of the present treaty 
by the President of the United States, and in case that of the First Consul 
shall have been previously obtained, the commissary of the French 
Republic shall remit all the military posts of New Orleans and other 
posts of the ceded territory, to the commissary or commissaries named 
by the President of the L^nited States to take possession ; the troops, 
whether of France or Spain, who may be there, shall cease to occupy 
any military post from the time of taking possession, and shall be 
embarked as soon as possible, in the course of three months after the 
ratification of this treaty. 

"Article VI — The United States promises to execute such treaties 
and articles as may have been agreed between Spain and the tribes and 
nations of Indians, until by mutual consent of the United States and 
the said tribes or nations, other suitable articles shall have been agreed 


"Article VII — As it is reciprocally advantageous to the commerce 
of France and the United States to encourage the communication of 
both nations, for a limited time, in the countiy ceded by the present 
treaty, until general arrangements relative to the commerce of both 
nations may be agreed upon, it has been agreed between the contracting 
parties, that the French ships coming directly from France or any of 
her colonies, loaded only with the produce of France or her said colonies, 
and the ships of Spain coming directly from Spain or any of her colo- 
nies loaded only with produce or manufactures of Spain or her colonies, 
shall be admitted during the space of twelve years in the ports of New 
Orleans, and all other ports of entry within the ceded territory, in the 
same manner as the ships of the United States coming directly from 
France or Spain, or any of their colonies, without being subject to any 
other or greater duty on merchandise, or other or greater tonnage than 
those paid by the citizens of the United States. 

"During the space of time above mentioned, no other nation shall 
have a right to the same privileges in the ports of the ceded territory ; 
the twelve years shall commence three months after the exchange of 
ratifications, if it shall take place in France, or three months after it 
shall have been notified at Paris to the French Government, if it shall 
take place in the United States; it is, however, well understood, that the 
object of this article is to favor the manufactures, commerce, freight 
and navigation of France and Spain, so far as relates to the importations 
that the French and Spanish shall make into the ports of the United 
States, without in any sort affecting the regulations that the United 
States may make concerning the exportation of the pi'oduce and merchan- 
dise of the United States, or any right they may have to make such 

"Article VIII — In future, and forever after the expiration of the 
twelve years, the ships of France shall be treated upon the footing of 
the most favored nations in the ports above mentioned. 

"Article IX — The particular convention signed this day by the 
respective ministers, having for its objects to provide for the payment 
of debts due to the citizens of the United States by the French Republic 
prior to the 30th day of September, 1800 (8th Vendemaire, 9), is 
approved and to have its execution in the same manner as if it had been 
inserted in the present treaty, and it shall be ratified in the same form 
and at the same time, so that the one shall not be ratified distinct from 
the other. 

"Another particular convention signed at the same date as the present 
treaty, relative to a definite rule between the contract-parties, is in like 
manner approved and will be ratified in the same form and at the same 
time, and jointly. 


"Article X — The present treaty shall be ratified in good and due 
form, and the ratification shall be exchanged in the space of six months 
after the date of the signatures of the ministers plenipotentiary, or 
sooner if possible. In faith whereof, the respective plenipotentiaries have 
signed these articles in the French and English languages, declaring, 
nevertheless, that the present treaty was originally agi'eed to in the 
French language ; and have thereunto set their seals. 

"Done at Paris, the tenth day of Floreal, in the eleventh year of the 
French Republic, and the GOth of April, 1803. 

"Robert R. Livingston. (L. S.) 
"James Monroe. (L. S.) 

"Barbe Marbois. (L. S.)" 

The original cost of the entire territory ceded bj^ the treaty of Paris 
was about three cents per acre, but McMaster says : "Up to June, 1880, 
the total cost of Louisiana was $27,267,621." Out of the country acquired 
by the treaty have been erected the following states : Louisiana, Arkansas, 
Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, 
about one-third of Colorado, nearly all of Montana, three-fourths of 
Wyoming, and Oklahoma. In the purchase of this vast region, Livingston 
and Monroe exceeded their authority and for a time President Jefferson 
was inclined to the belief that an amendment to the Federal Constitution — 
an "act of indemnity," he called it — would be necessary to make the 
transaction legal. But when he saw the general acquiescence of the peo- 
ple he abandoned the idea. In his message to Congress on October 17, 
1803, he said: 

"The enlightened Government of France saw, with just discernment, 
the importance to both nations of such liberal arrangement as might best 
and permanently promote the peace, interests and friendship of both ; 
and the propei'ty and sovereignty of all Louisiana, which had been restored 
to them, have, on certain conditions, been transferred to the United States 
by instruments bearing date of 30th of April last. When these shall have 
received the constitutional sanction of the senate, they will without delay 
be communicated to the representatives for the exercise of their functions, 
as to those conditions which are within the powers vested in the consti- 
tution by Congress." 

Three days after the delivery of this message, the treaty was i-ati- 
fied by the senate. It was ratified by the house of representatives on 
October 25, 1803. Mr. Jefferson appointed William C. C. Claiborne, gov- 
ernor of Mississippi, and Gen. James Wilkinson commissioners, in 
accordance with Article IV of the treaty, to receive the province from 
Pierre Laussat, the French commissary. The transfer was formally made 
and the Stars and Stripes were raised at New Orleans on December 20, 


1803. Thus the domain of the United States was extended westward to 
the summit of the Rocky Mountains and Iowa became a part of the terri- 
tority of the American RepubHc. 


Not long after the cession of Louisiana to the United States, Presi-- 
dent Jefferson began making plans to send an expedition up the Missouri 
River to discover its sources, and to ascertain whether a water route to 
the Pacific coast was practicable. As it was late in the year 1803 before 
the treaty of Paris was ratified, the expdeition was postponed until the 
following spring. The President selected as leaders of this expedition 
Capts. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark of the regular army. Both 
were natives of Virginia' and the latter was a brother of Gen. George 
Rogers Clark. On May 14, 1804, they left the mouth of the Missouri 
River and ascended that stream. Their company consisted of fourteen 
regular soldiers, nine young men from Kentucky, two French voyageurs 
or boatmen, an Indian interpreter, a hunter and a negro servant belonging 
to Captain Clark. Their main vessel was a keel-boat fifty-five feet long, 
with twenty-two oars and drawing three feet of water. It had a cabin, 
in which were kept the most valuable articles, and a large square sail to 
be used when the wind was favorable. They also had two pirogues, 
fitted with six and seven oars, respectively.' Two horses were led along 
on the bank, to be used in hunting game. 

On July 22nd the expedition came to "a high and shaded situation" 
on the east side of the river, where they established a camp, "intending 
to make the requisite observations, and to send for the neighboring tribes 
for the purpose of making known to them the recent change in govern- 
ment and the wish of the United States to cultivate their friendship." The 
best authorities agree in locating this camp near the line between Mills 
and Pottawattamie counties, Iowa. On September 8, 1806, they occupied 
this camp again on their return trip. 

Lewis and Clark landed at several places in Iowa, but found only a 
few Indians on the east side of the river. The names they gave to some 
of the streams that empty into the Missouri still remain. 

On August 9, 1805, Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike left St. Louis with a 
sergeant, two corporals and seventeen privates, to explore the upper Mis- 
sissippi River. In the latter part of that month he held a council with 
the Indians near the present town of Montrose, in Lee County, Iowa, 
which was probably the first council ever held on Iowa soil between a 
representative of the United States and the natives. On that occasion 
Pike addressed the assembled chiefs as follows : "Your great father, the 
President of the United States, in his desire to become better acquainted 


with the condition and wants of the different nations of red people in our 
newly acquired Territory of Louisiana, has ordered the general to send 
a number of warriors in various directions to take our red brothers by 
the hand and make such inquiries as will give your great father the infor- 
mation required." 

No attempt was made to conclude a treaty, but at the close of the 
council Pike distributed among the Indians knives, tobacco and trinkets 
of various kinds. Among the Indians who were present at this council 
were some who had signed the treaty at St. Louis the preceding November. 
Lieutenant Pike seems to have been the first American with whom Chief 
Black Hawk came in close contact. Some years later the old chief gave 
the following account of the lieutenant's visit to the Sac and Fox village 
on the Rock River: 

"A boat came up the river with a young chief and a small party of 
soldiers. We heard of them .soon after they passed Salt River. Some of 
our young braves watched them evei'y day, to see what sort of people were 
on board. The boat at last arrived at Rock River and the young chief 
came on shore with his interpreter, made a speech and gave us some 
presents. We in turn gave them meat and such other provisions as we 
could spare. We were well pleased with the young chief. He gave us 
good advice and said our American father would treat us well." 

The expeditions of Lewis and Clai'k and Lieutenant Pike touch only 
the borders of Iowa. The first authentic account of the region now com- 
prising Emmet and Dickinson counties was that contained in the official 
report of J. N. Nicollet, who was appointed by the secretary of war on 
April 7, 1838, to make a map of the hydrographic basin of the upper 
Mississippi River. Associated with Nicollet in this work was John C. 
Fremont, then a young engineer in the service of the United States, but 
who afterward won fame as the "Pathfinder of the Rocky Mountains," 
the first candidate of the republican party for the presidency, and as a 
general in the Union army during the Civil war. Nicollet and Fremont 
took an astronomical observation on the north shore of Spirit Lake and 
reported the altitude, as mentioned in a former chapter. 


Although the treaty of September 3, 1783, which ended the Revolu- 
tionary war, extended the territory of the United States westward to the 
Mississippi; and the treaty of Paris (April 30, 1803) sold the Province of 
Louisiana to the United States, thereby extending the western boundary 
to the Rocky Mountains, neither treaty had the power to extinguish the 
Indian title to the lands. That problem was left to the Federal Govern- 
ment for solution. 

Article IX of the "Articles of Confederation" — the first organic law 


of the American Republic — gave Congress "the sole and exclusive right 
and power to regulate the trade with, and manage the affairs of the 
Indians." Under the authority conferred by this article, Congress issued 
the order of September 22, 1783, forbidding all persons to settle upon the 
Indian domain. The Articles of Confederation were superseded by the 
Constitution, which likewise gave to Congress the exclusive power to 
regulate Indian affairs. By the act of March 1, 1793, Congress declared: 
"That no purchase or grant of lands, or any claim or title thereto, from 
any Indians, or nation or tribe of Indians, within the bounds of the United 
States, shall be of any validity, in law or equity, unless the same be made 
by a treaty or convention entered into pursuant to the Constitution." 

The first treaties between the United States and the Indian tribes 
were merely agreements of peace and friendship, but as the white popu- 
lation increased treaties for the acquisition of lands were negotiated by 
the Government and the continuation of policy gradually crowded the 
red man farther and farther westward before the advance of civilization. 


At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century the white man was 
already looking with longing eyes upon the bi'oad prairies of Illinois, 
where lived the Sacs and Foxes and some other tribes. When the Louisiana 
Purchase was made a clamor arose for the removal of the Indians in 
Illinois to the new domain west of the Mississippi. Gen. William H. Har- 
rison, then governor of the Indiana Territory, negotiated a treaty at 
St. Louis on November 4, 1804, by which the Sacs and Foxes ceded to 
the United States their lands east of the Mississippi, but retained the 
privilege of dwelling thereon until the lands were actually sold to white 
settlers, when they were to remove to the west side of the river. At 
that time it was the custom of the confederated tribes to give instruc- 
tions to their chiefs or delegates to a treaty convention as to what course 
should be pursued, or, in the absence of such instructions, afterward con- 
firm the action of the delegates by a vote in council. 

One faction of the Sacs and Foxes claimed that the delegates to 
St. Louis had no instructions to sell the lands east of the river, and a 
considerable number, under the leadership of Black Hawk, refused to con- 
firm the sale. The opposition to the St. Louis treaty was largely respon- 
sible for the alliance of Black Hawk and his band with the British 
in the War of 1812. After that war treaties of peace were made with 
several of the tribes that had fought against the United States. Black 
Hawk and his followers were the last to enter into such a treaty. On 
May 13, 1816, at St. Louis, a number of Sac and Fox chiefs and head 
men were induced to sign a treaty confirming that of 1804. One of the 


twenty-two chiefs who then "touched the goose quill" was Black Hawk, 
who, although he never denied signing the treaty, afterward repudiated 
the agreement. 

It required considerable diplomacy on the part of the United States 
to induce Black Hawk and his followers to remove to the west side of the 
Mississippi, but in 1830 they crossed over into Iowa "under protest." 
Not satisfied with his new home, he recrossed the river in the spring of 
1831, with a number of his braves and their families, and took possession 
of their former cornfields on the Rock River. General Gaines was sent 
with a force of troops to expel the Indians and Black Hawk was solemnly 
admonished not to repeat the oflFense. Despite the warning, the old chief, 
influenced by a "bad medicine man" named Wa-bo-bie-shiek, again crossed 
over into Illinois in 1832. Again troops were sent against him and the 
conflict which followed is knowm as the "Black Hawk war," which ended 
in the defeat of the Indians in the battle of Bad Axe, August 2, 1832. 
Black Hawk and his two sons were captured and held for some time as 
prisoners of war. 


Going back a few years, it is necessary to notice a treaty which, 
though no lands were ceded by it for white settlement, played a con- 
spicuous part in the subsequent history of Iowa. About 1825 the Sioux 
on the north and the Sacs and Foxes on the south became involved in a 
dispute over the limits of their respective hunting grounds and the United 
States undertook to settle the controversy.' William Clark and Lewis Cass 
were appointed commissioners to hold a council and endeavor to fix a line 
that would define the boundaries of the diff'erent tribes. The council was 
held at Prarie du Chien, Wisconsin, August 19, 1825, the chiefs of the 
Sacs and Foxes. Sioux, Winnebago. Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and 
some minor tribes taking part. Aboundary line was finally agreed upon 
as follows : 

"Beginning at the mouth of the Upper Iowa River, on the west bank 
of the Mississippi and ascending said Iowa River to its west fork ; thence 
up said fork to its source ; thence crossing the fork of the Red Cedar River 
in a direct line to the second or upper fork of the Des Moines River ; 
thence in a direct line to the lower fork of the Calumet (Big Sioux) River, 
and down that stream to its junction with the Missouri River." 

South of this line was to be the hunting grounds of the Sacs and 
Foxes, while the country north of it was to be the common property of the 
other tribes that agreed to the treaty. It soon became apparent that the 
imaginary line thus established was not sufficient to keep the contending 
tribes from trespassing upon each other's domain. Another council was 
therefore called to meet at Prairie du Chien on .July 15. 1830. In the treaty 


negotiated at this council the Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States 
a strip of land twenty miles wide along the northern border of their hunt- 
ing grounds, extending from the Mississippi to the Des Moines, and imme- 
diately north of and adjoinng this strip the northern tribes ceded a tract 
twenty miles wide between the same river. The 40-mile strip thus formed 
was known as the "Neutral Ground," the west end of which included a 
portion of the present County of Emmet. It remained neutral until 1841, 
when it was given to the Winnebago Indians for a reservation. A few 
years later that tribe ceded it to the United States. 


At the council of July 15, 1830, which established the "Neutral 
Ground," the chiefs and head men of the Sac and Fox confederacy entered 
into a treaty with the representatives of the United States, in which the 
allied tribes ceded to the United States a tract of land described as 
follows : 

"Beginning at the upper fork of the Demoine River and passing the 
sources of the Little Sioux and Floyd rivers to the fork of the first creek 
which falls into the Big Sioux or Calumet River on the east side ; thence 
down said creek and the Calumet River to the Missouri River; thence 
down said Missouri River to the Missouri State line above the Kansas 
River; thence along said line from the northwest corner of the state to 
the highlands between the waters falling into the Missouri and Demoine 
rivers, passing to said highlands along the dividing ridge between the 
forks of the Grand River; thence along said highlands or ridge dividing 
the waters of the Missouri from those of the Demoine to a point opposite 
the source of the Boyer River, and thence in a direct line to the upper 
fork of the Demoine, the place of beginning." 

Part of the land thus ceded is in Minnesota. That portion in Iowa 
is bounded on the west by the Missouri River; on the south by the line 
separating Iowa and Missouri; on the east by a line passing through or 
near the townis of Estherville and Emmetsburg until it struck the west 
fork of the Des Moines River about ten miles above Fort Dodge. The 
line along the highlands or watershed between the Des Moines and Mis- 
souri passed about ten miles west of Carroll, about half-way between 
Audubon and Guthrie Center, just east of Greenfield, west of Afton and 
through the town of Mount Ayr. 

The lands so ceded were not opened to white settlement, the treaty 
expressly stipulating that "The lands ceded and relinquished by this treaty 
are to be assigned and allotted under the direction of the President of the 
United States to the tribes now living thereon, or to such other tribes as 
the President may locate thereon for hunting and other purposes." 



While Black Hawk and his two sons were held as prisoners of war, 
the United States negotiated the treaty of September 21, 1832, with the 
Sac and Fox chiefs under the leadership of Keokuk, in which those tribes 
ceded to the United States "all lands to which said tribes have any title 
or claim included within the following boundaries, to wit: 

"Beginning on the Mississippi River at the point where the Sac and 
Fox northern boundary line, as established by article 2 of the treaty 
of July 15, 1830, strikes said river; thence up said boundary line to a 
point fifty miles from the Mississippi, measured on said line ; thence in 
a right line to the nearest point on the Red Cedar of loway, forty miles 
from the Mississippi ; thence in a right line to a point in the northern 
boundary of the State of Missouri, fifty miles, measured on said line, from 
the Mississippi River ; thence by the last mentioned boundary to the Mis- 
sissippi River, and by the western shore of said river to the place of 

The ceded territory obtained by this treaty embraces about six million 
acres. It was taken by the United States as an indemnity for the expenses 
of the Black Hawk war, and for that reason it has been called 
the "Black Hawk Purchase." It included the present counties of 
Cedar, Clinton, Delaware, Des Moines, Dubuque, Henry, Jackson, Jones, 
Lee, Louisa, Muscatine and Scott, and poi'tions of Buchanan, Clayton, Fay- 
ette, Jefferson, Johnson, Linn, Van Buren and Washington. The Black 
Hawk Purchase was the first Iowa land obtained from the Indians for 
white settlement. 


The irregular western boundary of the Black Hawk Purchase soon 
led to dispute between the Indians and the settlers. To adjust these 
differences of opinion some of the Sac and Fox chiefs were persuaded to 
visit Washington, where on October 21, 1837, they ceded to the United 
States an additional tract of 1,250,000 acres for the purpose of straighten- 
ing the western boundary. Upon making the survey it was discovered that 
the ceded territory was not enough to make a straight line, and again the 
Indians accused the white settlers of encroaching upon their lands. Nego- 
tiations were therefore commenced for additional land to straighten the 
boundary, and some of the wiser chiefs saw that it was only a question 
of time until the Indians would have to relinquish all their Iowa lands 
to the white man. Keokuk, Wapello and Poweshiek especially advised a 
treaty peaceably ceding their lands to the United States, rather than to 
wait until they should be taken by force. Through their influence a council 


was called to meet at the Sac and Fox agency (now Agency City) in 
what is now Wapello County. John Chambers, then governor of Iowa 
Territory, was appointed commissioner on behalf of the United States 
to negotiate the treaty. 

The council was held in a large tent set up for the purpose near the 
agency. Governor Chambers, dressed in the uniform of an army officer, 
made a short speech stating the object for which the council had been 
called. Keokuk, clad in all his native finery and bedecked with orna- 
ments, responded. After that there was "much talk," as almost every 
chief present had something to say. On October 11, 1842, a treaty was 
concluded by which the allied tribes agreed to cede all their remaining 
lands in Iowa, but reserved the right to occupy for three years from the 
date of signing the treaty "all that part of the land above ceded which 
lies west of a line running due north and south from the Painted or Red 
Rocks on the White Breast fork of the Des Moines River, which rocks 
will be found about eight miles in a straight line from the junction of the 
White Breast and Des Moines." 

The red sandstone cliff's, called by the Indians the Painted Rocks, are 
situated on the Des Moines River in the northwestern part of Marion 
County, near the town called Red Rock. The line described in the treaty 
forms the boundary between Appanoose and Wayne counties, on the 
southern border of the state, and passes thence northward between Lucas 
and Monroe, through Marion, Jasper, Marshall and Hardin counties to 
the northern limit of the cession. East of this line the land was opened 
to settlement on May 1, 1843, and west of it on October 11, 1845. 


By the treaties concluded at the Indian agency on the Missouri River 
on June 5 and 17, 1846, the Potawatomi, Ottawa and Chippewa tribes 
relinquished their claims to "all lands to which they have claim of any 
kind whatsoever, and especially the tracts or parcels of land ceded to them 
by the treaty of Chicago, and subsequent thereto, and now in whole or 
in part possessed by their people, lying and being north and east of the 
Missouri River and embraced in the limits of the Territory of Iowa." 

With the conclusion of those two treaties all that portion of the State 
of Iowa south of the country claimed by the Sioux became the property 
of the white man. It remained, however, for the Government to extin- 
guish the Sioux title to Northwestern Iowa before the paleface could come 
into full possession. This was done by the treaty of Traverse des Sioux 
on July 23, 1851, when the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands ceded to the 
United States "All their lands in the State of Iowa, and also all their 
lands in the Territory of Minnesota lying east of the following line. 


to wit: Beginning at the junction of the BiifTalo River with the Red 
River of the North ; thence along the western bank of the said Red River 
of the North to the mouth of the Sioux Wood River; thence along the 
western bank of the said Sioux Wood River to Lake Traverse; thence 
along the western shore of said lake to the southern extremity thereof; 
thence in a direct line to the junction of Kampesa Lake with the Tchan- 
kas-an-da-ta or Sioux River; thence along the western bank of said river 
to its point of intersection with the northern line of the State of Iowa, 
including all the Islands and said rivers and lake." 

The treaty of Traverse des Sioux was agreed to by the Mdewakanton 
band in a treaty concluded at Mendota, Minnesota, on August 5, 1851, 
and by the Wahpekute band a little later. Thus the great State of Iowa 
became the complete and undisputed domain of the white man. The period 
of preparation for a civilized population — a period which began more 
than two centuries before — was now completed and the hunting grounds 
of the savage tribes became the cultivated fields of the Caucasian. The 
Indian trail has been broadened into the highway or the railroad. Instead 
of the howl of the wolf and the war-whoop of the- red man is heard the 
lowing of kine and the shriek of factory whistles. Halls of legislation 
have supplanted the tribal council ; modern residences occupy the sites of 
Indian tepees ; news is borne by telegraph or telephone instead of signal 
fires on the hilltops, and the church spire rises where once stood the totem 
pole as an object of veneration ; Indian villages have disappeared and in 
their places have come cities with paved streets, electric lights, stately 
school buildings, public libraries, newspapers, and all the evidences of 
modern progress. And all this change has come about within the memory 
of persons yet living. To tell the story of these years of progress and 
development is the province of the subsequent chapters of this history. 




It has been said that "War brings an element of patriotism that can- 
not be awakened in the people by any other agency." However that may 
be, much of the history of human progress centers about the deeds of 
great generals and their armies. Aggressive wars have been waged by 
strong nations for the conquest of weaker ones, or to uphold the regal 
power and "divine right" of kings; and defensive wars have been fought 
to advance the rights and liberties of the people or to maintain established 
governments. The independence of the United States was gained only by 
a war which lasted for eight years, and of all the great nations of the 
civilized world the United States is perhaps the only one which has never 
declai'ed war except to defend her institutions or to secure greater liberties 
for downtrodden humanity. 

One of the greatest wars in history was the Civil war of 1861-65, 
between the northern and southern states, commonly known as the "War 
of the Rebellion," in which the South fought to dissolve and the North 
to preserve the Union of States. Almost from the very beginning of 
the American Republic, the slavery question became a "bone of conten- 
tion" between the free states on one side and the slave states on the 
other. Slavery was introduced in America in 1619, when a Dutch trader 
sold a few negroes to the planters of the Jamestown Colony. The custom 
of owning negro slaves gradually spread to the other colonies, but by 
1819 seven of the original thirteen states had made provisions foi- the 
emancipation of the slaves within their borders. 

The first clause of section 9, article 1, of the Federal Constitution pro- 



vides that "The migration or impoitation of such persons as any of the 
states now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by 
the Congress prior to the year 1808." 

The adoption of this clause was regarded as a victory for the slave- 
holding element, as under it Congress had no power to interfere with the 
foreign slave trade until 1808. But in that year an act was passed pro- 
hibiting any further traffic in or importation of negro slaves. In 1819 
slavery existed in six of the thirteen original states, the other seven 
having abolished it as already stated. In the meantime Kentucky, Ten- 
nessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had been admitted with con- 
stitutions permitting slavery, and Vermont, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois as 
free states, so that the country was evenly divided — eleven free and 
eleven slave states. Maine was admitted as a free state in 1820 and the 
advocates of slavery sought to have Missouri admitted as a slave state 
to maintain the equilibrium in the United States Senate. After a long 
and somewhat acrimonious debate, that state was admitted under the 
act known as the "Missouri Compromise," which provided for the admis- 
sion of Alis.souri without any restrictions as to slavery, but expressly stip- 
ulated that in all remaining portion of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 
line of 36 30' slavery should be forever prohibited. 

During the next twenty-five years the slavery question remained 
comparatively quiet, owing to the admission of free and slave states in 
equal number. Arkansas came into the ITnion in 1836 and Michigan in 
1837; the slave state of Florida, admitted in 184.5, was offset by the 
admission of Iowa as a free state in 1846. At the conclusion of the 
Mexican war in 1847, the United States came into possession of a large 
expanse of territoiy in the Southwest, to which the advocates of slavery 
laid claim, and again the question came up as a subject for legislation, 
resulting in the compromise act of 18.50, commonly called the "Omnibus 
Bill." The opponents of slavery took the view that the act was a viola- 
tion of the provisions of the Missouri Compromise, because it sought to 
carry slavery north of the line of 36- 30'. Four years later the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill was passed, which added fresh fuel to the already raging 
flames. Its passage was one of the causes that led to the organization 
of the republican party, which opposed the extension of slavery to any 
new territory of the United States whatever. 

In the political campaign of 1860 the issues were clearly defined and 
some of the slave states declared their intention to withdraw from the 
Union in the event of Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency. The 
people of the North regarded these declai'ations as so many idle threats, 
made merely for political effect. Through a division in the democratic 
party, Mr. Lincoln was elected and on December 20, 1860, South Caro- 
lina carried her threat into effect, when a state convention passed an 


ordinance of secession, declaring that the state's connection with the 
Union was severed and that all allegiance to the Government of the 
United States was at an end. IMississippi followed with a similar ordi- 
nance on January 9, 1861; Florida seceded on January 10; Georgia, Janu- 
ary 19; Louisiana, January 26, and Texas, February 1. All these states 
except Texas sent delegates to a convention at Montgomerj% Alabama, 
February 4, 1861, when a tentative constitution was adopted; Jefferson 
Davis was elected provisional president and Alexander H. Stephens, pro- 
visional vice-president of the Confederate States of America. They were 
inaugurated on February 22, 1861, the anniversary of the birth of George 
Washington. Consequently, when Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated on March 
4, 1861, he found seven states in open rebellion and with an organized 
government in opposition to his administration. However, the Presi- 
dent, his advisers and the people of the North genei-ally, clung to the 
hope that reconciliation could be effected and that the citizens of the 
seceded states could be induced to return to their allegiance. Vain hope! 
Relations between the North and South were still further sti-ained 
early in the year 1861, when Maj. Robert Anderson, then in conmiand 
of all the defenses of the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina, secretly 
removed his garrison and supplies from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, 
because the latter could be more easily defended in case of an assault. 
The people of the South claimed that this move was a direct violation 
of an agreement with President Buchanan, and the feeling was intensi- 
fied when it was discovered that Major Anderson, prior to his removal, 
had spiked all the guns in Fort ]\Ioultrie. On the other hand, the press 
of the North was practically unanimous in justifying Anderson's course 
and in demanding that additional supplies and reinforcements be sent 
to him at Fort Sumter. The persistent hammering of the northern press 
caused the war departinent to despatch the steamer Star of the West, 
with 250 men and a stock of ammunition, provisions, etc., to Fort Sumter, 
but on January 9, 1861, while passing Morris Island, the vessel was 
fired upon by a masked battery and forced to turn back. In the official 
records this incident is i-egarded as the beginning of the Civil wai-, 
though the popular awakening of the North did not come until some 
three months later. 


Not long after President Lincoln was inaugurated General Beaure- 
gard, who was in command of the Confederate forces at Charleston, 
made a demand upon Major Anderson for the evacuation of Fort Sum- 
ter. Anderson refused, but on April 11, 1861, seeing his stock of pro- 
visions in the fort running low and having no hope of obtaining a new 


supply, he informed General Beauregard that he would vacate the fort 
on the loth, "unless ordered to remain and the needed supplies are 
received." This reply was not satisfactory to the Confederate com- 
mander, who feared the new administration might find some way of 
sending reinforcements and supplies to Sumter that would enable Ander- 
son to hold the fort indefinitely. In that case Fort Sumter would be 
a constant menace to one of the Southern strongholds. After a council 
with his officers, Beauregard decided upon an assault. Accordingly, at 
twenty minutes after three o'clock on the morning of April 12, 1861, he 
sent woi'd to Anderson that fire would be opened upon the fort. At 
4:30 a. m. Capt. George Janes fired the signal gun from Fort Johnson, 
the shell bursting almost directly over the fort. A few seconds later a 
solid shot fi'om the battery on Cummings Point went crashing against 
the walls of the fort. The war had begun. 

Anderson's gallant little band responded promptly to the fire and 
the bombardment continued all day. Late in the afternoon fire broke 
out in one of the casements of the fort and the Confederates increased 
their iire, hoping to force Anderson to sui-render. That was on Friday. 
Anderson held out against desperate odds until Sunday, the 14th, when 
he was permitted to exacuate the fort with all the honors of war, even 
to saluting his flag with fifty guns before hauling it down. 

When the news of Sumter's fall spread through the loyal states of 
the North, all hope of bringing about a peaceable settlement of the dif- 
ferences was abandoned. Party lines were obliterated. Political con- 
troversies of the past were forgotten in the insult to the flag and there 
was but one sentiment — The Union must and shall be preserved. On 
Monday, April 1.5, 1861, the day following Anderson's evacuation of the 
fort. President Lincoln issued the following 


"Whereas, the laws of the United States have been for some time 
past and now are opposed and the execution thereof obstructed in the 
states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louis- 
iana and Texas by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the 
ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by the powers vested in the 
marshals by law: 

"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, 
by virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, 
have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the 
several states of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order 
to suppress said combinations and cause the laws to be duly executed. 

"The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the 
state authorities through the war department. 


"I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to 
maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of our National Union 
and the perpetuation of popular government, and to redress wrongs already 
too long endured. 

"I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces 
hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places and 
property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event the 
utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to 
avoid any devastation, any destruction of or interference with property, 
or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country. 

"And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations 
aforesaid to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes 
within twenty days from this date. 

"Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an 
extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested 
by the Constitution, convene both houses of Congress. Senators and rep- 
resentatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective cham- 
bers at 12 o'clock noon on Thursday, the 4th day of July next, then and 
there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the 
public safety and interest may seem to demand. 

"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the 
seal of the United States to be affixed. 

"Done at the City of Washington, this 15th day of April, A. D. 1861, 
and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-fifth. 

"By the President: 

"Abraham Lincoln. 

"W. H. Seward, Secretary of State." 


On the 16th, the day following the issuance of the President's proc- 
lamation, Gov. Samuel J. Kirkwood, of Iowa, received the following tele- 
gram from the secretary of war: "Calls made on you by tonight's mail 
for one regiment of militia for immediate service." It is said that when 
this message was delivered to the governor he expressed some doubts as 
to Iowa's ability to furnish an entire regiment. Notwithstanding his 
doubts on the subject, as soon as the call was received he issued a proc- 
lamation asking for volunteers, to wit: 

"Whereas, the President of the United States has made a requisi- 
tion upon the executive of the State of Iowa for one regiment of militia, 
to aid the Federal Government in enforcing its laws and suppressing 
rebellion : 


"Now, therefore, I, Samuel J. Kirkwood, governor of the State of 
Iowa, do issue this proclamation, and hereby call upon the militia of the 
state immediately to form, in the different counties, volunteer companies 
with a view of entering the active military service of the United States 
foi' the purpose afoi-esaid. The i-egiment at present required will consist 
of ten companies of at least seventy-eight men each, including one cap- 
tain and two lieutenants to be elected by each company. 

"Under the present requisition only one regiment can be accepted, 
and the companies accepted must hold themselves in i-eadiness for duty 
by the 20th of May next at the farthest. If a sufficient number of com- 
panies are tendered their services may be required. If more companies 
are formed and reported than can be received under the present call, 
their services will be required in the event of another requisition upon 
the state. 

"The nation is in peril. A fearful attempt is being made to overthrow 
the Constitution and dissever the Union. The aid of every loyal citizen 
is invoked to sustain the general Government. For the honor of our 
state, let the requirement of the President be cheerfully and promptly met. 

"Samuel J. Kirkwood. 

"Iowa City, April 17, 1861." 

As the first telegram from the war department called for "one 
regiment of militia for immediate service," and Governor Kirkwood stated 
in his proclamation that the companies "must hold themselves in readi- 
ness for duty by the 20th of May," a word of e.xplanation as to this 
apparent discrepancy seems to be necessary. The explanation is found 
in the fact that late on the afternoon of April 16, 1861, the governor 
received a second telegram from the secretary of war saying: "It will 
suffice if your quota of volunteers be at its rendezvous by the 20th of 

On the same day that Governor Kirkwood issued his call foi- volunteers 
he also issued a call for the State Legislature to meet in special session on 
May 16, 1861. At the opening of the special session he said in his mes- 
sage : "In this emergency Iowa must not and does not occupy a doubtful 
position. For the Union as our fathers formed it, and for government 
founded so wisely and so well, the people of Iowa are ready to pledge 
every fighting man in the state, and every dollar of her money and credit, 
and I have called you together in extraordinary session for the purpose 
of enabling them to make the pledge formal and effective." 

He then explained how, when the call for volunteers came from 
Washington, he had no funds under his control for such emergencies 
as organizing, equipping, subsisting and transporting troops, nor had 
the state any efficient military law under which he could operate. He 


also explained how the chartered banks and wealthy, loyal citizens of the 
state had come to his rescue by placing at his disposal all the funds he 
might need, and concluded this portion of his message by saying: "I 
determined, although without authority of law, to accept their offer, trust- 
ing that this body would legalize my acts." 

And the governor did not trust in vain. The immediate and uni- 
versal response to his call for volunteers had removed any doubt he 
might have entertained as to Iowa's ability "to furnish a whole regi- 
ment," and the General Assembly crystallized the patriotic sentiment of 
the people tfy legalizing everything the governor had done, by passing a 
law providing for the organization of the militia of the state upon a war 
footing, and appropriating a sum of money large enough to cover all 
probable expenses in connection therewith. 


According to the United States census of 1860, Emmet County then 
had a population of 105 and Dickinson County 180. The former had 
been an organized county but a little over one year and the latter less 
than three years when this census was taken. At the beginning of the 
war neither county had telegraph communication, fast mail train nor local 
newspaper. The only means of communication was by the slow mail route 
then in use, and several days elapsed after the fall of Fort Sumter before 
the news reached Estherville and Spirit Lake. When the news did arrive, 
there was no difference of opinion as to the course to be pursued. Every 
vote in both counties was cast for Mr. Lincoln in 1860, and the few inhabi- 
tants were unanimous in declaring that the national administration must 
be upheld in its effort to suppress the rebellion. Owing to the location 
of the two counties, Iowa's quota under the first call was filled through 
the prompt response from those parts of the state where better transpor- 
tation facilities existed and the people of Emmet and Dickinson had no 
opportunity under that call to demonstrate their loyalty. 

Under the call of July 3, 1861, an independent cavalry company was 
organized at Fort Dodge, in which a number of men from Emmet and 
Dickinson counties were enrolled. The company was sent to the Army of 
the Potomac and was subsequently attached to the Eleventh Pennsylvania 
Cavalry instead of an Iowa cavalry regiment. Nathaniel B. Baker, then 
adjutant-general of Iowa, called the attention of the war department to 
this error, and after repeated efforts on his part the company was formally 
credited to Iowa's quota of troops, though it continued to serve with the 
Army of the Potomac until the close of the war. 

Scattered through other Iowa regiments were Emmet and Dickinson 
county men. To give a complete list would be almost impossible at this 


late day and consequently no attempt is made to do so. It is stated on 
apparently good authority that five-twelfths of the entire population of 
Emmet County were enlisted in the service of the United States at some 
period or another during the war, while in Dickinson there were at one 
less than a dozen men liable to enrollment for military duty. 


As a matter of fact the people of Northwestern Iowa were interested 
in military affairs before the secession of a single southern state. This 
was due to the attitude of the Sioux Indian tribes in that section of the 
country. After the massacre of Dickinson County settlers in March, 1857, 
there was a general feeling of insecurity that checked immigration to that 
portion of the state, and those who had already settled there became more 
or less discouraged and disheartened. Early in the year 1858, Hon. Cyrus 
C. Carpenter, of Fort Dodge, then representing the district in the lower 
house of the Iowa Legislature, succeeded in having a bill passed provid- 
ing for the raising of a company for the protection of the northwestern 

The company was recruited chiefly in Hamilton and Webster counties 
and was commanded by Capt. Henry Martin, of Webster City. It arrived 
on the frontier about the first of March and was divided into thi-ee detach- 
ments. Captain Martin, with the main squad, took up his quarters in 
the old fort at Spirit Lake; First Lieutenant Church was sent to Peter- 
son, in the southwest corner of Clay County ; and Second Lieutenant Jewett 
was stationed with a few men in Emmet County. After remaining on 
duty until about the first of July, without any indications of an Indian 
outbreak, the men were ordered home, though the company was not dis- 
banded. At the earnest request of a majority of the settlers along the 
frontier, the company was again called out in the fall of 1858 and remained 
on duty until the spring of 1859, when the men were discharged. 


The withdrawal of Captain Martrin's company left the northwestern 
frontier without any armed protection except such as could be furnished 
by the settlers themselves. Samuel J. Kirkwood was inaugurated govern- 
or early in the year 1860. No man in the state knew better the dangers 
to which the settlers along the northern border were exposed. He had 
noted that when troops were on duty along the frontier the Indians kept 
out of sight, but as soon as the soldiers were withdrawn, new outbi-eaks 
were committed. He communicated these facts to the Legislature with 
the result that in March, 18G0, a bill providing for a company of "Minute 


Men" was passed. As this bill is something of a curiosity, it is given 
in full: 

"Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of 
Iowa, that for the purpose of protecting the citizens of the northwestern 
portion of the state and enabling them to defend themselves against the 
threatened depredations of marauding bands of hostile Indians, the gov- 
ernor be, and is hereby, authorized to furnish said settlers such arms and 
ammunition as he may deem necessary for the purposes aforesaid. 

"Sec. 2. That the governor be, and hereby is, authorized to cause to 
be enrolled a company of minute men in number not exceeding twelve, at 
the governor's discretion, who shall at all times, hold themselves in read- 
iness to meet any threatened invasion of hostile Indians as aforesaid. The 
said minute men to be paid only for the time actually employed in the 
services herein contemplated. 

"Sec. 3. That the said minute men, under the orders of the governor 
at his discretion, and under such regulations as he may prescribe, a num- 
ber of not exceeding four may be employed as an active police for such 
time and to perform such services as may be demanded of them, who shall 
be paid only for the period during which they shall be actively employed 
as aforesaid. 

"Sec. 4. There is hereby appropriated from the state treasury the sum 
of five hundred dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, for carry- 
ing into effect the provisions of this act." 

This act was approved on March 9, 1860. It seems almost ridiculous 
to think of placing a state like Iowa on a war footing with a force of 
twelve men, only one-third of whom were to be in active service, the re- 
mainder held as a reserve, and an appropriation of only $500. There were 
two hundred miles of frontier to be guarded by this little army. While 
the provisions of the act were not altogether satisfactory to Governor 
Kirkwood, he accepted the situation. The minute men were enlisted and 
headquarters established at Cherokee, which was then a frontier town. 
They remained in service until the fall of 1861, carrying despatches, 
watching the movements of the Indians, etc., but no official record giving 
the full list, the time of enlistment or discharge can be found. 


When the Civil war began in the spring of 1861, the Government had 
need of all the regular troops stationed at the various posts in the North- 
west, leaving the frontier without adequate protection against the Indians. 
Under a special order from the war department a company of cavalry was 
recruited in the fall of 1861 to take the place of the regular troops that 
had been withdrawn. The greater portion of the company came from 


about Sioux City and the settlements along the Floyd and Little Sioux 
rivers. It was known as the "Sioux City Cavalry," and was commanded 
by Capt. A. J. Millard. James A. Sawyer was first lieutenant, and J. T. 
Copeland second lieutenant. The comapny was assigned to scouting and 
frontier service. During the winter of 1861-62 it was divided into small 
squads, which were stationed at various points along the frontier from 
Sioux City to Estherville. In the autumn of 1862, Lieutenant Sawyer re- 
signed to take command of the Northern Border Brigade, J. T. Copeland 
was promoted to first lieutenant, and Orderly Sergeant S. H. Cassady was 
made second lieutenant. 

The Sioux outbreak in Minnesota began at Acton on August 17, 1862, 
when several settlers there were murdered. News of the uprising reached 
Spirit Lake on the morning of the 29th, when a Norwegian named Nelson 
came in carrying two of his little children and reported that the other 
members of his family had been killed by the Indians the night before, in 
the Norwegian settlement on the Des Moines River some six miles above 
Jackson, Minnesota. Even the two children he carried had been taken by 
the heels and their heads knocked against the corner of the cabin, and one 
of them afterward died. 

A company of volunteers from Spirit Lake and Estherville went up 
the Des Moines and rescued some of the settlers. On the day this party 
returned Lieutenant Sawyer arrived at Spirit Lake with thirty men of the 
Sioux City Cavalry. The little detachment was divided into three parts. 
One under Corporal Robbins was sent to Okoboji; another, under Sergeant 
Samuel Wade, was sent to Estherville, and the third, under Lieutenant 
Sawyer, remained at Spirit Lake. 

In the meantime the settlers about Spirit Lake had gathered at the 
court-house for protection. The building was not yet completed, but loose 
lumber was thrown over the joists to form a floor, the doors and windows 
were barricaded as well as possible, and while some slept others stood 
guard. This was the situation there when Sawyer's squad of cavalry 
arrived. After a consultation it was decided that the settlers should return 
to their homes, while the soldiers kept watch for the coming of the sav- 
ages. It was also decided to build a stockade about the court-house, in 
which all could assemble upon a signal of danger. Prescott's sawmill at 
Okoboji Grove was in good condition and the mill-yard was full of logs. 
Both mill and logs were requisitioned. Planks twelve feet long and from 
four to five inches thick were cut and taken to the court-house. While 
some were operating the sawmill, others dug a trench about three feet 
deep around the court-house. As the planks arrived they were set on end 
in the trench, the dii't firmly packed around the foot, and a piece of timber 
pinned along the top for greater strength. Portholes were then cut and 

f- v.- 

I « ti,i ^M lp: « ♦ '^ 





in a short time the "fort" was ready for an assault. It was occupied by 
United States troops until in July, 1865. 

At Estherville the people gathered at the school house and organized 
for defense. A writer in the Northern Vindicator some years' later, after 
the danger was passed and the subject could be treated with some levity, 
says: "The school house was used for all the purposes of barracks, hos- 
pital and soldiers' quarters, and a strange scene it presented. At night the 
floor was literally covered with citizens of all ages, classes, sex and nation- 

Judge A. R. Fulton, in his "Red Men of Iowa," gives this interesting 
account of the Sioux City Cavalry : "While acting as an independent organ- 
ization, they were generally stationed in squads in the principal settle- 
ments, including those at Correctionville, Cherokee, Peterson and Spirit 
Lake. Their valuable and arduous services doubtless contributed largely 
to securing to the people of Northwestern Iowa immunity from danger 
during the perilous summer of 1862, when more than eight hundred per- 
sons were massacred by the Indians in Minnesota. In the spring of 1863 
the Sioux City Cavalry were ordered to rendezvous in Sioux City prepar- 
atory to joining an expedition under General Sully against the Indians, in 
which they were detailed as the bodj^-guard of the General. 

"On the third of September, 1863, they participated in the battle of 
White Stone Hill and distinguished themselves by taking 136 prisoners. 
After this battle they were consolidated with the Seventh Iowa Cavalry 
as Company I. On returning to Sioux City, Captain Millard, commanding 
the company, was assigned by General Sully to the command of a sub- 
district embracing Northwestern Iowa and Eastern Dakota, with head- 
quarters at Sioux City. On the twenty-second of November, 1864, their 
term of enlistment having expired, they were mustered out of service. 

"Referring to this company. General Sully expresses the following 
high compliment: 'A better drilled or disciplined company than the Sioux 
City Cavalry cannot be found in the regular or volunteer service of the 
United States.' " 


As soon as news of the Indian outbreak in Minnesota reached Gov- 
ernor Kirkwood, he immediately took steps to protect the Iowa frontier 
against an invasion. To that end he addressed the following communica- 
tion to S. R. Ingham, of Des Moines, appointing him a sort of special agent 
to investigate conditions on the border : 

"August 29, 1862. 
"S. R. Ingham, Esq., 

"Sir: I am informed there is probable danger of an attack by hostile 
Indians on the inhabitants of the northwestern portion of our state. Arms 


and powder will be sent you at Fort Dodge. Lead and caps will be sent 
with you. I hand you an order on the auditor of state for one thousand 

"You will proceed at once to Fort Dodge, and to such other points 
as you may deem proper. Use the arms, ammunition and money placed at 
your disposal in such manner as your judgment may dictate as best to 
promote the object in view, to wit : The protection of the inhabitants of 
the frontier. It would be well to communicate with Captain Millard com- 
manding the company of mounted men raised for the United States service 
at Sioux City. Use your discretion in all things and exercise any power I 
could exercise if I were present according to your best discretion. 

"Please report to me in writing. 

"Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

"Samuel J. Kirkvi^ood." 

Immediately upon receipt of this commission, Mr. Ingham set out on 
a tour of the border counties. He visited Webster, Humboldt, Kossuth, 
Palo Alto, Emmet and Dickinson counties and "found many of the inhab- 
itants in a high state of excitement and laboring under constant fear of 
an attack by the Indians." He also ascertained that quite a number of 
families had left, or were preparing to leave, for the more thickly settled 
portions of the state. In his report to the governor he says : 

"In Emmet and Kossuth, both border counties, I had the settlers 
called together in order that I might learn from them their views and 
wishes as to what ought to be done for their safety, or rather what was 
necessary to satisfy and quiet their fears and apprehensions. They said 
all they wanted or deemed necessary for the protection of the northern 
frontier was a small force of mounted men stationed on the east and west 
forks of the Des Moines River to act in concert with the United States 
troops then stationed at Spirit Lake, but that this force must be made up 
of men such as could be chosen from amongst themselves, who were famil- 
iar with the country and who had been engaged in hunting and trapping 
for years, and were more or less familiar with the habits and customs of 
the Indians, one of which men would be worth half a dozen such as the 
state had sent there on one or two former occasions. In a small force 
of this kind they would have confidence, but would not feel safe with a 
much larger force of young and inexperienced men, such as are usually 
raised in the more central portions of the state. 

"I at once authorized a company to be raised in Emmet, Kossuth, 
Humboldt and Palo Alto counties. Within five days forty men were en- 
listed, held their election for officers, were mustered in, furnished with 
arms and ammunition and placed on duty. I authorized them to fill up 


the company to eighty men if necessity should demand such an addition 
to the force." 

The company thus organized afterward became Company A of the 
Noi'thern Border Brigade. After it was organized and equipped for duty, 
Mr. Ingham went on to Spirit Lake, where he found Lieutenant Sawyer's 
detachment of the Sioux City Cavalry. In his report Mr. Ingham says: 
"From the best information I could obtain, I deemed this a sufficient force 
and therefore took no action to increase the protection at this point fur- 
ther than to furnish the settlers with thirty stands of arms and a small 
amount of ammunition, for which I took a bond as hereinafter 
stated," etc. 

All this work was preliminary to the organization of the Northern 
Border Brigade. While Mr. Ingham was absent on his mission a special 
session of the Legislature was convened and the first bill passed authorized 
the governor "to raise a volunteer force in the State of Iowa, from the 
counties most convenient to the northwestern border of said state, of not 
less than five hundred mounted men, and such other force as may be 
deemed necessary, to be mustered into service by a person to be appointed 
by the governor, at such place as he may designate, to be stationed at 
various points in the northwestern counties of said state in such numbers 
in a body as he may deem best, for the protection of that portion of the 
state from hostile Indians at the earliest practicable moment." 

The Legislature also adopted a joint resolution calling upon the Gen- 
eral Government for aid. Both the resolution and the above bill were 
approved by Governor Kirkwood on September 9, 1862. The next day 
Mr. Ingham made his report of conditions in the counties he had visited 
and was appointed to superintend the organization of the force authorized 
by the act of the Legislature. On September 13, 1862, the governor issued 


"First. The number of companies that will be received for service 
under the act to provide for the protection of the northwestern frontier 
of Iowa from the hostile Indians, passed at the extra session of 1862, and 
the acts amendatory thereto, is as follows, viz. : One to be raised at Sioux 
City, one at Denison, Crawford County, one at Fort Dodge, one at Web- 
ster City, and one now stationed at Chain Lakes and Estherville. 

"Second. These companies shall contain not less than forty nor more 
than eighty men each. They will elect the company officers allowed and 
in the manner prescribed by law. As soon as company elections are held, 
certificates of the result must be sent to the adjutant-general for commis- 
sions. After being mustered and sworn in they will proceed, on a day 
to be fixed by S. R. Ingham, to vote at their several places of rendezvous 


by ballot for a lieutenant-colonel to command the whole. The highest 
number of votes cast for any one candidate shall elect." 

The general orders also stated that each man would be required to 
furnish his own horse, subsistence and forage to be provided by the 
state, and that the pay allowed would be the same as that allowed for like 
service by the United States. In his instructions to Mr. Ingham the gov- 
ernor said : "It is impossible to foresee the contingencies that may arise 
rendering necessary a change in these orders or the prompt exercise of 
powers therein contained, and delay for the purpose of consulting me 
might result disastrously. In order to avoid these results as far as pos- 
sible, I hereby confer upon you all I have myself in this regard. You 
may change, alter, modify or add to the orders named as in your sound 
discretion you may deem best. You may make such other and further 
orders as the exigencies of the case may, in your judgment, render neces- 
sary. In short, you may do all things necessary for the protection of the 
frontier as fully as I could do if I were personally present and did the 
same. The first object is the security of the frontier; the second, that 
this object be effected as economically as is consistent with its prompt and 
certain attainment." 

Mr. Ingham was also given power to fix the places where the troops 
should be stationed, until after the election of a lieutenant-colonel, when 
the power should be given to the commanding officer. The election for 
lieutenant-colonel was held on November 7, 1862, and the choice fell on 
Lieut. James A. Sawyer, of the Sioux City Cavalry, though his commis- 
sion was dated from September 1, 1862, for some reason. 

The original Northern Border Brigade consisted of five companies — 
A, B, C, D and E. As already stated, Company A was organized befoi-e 
the passage of the bill by the special session. It was mustered in on 
September 24, 1862, with William H. Ingham, of Kossuth, as captain ; 
Edward McKnight, of Dakotah, first lieutenant; Jesse Coverdale, of Es- 
therville, second lieutenant. The Emmet County men in this company 
were: Howard Graves, first sergeant; Amos A. Pingrey, third sergeant; 
Morgan Jenkins, second corporal ; Thomas Mahar, fourth corporal ; Ruel 
Fisher, farrier; Robert A. Ridley, wagoner, and the following privates: 
Peter S. Baker, Hiram Barrett, Ira Camfield, John H. Clark. Hogen Gil- 
bert, Willis C. Jarvis, George Palmer, Judah Phillips, Eugene G. Ridley, 
Otto Schadt (promoted to third corporal), Elbridge Whitcomb (promoted 
to fourth sergeant) . 

Company B and the greater part of Company C came from Webster 
County; Company D, from Crawford, Company E. from Woodbury. As 
fast as the companies were raised they were mustered in for nine months, 
unless sooner discharged, by S. R. Ingham, who ordered blockhouses and 


stockades to be erected at Correctionville, Cherokee, Peterson, Estherville 
and Chain Lakes. The stockade at Estherville was known as 


Capt. W. H. Ingham took up his headquarters at Estherville, the de- 
tachment of Company A at Chain Lakes being under the command of 
Lieutenant Coverdale. As soon as orders came to erect a stockade Captain 
Ingham took possession of the sawmill at Estherville, sent men out to 
cut logs without asking permission of the owner of the land, or without 
even inquiring who the owner was. Teams were pressed into service to 
haul the logs to the mill and the lumber to the site of the fort, which was 
one block west and three blocks south of the southwest corner of the 
public square. The captain's high-handed methods aroused considerable 
indignation among the citizens, who dubbed him "The Dictator," but it is 
quite possible that his prompt action in the erection of the stockade had a 
salutary effect upon the Indians, and had an attack been made before the 
stockade was completed he would no doubt have been criticized for not 
doing his duty. Fort Defiance was occupied by the troops until late in 
the fall of 1863. After that it was used as a residence for some time. It 
was torn down or moved away in 1876. 

Lewis H. Smith, of Kossuth County, was made quartermaster of 
Company A, his appointment dating from September 7, 1862. As soon as 
the company was mustered in he went to Des Moines for arms, etc., while 
Captain Ingham and William B. Carey went to Mankato, Minnesota, to 
learn the extent of the Indian uprising. Provisions were scarce during 
the winter of 1862-63 and some of the members of the company com- 
plained of the rations with which they were served. Rumors soon got 
abroad that Quartermaster Smith was appropriating the best of the food 
supply, and Captain Ingham was charged with being remiss in his duties, 
if not a party to the appropriation of company supplies. These rumors 
i-eached Lieut.-Col. James A. Sawj^er at Sioux City, who came over to 
investigate. About noon one day he drove up to Fort Defiance in a rather 
shabby looking two horse wagon, dressed in civilian garb, and asked per- 
mission to cook his dinner. This was readily granted and he took his 
cooking utensils — an old skillet and a coffee pot — from the wagon and 
began, all the time watching to see what the men had to eat. He noticed 
that the beef had the appearance of being slightly tainted and unwhole- 
some, and asked if that was the best the commissary could aflTord. The 
men informed him that they had been living upon that kind of meat for 
weeks. Lieutenant-Colonel Sawyer then made himself known and called 
the captain and quartermaster "upon the carpet," after which the mem- 
bers of the company were supplied with a better quality of food. 



Company A was mustered out on September 26, 1863, and was re- 
organized as Company F, with William H. Ingham, captain; Jerome M. 
White, first lieutenant; Lewis W. Estes, second lieutenant. In the reor- 
ganization, which was completed on October 20, 1863, Emmet County fur- 
nished the following members of the company : Edward Altwegg, Henry 
Archer, Peter S. Baker, William Carter, Jerry Crowley, John D. Goff, 
Erwin Hall, John W. Hewitt, Patrick Jackman, Gunther Knutzen, John 
A. Lucas, James Maher, Thomas Maher (or Mahar), Joseph T. Mulroney, 
Keiran Mulroney, William J. Salisbury, George F. Schaad. 

Dickinson County furnished a large part of the company, viz. : Hud- 
son D. Barton, Franklin Bascomb, Jacob Bossert, Alexander H. Burd, 
Charles Carpenter, David N. Carver, William W. Collins (promoted 
bugler), Joseph Courrier, John H. Evans, Samuel N. Guilliams, William 
A. Harden, Roderick Harris, Charles W. Hathaway, Silas R. King, Joseph 
R. Line, Jonathan N. Lyon, Eben Palmer, John W. Rose, Robert Seeber, 
Joseph W. Sharp, Milan E. Sharp, Miles R. Sheldon, John Striker, John D. 
Striker, Harrison L. Thomas, John L. Thomas, William H. Thrift, Robert 
F. Turner, Crosby Warner. The company was mustered out in December, 

Soon after the Northern Border Brigade was mustered out of service 
a detachment of Company I, Sixth Iowa Cavah-y, under command of Cap- 
tain Wolf, was stationed on the frontier. Captain Wolf made his head- 
quarters at Estherville and part of his command was sent to Spirit Lake, 
under Lieut. Benjamin King. In the spring of 1864 Captain Cooper's 
company of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry relieved Captain Wolf. This com- 
pany remained but a short time, when Capt. Daniel Eichor came with 
Company E, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, and continued on duty until the spring 
of 1865, when he was succeeded by a detachment of Minnesota troops 
under Captain Read. This was the last military force stationed along the 
Iowa border. 


From the time Cuba was first discovered until 1898 — a period of a 
little more than four centuries — the island was a dependency of Spain. 
For three hundred years of that time the people of the island were in- 
tensely loyal in their allegiance to the mother country, even going so far 
as to declare war against Napoleon when in 1808 he overthrew the Spanish 
Bourbon dynasty. About that time the island was placed under the control 
of a captain-general, which form of government continued until Spain 
relinquished the island in 1898. In 1825 the royal decree of the Omni- 
modas gave the captain-general power to rule at all times as if Cuba was 



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under martial law, thus placing the lives and fortunes of the inhabitants 
at the absolute disposal of the governor. The "conquistadors" had been 
slow in coming, but they had at last arrived. 

Under the humane policy of Captain-General Las Casas, the people 
of the island prospered, but he was succeeded by a man of different type 
and in 1829 was formed the first conspiracy for casting off the Spanish 
yoke. The movement was discovered before the conspirators were ready 
to begin active operations and was cruelly crushed. In 1844 there was an 
uprising of the blacks, which resulted in nothing more than to increase 
Spanish cruelty in dealing with the islanders. Then followed the futile 
expeditions of Narcisso Lopez in 1849, 1851 and 1854, in his Quixotic 
efforts to free the Cubans. 

In 1868 there was a general uprising of the Cubans against Spanish 
oppression and for ten years the island was the scene of war. During 
that decade Spain sent 250,000 soldiers to Cuba and so great was the 
sacrifice of human life that fewer than fifty thousand returned to Spain. 
Property worth $300,000,000 was destroyed during the war, and the 
enormous debt contracted by Spain was saddled upon the Cubans in the 
way of taxes as a penalty for their rebellion. To offset the general dis- 
satisfaction that followed, the Spanish Cortes in 1880 abolished slavery 
upon the island. But even this measure failed to allay the discontent and 
the people began planning another insurrection. Past experience had 
schooled them in caution, and for fifteen years they continued their prep- 
arations with the greatest secrecy. 

In 1895 the revolution broke out in several places simultaneously, 
under the leadership of Genei'als Gomez, Garcia and Maceo. Martinez 
Campos was then captain-general. To him Spain sent troops and in- 
structions to suppress the uprising at all hazards. Campos conducted 
his warfare according to the usage of civilized nations, which policy was 
not satisfactory to the Spanish authorities. He was therefore removed 
and in his place was appointed General Weyler. The new captain-general 
forced the people of the rural districts into the cities, where they were 
kept under strict guard, in order to prevent them from furnishing sup- 
plies to the revolutionists. This was a policy of starvation. The supply 
of food in the cities was soon exhausted and many of the "reconcentrados," 
as the people confined in the cities were called, actually were starved to 
death. Weyler's inhumanity aroused the indignation of the civilized world. 
In the United State political conventions, irrespective of party, commer- 
cial organizations in many cities and a few of the State Legislatures 
adopted resolutions calling upon the Federal Government to intervene in 
behalf of the suffering Cubans. 

Early in the year 1898 the Atlantic squadron of the United States 
navy was ordered to the Dry Tortugas, within six hours sail of Havana, 


and on the evening of January 25, 1898, the battleship Maine dropped 
anchor in the harbor of that city. The presence of a war vessel was not 
pleasing to the Spanish officials, who sought to i-etaliate by ordering the 
armored cruiser Vizcaya to anchor off New York City. Thus matters stood 
until February 9, 1898, when the Spanish minister to the United States 
resigned his position and asked for his passports. On the evening of the 
15th the Maine was blown up, with a loss of over two hundred of her 
officers and men. A court of inquiry afterward reported that the battle- 
ship was blown up "by a submarine mine, which caused the explosion of 
two or more of her forward magazines." This wanton destruction of one 
of the best ships in the navy, with the consequent loss of life, was followed 
by great excitement in the United States and the demand for intervention 
became more insistent. 

About this time General Blanco, who had succeeded Weyler as cap- 
tain-general. Issued a proclamation declaring a suspension of hostilities 
and announcing his intention to permit the reconcentrados to return to 
their homes. American consuls soon afterward reported that Blanco's 
promise was not being kept and that the suffering among the imprisoned 
reconcentrados had not been diminished in the least. On March 8, 1898, 
Congress made an appropriation of $50,000,000 "for the national de- 
fense," but nothing further was done for over a month, or until it was 
positively learned that Blanco's promise to release the reconcentrados had 
not been fulfilled. 

On April 19, 1898, Congress adopted a resolution declaring that the 
"people of Cuba are and of right ought to be independent," and demanding 
that Spain immediately withdraw her troops and relinquish all authority 
over the island. Tlie resolution closed as follows : "The United States 
hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, 
jurisdiction or control over said island, except for the pacificaton there- 
of, and asserts its determination when that is accomplished to leave the 
government and control of the island to its people." 

Another I'esolution of the same date authorized the President to em- 
ploy the forces of the United States army and navy to aid the Cubans, and 
an act was passed providing for an increase of the regular army to 61,000 
men. The next move on the part of the Government was to order Rear 
Admiral Sampson to blockade the Cuban ports, which was followed by a 
formal declaration of war against Spain. On April 23, 1898, President 
McKinley issued a proclamation calling for 125,000 volunteers, to be 
supplied as far as practicable from the militia of the several states. 

The Iowa Legislature, which adjourned only a few days before war 
was formally declared, in anticipation of such an event, appropriated 
$500,000 "to aid the General Government in case of war." Two days 
before the President issued his call for volunteers, Adjutant-General 


Byers promulgated a general order to the company officers of the Iowa 
National Guard to have all officers and men undergo a physical examina- 
tion to determine their fitness for active military service. On the 25th 
Gov. Leslie M. Shavi^ received a telegram from the secretary of war ad- 
vising him of Iowa's quota of troops under the call. The state fair 
grounds, near Des Moines, were designated by the state authorities as a 
mobilization camp for the National Guard and the commanding officers 
of the four infantry regiments composing the guard were ordered to i-eport 
"with the least possible delay." 

In arranging for the mustering in of the Iowa regiments, Governor 
Shaw ordered them to be numbered to follow the last regiment of infantry 
furnished by Iowa in the Civil war. The First Regiment of the National 
Guard therefore became the Forty-ninth; the Second, the Fiftieth; the 
Third, the Fifty-first, and the Fourth, the Fifty-second. 


This regiment was composed of companies raised in the northwestern 
part of the state. Company K was made up of men from Palo Alto and 
Emmet counties. Its commissioned officers at the time of muster in were : 
Peter 0. Refsell, captain; Claude M. Henry, first lieutenant; Charles F. 
Grout, second lieutenant, all from Emmetsburg. The following Emmet 
County men were enrolled as privates: Leonard Anderson, Hans Gilbert- 
son, Charles E. Hawk, William 0. Mulroney, Thomas M. Pullen, Oscar A. 
Quinnell (promoted corporal), Charles E. Ridley and Charles R. Rose. 

The regiment was mustered into the United States service on May 25, 
1898, with William B. Humphrey, of Sioux City, as colonel. Three days 
later, under orders from the war department, it broke camp at Des Moines 
and entrained for Chickamauga Park, Georgia. Upon arriving there it 
was assigned to the Third Brigade, Second Division, Third Army Corps, 
commanded by General Wade. On August 8, 1898, orders were received 
to move the regiment to Porto Rico, but before embarking a telegram came 
i-evoking the order. Immediately following this there were a number of 
cases of sickness among the men of the regiment, which the surgeon said 
was largely due to their disappointment. The regiment remained in camp 
at Chickamauga Park until August 29, 1898, when it was ordered back 
to Des Moines. There the men were given a thirty-day furlough and per- 
mitted to visit their homes. The furlough was afterward extended to 
October 30, 1898, when the companies were reassembled at Des Moines 
and the regiment was mustered out. In his final report Colonel Humphrey 
says: "Had the opportunity presented, the regiment would have ac- 
quitted itself with honor and credit to the state." 





When President Jefferson, on March 1, 1804, approved an act of Con- 
gress providing for the exercise of sovereignty over Louisiana, the terri- 
tory now comprising the County of Emmet came for the first time under 
the official control of the United States. That act provided that from and 
after October 1, 1804, all that part of the province lying south of the 
thirty-third parallel of north latitude should be known as the Territory 
of Orleans, and the country north of that parallel as the District of 
Louisiana. In the latter was included the present State of Iowa. The 
District of Louisiana was placed under the jurisdiction of the Territory 
of Indiana, of which Gen. William H. Harrison was then governor. 

On July 4, 1805, the District of Louisiana was organized as a separate 
territory, with a government of its own. In 1812 the Territory of Orleans 
was admitted into the Union as the State of Louisiana and the name of 
the upper district was changed to the Territory of Missouri. In 1821 the 
State of Missouri was admitted into the Union with its present bound- 
aries, and the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase was left without 
any form of civil government whatever. No one seems to have given the 
matter any serious thought at the time, as the only white people in 
the territory were a few wandering hunters, trappers and the agents of 
the different fur companies, all of whom were most interested in the profits 
of their occupations than they were in establishing permanent settle- 
ments and paying taxes. 

The first white settlement within the border of the present State of 
Iowa was founded in 1788 by Julien Dubuque, where the city bearing his 
name now stands. Eight years later Louis Honore Tesson received from 



the Spanish governor of Louisiana a grant of land "at the head of the 
Des Moines Rapids of the Mississippi," in what is now Lee County. About 
the close of the Eighteenth Century French traders established posts along 
the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers. In the fall of 1808 Fort Madison 
was built by order of the war department where the city of that name is 
now located, and in the early '20s a trading house and small settlement 
were established upon the site of the present City of Keokuk. 

The titles of Dubuque and Tesson were afterward confirmed by the 
United States Government, but with these exceptions no settlement was 
legally made in Iowa prior to June 1, 1833, when the title to the Black 
Hawk Purchase became fully vested in the United States. A few settlers 
had ventured into the new purchase before that date, and Burlington was 
founded in the fall of 1832, soon after the treaty with the Sacs and Foxes 
ceding the Black Hawk Purchase. On June 1, 1833, a large number of 
immigrants crossed the Mississippi to establish claims. It therefore be- 
came necessary for the national administration to establish some form of 
government over a region that had lain beyond the pale of civil authority 
for some twelve years. 

On June 28, 1834, President Jackson approved an act of Congress 
attaching the present State of Iowa to the Territory of Michigan, which 
then included all the country from Lake Huron westward to the Missouri 
River. By this act Iowa came under the jurisdiction of Michigan. The 
first counties in Iowa — Dubuque and Des Moines — were created by an 
act of the Michigan Legislature in September, 1834. The former included- 
all that portion of the state lying north of a line drawn due west from the 
foot of Rock Island, and the latter embraced all south of that line. The 
present Emmet County was therefore once a part of the County of 

On April 20, 1836, President Jackson approved the act creating the 
Territory of Wisconsin, to take effect on July 4, 1836. Gen. Henry Dodge 
was appointed governor of the new territory, which embraced the present 
State of Wisconsin and all the country west of the Mississippi River for- 
merly included in Michigan. Hence, on Independence Day in 1836, Iowa 
passed from the jurisdiction of Michigan to that of Wisconsin. Pursuant 
to Governor Dodge's proclamation, the first election ever held on Iowa 
soil was held on October 3, 1836, for members of the Wisconsin Territorial 


Early in the fall of 1837 the question of dividing the Territory of 
Wisconsin and establishing a new territory west of the Mississippi became 
a subject of engrossing intei'est to the people living west of the river. The 


sentiment in favor of a new territory found definite expression in a con- 
vention held at Burlington on November 3, 1837, which adopted a memorial 
to Congress asking for the erection of a new territory west of the Miss- 
issippi. In response to this expression of popular sentiment, Congress 
passed an act, which was approved by President Van Buren on June 12, 
1838, dividing Wisconsin and establishing the Territory of Iowa, the 
boundaries of which included "all that part of the Territory of Wisconsin 
which lies west of the Mississippi River and west of a line drawn due north 
from the headwater or sources of the Mississippi to the northern boundary 
of the territory of the United States." 

The act became effective on July 3, 1838. In the meantime President 
Van Buren had appointed Robert Lucas, of Ohio, as the first territorial 
governor; William B. Conway, of Pennsylvania, secretary; Charles Mason, 
of Burlington, chief justice; Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque, and Joseph 
Williams, of Pennsylvania, associate justices; Isaac Van Allen, district 
attorney. The white people living west of the Mississippi now had a 
government of their own, though by far the greater part of the new terri- 
tory was still in the hands of the Indians. 


During the ten years following the opening of the Black Hawk Pur- 
chase to white settlement the pioneers extended the field of their operations 
rapidly westward and in 1843 Fort Des Moines was built upon the site of 
the present capital of the state. On February 12, 1844, fifteen years before 
Emmet County was organized, the Iowa Legislature, acting under the 
authority and with the consent of the Federal Government, passed an act 
providing for the election of delegates to a constitutional convention. The 
convention met at Iowa City on October 7, 1844, and finished its work on 
the first day of November. The constitution framed by this convention 
was submitted to the people at an election held on August 4, 1845, and 
was rejected by a vote of 7,656 to 7,235. 

A second constitutional convention assembled at Iowa City on May 4, 
1846, and remained in session for two weeks. The constitution adopted 
by this second convention was submitted to the people at the general 
election on August 3, 1846, when it was ratified by a vote of 9,492 to 
9,036. It was also approved by Congress and on December 28, 1846, Pres- 
ident Polk affixed his signature to the bill admitting Iowa into the Union 
as a state. 

In quite a number of the older counties of the state settlements were 
made before the boundaries of the county were defined by law or a name 
adopted. Not so with the County of Emmet. At the time of the admis- 
sion of the state in December, 1846, there were but few organized coun- 


ties west of the Red Rock line as established by the treaty of October 11, 
1842. In December, 1837, while Iowa was still under the jurisdiction of 
Wisconsin, the Legislature of that territory created Fayette County, which 
was probably the largest county ever erected in the United States. It 
extended from the Mississippi River west to the White Earth River and 
north to the British possessions, embracing nearly all the present State 
of Minnesota, Northwestern Iowa and all of North and South Dakota east 
of the White Earth and Missouri rivers, with a total area of 140,000 
square miles. Emmet County was by that act made a part of the County 
of Fayette. 


On January 15, 1851, Gov. Stephen Hempstead approved an act of 
the Iowa Legislature creating fifty new counties out of the unorganized 
territory in the western part of the state. Section 47 of that act reads as 
follows : 

"That the following shall be the boundaries of a new county which 
shall be called Emmett, to wit: Beginning at the northwest corner of 
township 97 north, range 30 west; thence north to the north boundary 
line of the state ; thence west on said boundary line to the northwest corner 
of township 100 north, range 34 west; thence south to the southwest corner 
of township 98 north, range 34; thence east to the place of beginning." 

The boundaries as thus defined are identical with the boundaries of 
the county at the present time. The county was named for Robert Emmet, 
the celebrated Irish orator and patriot, though it will be noticed that in the 
organic act the name is spelled with two "t's." This form of spelling 
was continued for several years before the present and correct form was 

None of the counties created by the act of 1851 was organized for 
some time after the passage of that act. Scattered over the vast territory 
of the fifty new counties was a solitary settler, here and there, but in none 
of them was the inhabitants numerous enough to justify a county organi- 
zation. For judicial and election purposes the unorganized counties were 
attached to some of the older and regularly organized ones, Emmet County 
being attached to Webster. But a tide of immigration was pouring into 
Iowa and on January 12, 1853, Governor Hempstead approved an act con- 
taining the following provisions : 

''Whenever the citizens of any unorganized county desire to have the 
same organized, they may make application by petition in writing, signed 
by a majority of the legal voters of said county, to the county judge of 
the county to which such unorganized county is attached, whereupon the 
said county judge shall order an election for county oflEicers in such unor- 
ganized county. 


"A majority of the citizens of any county, after becoming so organ- 
ized, may petition the district judge in whose judicial district the same is 
situated, during the vacation of the General Assembly, whose duty it shall 
be to appoint three commissioners from three different adjoining counties, 
who shall proceed to locate the county seat for such county, according to 
the provisions of this act." 


At the time of the passage of the above mentioned acts of 1851 and 
1853, respectively defining the boundaries and providing for the organi- 
zation of the new counties, there was not a single permanent white set- 
tler within the borders of Emmet County. In June, 1856, Jesse Coverdale 
and George C. Granger located in what is now Emmet Township, taking 
claims for themselves and four of their friends whom they expected within 
a short time. These four were William Granger, Henry and Adolphus 
Jenkins and D. W. Hoyt, who arrived before the summer was far advanced 
and began the work of establishing homes. The first house in the county 
was built by George C. Granger, who brought a small stock of goods, con- 
sisting of such staple articles as were most likely to be needed in a frontier 
settlement, and opened the first store. 

Not long after these six men came Robert E. and A. H. Ridley, from 
Maine, and the Graves family from Winneshiek County, who settled in 
the vicinity of the present City of Estherville. About the middle of 
August, 1856, John Rourke located at Island Grove, in what is now High 
Lake Township. His wife is said to have been the first white woman to 
become a resident of the county, and his son Peter, born on January 4, 
1857, was the first white child to claim Emmet County as his birthplace. 

James Maher and the Conlans came shortly after Rourke and settled 
in the same locality. It seems that a Frenchman had previously attempted 
to establish a settlement at Island Grove, or at least had a rendezvous 
there. What became of him is something of a mystery. It is supposed 
that he was killed or driven off by the Indians, but at any rate he left 
there a number of implements, among which was a grindstone. This was 
found and mounted by James Rlaher and proved quite a boon to the pio- 
neers. The southern part of Island Grove was sometimes called "Robbers' 
Grove," from the fact that a gang of outlaws had a camp there. Disguised 
as Indians these bandits would make raids upon the settlers and carry off 
their property. On one occasion they robbed Patrick Conlan, but Pat pos- 
sessed the true Irish fighting blood, so he armed himself with an old 
"pepper-box" revolver, made a descent upon the outlaws' camp and forced 
them to disgorge. A little later the gang departed for a more congenial 


A man named Harshman settled in Emmet County in the fall of 1856, 
and his son, Joseph Harshman, was the only resident of Emmet killed at 
the time of the Spirit Lake massacre in Dickinson County. On March 8, 
1857, the youth went to the settlement at the "Lakes" with a hand sled 
for some flour. That day Inkpaduta and his band of bloodthirsty savages 
made their descent upon the settlement and Joseph Harshman was one of 
those who lost their lives. 

The winter of 1856-57 was one of great severity and the few settlers 
in Emmet County suflFered hardships that can hardly be described. Fort 
Dodge was the nearest point from which supplies could be obtained. 
Wearing snow shoes and drawing hand sleds, some of the pioneers made 
the long, dreary trip of seventy miles, through an unbroken country, to 
procure a few of the necessities of life. People of the present generation, 
who can find such supplies within easy reach, can hardly appreciate the 
heroism of those men of 1856. 

The first postoffice in the county was established at "Emmet" and 
George C. Granger was appointed postmaster. At that time there was a 
mail route running from Mankato, Minnesota, via Jackson, Emmet, Spirit 
Lake, Peterson (then known as the Mead Settlement) , Cherokee and Mel- 
bourne to Sioux City. Mail was received by the offices along the route 
once in every two weeks. Mr. Granger soon resigned and Henry Jenkins 
was appointed. He held the office until it was discontinued. Emmet 
County was then without postal service until the office at Estherville was 
established in 1860, with Adolphus Jenkins as postmaster. 


In the fall of 1857 two men came from Mankato, Minnesota, bringing 
with them a number of traps and supplies for the winter, for the purpose 
of trapping along the Des Moines River. One of these men was named 
Dodson and the other was known as "Dutch Charley." Soon after they 
established their camp, near Emmet Grove, they were joined by a young 
Englishman named Metricott, who was something of a mystery. He was 
well educated, dressed well, but never said anything of his past or why he 
came to America. He might have been a "remittance man" — that is, a 
scion of some wealthy family in England who received money regularly 
from his relatives at home. 

A little later another camp was established farther down the i-iver, 
in what is now High Lake Township. Early in the spring of 1858 Metri- 
cott left the camp at Emmet Grove, where he had been living with Dutch 
Charley, to take some supplies to Dodson at the lower camp. He was seen 
passing the settlement where Estherville now stands, in his canoe, and 
that was the last time he was ever seen alive. ^Yhen Dodson failed to 


receive the supplies, he went to the^ upper camp and learned of the Eng- 
lishman's disappearance. He and Charley sought along the river banks 
for some trace of their associate, but found nothing to indicate the manner 
of his disappearance, and came to the conclusion that he had either been 
killed by the Indians or had gone on down the river. Metricott had left 
all his clothing and effects at the upper camp, which rendered the theory 
that he had deserted the two trappers hardly tenable. 

Several weeks later A. H. Ridley, Adolphus Jenkins and another man 
found the body of Metricott on a knoll some distance from the river about 
two miles south of Estherville. Further search revealed his canoe hidden 
in a clump of willows. An inquest was held — the first in Emmet Countj' — 
and efforts were made to solve the problem of the Englishman's death. 
There were rumors of quari'els having occurred among the three men, but 
nothing definite could be learned from either Dodson or Dutch Charley, 
though the latter was suspected of having been Metricott's murderer. 
Both the trappers insisted that the deed had been committed by Indians 
or horse thieves and the mystery was never solved. 

Dodson and Charley left the county in June, 1858, with their furs and 
never came back. The latter was killed by the Indians in the uprising of 
1862. Dodson entered the army and served as a scout until his death near 
the close of the Civil war. 


Inkpaduta's raid into Iowa and the massacre of the settlers in Dick- 
inson County in March, 1857, caused a number of the settlers of Emmet 
County to leave the frontier and seek safety in the older counties of the 
state, some of them leaving Iowa and returning to their old homes east 
of the Mississippi. A few remained, however, among whom were R. E. 
Ridley and his wife, who are still living in Estherville. Mrs. Ridley did 
not see the face of a white woman for more than four months. Gue, in 
his History of Iowa, says a strong stockade was built near the river to 
protect the settlers from the Sioux Indians and a company of soldiers came 
up from Fort Dodge. That spring the pioneer farmers kept their trusty 
rifles within reach as they planted their crops and "kept one eye open" 
for the Indians. But the spring and summer passed without an attack 
and toward autumn some of those who had been frightened away returned 
to their homesteads. 


Late in the year 1858. the people living in Emmet County grew tired 
of being attached to Webster and a petition was circulated asking for the 
organization of Emmet County, according to the provisions of the act of 


January 12, 1853. The petition was signed by a majority of the legal 
voters and was presented to the county judge of Webster County, who 
ordered an election for county officers to be held on Monday, February 7, 
1859. The available authorities differ as to the officers chosen at that 
election and the destruction of the records by the burning of the court- 
house in the fall of 1876 renders it impossible to get the official returns. 
Cue's History of Iowa and an old Iowa atlas (from which Que probably 
copied) say that Adolphus Jenkins was elected county judge; Jesse Cover- 
dale, clerk of the courts; R. E. Ridley, treasurer and recorder; A. H. Rid- 
ley, sheriff; R. P. Ridley, school superintendent; Henry Jenkins, surveyor. 
A writer in the Estherville Vindicator, under the pseudonym of "Anon 
Y. Mous," gives the list of the first county officers as follows : Adolphus 
Jenkins, county judge; Jesse Coverdale, clerk of the courts; Stanley Wes- 
ton, treasurer and recorder; D. W. Hoyt, sheriff; Heniy Jenkins, sur- 
veyor ; Robert Z. Swift, drainage commissioner ; R. P. Ridley, coroner. 
There were two tickets in the field at that election, but in the presidential 
election of 1860 Abraham Lincoln received every vote in the county. 


The next step after the election of county officers was to secure the 
location of the county seat in the manner provided by law. Application 
was therefore made to Judge A. W. Hubbard, then judge of the district 
in which Emmet County was situated, to appoint commissioners to select 
a site for the seat of justice. The act of 1853 provided for the appointment 
of three commissioners from three adjoining counties, but two men per- 
formed the duty in the County of Emmet. They were Lewis H. Smith, of 
Kossuth, and Orlando C. Howe, of Dickinson. After looking over the 
county, they decided that Estherville was the most suitable location for 
the county seat, and the recently elected county officers established their 
offices in that village. 


Some of the people living in the eastern part of the county were not 
satisfied with the selection of the commissioners. They believed that the 
seat of justice should have been located nearer the geographical center of 
the county, but before they could take any action in the matter the author- 
ities entered into a contract for the erection of a court-house at Esther- 
ville, as told later on in this chapter. The county was young and in not 
very good financial circumstances, and the advocates of a county seat 
nearer the center did not feel like putting the people to the expense of 
removing and building a new court-house. 

The burning of the courthouse in October, 1879, gave these people an 


opportunity which they were not slow to grasp. On July 7, 1879, at an 
adjourned session of the board of supervisors, a petition was presented 
asking for an election to submit to the voters the question of removing the 
county seat. At the same time a remonstrance was filed and both petition 
and remonstrance were laid on the table. The matter was taken up by 
the board on July 26, 1879, when it was found that fourteen persons had 
signed both the petition and remonstrance. Striking out these names 
there were 165 signers to the petition and 1-51 to the remonstrance. The 
board then adopted the following : 

"Resolved, That the board of supervisors, being satisfied that the said 
petition is signed by a majority of the legal voters of the county, and that 
the requirements of the law have been fully complied with, it is therefore 
ordered that at the next general election to be held in Emmet County, 
Iowa, the question of relocation of the county seat shall be submitted to 
vote. And the county auditor is instructed and required to publish the 
necessary notices required by law to make such election legal and proper." 

This resolution was introduced by J. H. Warren. Those voting in the 
affirmative were J. H. Warren, Matthew Richmond, A. Christopher and 
Henry Barber, Jesse Covei'dale being the only member of the board voting 
in the negative. 

The site selected to be voted upon at the election on October 14, 1879, 
was the northeast quarter of Section 25, Township 99, Range 33, in the 
southeast corner of Center Township and on the northwestern shore of 
Swan Lake. On October 20, 1879, the board of supervisors declared that 
the new site had been selected by a majority of the votei's, and the next day 
the following order was issued : 

"To the auditor, treasurer, clerk of the courts, recorder, sheriff" and 
superintendent of schools of Emmet County, Iowa : 

"You are hereby notified that all the provisions of the law relating to 
the submission of the question of relocation of the county seat of said 
county have been fully complied with, and that after canvassing the votes 
cast for and against the relocation of the county seat of Emmet County, 
it was found that a majority of all the votes cast were for the relocation 
of the county seat of Emmet County, Iowa, on the northeast quarter of 
Section 25, Township 99, Range 33, west of the 5th Principal Meridian ; 
and that, therefore, the board of supervisors determined and ordered that 
the above designated place was and should be the county seat of Emmet 
County, Iowa, from and after 12 o'clock noon on Tuesday, the 21st day of 
October, 1879. 

"You will therefore take notice that from and after that day and 
hour you will hold your respective offices at the village of Swan Lake, on 
the northeast quarter of Section 25, Township 99 north. Range 33 west 
of the 5th Principal Meridian." 


The county officers were not inclined to obey the order to move and 
on the 25th the auditor was ordered by the board to make a copy of the 
order of the 21st and turn it over to the sheriff, to be by that officer served 
on Judge E. R. Duffie, then holding court at Emmetsburg. At the same 
time Supervisors Warren and Christopher were appointed a committee 
to procure a writ of mandamus from the District Court compelling the 
officials to obey the order and remove their offices to Swan Lake. Nothing 
further was accomplished in the year 1879, but on January 9, 1880, an- 
other order to the county officers "to remove at once" was issued by the 
board. All obeyed except Dr. E. H. Ballard, then county treasurer, who 
remained at Estherville until the expiration of his term. 


In the meantime it was claimed by some of the citizens of the county 
that the movement for the removal of the county seat had been instigated 
by non-residents and proceedings were instituted in the courts to test the 
legality of the election. The case was sent to Cerro Gordo County, where 
it was still pending in 1882, when a movement was started for the re- 
moval of the seat of justice back to Estherville. On June 5, 1882, Soper 
& Allen, attorneys for R. E. Ridley and others, presented to the board of 
supervisors a petition signed by 276 legal voters, asking that the question 
of relocating the county seat at Estherville be submitted to the voters of 
the county at the next general election. The board granted the petition 
and ordered the constables of the several townships to post notices in 
public places notifying the electors that the question would be voted upon 
at the general election on November 7, 1882. The result of the vote at 
that election was 348 in favor of relocating tlie county seat at Estherville 
and 177 opposed. At that time the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern 
(now the Rock Island) Railroad was under construction and some of the 
opponents of Estherville set up the claim of fraud, in that a large number 
of workmen on the railroad, not residents of the county, voted in favor of 
that town, but the board of supervisors canvassed the vote and announced 
the result. The first meeting of the board at Estherville after this elec- 
tion was on January 1.5, 1883. 


Soon after the county was organized in February, 1859, the proper 
authorities entered into a contract with Logan & Meservey, of Fort Dodge, 
for the erection of a court-house and school house in Estherville. For 
erecting these buildings the contractors were to receive "all the swamp 
and overflowed lands within the county, except those lying in Township 
98, Range 33 ; Township 99, Range 34 ; and TownsMp 100, Range 34." 


The contractors employed Davis & Spinney to build the school house, 
which was completed in time for a "house-warming" on Christmas Eve, 
1860. The "free supper" cooked and furnished for the guests by the good 
women of the village was long remembered by those who were fortunate 
enough to participate and was pronounced the best meal ever served in 
Estherville up to that time. The supper was followed by a "temperance" 

In making a contract to pay for the public buildings with swamp and 
overflowed lands, the authorities of Emmet County followed the example 
of other counties in Northwestern Iowa. The contract was made in good 
faith and in order to carry it out the county judge, Adolphus Jenkins, 
entered into an agreement with C. C. Carpenter, by which the latter was 
to make a survey or selection of the swamp and overflowed lands within 
the limits of the county, which, under the acts of Congress belonged to 
the county. Carpenter made the survey, but the surveyor-general refused 
to accept it, hence the county failed to obtain title to the lands which the 
authorities had agreed to transfer to the contractors for building the 
court-house and school house. 

The school house was already completed and work had been com- 
menced upon the court-house when the surveyor-general's decision was 
promulgated. That official was severely criticized, but criticism would 
not pay for the buildings. As soon as the contractors learned that the 
swamp lands in question were not to become the property of the county 
they stopped work on the court-house. Taking Carpenter's survey as a 
basis, they obtained a quit claim deed from the county to the lands de- 
scribed therein, and in order to reimburse themselves for the work they 
had done resorted to methods that were somewhat questionable, to say 
the least. They established a system of land agencies in the eastern states 
and disposed of the lands to unsuspecting persons. It is said that they 
even went so far as to prepare deeds which had enough of the appearance 
of a genuine warranty deed to hoodwink the purchaser. Of course, the 
purchaser under such conditions had no title to the land and was fleeced 
out of the price paid. Some of those who had bought lands through the 
agencies came to the county as actual settlers and after their arrival dis- 
covered that they would have to homestead the land and secure a Govern- 
ment title. 

Similar transactions occurred in other counties, which gave North- 
western Iowa the reputation of producing fi-audulent deeds and convey- 
ances, a stigma under which that section of the state labored for years 
through no fault of its citizens or public officials, land sharks being in 
every instance responsible for the doubtful titles. 

In the winter of 1871-72 the school house above mentioned was re- 
moved to a new location on North Sixth Street, a short distance north of 


Des Moines Street, where it was used as a court-house until it was de- 
stroyed by fire in October, 1876. 


Owing to the litigation over the removal of the county seat to Swan 
Lake, no court-house was ever built at that place. Soon after the county 
seat was taken back to Estherville the supervisors took up the subject of 
erecting some kind of a building in which to transact the county business. 
On April 4, 1883, a petition asking that the question of borrowing money 
with which to build a court-house be submitted to the people was filed, 
and the board adopted the following resolution : 

"Resolved, That the petition of E. R. Littell and others as to submit- 
ting the question to voters of borrowing money to build a court-house, etc., 
be laid over until June, when it shall be made the first order of business." 

On June 4, 1883, the petition came up for consideration and it was 
ordered that the question of borrowing a sum of money not exceeding 
$12,000, bearing a rate of interest not exceeding 6 per cent., and the levy- 
ing of a tax of not more than three mills on the dollar in any one year, 
should be submitted to the voters of the county at the general election to 
be held on October 9, 1883. At the election the proposition was carried 
by a vote of 259 to 217. On January 12, 1884, the board of supervisors, 
as a committee of the whole, took the first steps toward procuring plans 
and specifications for a court-house and jail, and for selecting a location 
for the building. Foster & Liebe, architects, of Des Moines, were com- 
missioned to prepare plans and the committee of the whole decided to 
locate the court-house near the center of the public square. On February 
29, 1884, the following advertisement appeared in the Northern Vin- 
dicator : 

"Sealed proposals for the erection of a court-house at Estherville, 
Emmet County, Iowa, will be received at my ofl[ice in Estherville until 12 
o'clock noon, Tuesday, April 8, 1884. Plans and specifications may be 
seen at my office on and after March 26th, and prior to that time at the 
office of Foster and Liebe, architects, Des Moines, Iowa. The right is 
reserved to reject any or all bids. 

"By order of the Board of Supervisors. 

"H. W. Halverson, 

"County Auditor." 

On April 8, 1884, the bids were opened and the contract was awarded 
to Zerbe Brothers for $11,718, the building to be completed by November 
1, 1884. F. E. Allen, Charles Jarvis and Adolphus Jenkins, members of 
the board of supervisors, were appointed a building committee to super- 
intend the erection of the structure. A little delay occurred in June, on 


account of criticisms of the foundation walls. The board then appointed 
B. Larbig to oversee the stonework, after which the work went on without 
interruption and on November 22, 1884, the building was accepted by the 
supervisors. It is still in use, but late in the year 1916 some agitation 
was started in favor of a new court-house, the business of the county 
having growii to such an extent that the old one is inadequate to the de- 

On the first floor of the court-house are the offices of the auditor, 
clerk, recorder and treasurer. The vaults connected with all these offices 
have become too small to accommodate the accumulation of records. The 
second floor contains the court room, jury rooms, office of the county super- 
intendent of schools, etc., and in the basement are the jail cells, heating 
plant, toilet rooms and storage vaults. 


At the time the board of supei^visors was looking for a location for 
the court-house in the spring of 1884, the Estherville City Council passed 
a resolution tendering to the supervisors of Emmet County "as much of 
the public square of the said City of Estherville as said supervisors deem 
necessary for the use of Emmet County for a court-house building." The 
off'er was accepted, but was not made a matter of record by the county 
authorities until April 9, 1896, when the board of supervisors, by resolu- 
tion, ratified the action of the board of 1884 in accepting "a piece of land 
fifteen and a half rods wide, extending from Sixth to Seventh streets, 
through the center of the public square in the City of Estherville." 


The first marriage in Emmet County was solemnized on April 29, 
1859, when Miss Sophronia A. Ridley became the wife of George Jenkins. 
The first term of the District Court ever held in the county began at 
Estherville on May 30, 1862, Judge A. W. Hubbard presiding. 

In 1860 the population of the county, according to the United States 
census, was 105. During the Indian troubles in Minnesota in 1862-63, 
some of the settlers left the county, but about one hundred people came 
from Jackson County, Minnesota, and the greater portion of them became 
permanent settlers in Emmet. 

The spring of 1860 was marked by heavy rains which caused all the 
streams to overflow. The pickerel were "running" at the time of the 
freshet and myriads of the fish found their way into some of the lakes. 
When the waters subsided the fish remained and in this way the lakes of 
Emmet County were stocked with fine, edible fish, without the aid or 
intervention of a state fish commission or a government hatchery. 


-:::'ic LIBRARY 



Heavy snows in the winter of 1860-61 prevented the mail carrier 
from making his regular trips. Lewis Paulson, one of the pioneers of 
Emmet County, agreed that for nine dollars he would go to Algona, a 
distance of some forty-five miles, and bring the mail. He started on 
February 2, 1861, on snow shoes, and made twenty-two miles the first 
day. That night he staid all night with an Irishman named Jackman. The 
morning of the third was bright, the air was crisp, and he started out in 
high spirits to finish the remainder of his journey. About noon he be- 
came "snow blind" and lost his bearings, wandering around until night- 
fall. He then camped on a mound not far from McKnight's Point. He 
took ofl[' his snow shoes and began walking in a circle, thinking he would 
have to walk all night to keep from freezing. While thus occupied, he 
heard someone calling hogs. Moving in the direction of the sound, he 
found the cabin of a settler, where he was hospitably received. 

He remained with this settler all day of the fourth to let his eyes 
rest and recover, but on the fifth he resumed his journey and reached 
Algona. There he remained over night and on the morning of the next 
day set out upon his return. That night he reached Emmetsburg and the 
next day he arrived at Estherville late in the afternoon. 

In these days of railroad mail routes, long distance telephones, tele- 
graphs and rural free delivery of mails, it can hardly be realized that the 
people of Emmet County were ever in such straits foi' communcation with 
the outside world that they would make up a purse of nine dollars to 
employ one of their number to go forty-five miles in the dead of winter 
for a few letters and newspapers, or that it would take that man five days 
to go and return. But such were the conditions in the winter of 1860-61. 
Nine dollars was a considerable sum of money in those days, but Mr. 
Paulson certainly earned all that he received for his services as a volunteer 
mail carrier. 

On April 6, 1868, Gov. Samuel Merrill approved an act of the Iowa 
Legislature entitled, "An act to encourage the planting and growing of 
timber, fruit trees, shade trees and hedges." Under the provisions of this 
act the board of supervisors of Emmet County, on January 5, 1869, ordered 
the property of any citizen who would plant one or more acres in forest 
trees, set not less than eight feet apart, should be exempt from taxation, 
except for state purposes. Exemptions were also made for each acre of 
orchard planted, each half mile of hedge, or each mile of shade trees 
planted along a public highway. Such were the commendable efforts of the 
county authorities of Emmit County to break the monotony of the treeless 
prairie districts. The result is seen in the artificial groves around the 
farm houses, groves in which the trees are now large enough to shelter 
the house from the fierce winds of winter and furnish a supply of fuel 
for the family use. 


The summer of 1868 is still remembered by old residents as the year 
of the "blackbird invasion." The birds came in swarms and destroyed so 
much of the grain that not enough was harvested to supply the local 
demand. Transportation facilities then were not what they are today, and 
breadstuffs had to be hauled long distances by wagon. Flour sold in 
Estherville in the winter of 1868-69 as high as $12 per 100 pounds. Not 
every family could afford to pay such a price and bread was a luxury with 
many of the inhabitants. In the fall of that year large numbers of the 
buffalo fish were taken from the Des Moines River, salted and pi-eserved 
for food. Many lived on salt fish and potatoes during the greater part 
of that severe winter, yet they did not lose heart, but toiled on, firm in 
the faith of Emmet County's future. And the people of the present 
generation owe a debt of gratitude to those hardy pioneers that can never 
be fully repaid. Are they mindful of the debt? 





Looking back over a period of a little more than three score years, 
to that 27th day of June, 1856, when William Granger, D. W. Hoyt and 
Henry and Adolphus Jenkins began the settlement of Emmet County, 
it may be interesting to the young people of the present generation to 
know how these first settlers in a new country managed to exist. Imagine 
a vast, unbroken tract of rolling prairie, stretching away in all direc- 
tions beyond the range of human vision, with little groves of timber 
here and there along the streams or bordering the lakes. Such was the 
appearance of Emmet County when the first white men came to estab- 
lish their homes within its borders. At numerous places in the broad 
prairie were swamps and ponds, where muskrats and waterfowl abounded. 
Beaver, otter, mink and other fur-bearing animals inhabited certain local- 
ities. Big game was plentiful, especially elk and deer. Prairie wolves 
were also plentiful and their howling at night sometimes caused little 
children to shudder with fear, as they cuddled closer together in their 
beds and wished for daylight to come. Roving bands of Indians occa- 
sionally made their appea}'ance in the settlements and their movements 
were watched with interest and suspicion. There was neither railroad 
nor public highway to facilitate travel — nothing but the great unbroken 
plain, "fresh from the hand of Nature." 

Now all is changed. In this year 1916 of the Christian era, when 
a citizen of Emmet County finds it necessary to pay a visit to the mai'ket 
town or the county seat, he can step into his automobile — or, if he has 
not yet become the possessor of a motor car, he can hitch a horse to a 
buggy and drive over a well established public highway to his destination. 
Should occasion require a longer journey, he can take his seat in a coach 
on one of the great railway systems of the country and be transported 
across the country at the rate of forty or fifty miles an hour. If he 



happens to live in the City of Estherville, or any of the incorporated 
towns of the county, upon entering a room at night all he has to do is td 
push a button or turn a switch and the room is immediately flooded 
with electric light. He turns a faucet and receives a supply of pure, 
wholesome water in any quantity he may desire. A mail carrier brings 
him his letters and newspapers daily. When household supplies are 
needed, it is an easy matter to telephone to the grocer, the butcher or the 
coal man. His children attend a modern graded school. He and his 
family worship in a church heated by steam and lighted by electricity, 
and listen to the music of a pipe organ that cost hundreds— perhaps 
thousands — of dollars. 

But does he ever pause to consider how all these comforts and con- 
veniences were brought about for him to enjoy? Let him read the 
opening paragraph of this chapter and then draw upon his imagination 
for the conditions that existed in what is now Emmet County when 
the first white men came to establish a settlement. 


Compared with the conditions of the present day, the pioneer encount- 
ered some actual hardships and a great many inconveniences. One of 
the first problems with which he was confronted was to provide shelter 
for himself and family. Most of the early settlers selected claims where 
there was timber to be obtained and the first houses erected by them 
were log cabins. The first settler in a community, who had to build his 
cabin unassisted, selected small logs or poles that he could raise to the 
walls. Such a dwelling could not be called a "mansion," but it sheltered 
its inmates from the inclemencies of the weather. Sometimes, when two 
or more families came together, one cabin would be built, in which all 
would live until each settler could erect a cabin of his own. As the 
population grew, the "house raising" became a social as well as an indus- 
trial event. After the logs were cut into proper lengths and dragged 
to the site of the proposed cabin, the settler would send invitations to 
his neighbors, some of whom probably lived several miles away, to attend 
the "raising." Such invitations were seldom declined, for the pioneers 
felt their dependence upon each other and were always ready and willing 
to lend a helping hand. 

When all were assembled four men would be selected to "carry 
up the corners." and took their stations at the four corners of the cabin. 
These men were chosen because they were skilled in the use of the ax. 
As the logs were lifted up to them they shaped a "saddle" on the top 
and cut a notch in the underside to fit upon the saddle of the log below. 
By cutting the notches a little deeper in the "but end" of logs, and alter- 




nating the butt and top ends, the walls of the cabin were carried up 
approximately level. No plumb line was used, the walls being adjusted 
in this respect entirely by the eye of the cornermen. Doors and windows 
were sawed out after the walls were up. An opening was also made 
at one end for the fireplace. Outside of this opening would be con- 
structed a chimney of small logs, lined inside with clay to prevent its 
catching fire. Sometimes the chimney would be built of squares of 
sod, laid up as a mason lays up a wall of bricks. The roof of the cabin 
was made of clapboards, and the floor, if there was one, was of puncheons 
— that is, thin slabs of timber split as nearly as possible of the same 
thickness — the upper surface being smoothed off with an adz after the 
floor was laid. 


Hardware was a luxury in a new country, and not infrequently a 
cabin would be completed without a single article of iron being used 
in its construction. The clapboards of the roof were held in place by poles 
running the full length of the cabin and fastened to the end logs with 
wooden pins. The door was made of thin puncheons, fastened together 
with small wooden pins, hung on wooden hinges and provided with a 
wooden latch. A thong of deerskin fastened to the latch was passed 
tlirough a small hole in the door, to provide a means of opening the 
door from the outside. At night the thong could be drawn inside and 
the door was locked. This custom gave rise to the expression: "The 
latchstring is always out," signifying that a visitor would be welcome 
at any time. 

The furniture was in keeping with the house itself, being usually 
of the "home-made" variety .and of the simplest character. In one 
corner was constructed a l^edstead in the following manner: A small 
sapling, with two forks as nearly at right angles as possible, was selected 
and a section of it long enough to reach from the floor to the joists 
overhead was cut and placed about the width of an ordinary bed from 
one wall and the length of the bed from the other. Poles were then 
laid in the two forks, the othe)- end resting in one of the cracks between 
the logs of the cabin wall, or in a large auger hole bored in one of the 
logs. Across the poles were then laid clapboards, upon which the straw 
tick, or feather bed, if the family possessed one, was spread. Such a 
contrivance was sometimes called a "prairie rascal." Springs, there 
were none, but "honest toil brought sweet repose" to the tired husband- 
man. Holes bored in the logs were fitted with strong pins, upon which 
were laid clapboards to form the "china closet," the front of which 
was a curtain of some cheap cotton cloth, though in many homes the 
curtain was lacking. Stools and benches took the place of chairs. A 


tab.le was made bj- "battening" some clapboards together to form the 
top, which was placed upon a pair of trestles when in use. When not 
in use the trestles were placed one upon the other and the top leaned 
against the wall to make more room in the house. Stoves were almost 
unknown and the cooking was done at the huge fireplace, an iron tea- 
kettle, a long-handled skillet, a big copper-bottomed coffee pot, and 
a large iron pot being the principal cooking utensils. Bread was baked 
in the skillet, which was set upon a bed of live coals and more coals 
heaped upon the lid, so the bread would bake at both top and bottom. 
The iron pot was used for preparing the boiled dinner, in which two or 
three kinds of vegetables were often cooked together. "Johnny cake" 
was made by spreading a stiff dough of corn meal upon one side of a 
smooth board and propping it up in front of the fire. When one side 
was baked sufficiently, the dough would be turned over, to give the other 
side its inning. jMany times a generous supply of "johnny cake" and a 
mug of fresh milk constituted the only supper of the pioneer. While 
preparing the meals the housewife would nearly always wear a large 
"sun-bonnet" to protect her face from the heat. 

Somewhere in the cabin was the "gun-rack," which was formed of 
two hooks, made from the forks of small trees. In this rack rested the 
long, heavy rifle of the settlei-, while suspended from the muzzle of the gun 
or one of the hooks were the bullet-pouch and powder-horn. The 
rifle was depended upon in many instances to furnish the family with 
a supply of meat. 

In the early days there were no sawmills to furnish lumber, and 
there wei'e no brick yards, hence, frame or bi'ick houses were out of the 
question. The log cabin was therefore the universal type of dwelling 
on the frontier. A little later, when the settlement of the prairies com- 
menced, some of the pioneers built sod houses by cutting squares of 
the native turf and laying them up in a wall of the required height. 
Occasionally a frame house of i-ough boards would be built, around w'hich 
would be laid a wall of sod for greater protection from the cold. If 
lumber could be obtained, the roof of these sod houses was laid of boards 
eight or ten inches wide, running from the peak to the eaves, the joints 
being covered with narrower boards to keep out the rain. Where no 
lumber was to be had, the I'oof was formed of a framework of small 
poles covered with a thatch of prairie grass. From an architectural 
standpoint, the house was not a "thing of beauty," but it constituted the 
only i-csidence of some of the early settlers of Emmet County. 

In these days, with banks in every town of any consequence and 
money in circulation, when any one needs assistance he can hire some 
one to come and help him. When the first settlers came to Emmet 
County, money was exceedingly scarce and they overcame the difficulty 


by '.'swapping work." They assisted each other to build cabins; fre- 
quently ten or a dozen men would gather in a neighbor's wheatfield, and 
while some would swing the cradle the others would bind the sheaves 
and place them in shocks. When one field was finished the entire party 
would mo\e on to the next, where the wheat was ripest, until tlie wheat 
crop of the neighborhood was made ready for the thresher. 

While the men wei'e engaged in the harvest field, the women folks 
would get together and prepare dinner, each one bringing from her own 
store some little delicacy which she thought the others might not be 
able to furnish. Elk meat and venison were common at such dinners, 
and, as each man had acquired a good appetite by the time the meal 
was ready, when they arose from the table it "looked like a cyclone had 
struck it." 

Matches were rare in llie new settlements and a little fire was always 
kept burning somewhere on the premises "for seed." During cold 
weather the fire was kept in the fireplace without trouble, but when 
the summer months came and the weather grew warm enough to render 
the house uncomfortable with a fire in it, a pile of chunks wei'e kept 
burning out of doors. If, by some mishap, such as negligence or a heavy 
rainfall, the fire was extinguished, one of the family would have to make 
a pilgrimage to the nearest neighbor's to "borrow" a fresh supply. 

There were no electi'ic lights when the first settlers came to Emmet 
County sixty years ago. Even the kerosene lamp had not then been 
invented and the housewife improvised a lamp by using a shallow dish, 
partially filled with lard, or some other kind of grease. Into this dish 
was placed a loosely twisted cotton rag. one end of which projected 
over the side of the dish. The projecting end was then lighted, and 
although sucli a lamp emitted smoke and odor that could hardly be 
tolerated liy fastidious persons now, it answered the purpose then and 
afforded enough light to enable the good woman to attend to her duties. 
Next came the tallow candle, which was made by pouring molten tallow 
into moulds of tin. a cotton wick having previously been drawn through 
the center of the mould. A set of candle moulds consisted of six or 
eight candle forms soldered together in a frame. Often there was but 
one set of candle moulds in a settlement, but they were willingly loaned 
by the owner and passed from house to house until all had a supply of 
candles laid away in a cool, dry place for future use. In the winter 
season the family would often sit around the fireplace with no light in 
the cabin except that which came from the roaring fire. 

With well stocked general stores in every village, it is now a com- 
paratively easy matter to replenish the household larder. But in the 
days prior to the Civil war going to market was no light affair. Fort 
Dodge and Mankato were the nearest trading points, and to visit either, 



required two or three days to go and return. No roads were as* yet 
opened, the streams were not bridged, and traveling was a matter 
attended by many drawbacks. Once the settler made the trip and brought 
back to his cabin a supply of the barest necessities, economy was the 
watchword, for waste meant another long, dreary journey through the 
wilderness to the trading post. BreadstufFs were obtained by taking a 
"turn of corn" or a few bushels of wheat to the nearest mill, often 
miles away, and waiting until the grain could" be ground. While thus 
waiting the settlers would while away the time running foot-races, 
wrestling, shooting at a mark or pitching horseshoes. Civilization grad- 
ually brought the trading posts and mills closer to Emmet County and 
Ihe long trips to Fort Dodge, Mankato and the far away mills were 


No one wore "store clothes" then. The housewife would card her 
wool Ijy hand with a pair of broad-backed wire brushes, the teeth of 
which were slightly bent all in one direction; then the rolls were spun 
into yarn upon the old-fashioned spinning wheel and woven into cloth 
upon the old hand loom. Garments were then cut and made with the 
]ieedle, the sewing machine having not yet been invented. A girl of 
sixteen years of age who could not manage a spinning wheel, turning 
out her 'six cuts" a day, or make her own dresses was a rarity in a new 
settlement. How many of the girls who graduated from the various 
high schools of Emmet County in 191(5 know what "six cuts" means? 
Or how many of them can make their own gowns unassisted? 


Althougli the pioneers had tiieir hardsliips and privations, it must 
not be imagined for a moment that their lives were utterly devoid of 
relaxation and entertainment. A popular social function in a new settle- 
ment was the "house-warming." A new cabin was hardly considered 
fit to live in until it had been properly dedicated. In almost every fron- 
tier settlement tliere was at least one man who could play the violin. 
When the new house was ready for occupancy the "fiddler" was called 
into requisition and within the cabin thei'e would be a "sound of revelry 
by night." On these occasions no fox-trot, tango or classic two-step 
was seen, but the Virginia reel, the stately minuet or the old-fashioned 
cotillion, in which some one "called the figures" in a strentorian voice, 
were very nnich in evidence. And it is quite probable that the guests at 
a presidential inaugural ball never derived more genuine pleasure from 
tlie event than did these people of the frontier at a If 


the settler who owned the cabin had scruples against dancing, some 
other form of amusement was substituted, but the house had to be 
"warmed" by some sort of frolic before the family took possession. 

Another form of amusement was the "husking bee" (commonly 
called a corn shucking) , in which pleasure and profit were combined. 
After the invitations to the "shucking" were sent out, the farmer divided 
his corn into two piles, as nearly equal in size as possible. When the 
guests arrived two of them would "choose up" and divide those present 
into two companies, the contest being to see which side would first finish 
its pile of corn. Both men and women took part in the "bee" and one 
'of the rules was that the young man who found a red ear was permitted 
to kiss the young woman next to him in the circle. "Many a merry laugh 
went round" when some one found a red ear and the lassie objected to 
being kissed. Quite often the young men would play an underhand 
game by passing a red ear surreptitiously from one to the other. 

Women's clubs, such as exist at the present day, were unknown, 
but the women had their quilting parties, when a number would take 
their needles and thimbles and gather at some house to join in making 
a quilt. Then there would be a friendly rivalry to see who could run 
the straightest line or make the neatest stitches. 

Corn huskings and quiltings were frequently followed by a dance 
and the guests would spend an hour or two in "tripping the light fan- 
tastic toe," though it must be admitted that the toes were many times 
neither light nor fantastic. The old-time fiddler, who furnished the 
melody for the dancers may not have been a scientific musician, but he 
could make his old violin respond to such tunes as "The Irish Washer- 
woman," "Money Musk," "The Wind that Shakes the Barley Fields," 
or "Turkey in the Straw" and what he lacked in classic training he 
made up in the vigor of his execution. 

Then there was the spelling-bee (or match) that came in with the 
introduction of the public school system. Upon the appointed evening 
the entire community — men, women and children — would gather at the 
schoolhouse to engage in a spelling contest. As at the husking bee, two 
captains would "choose up," the winner choosing the best speller first, 
and so on alternately until all who cared to take part were arranged 
upon two opposing sides. The teacher, or some other person agreed 
upon, would then "give out" the words, first to one side and then to 
the other. If a speller missed a word he took his seat and the contest 
went on until only one, the victor, was left standing. To "spell down" a 
whole school district was considered quite an achievement. 

At the close of the exercises the young men, with quickened pulse 
for fear of "getting the mitten," would approach the young women with 
the stereotyped formula: "May I see you home?" Sometimes an acquaint- 


ance thus begun ripened into an intimacy that ended in a wedding, which 
was followed by a charivari, or, as it was pronounced on the frontier, 
a "shivaree" — a serenade in which noise took the place of harmony. 
The charivari was generally kei>t up until the bride and groom showed 
themselves, and the affair terminated all the more pleasantly if each of 
the serenaders was given a piece of the wedding cake. Probably the 
young men of that day were no more superstitious than those of the 
present, but it is certain that many of them placed the morsel of wed- 
ding cake beneath their pillows upon retiring, in the belief that it would 
bring pleasant dreams that were destined to come true. 


Such was the manner in which the first settlers of Emmet County 
lived. All things considered, the pioneer is entitled to a place of honor 
in the memories of the present generation. He braved the dangei's 
of the frontier, brought the raw prairie under cultivation, drained the 
swamps, conquei-ed the prowling wolf and savage Indian, and amid 
adverse conditions oveixame all obstacles, building up an empire in the 
wilderness. His life was hard and his reward meager, when compared 
to present day advantages, but his work was well done. Following is 
a brief personal mention of a few of the men who were active in build- 
ing up Emmet County in the early days. It would be impossible to give 
an account of every one who contributed to the development of the 
county's resources, but those named are fair representatives of the real 
pioneer type — men who were not afraid to break away from old estab- 
lished communities and, buoyed up by the hope of a brighter future, carry 
the banner of civilization into hitherto unknown places. 

Adolphus Jenkins, who was one of the first four white men to settle 
in the county, was born in Steuben County, New Yoi'k, in 1826. He 
received a good education in the common schools and a local academy, 
after which he went to Michigan, where he taught school for a few 
years. He then went to Lake Pepin, Minnesota, where he entered land 
and engaged in farming. I'pon coming to Emmet County he preempted 
KiO acres of land in what is now Estherville Township, built a log house 
and began the work of developing a farm. A year or so later he formed 
a partnership with Robert E. Ridley and built the Estherville Mills, with 
which he was connected until about 1877. When the county was organ- 
ized in February, 18-59, he was elected county judge and held the office 
until it was abolished by an act of the Legislature in 1860. He also 
served as ju.stice of the peace, postmaster of Estherville and as a mem- 
ber of the board of county supervisors. When the county seat was 
removed to Swan Lake he went to that place and opened a hotel. He dic:d 


at Swan Lake on October 3, 1886. His son, James E. Jenkins, who was 
born in Estherville in 1864, afterward became a member of the firm 
of Woods & Jenkins, publishers of the Emmet County Repubhcan. 

Among those who came to Emmet County in 1860 was Howaixl 
Graves, a native of the State of New York. In 1855 he came to Iowa, 
locating first in Winneshiek County, where he remained for about five 
years. He then came to Emmet County and engaged in farming and 
merchandising until 1876, when he established a private bank, the first 
bank in the county. In the fall of 1886 this bank was incorporated under 
the laws of Iowa as the Estherville State Bank and Mr. Graves was 
made the first president. Mr. Graves served for several years as auditor 
of Emmet County and was all his life recognized as a public spirited 

Lewis Paulson, another pioneer of 1860, was born in Norway on 
October 7, 1811, and in his native land was employed as a farmer and 
cattle herder. In 1844 he married and soon afterward came to America. 
In the fall of 1859 he first came to Emmet County and selected 160 acres 
of land in Section 36, in what is now the southeast corner of Esther- 
ville Township. To this claim he brought his family from Wisconsin the 
following June. He was accompanied by his son-in-law, 0. K. Flat'.and 
and 0. 0. Ranum, who settled near him. In 1861 he removed to Esther- 
ville, where he opened a general store. In the preceding chapter is 
given an acocunt of Mr. Paulson's trip to Algona in the winter of 1860-61 
for the mail. 

Charles W. Jarvis came to Emmet County with his father in 1861, 
when he was about sixteen years of age. He was born at Ridgefield, 
Connecticut, in 1845, where his father was engaged in business as a 
hatter. In 1856 the family removed to Iowa and located in Winneshiek 
County, where young Jarvis completed his education in the public schools. 
When the family came to Emmet County in 1861, the father purchased 
400 acres of land in Emmet Township and later opened a store. Charles 
W. Jarvis clerked in his father's stoi-e until 1862, when he enlisted in 
Company A, Northern Border Brigade, as a private. His name appears 
upon the muster rolls as Willis C. Jarvis. After his term of enlist- 
ment expired he lived with his parents upon the farm until 1871, when 
he purchased the Northern Vindicator, but conducted the paper only 
a short time when he sold out and returned to farming. From 1878 
to 1882 he was a bookkeeper in the banking house of Graves, Burdick 
& Company. He then again purchased an interest in the Northern Vin- 
dicator and continued in the newspaper business for a number of years. 
From 1880 to 1885 he was a member of the board of supervisoj's, and he 
was always active in promoting eflForts to improve the conditions in 
Estherville and Emmet County. 


Simeon E. Bemis came to Estherville in 1866. He was born in 
Franklin County, New York, November 3, 1839 ; was reared on a farm, 
and received his education in tlie Malone Academy. The presidential 
election of 1860 occurred on the 6th of November, just three days after 
he had reached his majority, and he cast his first vote for Abraham 
Lincoln. When the call for troops came in April, 1861, he enlisted in the 
Sixteenth New York Infantry and sei'ved about two years, when he 
was discharged on account of the condition of his health. Upon receiv- 
ing his discharge he decided to try his fortune in the West and went 
to Minnesota. Three years later he came to Estherville, bringing with 
him a small stock of goods. Finding no suitable room in which to open 
a store he had one ei'ected in two days. It was not much of a build- 
ing, being only 12 by 20 feet in dimensions and one story high, but 
this was the beginning of "Bemis' Store." His trade grew to such an 
extent that he soon built and occupied a room 20 by 40 feet and for 
many years thereafter he was one of Estherville's leading merchants. 
In 1885 he was elected mayor of the city and he also served for some 
time as president of the school board. He was at one time commander 
of Isaac Mattson Post, No. 365, Grand Army of the Republic. 

Capt. Lyman S. Williams was born in Vermont in 1839. He was 
educated in his native state and at the breaking out of the Civil war 
in ]861 he enlisted in Company I, Sixth Vermont Infantry, and served 
until -June 26, 1865. In 1867 he came to Emmet County and located 
on a farm of 160 acres in Ellsworth Township. When John M. Barker 
resigned the office of c^erk of the District Court in 1878, Captain Wil- 
liams was appointed to the vacancy and continued to hold the ofiice by 
election until 1882. He was then engaged in business as a contractor 
and builder in Estherville until 1885, when he "took the road" for the 
American Investment Company and during the next four years traveled 
over Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. In May, 1889, he was 
appointed postmaster of Estherville by President Benjamin Harrison and 
held that position during Harrison's administration. Captain Williams 
was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, a member of the 
Modern Woodmen of America and of the Grand Army of the Republic. 

E. R. Littell, one of the early merchants of Estherville, came from 
Alpena County, Michigan, where he was one of the pioneers and car- 
ried the chain in surveying the land where the City of Alpena now 
stands. About 1867 oi- 1868 he "hitched up his oxen" and drove all the 
way to Estherville, where he engaged in the general merchandise busi- 
ness soon after his arrival. Careful in the selection of his stock and 
always courteous to his customers, he built up a good trade, taking his 
son L. G. Littell into partnership under the firm name of E. R. Littell 


& Son. L. G. Littell was at one time chief of the Estherville fire depart- 

A few of those who came to Emmet County during the pioneer 
days are still living. Among them may be mentioned Robert E. Ridley, 
the founder of Estherville; Amos Ketchum, one of the early blacksmiths 
and a veteran of the Civil war ; Amos A. Pingrey, who served as ser- 
geant in Company A of the Northern Border Brigade; Matthew Rich- 
mond, who was a member of the board of supervisors for a number of 
years and is now connected with one of the Armstrong banks; W. H. 
Davis, one of the early shoe merchants of Estherville, and a number of 
others, sketches of whom appear in the second volume of this work. 


Trapping fur-bearing animals and disposing of the skins formed one 
of the occupations, and a pi'ofitable one, of the Emmet County pioneers. 
Indian trappers and employees of the great fur companies had been 
operating oft" and on in the upper Des Moines Valley for many years, but 
the animals multiplied more. rapidly than these irregular trapping excur- 
sions could kill them oif. When the first white men settled in the 
county the swamps were full of muskrats, while mink, otter and beaver 
were found in considerable numbers along the Des Moines River and 
about the lakes. There was once an otter trail from the river just above 
Emmet Grove to Eagle Lake, thence to Grass Lake and Tremont or 
(Birge) Lake, where it turned southward and passed Swan and High 
lakes and again struck the river about a mile below the present village 
of Wallingford. Over a large part of this course the trail was a well 
worn path, indicating that it was used by largo numbers of otter. 

Every pioneer brought with him, or acquired soon after his arrival, 
from half a dozen to forty steel traps. During the fall and winter 
months, when the fur was at its best, one could see men making their 
daily round of traps, taking out the catch and removing the pelts, then 
rebaiting and setting the trap for their next visit. Early numbers 
of the Northern Vindicator gave quotations of fur values that were of 
far more interest to the settlers of Emmet County than would have 
been quotations from the New York Stock Exchange. An old market 
report in the Vindicator quotes muskrat skins at from 1.5c to 18c; mink 
skins, $2.00; beaver skins, $3.50 to $5.00; otter skins, $5.00 to $7.00. 
As late as the fall of 1886 an otter weighing nearly forty pounds was 
caught. So far as known only one otter has been caught in the county 
since that date. It was caught by Richard Dundas. 

During the hard times of 1868-69, when work was scarce and money 
still scarcer, trapping was the principal business of many of the resi- 


dents of Emmet County. A number of the early settlers made the 
money in this way to pay for the lands they entered. At the period 
mentioned those living in the county discouraged immigration all they 
could, because new comers had a tendency to frighten away the fur- 
bearing animals, especially the mink and beaver, and thus decrease their 

One would naturally suppose that men and women who suffered the 
privations incident to frontier life would be glad to remain in the coun- 
try after it was developed and enjoy the fruits of their labors. But 
some persons are pioneers by natui-e. They seem to prefer the new 
country, with its labor and freedom, to the older civilization, with its 
luxuries and conventionalities. A few of those who came into Emmet 
County in the early days, and contributed in no small degree to its 
development, afterward crossed the Missouri River and became pioneers 
a second time, aiding in building up the states in that section of the 
country. Such persons are well described in Brininstool's beautiful poem 


"I've taken toll from every stream that held a furry prize, 

But now my traps are rustin' in the sun ; 
Where once the broad, free ranges, wild, unbroken, met my eyes, 

Their acres have been civilized and won. 
The deer have left the bottom lands, the antelope the plain. 

And the howlin' of the wolf no more I hear ; 
But the busy sound of commerce warn me of an alien reign, 

As the saw and hammer echo in my ear. 

"I've lived to see the prairie soil a-sproutin' schools and stores, 

And wire fences stretch on every hand ; 
I've seen the nesters crowdin' in from distant foreign shores, 

And the hated railroads creep across the land. 
My heart has burned within me and my eyes have misty grown. 

As Progress came unbidden to my shack ; 
My streams have all been harnessed and my conquest overtlii'own, 

And I've been pushed aside and crowded back. 

"I've seen men come with manners and with customs new and strange, 

To take the land which I have fought to hold ; 
I've watched the white-topped wagons joltin' on across the range 

With those who sought to lure the hidden gold. 
I've seen the red man vanquished and the buffalo depart, 

And the cowmen take the land which they possessed ; 
And now there's somethin' tuggin' and a-pullin' at my heart. 

And biddin' me move on to'rds the West. 


"There ain't no elbow room no more to circulate around, 

Since Civ'lization stopped beside my door; 
I'll pack my kit and rifle and I'll find new stompin' ground, 

Where things is like they was in days of yore. 
I've heard the mountains whisper, and the old, free wild life calls. 

Where men and Progress never yet have trod; 
And I'll go back and worship in my rugged canyon walls. 

Where the pine trees croon and Nature is my God." 




The subordinate civic division known as the township doubtless hail 
its origin in the old Teutonic "mark," though it was transplanted to this 
country from England. Says Fiske : "About 871 A. D. King Alfred insti- 
tuted a small territorial subdivision nearest in character to and probably 
containing the germ of the American township." 

The "small territorial subdivision" of King Alfred was called the 
"tunscipe." It was the political unit of popular expression, which took the 
form of mass convention or assembly called the "tun moot." The chief 
executive of the tunscipe was the "tun reeve," who, with the parish priest 
and four lay delegates, represented the tunscipe in the shire meeting. 

In the settlement of New England, the colonies were at first governed 
by a general court, which also had legislative powers. The court was 
composed of the governor and a small council, generally made up of the 
most influential citizens. In March, 1635, the General Court of Massa- 
chusetts passed the following ordinance relating to local government in 
certain districts : 

"Whereas, particular towns have many things that concern only 
themselves, and the ordering of their own affairs and disposing of business 
in their owm town, therefore, the freemen of every town, or a majority 
of them, shall have power to dispose of their own lands and woods, and 
all appurtenances of said towns; to grant lots, and to make such orders 
as may concern the well ordering of their own towns, not repugnant to the 
laws and orders established by the General Court. 

"Said freemen, or a majority of them, shall also have power to choose 
their own particular officers, such as constables, petty magistrates, sur- 



veyors for the highways, and may impose fines for violation of rules estab- 
lished by the freemen of the town — provided that such fines shall in no 
single case exceed twenty shillings." 

That was the beginning of the township system in the United States. 
Connecticut followed Massachusetts with a similar provision regarding 
local self-government, and from New England the system was carried to 
the new states of the Middle West. In the southern colonies the county 
was made the principal political united for the government of local affairs. 
Eight counties were organized in Virginia in 1634 and the system spread 
to other colonies, except in South Carolina the units corresponding to coun- 
ties are called districts and in Louisiana they are known as parishes. The 
Illinos country was made a county of Virginia after Gen. George Rogers 
Clark's campaign of 1778. 

The first provision for the establishment of civil townships northwest 
of the Ohio River was made by Governor St. Clair and the judges of the 
Northwest Territory in 1790. The term "civil township" is here used to 
distinguish it from the Congressional towniship of the official Government 
survey. The latter is always six miles square (except in certain cases 
of fractional townships), while the civil township varies in size and shape, 
and is marked by a local government. Even yet in New England the 
township is of more importance in the settlement of local questions of 
a political character, or the administration of local affairs, than is the 
county. The town meetings are still held regularly and through them 
most of the business of the local government is transacted. Every propo- 
sition to expend a considerable sum of money, for any public purpose what- 
ever, is first submitted to the people at a town meeting. In the South the 
township is little more than a name, all the local business being trans- 
acted by the county authorities. Throughout the great Middle West there 
is a well-balanced combination of the two systems, the schools and roads 
being usually in charge of the township officials, while business that affects 
more than one civil township is controlled by the county. In nearly every 
state in the Mississippi Valley it is the custom to sumbit to the people at 
a general or special election the question of issuing bonds for township 
purposes, and this custom is a relic of the old town meeting system. 

Township government was first established in Iowa while the state 
was a part of Michigan Territory. The Legislature of that territory in 
September, 1834, created the Township of Julien, which included the 
entire County of Dubuque — that is, all that pai't of Iowa lying north of 
a line drawn due west from the foot of Rock Island. Emmet County was 
therefore a part of Julien Township, Dubuque County. South of the line 
was Des Moines County, which was erected into Flint Hill Township. 
Wlien Iowa was made a part of Wisconsin by the act of April 20, 1836, 
the first Legislature of that territory set about amending the laws and 


the act of December 6, 1836, provided that "Each county within this terri- 
tory now organized, or that may be hereafter organized, shall constitute 
one township for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of 
the amended laws." 

The act of Congress organizing the Territory of Iowa, approved by 
President Van Buren on June 12, 1838, contained a provision that all town- 
ship officers should be elected by the people. In his message of JSTovem- 
ber 12, 1838, to the first Legislature that was ever convened in Iowa, 
Gov. Robert Lucas said : "The subject of providing by law for the organi- 
zation of townships and the election of township officers, and defining 
their powers and duties, I consider to be of the first importance and almost 
indispensable in the local organization of the Government. Without 
proper township regulations it will be extremely difficult, if not imprac- 
ticable to establish a regular school system. In most of the states, where 
a common school system has been established by law, the trustees of 
townships are important agents in executing the provisions of its laws." 

On January 10, 1840, Governor Lucas approved the act providing 
for township organization. Under this act the question of forming a new 
township was- to be submitted to the voters residing within the territory 
it was proposed to include in said township, and if a majority of the votes 
were in favor of the proposition the township should be organized. With 
some supplementary legislation, this system remained in force until after 
the admission of the state in 1846. Most of the counties created by the 
act of January 15, 1851, were declared to be a single township until the 
local authorities saw fit to make more. 

When the office of county judge was abolished the township system 
assumed greater importance in Iowa than ever before. The act became 
effective on July 4, 1860, and required the voters of each township in a 
county to elect one supervisor at the next general election, the super- 
visors so elected to take office on January 1, 1861, and the board of super- 
visors was to perform all the duties formerly performed by the county 
judge. In 1862 the supervisors were given power to create new town- 
ships, and it was under this authority that the twelve civil townships 
of Emmet County were called into existence. 

Each civil township in Emmet County corresponds to a congressional 
township and is therefore six miles square, except those forming the 
northern tier, where the congressional townships are fractional, so far 
as Emmet County is concerned, and contained only thirty square miles. 
The twelve townships are : Armstrong Grove, Center, Denmark, Ells- 
worth, Emmet, Estherville, High Lake, Iowa Lake, Jack Creek, Lincoln, 
Swan Lake and Twelve Mile Lake. Eight of these townships — Arm- 
strong Grove, Center, Ellsworth, Emmet, Estherville, High Lake, Iowa 
Lake. Swan Lake and Twelve Mile Lake — were organized prior to the 


burning of the courthouse in the fall of 1876, and the date of then- 
erection and organization cannot be learned on account of the destruc- 
tion of the supervisors' records. 


This township is, the middle one of the eastern tier and includes 
Township 99, Range 31, of the Government survey. It is bounded on the 
north by the Township of Iowa Lake ; on the east by Kossuth County ; on 
the south by Denmark Township, and on the west by Swan Lake Town- 
ship. The east fork of the Des Moines River flows diagonally across the 
township from northwest to southeast, and the southwest corner is watered 
by the Black Cat Creek. The surface is generally level or gently rolling, 
except along the streams, where it is more broken, and the soil is usually 
fertile. Some of the finest farms in the county are in this township. 

In March, 1856, a man named Armstrong made his way up the Des 
Moines River from Fort Dodge looking for a location. In the grove on 
Section 36, Township 99, Range 31, he selected 160 acres for his claim. 
No white men were living near, and worn out by his journey he became 
lonesome, homesick and discoui-aged and as soon as the weather settled 
in the spring he returned to Mitchell County. The place were he selected 
his claim is still known as Armstrong's Grove and when the township 
was organized the name was conferred upon it. The first permanent set- 
tlement in that part of the county was made in 1864, when George Dem- 
mon settled in Section 36, near the place where the man Armstrong 
located eight yeai's before, and Daniel W. Perry took a claim in Section 
25 adjoining on the north. They were soon followed by James Thompson, 
Samuel Thoburn (a Scotchman), John Carroll and the Pai'son, Dundas 
and Campbell families, most of whom settled along the Des Moines in the 
eastern part of the township. Edward Donovan, another early settler, 
located a claim on the Black Cat Creek, not far from the present village 
of Haifa. David Weir came in the fall of 1869 and bought George Dem- 
mon's farm in Section 36. 

Settlement was slow for a time, but in the early '70s there were sev- 
eral families located in the township. In 1871 C. B. Mathews, W. Orcut 
and the Hurlbuts came from Racine, Wisconsin ; William Jordan, from 
Jackson County, Iowa ; Peter Conlan, Stephen Murphy, Patrick Harrity, 
Matthew McCormick and a few others from Minnesota. The next year 
the population was augmented by the arrival of David Canfield, who came 
from Illinois ; Cornelius Canon and his father, James, settled on Section 
12, a little northeast of the present town of Armstrong; Henry Brooks 
and S. B. and John Churchill came from Mitchell County, Iowa. James 
Canon and John Chuixhill were veterans of the War of 1812. The lat- 


ter died about 1878. His daughter, Ann Eliza, afterward became the 
nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, the Mormon prophet. 

About three-fourths of a mile east of the town of Armstrong was 
formerly a pond of about sixty acres which was called "Lake Weller," 
for Miss Eliza Weller, who homesteaded the quarter section upon which 
it was located. 

The first marriage in the township was that of John Dundas and 
Jane Gibbons. The first death was that of Mrs. James Thompson. Her 
coflin was made by Daniel W. Perry. The first school was taught by Miss 
Hannah Hawks in the winter of 1866-67. She was succeeded by Mrs. 
Jennie Cummings, a "comely widow," who at the close of her term became 
the wife of Stephen Demmon, their wedding being the second in the town- 
ship. In the summer of 1868 a school house was built by Daniel W. 
Perry and D. L. Bemis, of Estherville, at a cost of about seven hundred 
dollars, and aiiss Emma Jillett taught the first term of school in the new 

The Albert Lea & Estherville division of the Rock Island Railway 
system passed through the central portion of the township from east to 
west, and the Jewell & Sanborn division of the Chicago & Northwestern 
crosses the southwest corner. Armstrong on the former and Haifa on the 
latter are the railroad stations. The two railway lines aflford good ship- 
ping facilities to all parts of the township. 

In 1910 the population, including the incorporated towii of Armstrong, 
was 1,038, and in 1915 the assessed valuation of the property, including 
that in the consolidated school district of Haifa, was $435,236. 


This township was erected by the board of supervisors prior to the 
burning of the court-house in the fall of 1876, and the destruction of the 
records renders it impossible to give the exact date of its establishment. 
It embraces Congressional Township 99, Range 33, and has an area of 
thirty-six square miles, nearly all of which is capable of being cultivated. 
Brown Creek, a tributary of the Des Moines River, flows in a south- 
westerly direction across the northwest corner, and the Des Moines River 
touches the southwest corner. The western part of Swan Lake extends 
into this township in the southeastern part, and about a mile west of it 
is Ryan Lake. The township was so named from its central location. It 
is bounded on the north by Ellsworth Township; on the east by Swan 
Lake; on the south by High Lake, and on the west by the Township of 

On January 10, 1878, upon petition of the citizens living in the eastern 
tier of sections of Center Township, those sections — 1, 12, 13, 24, 25 and 


36 — were detached from Center and attached to Swan Lake by the board 
of supervisors. The next day the board reconsidered the order, which 
was then rescinded, and Center was restored to its original boundaries. 

Among the early settlers of Center were James, Eli and R. E. Bunt, 
Jeremiah Clark, the Lingenfelter, Moulton, West and Cousins families, 
some of whom, or their descendants, still live in Emmet County. During 
the Civil war and the Indian troubles on the frontier there were very 
few settlers came to the county and most of those above named located 
their claims between 1864 and 1869. 

In 1892 the Albert Lea & Estherville division of the Chicago, Rock 
Island & Pacific Railroad was built through the township, which stimu- 
lated its development. The western boundary is only one mile from the 
Estherville city limits and the village of Gruver is a station on the rail- 
road, one and a half miles west of the eastern boundary, so that the people 
of the township have ample shipping facilities for the products of their 

The population in 1910 was 532, and in 1915 the property was 
valued for tax purposes at $431,865. During the school year of 1915-16 
ten teachers were employed in the public schools. 


Denmark Township occupies the southeast corner of the county and 
embraces Congressional Township 98, Range 31. The surface is gen- 
erally rolling and is drained by the Black Cat Creek, which flows in 
a southeasterly direction across the township. Several ditches have been 
constructed, using the Black Cat Creek as an outlet, which makes Den- 
mark one of the best drained townships in the county. On the north this 
township is bounded by Armstrong Grove ; on the east by Kossuth County ; 
on the south by Palo Alto County, and on the west by the Township of 
Jack Creek. 

Prior to September 3, 1883, Denmark was a part of Armstrong 
Grove Township, but the minutes of the board of supervisors for that 
date contain the following entry: "The petition of H. Jensen and eleven 
others, resident electors of Township 98, Range 31, said territory being 
now a part of the civil township of Armstrong Grove, asking that said 
township No. 98 of Range No. 31 be set off as a civil township by itself 
to be known as Denmark Township, was taken up and on motion the 
prayer of said petition was granted." 

At the' same time the board ordered that the voting place at the gen- 
eral election of October 9, 1883, should be at the house of C. L. 
Lund, and S. D. Bunt, Paul P. Bogh and Peter Schultz were appointed 
judges of said election. 


The first settlers were James Thompson and S. B. Bunt, who entered 
land in 1872, though the township was then a part of Armstrong Grove 
and both are mentioned as early settlers of that township. A few months 
before the organization a number of families came from Denmark and 
located in the southeastern part of Emmet County. Among them were 
Hans Jensen, whose name headed the petition for the erection of the 
township, Morten, James and John N. Petersen, A. N. Gaarde, Lauritz 
Lauritsen, Paul P. Bogh, Lars Hansen, Nels Nielsen and John Hendrick- 
sen. It was from these Danish families that the township derived its 

In January, 1884, the first election for township officers was held 
at the house of C. L. Lund. Morten Peterson, William Nelsen and 
Lauritz Lauritsen were elected trustees ; Neiss Bonnicksen, clerk ; S. D. 
Bunt, justice of the peace; Paul P. Bogh, road supervisor. 

When the fii'st settlements were made in the township the town of 
Algona was the nearest trading point. In 1882 the Chicago & North- 
western Railroad was extended north from Algona and the village of 
Bancroft was started. It was not much of a town, but the general store 
there kept most of the goods needed by the early settlers and brought the 
opportunity to obtain supplies much nearer to the people of what is now 
Denmark Township. The first postoffice was established in 1885, with 
John Larsen as postmaster. It was located on his farm, about two miles 
east of the present village of Ringsted. William Grey carried the mail 
from Seneca for about a year, after which Morten Petersen was the mail 
carrier for four years. 

John H. Thompson, a son of James Thompson, was the first white 
child born in the township. The first school house was built in 1884. 
There are now seven school buildings, and during the school year of 
191.5-16 ten teachers were employed. In 1910 the population was 907 and 
in 1915 the assessed value of the property was $448,598, which was the 
second highest valuation in the county. 


This is one of the fractional townships of the northern tier. It 
includes all that part of Congressional Township 100, Range 33, lying in 
Emmet County ; is five miles in extent from north to south and six miles 
from east to west, having an area of thirty square miles. Birge Lake 
lies on the eastern border and is drained by Soldier Creek, a tributarj' 
of the east fork of the Des Moines River. Grass Lake, in the north- 
western portion, is drained by Brown Creek, and another small stream 
flows in a southeasterly direction through the central part, so that the 
township is well watered. Ellsworth is bounded on the north by the State 


of :Minnesota; on the east by Lincoln Township; on the south by Center, 
and on the west by the Township of Emmet. 

Not much was done toward the settlement of this township until 
after the close of the Civil war. One of the pioneers was Capt. Lyman 
S. Williams, who located in what is now Ellsworth in 1867, and whose 
widow now lives at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A sketch of Captain Williams 
is given in Chapter VI. About a year after Captain Williams came the 
Mattson family, several members of which became prominent in the affairs 
of Emmet County. Lois Mattson became the wife of Charles W. Dillman 
and removed to Blue Earth, Minnesota. S. A. Prosser was also an 
early settler in this township. 

Ellsworth Township is one of those erected prior to the destruction 
of the court-house by fire, and the records pertaining to its creation and 
organization are lost. In its industrial and educational development it 
has kept pace with the other townships of the county. There are seven 
public schools buildings, and during the school year of 1915-16 twelve 
teachers were employed. The population in 1910 was 481, and the 
assessed valuation of propei'ty in 1915 was $323,195. Huntington, a 
station of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, near the northwest cor- 
ner, is the only village and postofRce in the township. 


In the northwest corner of the county lies the Township of Emmet. 
It embraces that part of Congressional Township 100, Range 34, lying 
in Iowa and has an area of thii'ty square miles. On the north it is 
bounded by the State of Minnesota ; on the east by Ellsworth Township ; 
on the south by Estherville Township, and on the west by Dickinson . 
County. The west fork of the Des Moines River enters the township 
from Minnesota about three-fourths of a mile east of the northwest corner 
and flows in a southeasterly direction into Estherville Township. Along 
the river there are some bluffs, but the greater part of the township is 
fertile, tillable land. 

Emmet Township derives its name from the county. It was created 
prior to 1876 and the records of its erection and organization were lost 
in the court-house fire of that year. 

To Emmet Township belongs the distinction of being the site of the 
first settlement made in the county. As narrated in one of the preceding 
chapters, Jesse Coverdale, George C. Granger, William Granger, Henry 
and Adolphus Jenkins and D. W. Hoyt located claims in this township in 
the summer of 1856. The neighborhood where they settled was near the 
Des Moines River, in a tract of timber afterward known as "Emmet 
Grove" sometimes called "Granger's Grove." Here the first postoffice 


was established under the name of Emmet, with George C. Granger as 
the first postmaster. Mr. Granger was also the first merchant in the 
county. Jesse Coverdale served as second heutenant of Company A, 
Northern Border Brigade, at the time of the Civil war, and was after- 
ward elected one of the county board of supervisors, in which capacity 
he served for one term of three years. 

The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad runs through the southeastern 
portion, but there is no station within the township limits. Estherville, 
which is only one mile from the southern boundary, and Huntington, in 
the northwest corner of Ellsworth Township, are the most convenient 
trading and shipping points. 

There are five public schools in the township and during the school 
year of 1915-16 six teachers were employed. The population in 1910 
was 375 and in 1915 the property was assessed for taxation at $284,120. 

estherville' TOWNSHIP. 

This is the middle township of the western tier and includes Congres- 
sional Township 99, Range 34. Its area is therefore thirty-six square 
miles and it is bounded as follows: On the north by Emmet Township; 
on the east by Center; on the south by Twelve Mile Lake, and on the 
west by Dickinson County. The west fork of the Des Moines River crosses 
the northern boundarj' near the northwest corner of Section 2 and from 
that point it flows almost south for a distance of two miles, when it turns 
more to the southeast and crosses the eastern boundary about two miles 
north of the southeast corner. Along the west side of the river are the 
largest hills in the county. East of the Des Moines the surface is a 
rolling plain, which is also the character of the surface in the western 
portion, near the Dickinson County line. On the western border, in 
Section 18, is a small body of water called Four Mile Lake. Its outlet 
falls into the Des Moines at Estherville. 

Estherville was one of the first civil townships to be established in 
Emmet County, and takes its name from the county seat, which is situ- 
ated within its limits. As in the case of all the early townships, the 
records relating to the erection and organization of Estherville were 
destroyed by the burning of the court-house in October, 1876, and the 
exact date of its establishment cannot be ascertained. 

Among the first settlers in this township were Robert E. Ridley and 
his wife, A. H. Ridley, and the Graves family, the former coming from 
the State of Maine in the spring of 1857, and the Graves family from 
Winneshiek County, Iowa, a little later. Robert E. Ridley, the pioneer 
settler of the township, is still living in Estherville. Most of the history 
of this township centers about the county seat and is told in connection 
with the City of Estherville in another chapter. 


The first bauker of Emmet County. 
Came to Estherville in 1860. (Photo 
taken in midille life.) 

n-ur Kt^V'' '^'0'^'^ 



No other township in the county is as well provided with transpor- 
tation facilities. The Chicago & Sioux Falls division of the great Rock 
Island Railway system and the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad both 
pass through Estherville, and a branch of the former runs from Esther- 
ville to Albert Lea, Minnesota, where it connects with a main line running 
between Minneapolis and Des Moines. 

In 1910 the population, exclusive of the City of Estherville, was 
454. Outside of the city there are four public schools that in the school 
year of 1915-16 employed four teachers. In 1915 the assessed valuation 
of the property, not including that within the city, was $449,306, or 
nearly one thousand dollars for each man, woman and child living in the 
rural districts. 


High Lake Township, which takes its name from a lake situated 
within its borders, is one of the southern tier. It includes Congressional 
Township 98, Range 33, and has an area of thirty-six square miles, about 
two of which are water — High and Mud lakes. The west fork of the 
Des Moines River flows southwardly through the western part and is the 
only stream in the township. The boundaries of the township are foi'ined 
as follow: Center Township on the north; Jack Creek Township on the 
east; Palo Alto County on the south, and the Township of Twelve Mile 
Lake on the west. 

The first settler in what is now High Lake Township was John 
Rourke, a native of the Emerald Isle, who located a claim at Island Grove 
in August, 1856. His wife was the first white woman to become an 
inhabitant of Emmet County, and their son Peter, who was born on 
January 4, 1857, was the first white child born in the county. Other 
early settlers here were James Maher and the Conlans, mentioned in a 
former chapter. Still another early settler was Alfi-ed Nicholson, a well- 
educated Irishman, who was a somewhat noted character in the early 
history of the county on account of his eccentricities, one of which was 
his fondness for whisky. He was a great reader and was well informed 
on a multitude of subjects, about which he could converse intelligently, 
even when under the influence of liquor. 

The civil Township of High Lake was established before the court- 
house fire, so frequently referred to in connection with the history of the 
several townships of the county, and the date of its erection and organi- 
zation is therefore lost. 

Fairly good transportation facilities are provided by the Chicago, 
Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, which runs along the western border, 
west of the Des Moines River. Wallingford, in the west side of Section 
7, is a station on this road and the only village in the township. People 


living east of the Des Moines, in the southern part of the township, find 
more convenient railroad accommodations at Graettinger, the next sta- 
tion south of Wallingford, just across the line in Palo Alto County. 

According to the last report of the county superintendent of schools, 
there are nine school buildings in High Lake, in which ten teachers were 
employed during the school year of 1915-16. The population in 1910 was 
615, and the valuation of property in 1915, as shown by the county 
auditor's abstract, was $415,480. 


This township is situated in the northeast corner of the county and 
embraces Congressional Township 100, Range 31, or that portion of it 
lying south of the state line. It is bounded on the north by the State of 
Minnesota; on the east by Kossuth County; on the south by Armstrong 
Grove Township, and on the west by the Township of Lincoln. From 
north to south it is five miles in extent, and from east to west six miles, 
giving it an area of thirty square miles. The surface is an elevated plain, 
the only watercourse being the east fork of the Des Moines River, which 
just touches the southwest corner. Considerable ditching has been done 
in this township. 

When first created, which was some time before the courthouse fire, 
this township was named Fairview and included also the present town- 
ship of Lincoln. Subsequently the name was changed to Iowa Lake, after 
the beautiful body of water that lies in the extreme northeast corner of 
the county, extending into Minnesota. 

In the fall of 1857 J. R. Hopkins and a man named Gill took up claims 
in sections 11 and 12, Township 100, Range 31, near the south end of 
Iowa Lake. These two men were the first settlers in that part of the 
county. Iowa Lake is one of the two townships of Emmet County that 
is not touched by a railroad. Dolliver on the west and Armstrong on the 
south are the most convenient railroad stations and shipping points. 

In 1910 the population of the township was 337, and in 1915 the 
assessed valuation of the property was $268,502. During the school year 
of 1915-16 there were five public schools in operation and a new school- 
house was built in the summer of 1916. 


The Township of Jack Creek is located in the southern tier and 
embraces Congressional Township 98, Range 32, having an area of thirty- 
six square miles, the greater portion of which is prairie with an exceed- 
ingly fertile soil. It is bounded on the north by Swan Lake Township; 
on the east by Denmark ; on the south by Palo Alto County, and on the 


west by High Lake Township. It takes its name from a small stream 
flowing in a southerly direction through the central part, but which has 
been converted into a drainage ditch known in the county records as 
No. 17. 

The first settlers in this part of the county were Scandinavians, 
among whom were B. R. Knudson, Ole Aanonson and Nels Iverson, who 
were instrumental in having the township organized. The minutes of 
the board of supervisors for June 8, 1883, contain the following entry: 
"The petition of B. R. Knudson and others to have Towiiship 98, Range 
32, set off as a civil township to be known as Jack Creek was taken up 
and on motion was granted. Ayes, Christopher, Jenkins and Richmond; 
nays, Allen and Jarvis." 

On September 3, 1883, the board ordered the election of October 9, 
1883, to be held at the B. R. Knudson schoolhouse, and appointed B. R. 
Knudson, Ole Aanonson and Nels Ivei'son judges of the election. No 
returns of the first election for township officers are obtainable. Jack 
Creek has no railroad. Maple Hill on the north, Ringsted on the east, 
Wallingford on the west and Graettinger in Palo Alto County are the 
most convenient railroad stations. 

The first school house was that known as the Knudson school house, 
where the first election in the township was held. During the school 
year of 1915-16 there were seven public schools in operation, employing 
nine teachers. The school in the northeast corner of the township has 
been abolished by the formation of the consolidated school district of 
Haifa, but in the summer of 1916 a new school building was erected at 
Hoprig, a little hamlet in the southern part of the township. 

In 1910 the population of Jack Creek was 396, and in 1915 the 
assessed valuation of the property was $358,593. 


Lincoln Township, situated in the northern tier, embraces fractional 
Township 100, Range 33. It is bounded on the north by the State of 
Minnesota ; on the east by Iowa Lake Township ; on the south by Swan 
Lake, and on the west by the Township of Ellsworth. The township is 
well watered ; the east fork of the Des Moines River, which rises in Lake 
Okamanpadu near the northeast corner, flowing southward through the 
eastern portion, and Soldier Creek, the outlet of Birge Lake, flowing in 
a southeasterly direction through the central part. The latter stream 
has two or three small tributaries which contribute to the natural drain- 
age of the township. 

In the fall of 1864 W. H. Brown settled near the shore of Lake 
Okamanpadu (or Tuttle Lake) and was the first man to enter land in 


what is now Lincoln Township. Other early settlers were J. P. and 
Patrick Bagan, Fred Moltzen, Frederick Schultz and the Persons family, 
most of whom located their claims along the east branch of the Des 
Moines River or in the grove about Lake Okamanpadu. For several 
years this township formed a part of Iowa Lake Township. On January 
10, 1878, W. H. Brown presented a petition to the board of supervisors 
asking that the township be detached from Iowa Lake and annexed to 
Swan Lake, but the board refused to grant the petition and the town- 
ship remained a part of Iowa Lake for nine years longer before any 
further action was taken. On June 6, 1887, the following petition was 
presented to the board of supervisors : 

"The undersigned, your petitioners, respectfully state that they are 
residents and legal voters of Township 100, Range 32, in Emmet County, 
Iowa; that said township is now a part of the civil township of Iowa 
Lake; that there are now within the limits of said Congressional town- 
ship ten or more legal voters; whereas your petitioners pray your hon- 
orable body that a new civil township be formed and ci-eated out of the 
territory embraced in said Congressional township, to be known and desig- 
nated as the Township of Bagan, and that your honorable body make 
the necessary and proper orders for the creation of said township." 

This petition was signed by Patrick Bagan, C. F. Persons, W. W. 
Persons, W. Rosenburg, Fred Allatzon, L. F. Persons, Fred Schultz, E. 
W. Persons, J. P. Bagan and H. C. Wilson. The board, after considering 
the petition, issued the order for the erection of the new township, but 
changed the name to Lincoln, in honor of Abraham Lincoln, the six- 
teenth President of the United States. 

On September 6, 1887, the board designated the house of John Bagan 
as the place of holding the first election in the new township, and 
appointed John Bagan, Patrick Bagan and Fred Moltzen judges and Fred 
Schultz clerk to conduct said election, which was the general election of 
October 11, 1887. At that election the following township officers were 
chosen: M. M. Vallian, Fred Moltzen and P. Schultz, trustees; John 
Bagan, clerk; J. P. Bagan, assessor; C. F. Persons, justice of the peace; 
Patrick Bagan, road supervisor. 

In 1899 the Jewell & Sanborn division of the Chicago & Northwestern 
Railway system was built through Emmet County and passes through 
Lincoln Township. Near the center of the township was established 
the station of Dolliver, giving the people of Lincoln a shipping point 
for the pi'oducts of their farms. 

The several public schools of the township have been consolidated 
into one district and a fine public school building erected at Dolliver. 
Seven teachers were employed during the school year of 1915-16. In 


1910 the population, including the village of Dolliver, was 396, and in 
1915 the assessed valuation of the property was $336,764. 


Swan Lake is one of the two central townships and includes Con- 
gressional Towniship 99, Range 32. It was erected as a civil township 
some time previous to the burning of the county records, and was named 
after the body of water in the southwestern part and extending into 
Center Township. The surface is undulating prairie. Soldier Creek and 
the east fork of the Des Moines River touch the northeast corner and 
the Black Cat Creek touches the southeast corner. Several ditches have 
been constructed in different parts of the township and Swan Lake is 
now one of the most productive agricultural districts of the county. 
It is bounded on the north by Lincoln Township; on the east by Arm- 
strong Grove ; on the south by Jack Creek, and on the west by the Town- 
of Center. Its area is thirty-six square miles. 

Among the pioneers of this township were T. 0. Burd, Joseph Lee, 
whose son, N. J. Lee, is now one of the judges of the District Court in 
the Fourteenth Judicial District, and the Lerdall family. During the 
Indian troubles in Minnesota in 1862-63, a number of families fled from 
that state and sought refuge in Emmet County. Some of them located 
in what is now Swan Lake Township and became permanent settlers. 

Through the central part of the township, running east and west, is 
the Estherville & Albert Lea division of the Chicago, Rock Island & 
Pacific Railway system, and the Jewell & Sanborn division of the Chicago 
& Northwestern crosses the northeast corner. Maple Hill on the former 
and Gridley on the latter are. the railroad stations in the township. About 
a mile and a half west of the western boundary is the station of Gruver, 
on the Rock Island line. The two railroads provide better transportation 
and shipping facilities than is usually found in rural communities. 

Only two townships in the county — Emmet and Iowa Lake — 
reported a smaller population than Swan Lake in 1910, when it was 
382. While it then stood tenth in population, in 1915 it was sixth in 
valuation of property. Including the consolidated school disti-ict of Swan 
Lake, the property of the township was appraised at $400,652. 


This township occupies the southwest corner of the county. On the 
north it is bounded by Estherville Township; on the east by High Lake 
Township; on the south by Palo Alto County, and on the west by the 
County of Dickinson. It embraces Congressional Township 98, Range 
34, and has an area of thirty-six square miles. The only watercourse 


in the township, as shown on the map, are the outlet of Twelve Mile Lake, 
which flows westwardly into Dickinson County, and a small tributary of 
the Des Moines River in the southeastern part. 

In 1860 a number of Norwegians came to Emmet County and settled 
along the Des Moines Valley south of Estherville. Among them were 
the Thorsons, Paulsons and Petersons, some of whom located in what is 
now Twelve Mile Lake Township, where they or their descendants are 
still living. According to the best authority obtainable, when the first 
civil townships were created in Emmet County, the present township of 
High Lake and Twelve Mile Lake were included in "Peterson Township," 
so named from one of the prominent Norwegian pioneers. When Peter- 
son Township was divided, the western portion of it was named Twelve 
Mile Lake, for the lake in sections 20 and 21, which was then supposed 
to be twelve miles from Estherville, though in reality the distance is only 
about eight miles. 

The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad was built through this town- 
ship in 1898-99 and the town of Raleigh near the northern boundary was 
laid out. It is the only village and postoffice in the township, but the 
town of Wallingford, just across the border in High Lake Township, is 
a convenient trading and shipping point for those living in the eastern 

According to the latest report of the county superintendent of schools, 
there are nine schoolhouses in the township and during the school year 
of 1915-16 there were nine teachers employed. In 1910 the population 
was 449, and in 1915 the property was valued for taxation at $337,034. 




In the early settlement of the West every state had its quota of land 
speculators, whose principal object seems to have been the laying out 
of towns, without the slightest regard to the geographical importance 
of the site or its possible future commercial advantages. The great 
aim of these speculators was to sell lots to new immigrants. An early 
Iowa writer (Hawkins Taylor in the Annals of Iowa) says: "Every- 
body we met had a town plat, and every man that had a town had a 
map of the county marked to suit his town as a county seat." 

Many of these prospective towns were advertised throughout the 
East in a manner that did not reflect much credit upon the veracity 
of the advertisers. The proprietors of some of the towns along the Des 
Moines River sent out circulars showing a picture of the town, with a 
row of three and four-story buildings along the river front, large side- 
wheel steamboats lying at the landing, etc., when the truth of the matter 
was that only an occasional steamboat of very light draft was able to 
navigate the Des Moines, and the town consisted of perhaps half a 
dozen small cabins. A few of these towns, by some fortunate circum- 
stance, such as the location of a county seat, the development of a water 
power or the building of a railroad, have grown into considerable com- 
mercial centers. Others have continued to exist, but never have grown 
beyond the importance of a neighborhood trading point, a small rail- 
road station, or a post village for a moderate sized district. And some 
have disappeared from the map altogether. 

Fortunately for Emmet County the mania for founding towns had 
about spent its force before the first settlements were made within its 
limits. The pioneers who settled and organized the county wei'e more 



intei'ested in the development of its natural I'esources than they were 
in speculation. A few towns were laid out purely for speculative pur- 
poses, but those of the present day, with one or two exceptions, are 
located on the lines of railroad that traverse the county, and have at least 
some excuse for being on the map. Most of them were founded after 
the railroads were built. From a careful examination of the platbooks, 
old newspaper files, documents, etc., the following list of towns and 
villages that are now or have been projected in Emmet County has been 
compiled : Armstrong, Bubona, Dolliver, Emmet Grove, Estherville, For- 
syth, Gridley, Gruver, Haifa, High Lake, Hoprig, Maple Hill, Raleigh, 
Ringsted, Swan Lake and Wallingford. 

Some of the smaller towns were never officially platted, and, like 
Topsy in Lhicle Tom's Cabin, they "jest growed." They have no special 
history, but such facts as the writer could gather concerning them are 
given in this chapter. In the case of the incorporated towns, the popu- 
lation given is taken from the United States census for 1910, and that 
of the smaller places is taken from Polk's Iowa Gazetteer for 1915-16. 


The incorporated town of Armstrong is situated in the eastern part 
of Armstrong Grove Township, on the Albert Lea & Estherville division 
of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad system, nineteen miles due 
east of Estherville. When the railroad was built in 1892 it was known 
as the Chicago & Iowa Western. The town was laid out by the Northern 
Iowa Land and Town Lot Company, of which F. E. Allen was presi- 
dent and S. L. Dows was secretary. On July 7, 1892, the plat was 
filed in the office of the county recorder. It shows twenty-eight blocks, 
with a total of .518 lots, north of the railroad and five large outlots south 
of the tracks for factory sites, etc. 

Prior to the platting of the town a postoflice had been established 
at Armstrong Grove. E. B. Campbell was the first postmaster and kept 
the office at his residence on his farm. Mail was carried from Fort 
Dodge and later from Bancroft by H. J. Felke. When the town was 
laid out the postoffice was moved to the new village and Mr. Campbell 
became the first merchant in Armstrong. He was succeeded as post- 
master by George Stewart. The postoffice has grown with the town. 
Three people are employed in the office and there is one rural mail route 
which delivers mail to the inhabitants of the adjacent rural districts. 
The present postmaster is Kaspar Faltinson, whose commission was 
issued by President Wilson on June 6, 1913. The receipts of the office 
for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1916, were a little over $3,700. 

On January 17, 1893, a petition was presented to the District Court 


Ti:^ i^-"' '''^-'^ 


asking for the incorporation of Armstrong, to include certain territory 
in the west half of Section 14 and the east half of Section 15, Township 
99, Range 31. The petition was signed by E. J. Breen, T. W. Doughty, 
E. J. Boots, W. A. Richmond, James A. Colvin, Charles Ogilvie, T. L. 
Thorson, A. W. Colvin, I. E. Davis, J. M. Gannon, J. F. Hutchins, J. 
Jackson, Albert Davis, A. Haider, 0. A. Canfield, A. Loonier, D. T. 
Jenkins, C. B. Mathews, J. T. Benson, W. T. Gannon, William Musson, 
L. L. Lawrence, B. F. Robinson, James Duffy, J. A. Finlayson, S. M. 
Andrew, David Mitchell, George Stickney, Jr., D. K. Hawley, W. L. Rair- 
den, E. W. Darling and William Stuart, The large number of signers 
gives some idea of the rapid growth of the town. 

Judge George H. Carr, of the District Court, after considering 
the petition, granted the prayer of the petitioners and appointed E. J. 
Breen, Charles Ogilvie, B. F. Robinson, J. A. Finlayson and A. W. Colvin 
commissioners to call an election for the purpose of submitting to the 
legal voters living within the territory to be included in the town limits 
the question of incorporation. The election was held on March 13, 1893, 
commissioners Breen, Ogilvie and Robinson acting as judges, and L. L. 
Lawrence and T. L. Thorson as clerks. The result was forty-seven votes 
in favor of incorporation and only four opposed. Returns were made 
to the District Court as required by law, and on April 6, 1893, the order 
for the incorporation was formally issued and recorded. Meantime the 
following officers had been elected: E. J. Breen, mayor; R. Gabriel, 
clei-k; B. F. Robinson, treasurer; George V. Davis, marshal and street 
commissioner; J. A. Colvin, L. J. Rohde, E. J. Boots, George Stickney, 
Jr., J. L. Guest and T. L. Thorson, councilmen. 

Following is a list of the mayors of Armstrong, with the year when 
each was elected: E. J. Breen, 1893; Kaspar Faltinson, 1894; B. F. 
Robinson, 1895; A. A. Reynolds, 189G; Charles Ogilvie, 1899; James A. 
Colvin, 1900; Charles Ogilvie, 1902; B. J. Dunn, 1904; H. A. Kingston, 
1906; S. D. Bunt, 1908; Kaspar Faltinson, 1910; H. A. Kingston, 1914; 
W. W. Brooks, 1916. 

The Armstrong Opera House was built by a company which was 
incorporated on May 6, 1903, with a capital stock of $15,000, with Wil- 
liam Stuart, John Dows, J. L. Guest, George Stewart, N. Griffin, John 
Flemming and H. A. Kingston as the first board of directors. By the 
erection of the opera house Armstrong was provided with a place for 
holding public meetings and entertainments. 

On November 13, 1912, a petition was presented to the town council 
by the Armstrong Cement Works for a franchise to establish an electric 
light plant. The proprietors of the cement works offered to pay the 
expense of holding an election to submit the question to the people. An 
election was accordingly held on December 9, 1912, and the franchise 


was granted by a vote of nearly four to one. The plant was completed 
and placed in operation in the spring of 1913. An excellent system of 
waterworks had been installed some years before. 

In 1910 the population was 586. Armstrong has three banks, all 
established about the time the town was incorporated, churches of five 
different denominations, a good volunteer fire department, a weekly news- 
paper (the Journal), two large grain elevators, a school building that 
cost $50,000, a cement block and tile factory, a creamery, a number of 
well stocked mercantile establishments, several minor business concerns 
and a score or more fine residences. In 1915 the property of the town 
was assessed for taxation at $311,135. 


Some maps of Iowa show a place called Bubona in the northwestern 
part of Jack Creek Township, where there is nothing but a rural school 
and a lew dwellings near. The writer has been unable to learn that a 
postollice by that name e\er existed there. 


Near the center of Lincoln Township, on the Jewell & Sanborn 
division of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad system is the incorpo- 
rated town of Dollivei-. It was surveyed and laid out for the Western 
Town Lot Company, of which Marvin Ilughitt was president and J. B. 
Redfield secretary, and the plat was filed in the ofl^ce of the county 
recorder on May 8, 1899, about the time the i-ailroad was built. On the 
original plat are shown seventeen lots cast of the railroad t)-acks marked 
"Depot Cli-ounds," and on the west side of the railroad are six blocks, 
divided into ninety-seven lots. The east and west streets are Shatter, 
]Main and Otis, and the north and south streets are Dewey, Schley and 
Sampson. With the exception of Main Sti-eet all bear the names of 
United States army and navy ofiicers in the Spanish-American war. On 
August 8, 1911, a new survey was made by A. M. Jefferis by order of 
the town council. 

At the November term of the District Court in 1901 a petition ask- 
ing for the incorporation of Dolliver was presented. The petition was 
signed by T. C. Pier, H. F. Keables, George A. Ports, W. S. Newton, 
C. E. Jackson, F. D. Colgrove, B. B. Elliott, J. F. Lamb, H. P. Wilcox, 
B. F. Wright, M. A. Holtzbauer, Roy Wertz, T. Cunningham, C. F. 
Wendt. B. Lamb, J. A. Reagan, L. P. Stillman, M. Sweafet, W. H. Kep- 
hart, I. L. Chandler, C. E. Sullivan, A. N. Eells. I. Coleman, W. A. 
Russell, W. S. Mescrip, N. L. Erickson, N. Benson, F. S. Arnold. C. 0. 


THE !'^ 



Harris and S. B. Reed. At that time the town was only a Httle over 
two years old, and as the thirty signers all represented that they were 
residents and legal voters in the territory it was proposed to incorporate, 
it will be seen that Dolliver had experienced a rather rapid growth. 

When the petition was presented to the court, W. H. Bigelow came 
in with an objection. He claimed ownership of the greater part of the 
east half of Section 22, Township 100, Range 32, and set forth that there 
was no necessity for incorporating so much territory. After hearing 
both the petition and remonstrance, the court ordered that Mr. Bige- 
low's land be omitted from the plat of the town and appointed T. C. Pier, 
J. A. Reagan, L. P. Stillman, C. E. Sullivan and B. B. Elliott commis- 
sioners to hold an election and submit the question of incorporation to 
the voters. The election was held on December 17, 1901, when the vote 
was thirty in favor of incorporation and only one opposed. On Febru- 
ary 5, 1902, the court approved the report of the commissioners and 
ordered an election to be held on Monday, March 31, 1902, for town 
officers. At that election T. C. Pier was chosen mayor ; George A. Ports, 
clerk; H. P. Wilcox, treasurer; S. B. Reed, B. B. Elliott, J. A. Reagan, 
C. E. Sullivan, H. F. Keables and L. P. Stillman. Returns of this election 
were presented to the District Court at the April term, and on April 16, 
1902, the court declared the town of Dolliver "duly incorporated accoi'd- 
ing to the laws of the State of Iowa." 

Dolliver has two banks, two general stores, a hardware store, a lum- 
ber yard, two grain elevators, a telephone exchange, express and tele- 
graph offices, a money order postoffice, a hotel and a number of small 
shops. Lincoln Towmship was recently made a consolidated school dis- 
trict and a modern school building has been erected at Dolliver at a 
cost of $48,000. The town was named for Hon. J. P. Dolliver, who rep- 
resented the Tenth District in Congress for ten years and was a member 
of the United States Senate at the time of his death on July 14, 1900. 
In 1910 the population of Dolliver was 107. Since then its growth has 
been of a substantial character and the population is now estimated at 
150. In 1915 the property was valued for taxation at $30,177. 


The first postoffice in Emmet County was established in what is 
now Emmet Township, where the first settlement was made in 1856. 
George C. Granger had opened a small store there and around the store 
and postoffice grew up a little hamlet that became known as Emmet 
Grove. No plat of the place was ever filed in the office of the county 
recorder and after the postoffice was discontinued the village — if such 
it could be called — gradually became extinct. 



Esthei'ville, the seat of justice and only city within the limits of 
Emmet County, dates its beginning from 1858, when Robert E. Ridley 
acquired 160 acres of ground where the city now stands and built the 
first house upon the town site. A little later the town was platted by 
R. E. Ridley, Jesse Coverdale and Adolphus Jenkins as proprietors, and 
was named for Mrs. Esther A. Ridley, wife of Robert E. Ridley and 
mother of the first white child born in the town, her daughter Anna hav- 
ing been born in the spring of 1858, before the town was laid out. For 
some time the proprietors gave lots to parties who would agree to build, 
but this custom was discontinued after Emmet County was organized in 
1859 and Estherville was made the county seat. 

A postoffice was established at Estherville in 1860, with Adolphus 
Jenkins as postmaster. The first mail was received by way of a mail 
route that ran from Blue Earth, Minnesota, to Sioux City. Previous 
to this time Mr. Jenkins had formed a partnership with Robert E. Rid- 
ley and they built the first mill for grinding corn and wheat in Emmet 
County. This mill was patronized by the settlers for miles around. 

In 1861 a new survey of the town was made and a map prepared, 
a copy of which appears in this work. The writing on this map is so 
dim that it cannot be made out in the illustration and is here reproduced: 

"State of Iowa ~i 

[, gg ; 

County of EmmctJ 

"Be it known that on the 1st day of May, A. D. 1861, before me, 
Clerk of the Court in and for said County, personally came Robert E. 
Ridley, Jesse Coverdale, Gaylord Graves and Adolphus Jenkins, who 
acknowledge this to be a correct map or plat of the Village of Esther- 
ville, situated on the southeast quarter (S. E. '4) of Section No. ten (10), 
and the west half (W. V2) of Section No. eleven (11), of town ninety- 
nine (99), range thirty-four (34) west. And they furthermore grant 
and hereby deed to the loving public all the streets of said Village, also 
the Public Square, as designated on this plat. 

"In testimony whereof the above named proprietors and their wives 
have set their hands this day and year above written. 




"The above named are personally known to me to be the identical 
persons who have here set their hands and acknowledged it to l)e their 
fi'ee act and deed. 

"c. M. KEIPH, Clerk of Court. 


Settled in Estherville in 1857. Esther- 
ville was named for Mrs. Ridley. 

TV^E !■■■ 



"I hereby certify that this is a correct Map or Plat of the Village 

of Estherville as surveyed by me April 22d, A. D. 1861. 

"SAMUEL WADE, Surveyor. 

"State of Iowa 1 

ss * 
Emmet County | 

"Filed for record the 1st day of May, A. D. 1861, at 2 o'clock p. m., 

and recorded in Book . 

"ROBERT E. RIDLEY, County Recoi-der. 

"Location of Buildings — Hotel, in Block No. 3; Barracks, in Block 
No. 59, Lots 1, 2, 3 ; McKay's Store, in Block No. 23, Lots 7, 8." 

It will be noticed upon this map that the public square occupied 
four blocks, bounded by Fifth, Seventh, Lincoln and Des Moines streets. 
Some years later Sixth Street was opened through the square and the 
south half was divided into lots. Some of the leading business houses 
of the city now stand on what was originally part of the public square. 

Owing to the Civil war and the Indian troubles on the frontier the 
growth of Estherville was rather slow for the first few years of its exist- 
ence. A school house was built on the northeast corner of the public 
square in 1860. McKay's general store, Ridley & Jenkins' mill and Amos 
Ketchum's blacksmith shop were the principal business establishments in 
early days. In 1866 Simeon E. Bemis opened a store on the corner of 
Sixth and Des Moines streets, where the postoflice building now stands. 
The Northern Vindicator, the first newspaper in this section of the state, 
was started in 1868, and in 1876 Howai'd Graves opened the first bank 
in Emmet County. 


In 1880 the population of the entire county was 1,550, nearly one- 
half of which was in Estherville Township. Early in the summer of 
1881 a movement was started for the incorporation of the town and on 
September 1, 1881, a petition to that effect was presented to the Circuit 
Court. The petition was signed by F. E. Allen. Frank Davey, C. J. Wil- 
son, E. S. Wells, Howard Graves, Lyman S. WilHams, A. 0. Peterson, 
W. J. Pullen, W. C. Barber, G. I. Ridley, W. E. Riggs, Henry Coon, J. L. 
L. Riggs, C. W. Dillman, Knuet E.speset, James Maher, S. E. Bemis, A. 
H. Stone, R. E. Ridley, W. H. Davis, J. W. Plummer, D. M. L. Bemis, 
Tolliff Espeset, E. H. Ballard and D. A. Painter. 

Judge John N. Weaver granted the petition and appointed Knuet 
Espeset, F. E. Allen, Frank Davey, R. E. Ridley and L. S. Williams com- 
missioners to hold an election and submit the question to the voters resid- 
ing within the territory it was proposed to incorporate. The election 
was held on October 4, 1881, when forty-four votes were cast — twenty- 


eight in favor of incorporating and sixteen opposed. Both sides com- 
plained of the light vote cast, the advocates of incorporation claiming 
that if the people had turned out the proposition would have been car- . 
ried by a large majority, and the opposition claiming that it would have 
been defeated. At the next term of court Judge Weaver received the 
returns and issued the order declaring Estherville to be an incorporated 
town. Then followed an election for town officers. Dr. E. H. Ballard 
was elected mayor; L. S. Williams, recorder; Knuet Espeset, R. E. Rid- 
lay, John Ammon, F. E. Allen, J. H. Barnhart and Frank Davey, trus- 
tees. These officials took the oath of office on December 2, 1881, and the 
first meeting of the board of trustees was held on the 6th, when A. K. 
Ridley was elected town marshal. 

Following is a list of the mayors of Estherville under the town gov- 
ernment: E. H. Ballard, 1881; F. E. Allen, 1882; S. E. Bemis, 1884; 
E. J. Woods, 188.5; J. H. Barnhart. 1886; A. 0. Peterson, 1888; M. L. 
Ai'cher, 1892. Elections were held annually in March. Dr. Ballard 
served from December, 1881, to March, 1882. Mayors Allen and Barn- 
hart each served two terms, and Mayor Peterson four terms. 


In October, 1892, W. S. Jones was employed to take a census of 
Estherville and reported a population of 2,185. The returns were pre- 
sented to the state officials as required by law and on December 22, 

1892, Horace Boies, governor; W. M. McFarland, secretary of state, and 
James A. Lyons, auditor of state, issued their certificate to the effect that 
they had "made examination of the returns of the special census taken 

by the authority of the incorporated Town of Estherville 

and have ascertained that the said incorporated Town of Estherville, 
Iowa, is shown by said returns to have a population in excess of two 
thousand, to wit: 2,185. Therefore we find that the said incorporated 
Town of Estherville is entitled to become a city of the second class." 

The first election for city officers was held on Monday, March 6, 

1893, when the following officials were elected: A. W. Dawson, mayor; 
W. A. Ladd, city solicitor; J. P. Kirby, treasurer; C. M. Brown and A. 
L. Houltshouser, councilmen from the First Wai'd; M. K. Whelan and 
Charles Carpenter, councilmen from the Second Ward; F. E. Allen and 
A. D. Root, councilmen from the Third Ward. N. B. Egbert, who had 
been elected recorder under the town government, was elected city clerk 
by the council and has held the office continuously by re-election to 1916. 

Following is a list of the mayors since the incorporation of the city, 
with the year in which each was elected: A. W. Dawson, 1893; E. E. 
Hartung, 1897 ; E. J. Breen. 1898 ; Mack J. Groves, 1903 ; W. P. Galloway, 


• htm ! : : . • : r ^- 





- I 

V ■ - • 

- '1 


PUBLIC Llli^^-r\l 

ASTOP, T-Z>:0\ 

TILD ;:.■-.■ ic:::D 


1907; H. C. Coon, 1909; J. E. Stockdale, 1911; B. B. Anderson, 1913; 
Mack J. Groves, 1915. 


On February 4, 1891, the city council passed an ordinance granting 
a franchise to the "Estherville Water Company," but that company did 
nothing during the next three years toward establishing a system of 
waterworks. On May 9, 1894, A. L. Houltshouser and E. J. Breen, mem- 
bers of the council, were appointed a committee to secure options on 
ground suitable for the erection of a stand pipe and pumping station. 
They reported on May 21, 1894, that John Animon had agreed to give a 
lease for a certain site, and that G. N. Coon had offered a tract of ground 
100 feet square on the west side of the river for twenty-five dollars. At 
the meeting of the 21st the ordinance granting the franchise to the 
Estherville Water Company was repealed, and A. D. Root offered a reso- 
lution to submit to the people the question of establishing municipal 
waterworks and an electric light plant. The resolution was adopted and 
a special election was held on June 4, 1894. The proposition for a 
municipal waterworks was carried by a vote of 282 to 12, and for an 
electric light plant by a vote of 264 to 18. 

On July 10, 1894, P. Canfield Barney was employed to make plans 
and specifications for the installation of a system of waterworks, and to 
oversee its construction. Subsequently the electric light plant was added 
to Mr. Barney's commission and bids were advertised for, to be opened 
on August 23, 1894. On that date the contract for the construction of 
the waterworks was awarded to C. W. Hubbard, of Sioux Falls, South 
Dakota, for $10,594, and the contract for the electrical portion of the 
lighting plant \\'as awarded to the General Electric Company, of Chi- 
cago, for $3,562. The Sioux City Engine and Iron Works' bid of $1,574 
for engine and boilers was accepted, but that company failed to carry 
out its contract and the electric light plant was built and equipped by 
Adams, Green & Company, subject to sixty days' trial before final pay- 
ment was made. The plant was found to be unsatisfactory in some respects 
and at the expiration of the sixty days, on February 25, 1895, Adams, 
Green & Company were given thirty days longer in which to make the 
necessary changes to bring the plant up to the proper standard. 

The waterworks were completed according to contract and were 
accepted on January 29, 1895. L. R. Woods was the first water commis- 
sioner. The cost of the waterworks and lighting plant to January 1, 
1915, has been about sixty thousand dollars. The income from the two 
plants has been sufficient to keep up the repairs and pay the debt con- 
tracted in their construction. Estherville claims to be the first city in the 
world to use electricity for switch lights in railroad yards. 



In the summer of 1899 a petition, signed by numerous citizens, was 
presented to the city council asking for the establishment of a sewer sys- 
tem. On September 16, 1899, the engineering firm of Wardle & Yeager 
submitted a proposition to malte plans and specifications for a complete 
sewer system. The proposition was accepted and on October 5, 1899, the 
city was divided into three sewerage districts. Eleven days later the first 
sewer contract was made with William Harrabin. From that modest 
beginning the system has gradually developed until practically all the 
thickly settled portions of the city have sewer connection. A large outlet 
opens into the Des Moines River and with this trunk sewer are con- 
nected a number of lateral branches. About the close of 1916 an agita- 
tion was started in favor of the construction of a septic tank, and it is 
probable that this method of disposing of sewage will be adopted in the 
near future. 


The first movement toward the establishment of a fire department 
was made in September, 1884, when the first volunteer fire company of 
which any record has been preserved was organized with the following 
members : Chauncey Ammon, M. L. Archer, C. L. Bartlett, VV. A. 
Beecher, T. W. Carter, H. C. Coon, C. W. Crim, C. W. Dillman, N. B. 
Egbert, James Espeset, C. I. Hinman, J. D. Hoover, H. A. Jehu, C. B. 
Little, A. 0. Petersdn, Warren Pullen, G. I. Ridley and William Stivers. 
A campaign for funds for the puix'hase of a hook and laddei- truck was 
immediately commenced, but after the fund was raised and truck pur- 
chased the company had no suitable place to keep it. 

An appeal was therefore made to the board of town trustees to pro- 
vide quarters for the fire company, which adopted the name of "Rescue 
Fire Company." At the March election in 1887, the question of purchas- 
ing a hand engine and erecting a building for the company was submitted 
to the voters and was defeated. The next year the proposition met with 
better support and on December 4, 1888, the council recognized the com- 
pany in- an ordinance providing that "The fire department shall consist 
of a chief, two assistant chiefs, and as many fire wardens, fire enginemen, 
hosemen and hook and ladder men as now are, or may be from time to 
t'me appointed by the town council." 

The ordinance further provided that the fire apparatus should be 
kept in such places as the council might provide. Rented (luarters were 
occupied for some four years. On Monday, April 4, 1892, the Rescue 
Fire Company elected John Dygert chief; L. E. White and Samuel Fritz, 
assistant chiefs; A. 0. Peterson, foreman of the engine; H. 0. Sillge, 




foreman of the hose cart; W. J. Pullen, foreman of the hook and ladder 
brigade. A. O. Peterson was elected president of the company and H. G. 
Graaf, secretary. Those officers importuned the council at every oppor- 
tunity until on November 20, 1893, an appropriation of $800 was made 
for the erection of an engine house. 

On September 5, 1910, the fire company sent a committee, consisting 
of George A. Case, P. Cain and Ford Connelly, to the council to submit 
the resignation of everj^ member of the company for the following reasons : 
1. The quarters provided for and occupied by the company were unsani- 
tary. 2. The fire alarm system was entirely inadequate to the needs of 
the city. 3. The company had no suitable place in which to care for 
and dry hose after a fire. 4. The water pressure was not sufficient to 
e.xtinguish fires. The protest seems to have spurred the council to action. 
Better quarters were secured for the company and steps were taken to 
install a fire alarm system and improve the waterworks. 


On July 14, 1913, a contract was awarded to Thompson & Sweet, 
of Estherville, to erect a city hall and fire station on the lot at the north- 
east corner of Sixth and Howard streets, which had been purchased by 
the city some time before. The building was completed and occupied 
in February, 1914 . Its cost was $12,000. The front portion of the main 
floor is occupied as a fire station, in the rear of which and the basement are 
kept electric light supplies, repairs, etc. On the second floor the "fire 
laddies" have a ckib room in front, and the city clerk's office and council 
chamber occupy the rear. Few cities the size of Estherville have a better 
municipal building. 


In the early part of this chapter mention is made of the establish- 
ment of the postoffice at Estherville in 1860. The postmasters from that 
time to the present, in the order named, have been Adolphus Jenkins, 
Howard Graves, Peter Johnston, Lyman S. Williams, John W. Randolph, 
M. K. Whelan, George C. Allen and Frank Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter, 
the present incumbent, was appointed by President Wilson in July, 1913. 

Through the efforts of James P. Conner, while serving as a member 
of Congress from the Tenth Iowa District, an appropriation was obtained 
for the erection of a postoffice building at Estherville. The building, on 
the northeast corner of Sixth and Des Moines streets, was completed in 
1911 and, including the site, cost $65,000. The office now employs the 
postmaster, assistant postmaster, four clerks, four city carriers, six rural 
carriers, a janitor and a charwoman. The receipts for the fiscal year 


ending June 30, 1916, were a little over $18,000. F. A. Robinson, the 
assistant postmaster, has been connected with the office for seventeen 


Estherville is a division point for both the Chicago, Rock Island & 
Pacific and the Minneapolis & St. Louis railroads, and is the western 
terminus of the Estherville & Albert Lea division of the former system. 
It has two railway roundhouses, five banks, three weekly newspapers, two 
good hotels, a fine public library, a flour mill, brick and tile works, a 
large cement works, grain elevators, a showcase factory, a telephone 
exchange, churches of the leading denominations, five public school build- 
ings, good streets, cement sidewalks, a number of well stocked mercantile 
establishments handling all lines of goods, and many handsome residences. 
The population in 1910 was 3,404, a gain of 167 during the preceding 
decade, and in 1915 the property was valued for tax purposes at $882,468. 


In Denmark Township, near the southeast corner of the county, was 
once a postoffice called Forsyth, which was the center of some industrial 
activity. A butter and cheese factory was established here in 1893. When 
rural free delivery of mail was introduced the postoffice at Forsyth was 
discontinued and the people living in that vicinity now receive mail 
through the office at Ringsted. 


This is a small station on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, in 
the eastern part of Swan Lake Township. It was laid out by the Western 
Town Lot Company and the plat was filed in the office of the county 
recorder on April 22, 1899. The plat shows six blocks, with a total of 
seventy-three lots, west of the railroad. The north and south streets, 
beginning at the railroad, are Railroad, First, Second and Third. These 
are intersected by Oak, Maple and Ash, which run east and west. A 
grain elevator and a general store are the only business enterprises. Mail 
is received by rural delivery from Maple Hill. 


The village of Gruver is a station on the Estherville & Albert Lea 
division of the Rock Island Railroad, seven miles east of Estherville. 
When first laid out by John and Anna R. Dows, in the summer of 1899, 
it was named "Luzon," a plat of which was filed with the county recorder 


THE l''--'' 




ftSlO^. !->-' -^^ 




on September 20, 1899. On April 2, 1900, a petition signed by two-thirds 
,of the voters in the village was presented to the board of supervisors, 
asking that the name be changed to "Gruver." After hearing the argu- 
ments of the petitioners in favor of the change the board adopted a reso- 
lution that the "said village shall be known and designated as the village 
of Gruver from and after the thii-d day of May, A. D. 1900." 

Gruver is the principal shipping point and trading center for a rich 
agricultural district in the eastern part of Center Township, in which it 
is suited. It has a bank, several stores, grain elevators, Methodist Epis- 
copal and Presbyterian churches, a good public school, telegraph and 
express office, telephone connection with the surrounding towns, a money 
order postoffice, and' in 1910 reported a population of 114. In 1915 the 
property of the village was assessed for taxation at $20,132. 


About the close of the last century several towns were projected in 
Northwestern Iowa by the Western Town Lot Company, of which Marvin 
Hughitt was president and J. B. Redfield was secretary. One of these 
towns is Haifa, a station on the Jewell & Sanborn division of the Chicago 
& Northwestern Railroad, in the southwest comer of Armstrong Grove 
Township. The original plat, which was filed with the recorder of Emmet 
County on June 27, 1899 , shows twenty-six lots west of the tracks "for rail- 
way use," and six blocks having an aggregate of sixty-four lots east of 
the railroad. The east and west streets are Pine, Oak and Grant, and 
the north and south streets are Lincoln, Main and Railroad. 

Haifa was founded chiefly for speculative purposes. After the 
Western Town Lot Company had disposed of the lots, the founders took 
no further interest in the town's welfare. A creamery was established 
here in 1900, but it is no longer in operation. According to Polk's Iowa 
Gazetteer for 1915-16, the population was then estimated at fifty peo- 
ple. A general store and the postoffice are the only business institutions. 
Recently Haifa has been made the center of a consolidated school dis- 
trict and a new school building erected at a cost of $25,000. 


There are probably many people in Emmet County who do not know 
that a town of some pretensions bearing this name was once laid out 
in the western part of High Lake Township. It was surveyed in Novem- 
ber, 1881, by E. O. Reeder for Jolin and Catherine Lawler, of Crawford 
County, Wisconsin, and was located on the northwest quarter of Section 
20, Township 98, Range 33. The plat filed with the county recorder 
shows thirty-eight blocks, five of which are not subdivided. The other 


thirty-three are divided into 293 lots. Beginning at the east the north 
and south streets were Emmet, Lake, Main, High and Iowa. The north 
and south streets, beginning at the north side of the town, were numbered 
from First to Seventh inclusive. 

At the time the town was laid out the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul 
Railroad Company was building its line from Emmetsburg to Estherville 
and the Town of High Lake was on the line of railroad. When the railroad 
company removed its tracks a little later High Lake lost its opportunity to 
become a city, and where it was platted is now a fai-m. What little busi- 
ness had been established there was diverted to Wallingford, on the Chi- 
cago, Rock Island & Pacific. 


In the southern part of Jack Creek Township is the little hamlet of 
Hoprig. No official plat of the place was ever filed with the county 
recorder, though at one time Hoprig was a business center of some import- 
ance. A postoflice was established there and in December, 1897, a 
creamery company was organized. After the Chicago & Northwestern 
Railroad was built thi-ough the eastern part of the county, the postoflice at 
Hoprig was discontinued and the people there now receive mail by rui'al 
carrier from Graettinger, in Palo Alto County. 


About the time the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad was under 
construction in Emmet County, Harry L. and Anna L. Jenkins employed 
J. E. Egan to lay out the town of Huntington in Section 7, Township 
100. Range 33, in the northwest corner of Ellsworth Township on the 
line of the railroad. The plat was filed in the recorder's office on Octo- 
ber 28, 1899. It shows twelve blocks, subdivided into 190 lots. The 
east and west streets are First, ]\Iain, Third and Fourth, and the north 
and south streets are Railroad Avenue, First Avenue and Bi-oadway. 
Huntington has a grain elevator, a bank, general stores, a public school, 
telephone connections with the surrounding country, telegraph and express 
offices, and is the trading and shipping point for a considerable territory 
in the northern part of the county and for the southern part of Martin 
County, Minnesota. 


The plat of Maple Hill was filed in the office of the county recorder 
on August 23, 1899. It is located in the eastern part of Swan Lake 
Township, on the Estherville & Albert Lea division of the Chicago, Rock 


Island & Pacific Railway system, thirteen miles east of Estherville. The 
principal business enterprises are a generaf store, a grain elevator and 
an agricultural implement house. In 1915 a fine school building was 
erected at a cost of $30,000 as the center of a consolidated school dis- 
trict. A postoflice was established soon after the town was laid out. 


This is the only village in Twelve Mile Lake Township. It is a sta- 
tion on the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, in the northwest quarter 
of Section 4, and was surveyed by J. E. Egan for Harry L. and Anna L. 
Jenkins. On October 28, 1899, the plat was filed in the office of the county 
recorder, showing eleven blocks, subdivided into 166 lots. The east and 
west streets are First Avenue, Second Avenue, Broadway and Third 
Avenue. The north and south streets are First, Main, Third, Fourth 
and Fifth. Raleigh has never come up to the expectations of its founders, 
a general store, the postoffice and a public school being the only insti- 
tutions worthy of mention. Polk's Gazetteer gives the population in 1915 
as being 26. 


The incorporated Town of Ringsted is situated on the Jewell & 
Sanborn division of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, near the 
center of Denmark Township. On April 6, 1899, the plat of the town 
was filed in the recorder's otYice at Estherville, showing seven blocks of 
twelve lots each, one block not subdivided, and east of the railroad 
twenty-one lots "for railway purposes." West of the tracks and parallel 
to the railroad runs Railroad Street. Then come First, Second and 
Third streets. The cross streets are Elm, Maple, Oak and Ash. The 
plat was filed by Marvin Hughitt and J. B. Redfield, president and secre- 
tary of the Western Town Lot Company. 

In 1885 a postoffice was established at the residence of John Larsen 
(who was appointed the first postmaster) about two miles east of Ring- 
sted. Mr. Larsen was given the privilege of naming the postofiice and 
called it Ringsted, after the town in Denmark from which his wife 
came. When the railroad was built the postofiice was moved up to the 
station and the name was conferred upon the new town. E. T. Sorum 
was the first postmaster after the removal of the office, and was also 
the pioneer merchant of Ringsted, the postoffice being kept in his store. 
He had previously been engaged in conducting a store at For.syth. The 
postoffice now employs the postmaster, his assistant and two rural car- 
riers, and the receipts for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1916, 
amounted to about $2,600. A. L. Anderson is the present postmaster. 


Mr. Anderson is also the editor and publisher of the Ringsted Dispatch, 
which was established in 1901. 

At the February term of the District Court in 1900 a petition ask- 
ing for the incorporation of Ringsted was presented. It was signed by 
0. N. Bossingham, S. J. C. Omiston , J. J. Richmond, Samuel M. Moses, 
E. T. Sorum, James Hogan, Robert Hanson, A. L. Rasmussen, L. F. 
Greiner, D. D. Dixon, J. P. Hansen, Christian Ersted, -Jens N. Peterson, 
L. A. Adams, William Nelson, Mads Skow, M. P. Hanson, Hans John- 
son, J. W. Lambert, A. Yale, A. E. Erikson, James Healy, T. Healy, James 
Quinn, R. T. Scott, J. A. Mathieson, C. Christensen, Fred Johnson, Nels 
Kallsted and W. A. Witte. 

Judge W. B. Quarton granted the petition and appointed Dr. 0. N. 
Bossingham, Robert Hanson, A. Yale, E. T. Sorum and William Nelson 
commissioners to submit the question to the voters living within the limits 
of the proposed incorporation. The election was held on March 2, 1900, 
and resulted in thirty-four votes being cast in favor of the incorporation 
and only one opposed. The report of the commissioners was approved by 
Judge Quarton, who continued the commissioners and directed them to 
hold an election for town oflicers on March 26, 1900. At that time 
A. Yale was elected mayor; Joseph P. Shoup, clerk; E. T. Sorum, treas- 
urer; William Nelson, Robert Hanson, J. W. Lambert, 0. N. Bossing- 
ham, J. A. Mathieson and C. L. Rasmussen, councilmen. Three days 
after this election the order of incorporation was issued by the District 
Court and made a matter of record. 

Ringsted has two banks, Lutheran and Pre.sbytei-ian churches, a 
public school that employs four teachers, a good air pressure system 
of waterworks, electric light, a volunteer fire companj' of twelve mem- 
bers, with hose cart and hook and ladder outfit, a creamery, a cement 
block and tile works, a hotel, several mercantile establishments, good 
streets and sidewalks, grain elevators, a lumber yard, express and tele- 
graph offices, telephone service, a number of minor business enterprises 
and claims to be "the liveliest and best town on the Jewell & Sanborn 
branch of the Northwestern Railway system." 

On May 13. 1912, the Ringsted Opera House Company was incorpo- 
rated "to own, operate, manage and maintain a public hall and opera 
house in Ringsted, Iowa, and to conduct therein entertainments, etc." 
The capital stock authorized was $5,000, which was all paid up, and the 
first board of directors was composed of Andrew Larsen, A. T. Fox, J. M. 
Jensen, H. J. Fink and Ole Justesen. Before the close of the year an 
opera house was completed. In 1910 the population of Ringsted was 
313, and in 191-5 the property was valued for taxation at $315,765. 


THE - 





The extinct Town of Swan Lake was the outgrowth of an agita- 
tion for the location of the county seat somewhere near the geographical 
center of the county. As stated in the chapter on Settlement and Organ- 
ization, the question was voted on at the election on October 9, 1879, 
when the majority of the votes cast were in favor of locating the county 
seat on the northeast quarter of Section 25, Township 99, Range 33. 
That quarter section was at that time unsettled and the land belonged to 
Alexander Gordon and his wife, Mary J. Gordan, who lived in Elkhart 
County, Indiana. Prominent ahiong the county seat promoters were 
C. C. Cowell and Asa C. Call, who enlisted the cooperation of Mr. and 
Mrs. Gordon. Prior to the election of October 9, 1879, when the county 
seat question was decided by the voters, a town had been surveyed, and 
the day after the election the plat of Swan Lake was filed in the office of 
the county recorder showing Alexander Gordon, Mary J. Gordon, C. C. 
Cowell and Asa C. Call as proprietors. The plat shows a total of 510 
lots, with a public square in the center. Through the center of this 
square ran Main Street north and south, and Broadway intersected the 
square running east and west. 

Swan Lake was located on the north short of the body of water 
bearing that name, just west of the line dividing Center and Swan Lake 
townships. Estherville newspapers were wont to refer to it as "the 
piece of wet ground known as Swan Lake City." Soon after the deci- 
sion of the voters was announced, Adolphus Jenkins went to Swan Lake 
and opened a hotel. L. R. Bingham was one of the pioneer merchants. 
In 1880 the first Presbyterian Church in Emmet County was organized 
at Swan Lake, which by that time had grown into a straggling village 
with hopes for the future. These hopes were blasted by the litigation 
over the county seat matter, and when, in November, 1882, the voters 
of the county expressed themselves in favor of taking the seat of justice 
back to Estherville, which then had a railroad. Swan Lake began its de- 
cline. It is now nothing more than a memory. 


Six miles south of Estherville on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific 
Railroad, in the western part of High Lake Township, is the incor- 
porated town of Wallingford, one of the active business centers of the 
county. It was surveyed by E. P. Stubbs for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa 
Falls & Northwestern Land and Town Lot Company, of which C. J. Ives 
was president and E. S. Ellsworth, secretary, and the plat was filed in 
the office of the county recorder on July 28, 1882. The original plat of 


122 lots was all on the east side of the railroad, but additions have since 
been made extending the town west to the township line. 

Soon after the town was founded a postoffice was established with 
Carl W. Seim, a native of Prussia, as postmaster. Mr. Seini was also 
the first merchant in the place. 

On August 28, 1913, Judge D. F. Coyle of the District Court, in 
response to a petition signed by a number of Wallingford citizens, ap- 
pointed J. H. Morrice, Frank Irwin, J. 0. Kasa, M. G. Husby and J. A. 
Nelson commissioners to hold an election and submit to the voters the 
ciuestion of incorporation. The election was held on September 27, 1913, 
at the school house in Wallingford and resulted in thirty-six votes being 
cast for incorporation, with none in the negative. The returns were 
presented to Judge N. J. Lee on October 3, 1913. Judge Lee then re- 
appointed the commissioners and instructed them to hold an election on 
the 18th of October for town officers. 0. 0. Anderson was elected 
mayor; Frank Irwin, clerk; Frank P. Sheldon, treasurer; J. O. Kasa, 
J. A. Nelson, Oscar Myhre, M. G. Husby and J. A. Haring councilmen. 

Wallingford has a bank, a creamery, two general stores, hardware 
and implement houses, a public school, a hotel, several smaller business 
concerns, and is a shipping point of considerable importance. It was in- 
corporated too late to have the population reported in the census of 
1910, but Polk's Gazaeteer for 1915 gives the population as 300. In 
the same year the property was valued for tax purposes at $55,743. 





The early records showing the financial condition of Emmet County 
were destroyed by the courthouse fire in the fall of 1876, but the fact is 
well established that from the organization of the county the public reve- 
nues have generally been handled by men of known integrity and conserva- 
tive ideas and disbursed without notable instances of unwarranted 
extravagance. As a result of this conservative management, the public 
credit has always been of the highest character, as may be seen by the 
ease with which county bonds have been sold whenever a bond issue was 
necessary. From the supervisors' minutes it is learned that the county 
debt in the spring of 1879 was $18,000. Alexander Peddle, of Palo Alto 
County, made a proposition to the board that he would refund the out- 
standing bonds at a lower rate of interest than the county was then pay- 
ing, and on April 28, 1879, the board unanimously adopted the following 
resolution : 

"Resolved, by the board of supervisors of Emmet County, Iowa, that 
the said bonds to the amount of $18,000 be called in as soon as can be 
legally done by advertising as provided by law : Provided that a loan can 
be negotiated at a lower rate of interest than said bonds are drawing at 

As Mr. Peddie's proposition had been received in advance of the 
adoption of the resolution, it was understood by the board that there would 
be no difficulty in obtaining the lower rate of interest. The holders of the 
original bonds surrendered them without controversy and on July 26, 
1879, the refunding bonds were i^eady for delivery. This is the first 



financial transaction of importance to be found in the records of the 
supervisors' proceedings. 

On January 1, 1916, the amount of county bonds outstanding was 
$80,000, of which $33,000 was represented by refunding bonds ; $25,000, 
by bonds issued for the purchase of the poor farm ; and $22,000, by bonds 
issued for miscellaneous purposes. During the year 1916 the board 
authorized the issue of $20,000 road and bridge bonds, and $50,000 in 
bonds for various other purposes, making the total bonded indebtedness 
on January 1, 1917, $150,000. At the general election on November 7, 
1916, the voters of the county declared in favor of a bond issue of $12,000 
for the purchase of a fair ground near Estherville. When these bonds 
are issued the county debt proper will be increased to $162,000. The 
consolidation of school districts and the erection of new buildings within 
the last few years have entailed an expense which has been met by the 
issue of school bonds. According to the last report of the county superin- 
tendent, the amount of school bonds outstanding on June 30, 1916, was 
$270,000. If this be added to the bonds issued by the board of supervisors, 
the aggregate will be $432,000. These figures may seem large, but consider 
for a moment the 


Every bond issued by the authorities, for whatever purpose, constitutes 
a lien upon the entire taxable property of the county. According to the 
auditor's tax list for the year 1915, the valuation of real and personal 
property was distributed among the several civil townships and incorpo- 
rated towns of the county as follows: 


Armstrong Grove $435,236 

Center 431,865 

Denmark 448,598 

Ellsworth 323,195 

Emmet 284,120 

Estherville 449,306 

High Lake 415,480 

Iowa Lake 268,502 

Jack Creek 358,593 

Lincoln 336,764 

Swan Lake 400,652 

Twelve Mile Lake 337,034 

Total for townships $4,489,345 



Armstrong $311,135 

Dolliver 30,177 

Estherville 882,468 

Gruver 20,132 

Ringsted 315,765 

Wallingford 55,743 

Total for towns $1,615,420 

In the above table the valuation of the property in the four con- 
solidated school districts in included in that of the townships or towns 
in which they are located. Now, to the $6,104,765 worth of real and 
personal property must be added $837,820 in money and credits, which 
the laws of Iowa require to be listed separately, making a grand total 
of $6,942,585, or fifteen dollars of collateral security for every dollar of 
debt. But the custom of appraising property for tax purposes at about 
one-fourth of its real value also be taken into consideration. The 
real value of the real and personal property of Emmet County is there- 
fore approximately twenty-five million dollai's, or nearly sixty dollars 
of security for every dollar i-epresented by outstanding bonds. Surely 
the firm or corporation showing assets sixty times greater than its lia- 
bilities would be considered solvent — not merely solvent, but in excellent 
financial condition. What more, then, need be said regarding the finan- 
cial standing of Emmet County? 


IModern banking systems date back to the Bank of Venice, which 
was founded in 1587, though private individuals in Venice had been 
receiving deposits of money for nearly two centuries before the estab- 
lishment of the bank by authority of the Venetian government. In 1619 
the Bank of Amsterdam, which was modeled to a great extent after the 
Bank of Venice, was opened for business. After a short time it intro- 
duced the innovation of accepting bullion for deposit and issuing re- 
ceipts therefor, the receipts circulating as so much currency. This was 
the origin of the financial theory that a paper currency must be redeem- 
able in specie or bullion. When the Bank of England was founded in 
1694, it adopted the custom of the Bank of Amsterdam, and a little later 
the system was extended in the authority granted to the bank to issue 

Toward the close of the Revolutionary war the continental paper 


currency issued by the American colonies became so depreciated in value 
that some financial legislation was necessary. Consequently, on the last 
day of the year 1781 the Continental Congress passed an act granting a 
charter to the Bank of North America, which was given the right to 
issue notes under the plan similar to that of the Bank of England. The 
states of New York and Massachusetts granted charters to state banks 
in 1784, but with the adoption of the Federal Constitution both the state 
banks and the Bank of North America surrendered their charters and, 
on February 25, 1794, Congress incorporated the Bank of the United 
States. In July, 1832, President Andrew Jackson vetoed the bill renew- 
ing the bank's charter, and a little later the public funds in the bank 
were withdrawn by executive order. The bank continued in business, 
however, until the expiration of the time for which it was chartered, 
when it wound up its affairs and passed out of existence. 

With the closing up of the Bank of the ITnited States, the several 
states began the policy of issuing charters to state banks, under au- 
thority conferred by acts of Congress. The next decade witnessed a 
rapid development of the country's natural resources, with the conse- 
quent demand for a larger volume of currency, and in the early '40s 
was inaugurated the era of what is known in American history as 
"wildcat banks." Under this system individuals could establish a bank 
and "issue notes against their assets." They were not subject to govern- 
ment supei-vision or inspection and unscrupulous persons took advantage 
of the system by issuing notes far in excess of their assets. It is esti- 
mated that at one time there were more tlian six hundred of these 
ii-responsible banks scattered throughout the country. The panic of 
1857 drove many of the wildcat banks out of business, but the system 
continued until after the beginning of the Civil war in 1861. So many 
people had suffered loss through worthless bank notes that a prejudice 
was created in their minds against any banking system. 

But the requirements of modern civilization demand a currency of 
some character as a quick and convenient medium of effecting exchanges. 
Added to this demand were the conditions growing out of the Civil war, 
which made an extension of the national credit imperative. In Febru- 
ary, 1863, Congress passed the first act for the establishment of national 
banks, with authority to issue notes based upon Government bonds as 
security for their redemption. The act proved to be defective in a 
number of important particulars and on June 3, 1864, President Lincoln 
approved another national banking act. which, with subsequent amend- 
ments, constitutes the authority under which neai-ly eight thousand 
national banks were operating- in the United States in 1915. The 
national banks are the only ones in this country that have power to issue 
notes, all other banks being merely institutions of discount and deposit. 



The prejudice against wildcat banks already referred to was so 
great in Iowa at the time the state was admitted into the Union in 1846 
that the first state constituion contained a provision that no bank should 
ever be established by state authority. The present constitution, which 
became effective in 1857, is more liberal in this respect than its pre- 
decessor, though it contains stringent provisions regarding the creation 
and i-egulation of banking institutions. Section 5, Article 8, provides 
that : 

"No act of the General Assembly, authorizing or creating corporations 
with banking powers, shall take eflfect, or in any manner be in force, until 
the same shall have been submitted, separately, to the people, at a general 
or special election, as provided by law, to be held not less than three months 
after the passage of the act, and shall have a majority of all the electors 
voting for or against it at such elections." 

Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the same article prescribe the manner in which 
state banks may be established and what features may be incorporated in a 
general banking law. Section 9 reads as follows : 

"Every stockholder in a banking corporation or institution shall be 
individually responsible and liable to its creditors, over and above the 
amount of stock by him or her held, to an amount equal to his or her re- 
spective shares so held, for all its liabilities accruing while he or she remains 
such stockholder." 

Each state has its own laws for the creation, regulation and control of 
banks established under state authority, but the banks of Iowa and Emmet 
County are operated under the constitutional provisions above mentioned 
and the laws enacted in pursuance thereof. In addition to this, every Iowa 
state bank is subject to examination by the auditor of state, under whom 
there is a chief bank examiner and five assistants, whose duty it is to inves- 
tigate the condition and methods of any bank whenever ordered by the 
auditor to make such examination. The result of this system is that there 
have been very few disastrous failures of state banks in Iowa. 


The first banking house in Emmet County was established at Esther- 
ville in 1876 by Howard Graves. It was conducted as a private bank by 
Mr. Graves until the completion of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & North- 
ern Railroad in 1882, when T. W. Burdick, of Decorah, Iowa, became asso- 
ciated with him and the business was continued under the firm name of 
Graves, Burdick & Company. On November 27, 1886, articles of incorpo- 
ration were filed with the county recorder of Emmet County, with F. E. 


Allen, Howard Graves, John M. Barker, T. W. Burdick and A. Bradish as 
the first board of directors, and on January 1, 1887, the bank began busi- 
ness as the Estherville State Bank. The first officers were : Howard 
Graves, president ; J. H. Bradish, cashier. 

When incorporated in 1886 the authorized capital stock of the bank 
was $25,000. This has since been increased to $50,000, and on January 1, 
1917, the institution reported a surplus and undivided profit fund of $16,000 
and deposits of $450,000. At that time the ofl^icers of the bank were as fol- 
lows : G. Zeeman, president ; A. D. Root, vice president ; Andrew Smith, 
cashier. The bank still occupies the building elected by Graves, Burdick & 
Company on the southwest corner of Main and Sixth streets and is proud 
of the record it has maintained during its history of forty years. 

The First National Bank of Esthei'ville was incorporated on August 
27, 1890, as the Emmet County Bank by F. E. Allen, S. T. Meservey, E. S. 
Ormsby, Webb Vincent and E. B. Soper, who were named in the articles as 
the first or provisional board of directors, to serve until the first annual 
meeting in August, 1891. The original capital .stock of the Emmet County 
Bank was $25,000. About two j^ars after its organization, this bank was 
converted into the First National, which on January 1, 1917, reported a 
capital stock of $100,000 ; surplus and undivided profits of $50,000. and 
deposits of $500,000. The officers of the bank at that time were : J. P. 
Kirby, president; M. K. Whelan. vice president; R. H. Miller, cashier. The 
bank occupies its own building on the northwest corner of Sixth and Lincoln 

The Bank of Estherville was started as a private bank in 1894 by 
F. H. & W. T. Rhodes. It continued as a private bank until May 1, 1916, 
when it was incorporated as the First Trust and Savings Bank, with a cap- 
ital stock of $35,000 ; F. H. Rhodes, president ; W. T. Rhodes, vice president ; 
I. C. Stanley, cashier; C. D. Tedrow and E. A. Albright, assistant cashiers. 
A .statement of the old Bank of Estherville and the First Trust and Savings 
Bank (combined) on December 1, 1916, shows a capital stock of $50,000; 
undivided profits of $16,872; and deposits of $670,000. 

Articles of incorporation of the Iowa Savings Bank were filed with the 
county recorder on January 21, 1901, showing a capital stock of $20,000. 
The first board of directors was composed of E. J. Breen, president; M. J. 
Groves, vice president; Frank P. Woods, cashier; and E. E. Hartung, John 
Montgomery, C. M. Brown and L. W. Woods, who were to serve until the 
third Tuesday in December, 1901. The articles were signed by the seven 
provisional directors and sixteen of the stockholders, among whom were 
some of the most substantial citizens of the county, and immediately after 
its incorporation the bank opened its doors for business on the southwest 
corner of Sixth and Lincoln streets, where it is still located. 


Since the opening of the Iowa Savings Bank the capital stock has been 
increased to $50,000. On January 1 . 1917, it reported a surplus and undi- 
vided profit fund of $54,000 and deposits of $600,000. Mack J. Groves was 
then president of the bank ; M. D. Miller and A. D. Root, vice presidents ; 
L. E. Stockdale, cashier; F. G. Crumb and F. W. Parsons, assistant cashiers. 

The Provident Savings Bank was incorporated on Januaiy 4, 1902, by 
E. B. Soper, Webb Vincent, John P. Kirby, M. K. Whelan, E. I. Sondrol, 
0. Neville and H. G. Graaf. E. B. Soper was elected president; Webb Vin- 
cent, vice president; and John P. Kirby, cashier. The Provident Savings 
is operated by the same officers and in the same building as the First 
National Bank. The capital stock is $25,000, and on January 1, 1917, the 
bank reported surplus and undivided profits amounting to $10,000, and 
deposits of $500,000. 


On August 20, 1892, the firm of Robinson & Stuart opened a private 
bank in Armstrong. A little later Mr. Stuart sold his interest to John 
Dows. The business was continued by Robinson & Dows as a private bank 
until July 1, 1900, when it was incorporated under the national banking 
laws as the First National Bank of Armstrong, with B. F. Robinson as 
president ; John Dows, vice president ; L. P. Gjermo, cashier. At the close 
of the yeai- 1916 this bank reported a capital stock of $50,000; surplus and 
undivided profits of $16,000, and deposits of $250,000. It occupies a build- 
ing erected by the bank in 1892, a short time before the completion of the 
railroad. The present officers of the bank are : John Dows, president ; 
William Stuart, vice president ; B. F. Robinson, cashier ; F. S. Robinson, 
assistant cashier. 

The State Bank of Armstrong was incorporated on July 9, 1892, with 
a capital stock of $50,000, but it did not open for business till some weeks 
later. The provisional board of directors, named in the articles of incor- 
poration, was composed of S. L. Dows, E. B. Soper, F. E. Allen, Webb 
Vincent and S. T. Meservey. They were to serve until the first regular 
election of officers in July, 1893. The Bankers' Directory for July, 1916, 
gives the capital stock of this bank as $25,000; surplus and undivided 
profits, $6,000 ; deposits, $100,000. At that time John P. Kirby was presi- 
dent of the bank; Matthew Richmond, vice president; S. C. Hays, cashier. 

The Emmet County Bank, located at Armstrong, began business about 
the time the railroad was built through the town as a private bank, con- 
ducted by the firm of Graves, Breen & Company. It is still running as a 
private bank, under the management of T. W. Doughty, but no statistics 
regarding its capital, surplus or deposits are available. 



Dolliver has two banks. On October 21, 1899, the Farmers State Bank 
filed articles of incorporation with the recorder of Emmet County, showing 
an authorized capital stock of $25,000, which was required to be fully paid 
up before the institution opened for business. The first election of officers 
was held on July 20, 1900. Until that time W. H. Woods, of Iowa Falls, 
was to be president, VV. R. Flemming, of Dolliver, vice president; J. A. 
Reagan, of Dolliver, cashier. These three officers and the following con- 
stituted the first board of directors : Charles Birdsall, of Alden ; J. D. 
Newcomer, of Eldora ; E. S. Ellsworth and J. A. Carleton, of Iowa Falls. 

This bank is given in the Bankers' Directory above mentioned as the 
"Dolliver Savings Bank," with J. P. Kirby, president; E. I. Sondrol, vice 
president; L. P. Stillman, cashier. The capital stock, according to the 
directory, is $20,000; surplus and undivided profits. $9,000; deposits, 

The Farmers Savings Bank of Dolliver was incorporated on January 
10, 1912, with a capital stock of $10,000. In July, 1916, its officers were: 
E. M. Evans, president; J. A. Hyer, vice president; B. L. Clark, cashier; 
but the Bankers Directory gives no figures to show the amount of surplus 
and undivided profits or the deposits. 


On April 13, 1899, five days after the plat of the Town of Ringsted 
was filed in the county i-ecorder's office, the Ringsted State Bank was in- 
corporated with a capital stock of $25,000, all of which was to be paid up 
by June 1, 1899, when the bank began business. In the articles w^ere named 
seven directors, who were to serve until the annual meeting in 1900. They 
were R. N. Bruer, Thomas Sherman and J. B. Johnson, of Bancroft ; A. D. 
Clarke and B. F. Crose, of Algona ; George E. Boyle and J. M. Farley, of 
Whittemore. Tom Sherman was elected president; George E. Boyle, vice 
president ; B. F. Crose, cashier. 

In December, 1911, the Ringsted State Bank absorbed the Danish- 
American Savings Bank of Ringsted, which had been started in May, 1899, 
by B. F. Robinson. John Dows and others, and the capital stock was thus 
increased to $40,000. Several changes have been made in the officers and 
board of directors, but at the close of the year 1916 A. Jacobson was presi- 
dent; H. W. Jensen, vice president; J. S. Peterson, cashier. At that time 
the bank's capital .stock was $40,000 ; surplus and undivided profits $10,000 ; 
deposits, $.350,000. This bank owns and occupies a building erected for the 
purpose and is well equipped in every respect. 

The Farmers Savings Bank of Ringsted was incorporated on Decem- 


ber 12, 1914, and commenced business on February 1, 1915, in a building 
erected expressly for banking purposes. Andrew Larsen was chosen pres- 
ident; J. M. Resh and J. A. Mathieson, vice presidents; R. M. Butler, 
cashier. These oflficers still held their respective positions at the beginning 
of the year 1917, when the bank reported a capital stock of $15,000 and 
deposits of $75,000. 


In addition to the banks above enumerated, Emmet County has three 
others, located at Huntington, Wallingford and Gruver. The Huntington 
Savings Bank was incorporated on September 4, 1899, with a capital stock 
of $10,000. E. B. Soper, of Emmetsburg, was the first president; E. I. 
Sondrol, of Estherville, vice president; Samuel Reamy, of Estherville, 
cashier. The first board of directors was composed of these three officers, 
M. K. Whelan and J. P. Kirby, both of Estherville. At the close of the 
year 1916 the bank reported a surplus and undivided profit fund of $4,000 
and deposits of $140,000. The officers at that time were: J. P. Kirby, 
president ; E. I. Sondrol, vice president ; George A. Ports, cashier. 

The Farmers Savings Bank of Wallingford was incorporated on June 
11, 1902, with a capital stock of $15,000. The nine directors named in the 
articles of incorporation, to serve until the annual meeting on the second 
Tuesday in January, 1903, were as follows : P. G. Miller, L. R. Woods, 
Frank P. Woods, H. K. Groth, James Refsell, Peter Larson, T. 0. Sando, 
P. S. Anderson and S. Sevatson. In the organization of the board James 
Refsell was elected pi-esident ; P. G. Miller, vice president ; 0. O. Anderson, 
cashier. Mr. Refsell and Mr. Anderson have held their offices contin- 
uously since the bank's organization, but at the close of the year 1916 the 
name of M. J. Groves appears as vice president. The surplus and undivided 
profits of the bank at that time amounted to $15,000, and the bank carried 
deposits of $160,000. 

The Gruver Savings Bank was incorporated on December 23, 1902, 
with a capital stock of $10,000 and the stipulation that the bank should 
commence business on January 15, 1903. It opened at the appointed time 
with William Stuart, president ; Brownell Jacobson, vice president ; R. A. 
Palmeter, cashier. The three officers above named, with John Dows and 
Lemuel Irwin, constituted the first board of directors. The Bankers Direc- 
tory for July, 1916, gives the names of J. P. Kirby, president; E. I. Sondrol, 
vice president; F. R. Dowden, cashier, and reports surplus and undivided 
profits amounting to $5,000 and deposits of $110,000. 

If bank deposits can be considered an index to a community's pros- 
perity, Emmet County is certainly to be congratulated. The fifteen banks 
of the county carry deposits of over five million dollars. Estimating the 
population at ten thousand, this is five hundred dollars for every man, 
woman and child resident within the county. And this has been accom- 


plished without the support of any large manufacturing or commercial 
enterprises, which in the large cities are usually heavy depositors. An- 
other source of congratulation is found in the fact that the banking insti- 
tutions have always been managed by men schooled in experience and 
conducted along safe and conservative lines. There has never been a 
bank failure in the county, hence the banks command the confidence of 
the general public. 


Farming and stock raising have always been the chief occupations of 
the people of Emmet County. As a general rule statistics are dry and unin- 
teresting. There is neither poetry nor romance in figures, but the story 
of a community's progress can often be better told by statistics than in any 
other way. Adopting that method, then, as a means of showing the almost 
marvelous development of Emmet County during the three score years of 
its organized existence, let the reader compare the figures in the following 
tables. The first table has been compiled from a volume published by 
authority of the State of Iowa some years ago and shows the conditions of 
the agricultural interests of the county in 1860, one year after the county 
was organized and the first year in which any report was made : 

Population 105 

Bushels of corn raised 3,420 

Bushels of wheat 915 

Bushels of oats 760 

Bushels of potatoes 844 

Tons of hay harvested 372 

The figures in the second table, which has been compiled from the re- 
ports on the various crops as given in the Iowa Year Book for 1914, shows 
the number of acres planted to each crop as well as the total yield. In the 
meantime the population had increased from 105 in 1860 to 9,816 in 1910. 

Acres Bushels 

Corn 55.100 1,983,000 

Oats 45,000 1,485.000 

Wheat 945 11,470 

Barley 5,000 130.000 

Ry« 200 2,200 

Flaxseed 750 6.750 

Potatoes 780 60,840 

Tame hay (tons) 13,000 19,500 

Wild hay (tons) 12,000 14.400 

Alfalfa (tons) 15 40 

Pasture 46,700 


In 1860 the number of bushels of corn raised for each inhabitant was 
less than thirty-five. In 1914, estimating the population at ten thousand, 
it was nearly two hundred bushels. The total number of acres in the 
county is 260,120, of which 179,490 are accounted for in the above table. 
From this it will be seen that nearly 70 per cent, of the area of the county 
is under cultivation or used for pasture, leaving .30 per cent, for city and 
town lots, right of way of railroads, lawns and gardens about the farm 
houses, in orchards, etc. There is not much waste land in the county, and 
most of that which can be classed as waste land lies along the Des Moines 
River, where the timber yields some return. 


The Year Book for 1914 gives no statistics regarding the live stock 
interests for that year, but that of 1913 gives the number of head of each 
species of domestic animals, etc., as shown by the following table : 

Horses 8,149 

Mules 166 

Hogs 44,296 

Dairy cows 6,815 

All other cattle 15,244 

Sheep 1,654 

Poultry (all kinds) 172,517 

Pounds of wool clipped 9,515 

Dozens of eggs marketed 514,413 

Since the publication of that Year Book the number of domestic ani- 
mals has not decreased, and it is probable that the quantity of wool and 
poultry products has increased over that reported in 1913. From the 
figures given above it can be seen that the "Great American Hen" is very 
much in evidence as a producer of wealth in Emmet County. 


Within recent years the dairy industry has become one of the im- 
portant factors in the commercial affairs of Emmet County. The first 
creamery of which any record can be obtained is the "Emmet County 
Creamery Association," which was located at Swan Lake, and for which 
articles of incorporation were filed with the county recorder on July 25, 
1881, though the concern had commenced business a week before. The 
objects of the association were "to manufacture butter and carry on a 
general business in the creamery line." Swan Lake was at that time the 
county seat. The association started off with the modest capital stock of 


$600; Matthew Richmond, president; John Griggs, vice president; L. R. 
Bingham, secretary and treasurer. The creamery did a fairly good busi- 
ness for a few years, but the lack of railroad facilities at that time, and 
the removal of the county seat to Estherville in 1882, brought adverse 
conditions and the business was wound up without financial loss. 

In 1889 L. W. Mitchell established a cheese factory at Estherville, 
the first in the county. He made a specialty of English Cheddar cheese 
and bought considerable quantities of milk from the farmers, but, being 
for removed from market centers, the business proved to be unprofitable 
and the factory was closed. 

The Farmers' Cooperative Creamery Association of Estherville was 
incorporated on June 6, 1894, with an authorized capital stock of $5,000. 
The corporate life of the association began on April 21, 1894, and was to 
continue for twenty years. The articles of incorporation were signed by 
H. W. Woods, W. J. Weir, M. W. Atwood, C. L. Bartlett and L. S. Westcott. 
Long before the expiration of the twenty years for which the association 
was chartered it was dissolved by the mutual consent of the stockholders. 

The Forsyth Butter and Cheese Association was organized by a num- 
ber of farmers living in the southeastern part of the county in the fall of 
1893, and articles of incorporation were filed with the recorder on the 
7th of December. In the articles it was stated that the purpose of the 
organization was "to operate a butter and cheese factory in Denmark 
Township. Emmet County, Iowa." The capital stock was fixed at $3,000 
and the first board of directors was composed of D. A. Beck, H. A. Gaarde, 
E. T. Sorum, John J. Peterson and H. J. Huskamp. 

On April 10, 1895, articles of incorporation of the Fai'mers' Creamery 
Company of Armstrong were filed with the county recorder. These articles 
set forth that the capital stock of the company was $10,000, and the scope 
of the organization was "to manufacture and sell butter and cheese and 
handle poultry and eggs." The articles were signed by W. C. Richmond, 
George B. Canon, John Fox, George Stewart, Jr., and C. B. Mathews. 
This has been one of the most successful creameries in the county. When 
first organized it was incorporated for twenty years. That period expired 
on April 8, 1915. Two days before that time a meeting of the stockholders 
was held, at which it was decided to continue in business, and on April 9, 
1915, new articles of incorporation were filed for another twenty years. 
They were signed by S. C. Hays, Andy Mitchell, C. A. Erickson, S. B. 
Knudson, T. R. Johnson, 0. Opsal and John Fox. It will be noticed that 
John Fox is the only one of the original incorporators of the association. 

The Hoprig Farmers' Creamery Company was organized in the fall 
of 1897 and articles of incorporation were filed on the first day of December. 
The capital stock of this company was $3,500 and its business was man- 
aged by a boai-d of five directors. The first board was made up of W. H. 


Crumrine, A. E. Bigelow, John Monitt and George Lorimer, one place 
being vacant at the time of the incorporation. 

The Raleigh Creamery Company was incorporated on December 22, 
1899, and was one of the largest organized in the county up to that time. 
Its capital stock was $4,000 "to be paid at such times and in such manner 
as the board of directors may direct ; but before this- corporation shall 
commence business, at least 20 per cent, of said stock must be subscribed 
and paid for." The company was organized as a cooperative concern and 
the articles of incorporation were signed by twenty-three stockholders, 
to wit : M. Bendixen, J. B. Brown, 0. J. Brown, H. G. Coleman, Joseph H. 
Conner, R. DeWall, C. E. Hite, L. L. Jacobson, Peter Klein, C. H. Koburnus, 
Val Kuhns, J. H. Martin, W. B. Peterson, J. H. Randolph, Charles Reed, 
James Refsell, P. P. Solberg, G. Spoor, Charles E. Stickney, Andrew Swan- 
son, F. S. Trapp, Charles Weckel and F. B. Yule. 

On June 9, 1900, the Farmers' Creamery Company of Haifa was in- 
corporated with a capital stock of $6,000 and the following board of direc- 
tors: J. C. Hotchkiss, W. E. Brooks, Peter Tornell, P. A. Gaarde and 
V. E. Yessler. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad had just been com- 
pleted through that part of the county and it was not long until a second 
creamery company was organized. This was the Haifa Cooperative Cream- 
ery Company, which was incorporated on July 28, 1900. In organizing 
this company an effort was made to extend its operations over as wide a 
territory as possible. The members were : Daniel Booth and A. L. Ruth, 
of Jack Creek Township; Irvin H. Keim and G. W. Hohnes, of Denmark; 
0. K. Berven, of Swan Lake ; Herbert Moore and J. C. Hotchkiss, of Arm- 
strong Grove. The capital stock was fixed at $4,000 and in the organiza- 
tion of the company Daniel Booth was elected president ; Irvin H. Keim, 
vice president ; John C. Hotchkiss, secretary, and Herbert Moore, treasurer. 

The Farmers' Cooperative Creamery of Gruver was incorporated on 
August 8, 1901, for the purpose of "purchasing or constructing and main- 
taining one or more creameries, the manufacture and sale of dairy products, 
and the purchase and sale of all property required to operate successfully 
a creamery." The capital stock authorized was $5,000. Lemuel Irwin was 
elected president; E. Dawson, vice president; C. E. Fuller, secretary; 
Archie Pierce, treasurer. These officers and the following gentlemen con- 
stituted the first board of directors : U. A. Andrews, F. H. Lathrop and 
G. W. Inman. 

The Dolliver Creamery Association, established for the "manufacture 
and sale of butter, cheese and dairy products," was organized on a slightly 
different plan from any of the others in the county. The articles of incor- 
poration provided for a capital stock of $4,000, a certain part of which 
was to be paid in before the association began business and the remainder 
was to be paid from a sinking fund formed by setting aside "five cents 


per 100 pounds from all milk bought by or delivered to the association." 
The first board of directors of this association was composed of S. B. Reed, 
A. R. Butler, W. 0. Dowden, M. J. Iverson, L. J. Bigelow, J. B. Mitchell 
and L. P. Stillman. 

On June 15, 1910, articles of incorporation were filed with the county- 
recorder by the oflficers of the Farmers' Creamery Company of Walling- 
ford. The capital stock was fixed at $10,000 and the company was char- 
tered for twenty years, "unless sooner dissolved by law or by a vote of the 
stockholders at a stockholders' meeting representing not less than two- 
thirds of the capital stock." The officers were : J. P. Kennedy, pres- 
ident; William Schachei'rer, vice president; 0. 0. Refsell, secretary and 
treasurer. These three officers and T. 0. Sando, Andrew Anderson and 
G. E. Moore constituted the first board of directors. 

The Ringsted Cooperative Creamery Company was incorporated on 
March 27, 1915, with a capital stock of $6,000 ; H. C. Christiansen, presi-' 
dent ; Robert N. Kyhl, vice president ; A. C. C. Ries, secretary, and R. M. 
Butler, treasurer. A building was erected and equipped with modern 
butter making machinery and the company has been doing a good business 
since its organization. 

Some of the creameries in the above list are no longer in existence. 
A few came to an untimely end through lack of efficient management, the 
business of making butter requiring cai'eful attention which the companies 
were not prepared to give. But the fact that they were organized is evi- 
dence that the people of Emmet County are interested in dairying, and are 
fully awake to the possibilities of that line of business activity. 


In the winter of 1915-16 some of the progressive farmers of the 
county got together and organized the Emmet County Farm Improvement 
Association. J. H. Horswell was elected president ; R. S. Harris, vice pres- 
ident; A. J. Case, secretary; William Green, treasurer. These officers and 
M. L. Soeth constituted the executive committee. 

On Thursday, January 4, 1917, the second annual meeting of the asso- 
ciation was held at Armstrong. After a sumptuous dinner a business 
session was held in the opera house, at which all the old officers were 
reelected and a board of directors, consisting of one memljer from each 
township, was chosen to serve for the ensuing year, to wit: Armstrong 
Grove, R. S. Harris; Center, William Green; Denmark, J. M. Resh ; Ells- 
worth, Joseph Timmons; Emmet, Charles Logue; Estherville, J. R. Hors- 
well; High Lake, no election; Iowa Lake, Lambert Locker; Jack Creek, 
James Welsh; Lincoln, William Prull; Swan Lake, J. G. McKean ; Twelve 
Mile Lake, M. L. Soeth. 


The objects of the association are to hold meetings for the discussion 
of better methods of farming; disseminate information that will lead to 
farm improvement along all lines, and improve the breed of live stock. To 
that end John C. Eldredge, the county agricultural agent, has arranged a 
department for the registering of pure bred stock. Mr. Eldredge is devot- 
ing a considerable portion of his time to the organization of boys' clubs 
for corn and stock judging, the object being to keep the boys interested in 
agricultural pursuits. The association also keeps an eye on legislation in 
behalf of the farmers' interests, or injurious to agriculture, and is consid- 
ering the cooperative methods of selling the products of their farms and 
buying implements, etc. 


The Legislature of 1907 passed an act providing that: "When forty 
or more farmers of a county organize a farmers' institute, with a pres- 
ident, secretary, treasurer and an executive committee of not less than 
three outside of such officers and hold an institute, remaining in session 
not less than two days in each year, which institute may be adjourned from 
time to time and from place to place in said county, the secretary of the 
State Board of Agriculture, upon the filing with him a report of such 
institute and an itemized statement under oath showing that the same has 
been organized and held and for what purposes the money expended has 
been used, shall certify the same to the auditor of state, which state audi- 
tor shall remit to the county treasurer of such county his warrant for the 
amount so expended, not to exceed seventy-five dollars," etc. 

The law further provided that no officer of a county institute should 
receive pay for his services, and that all reports must be in the hands of 
the secretary of the State Board of Agriculture by the first day of June 
in each year; otherwise the institute would receive no state aid for that 
year. Under the benign influence of this act and supplementary legisla- 
tion, the agricultural interests of the state have undergone a transforma- 
tion. During the year ending on June 30, 1914, seven sessions of the 
Emmet County institute were held at different places. The attendance at 
all the sessions was 2,800. The $75.00 of state aid was received, the 
county appropriated a similar amount, and from miscellaneous sources was 
received enough to bring the total up to $261.29, of which $192.20 was 
expended for instructors and in advertising. Since then the institutes liave 
taken the form of short courses in agriculture and home economics, con- 
ducted by some member of the faculty of the Agricultural College, or some 
other well known authority. Prizes are awarded for the best exhibit of 
farm products, bread, butter, etc. These short courses are bringing the 
fa]'mers together for their mutual advancement and the result is a friendly 


rivalry that is sure to establish corn as king in Emmet County for yeai's 
to come. 


Emmet has never been a manufacturing county to any great extent. 
One of the first manufacturing concerns was the old mill of Ridley & 
Jenkins, which was established about the time the county was organized. 
In the first issue of the Northern Vindicator (December 14, 1868), is an 
advertisement of the mill, which was then operated b.y Adolphus & B. J. 
Jenkins. They announced in that advertisement that "the mills are now 
in running order and successful operation, and customers will be served 
with promptness and in a manner that cannot fail to give general satis- 
faction." The proprietors also announced that the rate of toll was one- 
sixth, and that the saw mill was prepared to saw logs to order or on the 
shares. A little later J. A. Hagadorn became associated with the Jen- 
kinses. The mill was patronized by settlers in Kossuth, Palo Alto, Clay, 
Duena Vista and Dickinson counties in Iowa, and Jackson and Martin 
counties in Minnesota. 

An old newspaper says that in 1872 there were two flour mills in 
operation at Estherville — the old mill on the west side of the river, con- 
ducted by Adolphus and B. F. Jenkins, and a steam mill on the east side, 
a short distance south of Lincoln Street. The old mill west of the river 
finally passed into the hands of Ammon & Brown, who continued to run 
it until the water in the river became uncertain as a source of power, 
when a gasoline engine was installed as an auxiliary. This method of 
providing power proved to be unsatisfactory and the mill was finally dis- 
mantled. The steam mill above mentioned was erected by the firm of 
Whitcomb & Lane, but it ran only a short time when it was destroyed by 
fire and was never rebuilt. 

In 1891 the citizens of Estherville, seeing the need for a flour mill, 
raised a fund by popular subscription and the Estherville Roller Mills were 
built. E. L. Brown assumed the management of the new mills and re- 
mained in charge until his death about three years later, when Brown 
Brothers, of Mason City, purchased the mills. The new firm increased the 
capacity to about seventy-five barrels of flour per day and carried on a 
successful milling business until tlie buildings were destroyed by fire. Since 
then Estherville has been without a fiour mill. 

The Estherville Foundry & Manufacturing Company was incorporated 
on July 23, 1888, with a capital stock of $25,000. The articles were signed 
by E. J. Woods, W. C. Prophit and Joseph Hardie, of Estherville, and 
N. J. Atkins, of Emmetsbui'g. The principal article of manufacture was 
a windmill for use on farms and two traveling salesmen were soon "on 
the road," covering Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. 


In its advertisements the company announced that it was "fully equipped 
and all kinds of work will be promptly executed." 

In July, 1897, the foundry was purchased by J. 0. Kasa and H. Wahler 
and removed to Wallingford, seven miles south of Estherville on the 
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. Here the manufacture of wind- 
mills, etc., was continued for a few years, when the institution ceased 

The Armstrong Brick and Tile Company was incorporated on Feb- 
ruary 19, 1902, "for the manufacture of all kinds and varieties of brick, 
tile and sewer pipe and dealing in the same." The capital stock was 
$10,000. B. F. Robinson was president; John Dows, vice president; 
William Stuart, secretary, and G. W. Humphrey, treasurer. The clay used 
by the company was found to contain too many limestone pebbles to be 
worked with profit, and the company was succeeded by the Armstrong 
Cement Works, which filed articles of incorporation on February 7, 1908. 
The capital stock of the new company was fixed at $20,000 ; William Stuart 
was president ; T. J. Hess, vice president ; P. H. Atwood, secretary and 
manager, and H. J. Felkey, treasurer. The company was incoi'porated 
for a period of twenty years. In the fall of 1912 an electric light plant 
was installed for the purpose of furnishing light to the Town of Arm- 
strong, and on December 11, 1912, the capital stock was increased to 
$.50,000. This concern is now one of the largest manufacturing estab- 
lishments in the county. 

Lewis L. Bingham has been successfully operating a cement, tile and 
sewer pipe plant at Estherville for several years. The Ringsted Cement 
Products Company was incorporated on March 1, 1911, with a capital stock 
of $20,000; John Thompson, president; T. W. Doughty, vice president; 
A. C. C. Ries, secretary; C. B. Murtagh, treasurer; A. T. Fox, general 

About the beginning of the present century, immediately after the 
completion of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, there was something 
of a building boom in Estherville. As all brick had to be shipped in from 
outside points the cost of this line of building material was increased and 
some of the citizens began asking the question why Estherville could not 
have a brickyard of its own. While the subject was under discussion J. A. 
LaBrant, who claimed to be an experienced brick maker, came from Illinois 
and made an examination of the clay deposits near the city. It was well 
known that the clays of Emmet County contained limestone pebbles in 
such quantities as to render them unfit for making brick, but Mr. LaBrant 
found a bed of clay north of town that he pronounced suitable for the 
manufacture of brick. He took samples of the clay back to Illinois with 
him and made a few brick, which were afterward exhibited in Estherville. 

On January 5, 1904, the Estherville Brick and Tile Company was 


incorporated "for the manufacture and sale of brick, tile, sewer pipe, 
sidewalk and building material of similar nature and use, as may be de- 
termined upon from time to time by the officers of said company." The 
capital stock of the company was $20,000. A. E. Bigelow was elected pres- 
ident; L. A. LaBrant, secretary; L. P. Corke, treasurer. The president, 
secretary and C. B. Herrick were chosen as the first board of directors. 

Kilns were erected at the clay deposit that had been approved by Mr. 
LaBrant and the manufacture of brick by the "wet process" was com- 
menced. It was soon discovered that the limestone pebbles were destined 
to cause trouble by crumbling to pieces when heat was applied. The com- 
pany then spent considerable sums of money in trying to find some way of 
crushing the pebbles and making brick by the "dry process," but this was 
found to be about as expensive as to ship in brick from outside yards. 
After exhausting all resources the plant was dismantled and the machinery 
taken away, much to the regret of the people of Estherville, who had 
hoped that at least enough brick could be made for local use. 


It may be news to some of the people of Emmet County to learn that 
an effort was once made to find and develop coal mines near Estherville. 
In the spring of 1888 well drillers were employed to sink an artesian well. 
The Emmet County Republican of June 14, 1888, states that, "In the arte- 
sian well experiment the drillers struck a vein of coal at a depth of 230 
feet. A second vein three feet thick was struck at a depth of 510 feet." 

The coal that was brought to the surface was chopped fine by the 
drill, but it was pronounced to be of fine quality. Prior to this geologists 
had practically agreed that there were no coal deposits in Iowa north of 
Fort Dodge. On March 5, 1889, the Estherville City Council entered into 
an agreement with T. W. Jerrems to the effect that if the said Jerrems 
"within one year should find coal, oil or gas in sufficient quantities (of 
each or either) to a reasonable supply for the use of the town, he 
shall have the exclusive right to develop and work the same for a period 
of twenty years," etc. 

On January 13, 1890, the Estherville Coal and Mining Company was 
incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000 "to prospect and mine for 
coal and other minerals." B. H. Pendleton was elected president of the 
company ; Alexander Peddle, vice president ; T. W. Jerrems, Jr., secretary ; 
E. J. Woods, treasurer. The articles of incorporation were signed by the 
above officers, Edward D. Doughty, Joseph Hardie, T. W. Jerrems, Sr., 
and W. C. Prophit. For a time the "coal mine" was one of the leading 
topics of conversation, but it does not appeal' that the company ever made 
any serious effort, or expended any money toward the development of a 



While the telephone company is not an industry in the sense that it 
is a producer of wealth, it is one of the important agencies in the ex- 
change of commodities produced by other industries. The Estherville 
Telephone Company was organized on October 31, 1895, and articles of 
incorporation were filed with the county recorder on the 4th of the follow- 
ing December. The capital stock of the company was $25,000 and the 
articles of incorporation set forth that it was the purpose of the company 
to "construct, own and operate telephone lines and exchanges in Iowa, 
Minnesota and South Dakota." Charles W. Crim, M. K. Whelan, E. J. 
Breen and F. E. Allen were named as a provisional board of directors, to 
serve until the annual meeting in June, 1896. 

On January 1, 1901, the property and exchange of the Estherville Tele- 
phone Company was purchased by the Western Electric Company. There 
were then only forty-six subscribers. The new company reduced the 
rate twenty-five cents per month and in a short time had increased 
tlie number of subscribers to 250. 

The Emmet County Telephone Company was incorporated on Novem- 
ber 5, 1904, with a capital stock of $50,000. I. 0. Isham was chosen as 
the first president; M. B. Miller, vice president; A. J. Sanders, secretary; 
J. B. Binford, treasurer. The first board of directors was composed of 
the above officers, A. Anderson, C. C. Stover, E. H. White, A. C. Brown 
and W. A. Ladd. 

On April 16, 1912, the Northwestern Mutual Telephone Company, 
with headquarters at Armstrong, was incorporated by T J. Cheever, R. B. 
Felkey and William Luscomb, who constituted the fii'st board of directors. 
The capital stock of this company was fixed at $30,000 and the articles of 
incorporation stated that the purpose was "to build, purchase, sell and 
operate one or more telephone lines." 

The Ringsted Telephone Company was incorporated on April 3, 1914, 
with a capital stock of $10,000; Chris P. Anderson, president; J. M. Jen- 
sen, vice president ; 0. N. Bossingham, secretary ; P. W. Petersen, treas- 

While the above companies have not all been consolidated under one 
management, their lines have been connected so that communication by 
telephone is now possible to all parts of the county, and through connection 
with other companies to the greater part of the State of Iowa. 



When the white men came to Emmet County they found here and 
there an Indian trail winding through the groves or over the prairies. 
These trails "followed the line of least resistance" and were the only thor- 
oughfares. As most of the Indians had accepted new reservations west 
of the Mississippi, many of the old trails had become nearly or quite oblit- 
erated by the rank growth of prairie grass. What was known as the old 
"Dragoon Trail" entered the county from the south near Camp Grove, 
passed near High Lake and Ryan Lake, and crossed the state line about 
the middle of the northern boundary of Ellsworth Township. This was the 
first recognized road in the county. Farther west lay the trail called 
the "War Path," which marked the boundary line between the Sacs and 
Foxes and Pottawatomi on the east and the Sioux tribes on the west. Still 
another trail came up the east branch of the Des Moines River and crossed 
the state line not far from Lake Okamanpadu. 

No roads had as yet been opened to civilized methods of travel by 
wagons or other vehicles, the creeks and rivers were without bridges, and 
frequently some immigrant seeking a home in the great West would have 
to encamp on the bank of a swollen stream and wait for several days until 
the waters subsided so that he could continue his journey. 

In the march of civilization westward, the first settlements in almost 
every community were made along the rivers, where traffic and travel 
could be carried on by water. In the State of Iowa the first settlements 
were made along the Mississippi, where steamboats could be depended 
upon for supplies, and next along such streams as the Iowa and Des 



Moines rivers, up which goods could be transported by canoes and keel- 
boats. Emmet County, being removed from any river of navigable pro- 
portions, had to be reached mainly by overland travel. True, canoes could 
ascend the Des Moines when conditions were favorable, but in seasons of 
dry weather and low water navigation with even the lightest canoes be- 
came somewhat uncertain. One of the first necessities, therefore, that 
confronted the pioneers was the opening and improvement of 


Probably the first public road in the county was the one which ran 
from Blue Earth, Minnesota, to the settlement on Lake Okoboji, in Dickin- 
son County. This road passed along the northern shore of Lake Okaman- 
padu, crossed the state line two miles north of the present town of Dolliver, 
passed thence through Lincoln, Ellsworth and Emmet Townships and 
crossed the west line of the county about a mile north of the southwest 
corner of the last named township. After the Government survey of the 
public lands was completed, the road was altered to conform to the section 
lines of the survey. 

In 1860 a road was opened from Estherville to the south side of Lake 
Okamanpadu and another from Esthei'ville to the settlement at Spirit 
Lake. Like the Blue Earth road above mentioned, these early highways 
followed as nearly a direct course as was practicable, but later were made 
to follow the section lines. 

The early road records of the county were lost by the buring of the 
court-house in 1876 and for more than ten years after the fire there was 
considerable confusion as to which were and which were not legally estab- 
lished public highways. In 1887 the board of supervisors appointed the 
auditor and surveyor to plat and record the roads of the county. These 
two officials made their final report on April 2, 1888, and in the first 
paragraph said : 

"We have found what we consider the necessary papers for twenty- 
three roads, and we have gone over the supervisors' records and find that 
these twenty-three roads have been properly allowed by the board. We 
have filed the papers referring to these roads in separate covers and prop- 
erly numbered and listed them. We have also entered them on the road 
record and platted them on the plat book^." 

The committee also reported the finding of nine petitions, etc., relating 
to nine roads and recommended that they be granted ; also a number of 
petitions not complete which were referred to the board for future consid- 
eration. In conclusion the committee said : 

"We have carefully looked over all papers in the auditor's office and 
the above report is as complete as can be made from all the papers and 


memoranda referring to roads. We find some roads on the plat book not 
on the road record — neither are there any papers to show that they were 
legally established. We suppose these papers have been lost, or that the 
roads were established before the fire. 

"There are now no field notes to show where these roads are laid, and 
we recommend that you order a resurvey of all roads in this condition, 
whenever such surveys may be called for by the township officers wherein 
such roads are located; and that when such survey is made the county 
surveyor be instructed to make proper returns to the county auditor, giving 
field notes and description of such roads. 

"E. D. Doughty, Auditor. 

"E. J. Woods, Surveyor." 

The report of Mr. Doughty and Mr. Woods was accepted in June, 
1888, and since that time, acting upon their recommendation, a number 
of the public highways of the county have been resurveyed and properly 
placed upon the records. 


The Legislature of 1903 passed an act making the Iowa State Col- 
lege a state highway commission to supervise the construction of improved 
roads in the state. Work was carried on under the auspices of the college 
until 1913, when another act was passed creating a commission of three 
members, one of whom was to be the dean of the engineering department 
of the State College, and the other two were to be appointed by tiie gov- 
ernor, from diff'erent political parties, for a term of four years. The first 
highway commission, which was still in existence at the close of the year 
1916, was composed of Anson Marston, dean of engineering in the State 
College, ex officio member; James W. Holden, of Scranton, and H. C. Beard, 
of Mount Ayr. 

By the provisions of the highway commission act the office of county 
surveyor was abolished and the board of supervisors in each county of the 
state was required to appoint a county engineer, "within thirty days from 
the taking effect of this act," and to designate roads for improvement, 
such roads to be hereafter known as the county road system. It is also 
provided that the roads so designated by the board of supervisors as county 
roads shall be plainly marked upon a map of the county furnished by the 
state highway commission. 

On May 15, 1913, the board of supervisors of Emmet County ap- 
pointed C. P. Smith road engineer for the Vv'est half of the county and 
F. A. McDonald for the eastern half. The latest road map of the county 
shows nearly one hundred miles of public highway in the county road sys- 


tem, connecting Armstrong, Ringsted, Hoprig, High Lake, Wallingford, 
Dolliver and Huntington with the county seat. County roads also run west 
from Estherville and Wallingford to the west line of the county ; north 
from Armstrong to the state line near Iowa Lake ; and from the Estherville 
and Armstrong road about a mile west of Maple Hill to the state line just 
west of Lake Okamanpadu. 

The goods roads movement received quite an impetus in Emmet 
County, however, before the state highway commission was created. On 
April 7, 1902, about a year before the State College was given supervision 
of highways, the board of supervisors, by unanimous action, placed the 
following upon their records : 

"The board of supervisors of Emmet County, Iowa, at the regular 
April, 1902, session, are ad\ised that a special agent of the postoffice de- 
partment in the rural free delivery service has visited the county and 
made investigations looking to the establishment of several rural free 
delivery routes, but finds the condition of the public highways a serious 
objection to making a favorable report for installing the service. 

"The board recognizes the many benfiets of rural free delivery result- 
ing to the farming population. Cognizant of the fact that it is impossible 
to have good mail service without good roads, it concedes as just and right 
the recent ruling of the department that 'Where a rural service is ordered 
into operation over a territoiy where the roads are defective and not 
passable at all seasons of the year, it is with the understanding that, unless 
the roads are promptly improved, service will be withdrawn and given to 
a more appreciative community.' 

"In view of the conditions set forth, and that the rural free delivery 
may be secured and maintained, the said board of supervisors urges the 
people interested, and the local road officers to use due diligence in the 
improvement of the highways over which the proposed routes are pro- 
jected, that the same may be passable at all seasons of the year. And to 
assist in the accomplishment of the results desired, the said board of super- 
visors hereby pledges and agrees to render such financial aid as the laws 
of the state and the available funds levied for road improvements will 

In various parts of Emmet County there are beds of gravel suitable 
for I'oad building. Some gravel roads had been constructed previous to the 
introduction of the free rural mail delivery system. Immediately after 
the above action of the board of supervisors more attention was given to 
the construction of improved highways and the gravel began to be more 
extensively used upon the roads over which the rural mail carrier would 
have to make his daily round. Some of the roads thus built are now in- 
cluded in the county road system. Experience has taught the farmers of 


the county the advantages to be derived from good roads and it is certain 
that the gravel beds will be utilized to a still greater extent in the future. 


Early in the Nineteenth Century a railroad about nine miles in length 
was built to connect the City of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, with some 
coal mines. This was the first railroad of practical utility in the United 
States. In its construction wooden rails were used, with a strap of iron 
nailed on top. The locomotive was no larger than some of the engines 
used by threshermen of the present day, and the coal cars would not carry 
over five tons each. Accidents were frequent, owing to the working loose 
of the nails and the displacement of the iron strap on the top of the 
wooden rail. The possibilities of a railroad, even of this crude nature, 
were seen by capitalists and it was not many years until railroads were 
projected for carrying passengers as well as for freighting coal. 

It seems almost incredible that any sane, intelligent person should 
ever have opposed the building of railroads, yet such was the case. About 
1828 some young men of Lancaster, Ohio, organized a debating society and 
addressed a communication to the school board requesting the use of the 
school house in which to hold their meetings. The communication also 
stated that the first subject selected for debate was whether railroads were 
feasible as a means of transportation. To the request the school board 
replied as follows : 

"We are willing to allow you the use of the school house to debate all 
proper questions in, but such subjects as railroads we regard as improper 
and rank infidelity. If God had ever intended His creatures to travel over 
the face of the country at the frightful speed of fifteen miles an hour He 
would have clearly foretold it tlirough His holy prophets. It is a device 
of Satan to lead immortal souls down to hell." 

Such was the opinion of the members of the Lancaster school board 
less than a century ago. They were no doubt men who were chosen to 
direct the education of the young people of the city on account of their 
wisdom and sagacity, sincere in their opinions regai-ding railroads, and 
felt that they were benefiting the community by preventing the discussion 
of an "unholy subject" in a building erected for school purposes. Their 
opposition availed nothing in the end. Railroad building went on and the 
passenger of today on a railroad train that was not making better speed 
that fifteen miles an hour would be likely to find fault and make sarcastic 
remarks about the management. In fact, a railroad that could not run its 
trains at a greater speed would neither deserve nor receive a great deal 
of patronage. Yet such a rate of speed was considered "frightful" bj' the 
school board of Lancaster in 1828. Verily, the world moves. 



Not long after the first settlements were made in Emmet County, the 
pioneers began to feel the need of some better methods of transportation. 
The best prospect at that time seemed to be in the Des Moines Valley 
Railroad. This road was chartered in 1853, by the Iowa Legislature, as 
the Keokuk, Des Moines & Minnesota Railroad. A survey was made in 
1854 and in the spring of 1855 the company was reorganized as the Des 
Moines Valley Railroad Company, with Hugh T. Reid, of Keokuk, presi- 
dent. A contract for the construction of the road was let to the firm of 
Smith, Leighton & Company. Smith was later succeeded by David W. 
Kilbourn. After eleven years of trials and tribulations, the first train 
arrived at Des Moines on April 29, 1866. 

It was the intention of the company to extend the line up the Des 
Moines Valley into Minnesota. On March 19, 1869, Howard Graves wrote 
to Kilbourn, Leighton & Company, who had become the lessees of the road, 
asking that the valley of the west fork of the Des Moines be selected as 
the route for the extension. Under date of March 31, 1869, Kilbourn, 
Leighton & Company replied as follows : 

"We are now pushing the road to Fort Dodge with all the speed that 
men and money can do, and hope to have the cars running to that point by 
October next at the latest. As regards the location of the line north of 
Fort Dodge, that has not yet been finally determined upon and will not be 
until surveys are made, which we think will be done some time this year. 
Much depends upon the character of the country and the assistance which 
we may expect to receive from the inhabitants along the line; but the 
writer may say to you, if the west branch of the Des Moines shows a good 
route, and the people will give aid, we are inclined to favor that location." 

At that time the only public conveyance between Estherville and Fort 
Dodge was a two-horse spring wagon, which was advertised as the "Fort 
Dodge & Spirit Lawe stage line, W. K. Mulroney, proprietor." The "stage" 
made one trip each way weekly, leaving Spirit Lake on Monday and Fort 
Dodge on Thursday. The Northwestei-n Stage Company ran a daily stage 
between Estherville and Dakotah, Humboldt County, where it connected 
with another line that ran to Fort Dodge. The main line of the North- 
western Stage Company ran from Fort Dodge to Sioux City and was a link 
in the stage line that ran all the way across the state, having its eastern 
terminus at Dubuque. 

On February 22, 1870, nearly a year after the correspondence between 
Mr. Graves and the lessees of the road, a railroad meeting was held in 
Estherville. The meeting had been called to protest against the passage 
of a bill introduced in the Legislature bj^ Galusha Parsons, the representa- 
tive from Webster County. Howard Graves was elected to preside and 


Dr. E. H. Ballard was chosen secretary. 0. C. Bates, of the Northern Vin- 
dicator, presented a series of resolutions, the preamble of which set forth 
the facts that the Parsons bill provided that the state should reclaim 
100,000 acres of the land granted to build the railroad up the west branch 
of the Des Moines River. The resolutions that followed the preamble were 
as follows : 

"Resolved, By the citizens of Emmet County, in mass convention as- 
sembled, that any legislation haying for its object, or causing in effect, the 
embarrassment of the further construction of the Des Moines Valley Rail- 
road up the Des Moines River proper, and through the lands in place is a 
wanton and unprovoked outrage upon the people of the upper Des Moines 
Valley, and is special legislation in the interest of individuals and local- 
ities remote from the land selected and heretofore appropriated for the 
construction of said road. 

"Resolved, That as over thirty-three thousand acres of Emmet County 
lands have been appropriated and applied towards constructing the Des 
Moines Valley Railroad to the vicinity of Fort Dodge, that the one hundred 
thousand acres of land yet reserved for the construction of said road shall 
not be resumed, but should be certified at once to the company by the state, 
that said company may be able to complete at an early day the construction 
of said road to the Minnesota state line, and through the lands which have 
been dedicated to this grand enterprise. 

"Resolved, That we earnestly and emphatically protest and remon- 
strate against the passage of Mr. Parsons' bill, or any bill or amendment 
proposing in effect the resumption of the 100,000 acres of land now held 
conditionally by the Des ]Moines Valley Railroad Company." 

Another resolution indorsed the bill introduced by H. G. Day, the 
representative from Emmet County, providing for the construction of the 
road, and requesting the representative and senator in the Legislature to 
use all honorable means of defeating the Parsons bill. A remonstrance 
against this bill was signed by every one present at the meeting and 
Adolphus Jenkins, R. P. Ridley, J. A. Hagadorn, Dr. E. 0. Baxter, J. L. L. 
Riggs and G. M. Haskins were appointed a special committee to circulate 
the remon.strance for additional signatures. 

The Parsons bill was defeated and in the fall of 1870 a survey was 
made up the west branch of the Des Moines, via Rutland, Emmetsburg 
and Estherville to the state line. Late in that year the road was completed 
to Fort Dodge, when the financial condition of tlie company caused a cessa- 
tion in the work. The financial difficulties continued and the road was 
finally sold under foreclosure. That part of it from Keokuk to Des Moines 
is now a part of the Chicago. Rock Island & Pacific system, and the line 
from Des Moines to Fort Dodge is operated by the Minneapolis & St. Louis. 



The failure of the Des Moines Valley Railroad Company to build to 
the state line left the people of Emmet County without immediate hope 
or prospect of a railroad. When Gen. Lindsay Seals appeared before a 
meeting at Estherville on March 27, 1872, as a representative of the Minn- 
eapolis, St. Paul & Union Pacific Railroad Company he was given a cor- 
dial reception. He announced that the company was ready to begin the 
work of constructing a line of railroad from Minneapolis to connect with 
the Union Pacific at Omaha, and asked for the aid and cooperation of the 
people of Emmet County. Adolphus Jenkins, R. E. Ridley, H. G. Day, I. 
Skinner and G. M. Haskins were appointed a committee to select a location 
for a depot and report how much money could be raised by private sub- 
scription. Another meeting on April 1, 1872, pledged $.5,000 as a bonus 
to the company, provided cars were running to Estherville by July 1, 1874, 
and freight and passenger stations were established within half a mile of 
the public square. 

Special elections were held in eight townships of the county to vote on 
the question of levying a five per cent, tax, the proceeds of which were to 
be given to the railroad company to aid in the construction of the road. 
The amount of the tax in Emmet County would have been about seventy- 
five thousand dollars, but befoi-e it was collected General Seals transferred 
Ills aflSliations to another company known as the Fort Dodge & North- 
western Railroad Company, of which John F. Duncombe was president; 
Lindsay Seals, secretary ; 0. E. Palmer, treasurer. This company pur- 
chased conditionally large tracts of the Des Moines Valley Railroad lands, 
some of which was in Emmet Countj'. Special taxes had also been voted 
in Clay County and the Northern Vindicator of December 7, 1872, called 
attention to the fact that in Clay County an effort was then being made 
to divert the tax there to the Iowa & Dakota Railroad Company, another 
corporation which made glowing promises, but failed in the performance. 
General Seals was asked by the people of Emmet County for an explana- 
tion, but the general, probably concluding that discretion was the better 
part of valor, wisely remained silent, and the Minneapolis, St. Paul & 
Union Pacific Railroad came to an untimely end. 


After the failure of the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Union Pacific project, 
the railroad question lay dormant for about two years. Then the Fort 
Dodge & Fort Ridgely (the successor of the Fort Dodge & Northwestern) 
came forward with a proposition to build a railroad through Emmet 
County, on condition that financial aid was extended by the several town- 


ships. Again special elections were held in Armstrong Grove, Center, 
Ellsworth, Emmet, Estherville, Swan Lake, Iowa Lake and Twelve Mile 
Lake townships, all of which voted in favor of a five per cent. ta.\ to aid 
in the construction of the road. Once more history repeated itself and 
again the citizens of the county were disappointed in their efforts to secure 
a railroad. On January 5, 1877, the board of supervisors instructed the 
treasurer of the county not to collect the special tax in the above named 
townships "until the said Fort Dodge & Fort Ridgely Railroad Company 
complied with all the conditions upon which such tax was voted." As 
the company never complied with the conditions the tax was never col- 


Early in the year 1880 the railroad company known as the Cedar 
Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northwestern began to take an active part in Iowa 
railroad history. A line of railway was projected from Cedar Rapids to 
Worthington, Minnesota, and on June 23, 1880, construction bonds to the 
amount of $825,000 were issued. Before the close of the year the road 
had been completed between Holland, Grundy County, and Clarion, Wright 
County, and the company announced that the following year the road 
would be completed to the town of Worthington, 177 miles from Holland. 
The activity of the new company caused a revival of the old Des Moines 
Valley Railroad project and an Saturday, February 26, 1881, a meeting 
was held at Emmetsburg to see what could be done toward securing the 
extension of that line from Fort Dodge through Palo Alto and Emmet 
counties. Robert Shea, treasurer of Palo Alto County, presided and sev- 
eral Estherville men were present, though most of them did not arrive 
until after the meeting had adjourned. 

On March 9, 1881, the stock and bondholders of the Des Moines & 
Fort Dodge held a meeting in New York City and agreed to extend the road 
into Minnesota. They suggested that Palo Alto and Emmet counties should 
each raise $25,000 to assist in the construction of the road. Past experience 
had taught the people of the upper Des Moines Valley that the promises 
of this company could not be relied on, and a majority were in favor of 
making an effort to secure the Cedar Rapids. Iowa Falls & Northwestern 

A meeting was therefore called at the school house in Estherville for 
the afternoon of April 28, 1881. Howard Graves was called to the chair. 
S. L. Dows, of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northwestern Railroad 
Company, was present. Frank Davey, E. H. Ballard, F. E. Allen, David 
Weir and Knuet Espeset were appointed a committee to draw up an agree- 
ment between the people of Emmet County and the railroad company, the 
conditions of which were that the company was to pay the expenses of 


holding a special election to vote on the question of levying a five per cent, 
tax, and that the road was to be completed to Estherville by September 1, 

1881. Special elections were held in the townships of Center, Ellsworth, 
Emmet, Estherville, High Lake and Twelve Mile Lake, and five of the six 
voted in favor of the tax. 

On June 23, 1881, an agreement was entered into between the Cedar 
Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northwestern and the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & 
Northern Railway Companies, by which the former company was to issue 
$4,000,000 in bonds to take up the outstanding construction bonds issued 
the year before, and to lease to the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern 
tlie line from Holland to Worthingion, for the term of years mentioned 
in the charter. This agreement was signed by George J. Boal and W. P. 
Brad}', president and secretary of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls and North- 
western, and J. Tracy and W. D. Walker, president and secretary of the 
Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern. About this time the Spirit Lake 
Beacon said editorially: 

"It is no secret in Iowa that the Burlington, Cedar Ral^ids & North- 
ern is backed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Chicago, Rock 
Island & Pacific, two companies ranking among the very staunchest 
doing business in the state. The intense rivalry existing between these 
corporations and others doing business in this quarter of the state will 
prevent any pooling of issues to the disadvantage of the inhabitants of 
this section, and insures sharp competition and consequently low rates of 

By the close of the year 1881 the track was laid to Emmetsburg and 
the grading was practically finished as far as Estherville. On June 8, 

1882, the first train arrived at Estherville. The people of Emmet County 
at last were provided with railroad transportation. A month later the 
road was finished as far as Spirit Lake. From that point work was con- 
ducted more slowly, but the western terminus at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 
was reached in due time. The road is now known as the Cedar Rapids & 
Sioux Falls division of the Rock Island system. 


About the close of the Civil war Congress made a grant of land to the 
McGregor & Western Railroad Company to assist in building a line of 
railroad from the Mississippi River at McGregor to some point in North- 
western Iowa or South Dakota. The company had some difficulty in rais- 
ing the necessary funds to build the road, the aim being to hold on to the 
lands until the road was finished, when a better price could be obtained 
for the lands. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company 
became interested in the project and the charter of the McGregor & West- 
ern was finally assigned to that company. Building west from McGregor, 


the road passed through Mason City, Algona and Emmetsburg, and in the 
fall of 1878 was completed as far as Spencer. 

The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul was one of the rival corporations 
referred to by the editor of the Spirit Lake Beacon in the quotation above. 
Early in December, 1881, the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern track- 
layers reached the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul tracks at Emmetsburg 
about ten o'clock one Sunday morning. Anticipating trouble in making 
a crossing over the tracks of the rival company, Judge Tracy, president of 
the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern; General Superintendent Ives; 
S. L. Dows, president of the construction company ; Chief Engineer White 
and others were there in a private car to encourage the workmen. The 
necessary angle irons, etc., had been prepared and a force of men was 
soon at work tearing up the tracks of the rival company. By noon the 
crossing was in position and the work of tracklaying was continued beyond 
the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road. 

Superintendent Sanborn, of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, was 
at Mason City that Sunday morning, when he received a telegram notify- 
ing him of what was taking place at Emmetsburg. He hurried to the 
scene, but before he arrived the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern had 
completed the crossing. Shortly after midnight that night, Mr. Sanborn 
marched a body of men up to the obno.xious crossing and personally 
directed its removal. The tracks were then relaid and when the Burling- 
ton, Cedar Rapids & Northern workmen appeared on Monday morning 
they found a train of freight cars standing where their crossing had been 
the day before. All that day the place was kept in a state of blockade by 
the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Company. When a train arrived the 
blockading train would pull on to a siding and as soon as the I'egular 
train had passed would resume its place. 

The officials of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern applied to 
Judge Weaver of the Circuit Court for an order i-estraining the other 
company from obstructing their work. A cross complaint was filed by 
the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul asking for an injunction against the 
opposition company that would pi-event the restoration of the crossing. 
Judge Weaver decided in favor of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & North- 
ern and an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court. While the matter was 
pending there a compromise was effected, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. 
Paul replacing the crossing and paying its rival $1,000 as a recompense 
for the delay. 

One object of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Company in remov- 
ing the crossing was to hold back the construction of its opponent, hop- 
ing thereby to reach Estherville in advance of the Burlington. The tracks 
of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul ran east of the other road, passing 
through High Lake and the southwest corner of Center Township. On 
April 17, LS82, the following action was taken by the Estherville council: 


"Be it resolved by the town council of the incorporated town of Esther- 
ville, Iowa, that the sum of $180 be, and the same is hereby, appropriated 
for the purpose of aiding in the purchase of depot grounds to be used 
for railway purposes by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad 
Company, and that a committee be appointed by the mayor to procure a 
deed therefor and deliver the same to said company." 

Mayor F. E. Allen appointed Dr. E. H. Ballard and Knuet Espeset, 
two members of the council, to serve as the committee. They performed 
their duty and in this way the people of Estherville donated the site for a 
railroad station. In August, 1889, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul 
Company abandoned its line form Emmetsburg to Estherville and tore 
up its tracks. 


On January 10, 1836, the Illinois Legislature granted a charter to the 
Galena & Chicago Union Railway Company, which was authorized to 
build a railroad from Chicago to the lead mines on the Mississippi River. 
The first train that ever left Chicago for the West was on this road, 
October 24, 1848. It was drawn by a little locomotive called the "Pio- 
neer," which would be regarded as a mere pigmy by the side of some of 
the Northwestern Locomotives of the present day. The old Pioneer is 
still in the possession of the company and was exhibited at the Columbian 
Exposition in Chicago in 1893. After the financial panic of 1857 the com- 
pany was reorganized as the Chicago & Northwestern. That reorganiza- 
tion marked the beginning of one of the great railway systems of the 

At that time there was a heavy tide of emigration fi'om the older 
states to the country west of the Mississippi River, and the new board of 
directors decided to construct a railroad through Iowa to the Missouri 
River. Early in the '60s the first train crossed the Mississippi at Clinton, 
Iowa, and although the nation was then involved in civil war, the line 
was pushed westward through Belle Plaine, Marshalltown, Ames, Carroll 
and Denison, and on January 17, 1867, the first train from the east rolled 
into Council Bluffs. Then followed the construction of the line from Chi- 
cago to Minneapolis and St. Paul, after which came the building or acqui- 
sition of branch lines until now the Northwestern and its ramifications 
cover the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and the Dakotas. 

As early as the summer of 1880 the Chicago & Northwestern Rail- 
road Company sent a party of surveyors through Northwestern Iowa 
and selected a route for a railroad almost identical with that later followed 
by the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern. At that time the company 
was not above asking aid from the people in the construction of its branch 
lines. Not receiving the encouragement in this direction that had been 


anticipated, it withdrew from tlie field, though a little later the branch 
from Eagle Grove to Hawarden was built. 

On Saturday, December 10, 1898, W. P. Barlow filed articles of 
incorporation with Register of Deeds Cobleigh, in Redwood County, Min- 
nesota, for the Minnesota & Iowa Railroad Company. The incorporators 
were all connected with the Chicago & Northwestern Company and the 
articles set forth that the object was to build a line of railroad "from 
some point on the Winona & St. Peter Railroad near Sanborn southward 
into the State of Iowa." Work was commenced early in the year 1899 and 
within twelve months the road was in operation. It runs from Sanborn, 
Minnesota, to Burt, Iowa, where it connects with the main line of the 
Northwestern from Des Moines to Minneapolis. On the time cards of 
the Chicago & Northwestern Company it appears as the Jewell & San- 
born division "via Burt." This road passes through the townships of 
Lincoln, Swan Lake, Armstrong Grove and Denmark, in Einmet County. 
The stations in the county are Dolliver, Gridley, Haifa and Ringsted — 
one in each of the township named. 


About the time the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company 
began work on the line from Jewell to Sanborn the Minneapolis & St. 
Louis Company projected a line from Winthrop, Minnesota, to Storm 
Lake, Iowa, a distance of 155 miles. This road enters Emmet County from 
the north near the northwest corner of Ellsworth Township, from which 
point it runs almost in a direct line in a southwesterly direction to the 
City of Estherville. From Estherville it follows a somewhat devious 
course through Estherville and Twelve Mile Lake townships until it 
crosses the western boundary of the county about the middle of Section 
7, Township 98, Range 34. 

A proposition to acquire by purchase or condemnation grounds for 
a depot, roundhouse and machine shops for this railroad company, at a 
cost not to exceed eighteen thousand dollars, was submitted to the voters 
of Estherville Township at a special election on March 11, 1899, and was 
carried by a vote of 450 to 30. Grounds were acquired and Estherville 
was made a division point on the road. In the summer of 1909 the divi- 
sion point was removed to Spencer, but in October of the same year it 
was brought back to Estherville, where it still remains. No machine 
shops were built by the company in Emmet County. 


The branch of the Rock Island system running eastward from Esther- 
ville was built in 1892 as the Chicago & Iowa Western. It runs from 




THE i:-V' Vj.;^- 





Estherville to Dows, where it connects with the main line for Cedar Rap- 
ids and Chicago. The Emmet County stations on this road are Gruver, 
Maple Hill and Armstrong. At Germania, Iowa, it is tapped by another 
branch that runs northward to Albert Lea, Minnesota, making connection 
at that point with the main line for Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

About three o'clock on the afternoon of May 13, 1909, the Rock Island 
depot at Estherville was discovered to be on fire, and so rapid was the 
progress of the flames that some of the company's employees in the sec- 
ond story of the building had to make their escape by way of ladders 
placed at the windows. In a short time the structure was a smoking 
ruin, entailing a loss of about eight thousand dollars. The present hand- 
some depot was then erected at a cost of $26,000 and was opened for the 
transaction of business on February 1, 1910. 


Altogether Emmet County has nearly eighty miles of railroad, exclu- 
sive of side tracks, Iowa Lake and Jack Creek being the only townships 
without a railroad. The valuation of railroad property in the county in 
1915, as shown by the auditor's records, given by townships and towns, 
was as follows : 


Armstrong Grove $ 43,429 

Center 45,067 

Denmark 39,084 

Ellsworth 8,355 

Emmet 15,648 

Estherville 100,254 

High Lake 38,439 

Lincoln 47,878 

Swan Lake 84,871 

Twelve Mile Lake 19,942 


Armstrong 6,160 

Estherville 34,718 

Dolliver 3,224 

Gruver 3,899 

Haifa (including school district) 42,309 

Ringsted 12,214 

Wallingford 7,797 

Total $553,288 



Although not an internal improvement in the sense of being a public 
utility, the drainage and reclamation of the swamp lands has been a 
potent factor in the development of Emmet County's natural resources, 
and perhaps no other agency has added so much to the county's wealth 
and prosperity. For many years after the first settlements were made 
in the county a large part of the surface could not be cultivated on account 
of the marshes, through which the channels of the watercourses were not 
regularly defined and the natural drainage was imperfect. No provision 
was made for reclaiming these marshes until the passage of an act by 
the Sixteenth General Assembly authorizing boards of county supervisors 
"to locate and cause to be constructed levees, ditches or drains," such as 
might be necessary for the reclamation of swamp lands. Under the act 
of 1882 the property holders were given the right of petition to the 
board of supervisors for the construction of ditches or drains, and the 
board was given enlarged powers in the way of levying assessments 
against the property benefited and damages in favor of property injured 
by the construction of such ditch or drain. 

The first drainage districts in Emmet County (Nos. 1, 2 and 3) were 
established in 1900 and assessments for construction placed upon the tax 
lists. By January, 1917, the number of drainage districts had reached 
117, which gives the reader some idea of the amount of improvement 
of this character that has been made in the county. The work of reclaim- 
ing the swamp lands met with considerable opposition in the early stages, 
some of the opponents claiming that the drainage laws were unconstitu- 
tional, inasmuch as they violated Section 18, Article I, of the constitu- 
tion, which provides : 

"Private property shall not be taken for public use without just 
compensation first being made, or secured to be made, to the owner 
thereof, as soon as the damages shall be assessed by a jury, who shall 
not take into consideration any advantages that may result to said owner 
on account of the improvement for which it is taken." 

To settle the question and enable the work of reclamation to go on 
without dispute, the General Assembly submitted to the people of the 
state at the general election on November 3, 1908, the following amend- 
ment to the above section : 

"The General Assembly, however, may pass laws permitting the 
owners of lands to construct drains, ditches and levees for agricultural 
or mining across the lands of others, and provide for the organi- 
zation of drainage districts, vest the proper authorities with power to 
construct and maintain levees, drains and ditches and to keep in repair 
all drains, ditches and levees heretofore constructed under the laws of the 


state, by special assessments upon the property benefited thereby. The 
General Assembly may provide by law for the condemnation of such real 
estate as shall be necessary for the construction and maintenance of such 
drains, ditches and levees, and prescribe the method of making such con- 

The vote on the amendment in Emmet County was 992 in favor of 
its adoption and 397 opposed. There were then thirty-two completed 
drains in the county. Within the three years following the adoption of 
the amendment the number almost doubled, and since then the number 
has increased each yeai-, until now there are 117 ditches completed or 
under construction. 

Owing to the question of legality or constitutionality, the first drain- 
age bonds issued or authorized by the supervisors in some of the swamp 
land counties were looked upon with such distrust by investors that they 
had to be canceled. A few months before the adoption of the constitu- 
tional amendment, the supervisors of Emmet County came to the conclu- 
sion that bidders on ditches were charging fancy prices, because of the 
heavy discounts to which the drainage warrants were subjected. In Janu- 
ary, 1908, the Iowa Savings Bank of Estherville submitted a proposition 
to the board to purchase all drainage certificates of 1908 at their par 
value, provided the said bank should be given the first privilege and option 
of purchasing the certificates issued during the years 1909 and 1910 upon 
the same terms. On January 24, 1908, the board adopted a resolution 
accepting the bank's offer and directing the chairman of the board and the 
county auditor "to issue, negotiate and transfer drainage improvement 
certificates in conformity with this resolution." 

Thus the credit of Emmet County, in the matter of drainage bonds 
or warrants, was placed upon a solid financial basis, and the competition 
between bidders since then has kept the cost of drainage construction 
within reasonable bounds. It has cost thousands of dollars to excavate 
these ditches, but in every instance the returns have far exceeded the out- 
lay. Lands that could not be sold at any price were sometimes assessed 
as high as fifteen or twenty dollars per acre for the purpose of reclama- 
tion. Owners of such lands grumbled at first, at what they considered 
excessive taxes, but when they saw their lands increase in value and 
productiveness more than a hundred fold the grumbling ceased. 






The factors which have made rapid educational progress possible 
in Emmet County are many. From the beginning of educational work in 
1859 until 1917 new ideas have been incorporated into the public school 
system until now Emmet County may boast of one of the most efficient 
and extensive educational systems in the state. 

The first school in Emmet County was established at Estherville 
in 1859. Mary Howe, also the first teacher in Dickinson County, taught 
the three R's to the few pupils gathered in the log house belonging to 
E. A. Ridley, which was located on the present site of the Rock Island 
roundhouse. Shortly after this the well known firm of Logan and Meser- 
vey, of whom mention is made elsewhere, constructed a schoolhouse on 
the courthouse square just north of the courthouse location. The build- 
ing was afterward moved across the street northward, where it was 
burned in 1876. This historic little schoolhouse in its day performed 
manj' a service, having been utilized for religious meetings, political 
gatherings, entertainments, lectures, etc., as well as for school purposes. 
In 1871 a schoolhouse was erected at the corner of Fifth and Howard 
Streets and was known during its existence as the "White House." The 
first principal here was Prof. J. W. Cory and the first class consisted of 
Edna May Barker, Minnie Belle (Neville) Lough, Grace Agnes (Bemis) 
Brown and Orlando Lough. In 1891 a high school, known as the Wash- 
ington Building, was constructed at a of $35,000. In 1895 the Jack- 
son School Building was erected and cost the county $11,000. In 1900 
the Lincoln and McKinley school buildings were erected. Just recently 



the magnificent high school building in Estherville, costing over .$100,000 
and one of the finest in the state, was erected by the taxpayers. It is a 
model of school building construction, efficient in that it provides for 
the training of the child from every angle. Large, well lighted and ven- 
tilated rooms for classes, good heat, a commodious and well equipped 
gymnasium, a library, recreation rooms, laboratories, work shops, etc., 
are but a few features of this structure. 


In February, 1891, there was advertised by G. E. Delevan, then 
editor of the Northern Vindicator, a sale of school lands at public auc- 
tion in April. This sale was held .according to the advertisement and 
it is interesting to note the description of the lands sold and the price 
per acre paid, especially in contrast to the price of the same land in 
the year 1917. 

The northwest quarter of Section 16, Township 98, Range 31, was 
sold to J. H. Griffith for $7 per acre. 

The north half of the northeast quarter of Section 16, Township 
98, Range .31, was sold to Griffith for $8 per acre. 

The south half of the northeast quarter of Section 16, Township 98, 
Range 31, was sold to P. P. Bogh for $8.70 per acre. 

The southwest quarter of Section 16, Township 98, Range 31, was 
sold to Charles Hanson for $8 per acre. 

The southeast quarter of the same was sold to J. H. Griffith for $8 
pel" acre. 

Two hundred and forty acres of land in Section 16, Township 99, 
Range 31, were sold to J. H. Griffith for prices ranging from $6 to 

The southeast quarter of Section 16, Township 99, Range 31, was 
sold to M. W. Atwood for $6 per acre. 

The northwest quarter of the same was purchased by K. R. Knudson 
for $10.10 per acre. 

The northeast quarter of Section 16, Township 98, Range 34, was 
sold to Hans Forde for $6.20 an acre. 

The northwest quarter of the same was auctioned off to K. L. Westa- 
gaard for $10.60 an acre. 

The north half of the southwest quarter went to the same buyer 
for $8. .5.5 an acre. 

T. N. Berve purchased the south half of the southwest quarter of 
Section 16, Township 98, Range 34, for $8..5.5 per acre. 

On January 11, 1893, the trustees of Lincoln Township were author- 
ized to "lay out into separate tracts as in their judgment will be for the 
best interest of the school fund for the purpose of selling same." 

Vol. 1 — 12 



Although Emmet County has not taken up the subject of school con- 
solidation quite so extensively as Dickinson County, actual features of 
consolidation may be said to have existed in the former county prior 
to the latter. As early as 1898 the school at Armstrong was centralized 
and the children hauled from the outlying districts in hacks supplied by 
the county. This is one of the principal advantages of consolidation. 
The Armstrong school is now housed in a splendid $50,000 building, which 
was opened for use in 1915. 

There are four consolidated independent school districts in Emmet 
County — Armstrong, Dolliver, Haifa and Swan Lake. Children are trans- 
ported to schools at Dolliver, Armstrong, Maple Hill and Haifa from the 
portions of Lincoln, Swan Lake. Armstrong Grove, Jack Creek and Den- 
mark Townships lying in the districts named. A new school building has 
recently been constructed in Iowa Lake Township, on Section 28. 

Through the consolidated system of teaching every child of school 
age in the district, whether living in the town or in the country within 
a range of miles, is carried to school each morning in closed hacks which 
take a certain route. In the evening the pupils are returned to their 
homes. This is repeated each day school is in session. The pupil, also, 
has the advantage of graded school education, which he did not have 
when he attended a crossroads country schoolhouse. His classes rank 
with those of the city, he is given a variety of courses, and after com- 
pleting the eighth grade is ready for the high school branches without 
extra preparation. The pupil also has the advantage of added social 
life, being associated with more of his fellows and upon a more equal 
plane than heretofore. 

Armstrong and Estherville ai'e independent town and city districts, 
while the school townships are: Center, Denmark, Ellsworth, Emmet, 
High Lake, Iowa Lake, Jack Creek, Swan Lake, Twelve Mile Lake. 

The school township of Armstrong Grove has eleven teachers and 
three school buildings, the latter valued at $50,400. Two of these build- 
ings are not used at present. 

In Center there are ten teachers employed in ten schoolhouses. The 
buildings aie worth $8,300. 

In Denmark Township ten teachers are employed. Seven school- 
houses here are worth $6,000. 

Ellswoi-th Township has twelve teachers and seven buildings, the 
latter valued at $5,900. 

Emmet Township has five teachers and six buildings. The sum of 
$2,800 covers the value of the schools. One building is not used. 


THi^ I'lV' Y'-'-'^ ' 


[tilden !C-.:r.D i:ohh 


High Lake Township has ten teachers and nine buildings worth 

Iowa Lake Township has five buildings worth $3,400 and employs 
five teachers. A new building has been constructed since the last report 
of the county superintendent. 

Jack Creek Township has nine teachers employed. There are seven 
buildings worth $3,200. 

Swan Lake Township has three teachers and three buildings, the 
latter valued at $1,200. Most of the eastern portion of this township is 
in the Maple Hill consolidated district and the children attend the school 
there. Maple Hill has a $30,000 school building. 

Twelve Mile Lake Township has nine buildings and nine teachers 
employed. The buildings are valued at $6,100. 

The town of Armstrong is consolidated with the district. 

Dolliver before consolidation had seven teachers and two buildings 
valued at 2,400. Since it has been consolidated there is one $48,000 
building. All the pupils of Lincoln Township attend this school. 

Estherville has thirty-eight teachers and nine school buildings, five 
of which are in town and four in the country. The total value of the 
nine buildings, which includes the new high school, is $168,000. 

Haifa previously had three teachers and three buildings, the latter 
worth $2,4.50. Now one $25,000 building provides accommodation for 

This gives a total for the county of eighty -seven teachers, and eighty- 
three buildings. The combined value of the buildings, with the exception 
of the $48,000 building at Dolliver, the $30,000 building at Maple Hill 
and the $25,000 building at Haifa, is $263,105.00. This value does not 
include the school sites. School bonds outstanding on June 30, 1916, 
amounted to $270,000. The teachers' fund in 1915-6 amounted to $101,- 
725.54. The total value of all buildings in Emmet County reaches the 
grand sum of $367,305.00. 

The early schools of the county have disappeared, except in the 
recollection of people now living who attended them. The hard journeys 
on foot the pupils were compelled to take, through the winter's snows 
and storms, made school life a very different proposition from the pres- 
ent, when a pupil can step into a comfortable conveyance and be car- 
ried to a warm and attractive building. Not the least factor in this 
change from the old way is that of personal hygiene. The care of the 
child's health and proper attention to his personal welfare have been 
mighty forces in compelling the improvement of school facilities. There 
are living in the county now just two men who were early teachers here 
— Robert I. Cratty and Amos A. Pingrey. 


''the press 


The first newspaper in Emmet County, in fact the first in north- 
western Iowa, was the Northern Vindicator, the first number of which 
was issued December 14, 1868. The pubHshers were Eaton Northrop 
and 0. C. Bates, working under the firm name of Northrop & Bates. 
The mechanical facihties were crude, but for the time and conditions a 
very creditable sheet was run from tjie press, a sheet which promised 
to make up in editorial quality what it lacked in mechanical perfection. 
The editors announced in Volume I, Number I, that the paper would 
be "devoted to the interests of northwestern Iowa and the Vindicator of 
republican principles." 

Like every other frontier newspaper the Vindicator fought a hard 
fight during the first months of its existence. The distance from rail- 
roads and civilization was a serious handicap, the work was hard, finan- 
cial returns small, living difficult. The frontier editor was often regarded 
by his contemporaries in larger settlements as a sort of martyr, a man 
willing to risk bankruptcy for the sake of spreading his profession to the 
frontier country. Most of the men who brought journalism to the unset- 
tled country of the West were men who found living conditions back East 
too crowded, who were more contented to eke out a small existence in a 
broader field than to combat the severe competition in more thickly 
settled communities. They generally brought their office materials and 
their mechanical appai-atus with them. The hand press and the type were 
often those which had been discarded years before and purchased for 
a song. The settlers were as a rule anxious for a newspaper, but when 
it came to paying hard cash for the privilege many of them were reluct- 
ant. Potatoes, wood, building materials, grain and flour were taken by 
the editor in many cases "on subscription." 

In the of 1869 the Vindicator ceased publication for several 
weeks, which aff'orded the Humboldt County Independent occasion to 
remark sarcastically that the Vindicator had "give up the ghost." Editor 
Northrop, in his i.ssue of June 17, 1869, answered this as follows: "Our 
subscriptions increased so much more rapidly than we had anticipated, 
and our distance from rapid transportation facilities being so great, we 
were unable to keep up a supply of paper ; we have been waiting patiently 
for six weeks for that which has now arrived, and henceforth the Vindi- 
cator will appear regularly to our patrons, who shall have no cause for 
con?plaint as regards its imprint or character as a journal." 

Eaton Northrop retired from the firm on October 14, 1869, and 
was succeeded by Frank A. Day. The paper continued without serious 


interruption and acquired an excellent reputation over the entire state. 
The Vindicator became a part of the Editorial Association of the Sixth 
Congressional District on July 19, 1870. This association was -organized 
then at Foil Dodge, with twenty-five papers represented in the mem- 
bership. C. T. Clarkson was the president of the organization ; George 
E. Perkins and J. C. Irwin, vice-presidents; B. F. Gue, secretary; and 
E. N. Chapin, treasurer. 

The issue of the Vindicator of November 11, 1871, bore the names 
of H. G. and Frank A. Day as editors and proprietors, H. G. Day appar- 
ently having succeeded Bates in • the firm. Henry Jenkins afterwards 
took the place of H. G. Day. The firm next became Jenkins & Jarvis, 
then Charles W. Jarvis alone, who sold to Frank Davey in 1876. Davey 
kept the paper for six years and in 1882 sold out to Logue & Mattson. 
Logue disposed of his interest to Mattson and the latter took in his son, 
the firm becoming Mattson & Son. In 188.5 the Vindicator was pur- 
chased by the firm of McFarland & Jarvis. In 1895 the publication was 
taken over by Heacock & Gruwell and in May, 1897, W. T. Heacock sold 
his one-half interest to Frank P. Woods. 

The Emmet County Republican was the outgrowth of the National 
Broadax. It was started August 11, 1882, by Reynolds, Lough & Com- 
pany, with Frank Davey as editor. In May, 1884, the sheet was sold 
to Peter Johnson and H. J. Wasson.. These men changed the name from 
the Emmet County Republican to the Emmet County Herald. In 1887 
it again was given its former name under the editorship and proprietor- 
ship of F. B. Woods. Jenkins & Mulholland succeeded Woods. George 
A. Nichols afterward bought Mulholland's interest and then the firm 
of Jenkins & Nichols conducted the paper until 1900, when Nichols became 
sole proprietor. 

In November, 1902, the Republicaii was consolidated with the North- 
ern Vindicator. The paper has since been known as the Vindicator and 
Republican, with George A. Nichols as editor and publisher, and is recog- 
nized as being one with large scope of influence, excellent make-up and 
editorial quality. Modern presses are used in the publication of the Vin- 
dicator and Republican. A linotype in addition to several type-setters 
provide for the issue of a paper "all solid home print." 

The Estherville Democrat, weekly, was established by Peter John- 
ston in 1888 as an eight column quarto. The publication of the paper 
continued without mishap until March 22, 1895, when fire completely 
destroyed the plant. The outfit was a total loss as no insurance had been 
carried. However, Mr. Johnson rebuilt the plant and started publication 
again with a six column octavo. On November 25, 1896, he sold out 
to Frank Cai'penter and Edward H. Sillge. 

From February, 1901, until about a year later, the Daily Tribune was 
publi.shed every afternoon except Sunday, in connection with the Demo- 


crat which was issued weekly as before. The Tribune had the distinc- 
tion of being the only daily paper ever published in Estherville. 

In July, 1905, Frank Carpenter purchased Sillge's interest in the 
Democrat and in the following October sold out the whole plant to J. J. 
Reardon. In February, 1907, Carpenter rebought the outfit and has 
remained the owner until the present time. When Mr. Carpenter was 
appointed postmaster of Estherville in July, 1913, by President Wilson 
he installed James W. Ghoslin as editor and manager of the Democrat. 
Mr. Ghoslin maintained the excellent quality of the paper, as is evidenced 
at the meeting of the Iowa Press Association at Des Moines in January, 
1916, when he won the silver cup given as a trophy for the best front 
page of any weekly newspaper in Iowa. Four hundred papers were 
entered in the contest. Again, in March, 1906, at the journalistic short 
course at the Ames Agricultural College, he was awarded a medal for the 
same product. Mr. Ghoslin resigned his position with the Democrat to 
enter the employ of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany, and was succeeded as editor and manager of the Democrat by 
R. R. Allison. The paper is, of course, owned by Mr. Carpenter. The 
Democrat ranks with the Vindicator and Republican as being one of the 
best weekly newspapers in the Middle West in every particular and has 
a well merited patronage from the people of Emmet County. 

The third weekly newspaper h\ Estherville, the Estherville Enter- 
prise, was started by A. F. Lowe in 1900. A .short time later the owner- 
ship of the newspaper was placed in the hands of a stock company, then 
was purchased by George E. Patterson, who sold to G. C. and G. K. 
Allen in April, 1913. On March 26. 1914, the plant was destroyed by 
fire. The paper was then published in the Masonic Block, then printed 
for a time in a barn in the rear of the Gardston Hotel. In December, 
1916, the new building erected for the plant on East Lincoln Street, 
between Seventh and Eighth, was occupied. The plant is one of the 
best in the state, being equipped with cylinder press and linotype. 

The Armstrong Journal was established in the fall of 1892 by S. S. 
Cellefield. He operated the plant until June 1, 1893, when he sold out to 
J. A. Reagan. On February 1, 1894, Kaspar Faltinson bought a one- 
half interest in the paper and four years later got the remainder of 
the .stock, Reagan taking a position as cashier of the bank. In 1900 the 
Journal was consolidated with the Armstrong Republican and then sold 
out to A. L. Leeson, who in turn sold to Walter McBride. J. E. Tierney 
was the next owner, then W. H. Hassing. W. 0. Howard came from 
Sac County in September, 1916. and took charge of the Journal, and is 
now owner and publisher. 

For eight months dui'ing the year 1897 the paper known as the 
Armstrong Pilot was published, but found money-making too precarious, 
so was abandoned. 





The Ringsted Dispatch is a creditable sheet pubUshed weekly at 
Ringsted, Emmet County. The Dispatch was established here in March, 
1901. The paper is a six column octavo and is under the guidance of 
A. L. Anderson, editor and proprietor. The Dispatch is a newsy and 
attractive paper and devoted principally to the interests of the community 
and section of the county in which it is located. A special booster edition 
was published November 1, 1912, as Volume XII, Number 33. 


The library movement in Estherville began in the year 1880 as an 
association. Charles P. Birge of Keokuk, Iowa, sent twelve volumes of 
Froude's History of England and four volumes of Goldsmith's works 
to F. E. Allen. This occurred about February 7, 1881, according to 
the Vindicator and was the nucleus of the present library. The officers 
of the association in 1885 were: Mrs. E. H. Ballard, president; Mrs. 
Edie G. Espeset, vice-president; James Espeset, secretary; S. E. Bemis, 
treasurer and librarian. At one time the library was located in S. E. 
Bemis' store; then in Lincoln Street, near the Richman & Brown real 
estate offices; then on the east side of the park; and still later in the 
second story of the Coon Block. Mrs. Howard Graves, Mrs. Frankie 
Barber and Mrs. M. G. Williams were also prominent in the work of 
maintaining the library during its early years. 

The question of a suitable building for housing the library was 
agitated in 1897, in fact for several years previous. Ordinance No. 120 
of the City of Estherville, approved February 6, 1897, and signed by 
E. E. Hartung, mayor, and N-. B. Egbert, city clerk, authorized the sub- 
mission of the question of levying an eight cent tax for the support of 
the library to the voters at the next general municipal election. This 
was done and the voters, by a small majority, decided in favor of the 
tax. This election was held in March, 1897. However, on Tuesday eve- 
ning, June 8, 1897, the trustees decided to close the library on account 
of no funds. All books were called in by June 15th. The special tax 
was available April 1, 1898, and the library resumed business. 

In 1903 W. P. Ward and E. E. Hartung succeeded in obtaining the 
sum of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie, philanthropist, with which to 
build the library building on the public square, provided certain monies 
were raised by the townspeople and support of the institution guaran- 
teed after it was constructed. A. M. Jefferis, architect, made the draw- 
ings for the building; which was then erected and opened to the public 
in the fall of 1903. The library now numbers about five thousand 
volumes. It is open every afternoon and evening, except Sunday, and 
is undci- the charge of Mrs. S. M. Davidson, as librarian. 





It has been said that the history of a country could be written from 
its laws. This is true to some extent, for in a country's legislation are 
reflected the character of the people, their ambitions, their hopes, their 
ideals and their aims. Civil law made its appearance as soon as men 
began to realize that they were dependent upon each other and that some 
system of rules was necessary for the protection of person and property — 
rules that would conserve the communal interest without trampling upon 
the rights of the individual. The lawyer and the legislator therefore made 
their appearance with the very dawn of civilization. At first the laws 
were simple and the methods of the primitive courts were crude. But as 
the occupations arid business interests of the. people became more varied 
through advancing civilization, the laws became correspondingly more 
complex and have been arranged into codes. 

"To establish justice" was written into the Federal Constitution by 
the founders of the American Republic as one of the primary and para- 
mount purposes of government. To establish a system of courts in which 
the safety of persons and the rights of property shall alike be securely 
safeguarded! The founders of the republic also showed their wisdom in 
separating the functions of government into the three departments — 
legislative, executive and judicial— the first to enact, the second to execute 
and the third to interpret the nation's laws. States have copied his sys- 
tem and in every state there is a Legislature to pass laws, a Supreme and 
subordinate courts to interpret them, and a governor as the chief executive 
officer to see that they are fairly and impartially enforced. 

The law is a jealous profession. It demands of the judge on the bench 



and the attorney at the bar a knowledge of the law, a respect for the 
rights of litigants, and a conscientious effort to interpret rightly the laws 
of the land, that wrongs may be righted, offenders punished, and the 
administration of justice secured — "speedy, substantial, efficient, equit- 
able and economical." Within recent years some rather caustic criticisms 
have been passed upon the courts for their delays, and a great deal has 
been said in the public press about "judicial reform." Possibly some of 
the criticisms have been well founded, but should the entire judiciary sys- 
tem be condemned because here or there some judge has failed to measure 
up to the proper standard? Or should the legal profession be held up 
to ridicule and contempt because an occasional attorney has adopted the 
tactics of the shyster or pettifogger? Remember, there was one Judas 
among the twelve chosen apostles. 

It should be borne in mind that a large majority of the courts are 
presided over by men of ability and character. And in e.xercising the 
right of free speech or free press, it should not be forgotten that many of 
the great men in our national history were lawyers, John Marshall, one 
of the early chief justices of the United States Supreme Court, was a 
man whose memory is revered by American people and his opinions are 
still quoted with confidence by members of his profession. Thomas Jeffer- 
son, Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe, who negotiated the Louisiana 
Purchase and gave to their country an empire in extent, were lawyers. 
Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Thomas H. Benson, Salmon P. Chase, 
Thomas M. Cooley, Stephen A. Douglas, and a host of other eminent 
Americans, wrote their names upon history's pages through their knowl- 
edge of the laws. Their loyalty, patriotism and love of justice cannot be 
questioned. And last, but not least, stands the name of Abraham Lincoln, 
self-educated and self-reliant, whose consummate tact and statemanship 
saved he Union from disruption. 


When the Territory of Iowa was organized in 1838, Charles Mason, 
who lived at Burlington, Iowa, was appointed chief justice; Joseph Will- 
iams, of Pennsylvania, and Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque, associate jus- 
tices. Upon these three men devolved the duty of holding court at such 
places as their presence might be required in the entire territory. It 
would be an arduous task for three men to undertake to hold court and 
settle all the disputes in Iowa now, but in 18-38 there were only a few settle- 
ments along the eastern border. All three of these judges continued on 
the bench until Iowa was admitted into the Union in 1846. Judge Mason 
was the first chief justice of the State Supreme Court until he resigned 
in June, 1847, when he was succeeded by Judge Williams. 



When Emmet County was created in 1851 it was placed in the Fifth 
Judicial District, which included all Northwestern Iowa, and of which 
Cave J. McFarland was judge. No provisions were made for holding 
court in the county, for the reason that at that time it had not a single 
white inhabitant. Judge McFarland retired from the bench in 1856, and 
a little later the state was redistricted for judicial purposes, Emmet County 
being placed in the Fourth Judicial District. 

The first term of the District Court ever held in Emmet County was 
convened at Estherville on May 30, 1862, with Judge Asahel W. Hubbard 
of Sioux City presiding. The only entry on the record at that term was 
as follows: "At a term of the District Court of Emmet County, com- 
mencing on the 30th day of May, 1862, and held in Estherville, in said 
county before Hon. A. W. Hubbard, judge of the Fourth Judicial District 
of Iowa, in pursuance to due notice given, the following proceedings were 
had: It has now been proven to the satisfaction of the court, and it is 
ordered to be entered of record that due and legal notice of this term of 
court has been given. 

"Read, approved and signed, 

"a. W. HUBBARD, Judge." 

Asahel W. Hubbard was born on a farm near Haddam, Connecticut, 
January 18, 1819. He was educated in the public schools of his native 
state and upon arriving at his majority he went to Rushville, Indiana, 
where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. He served as a mem- 
ber of the lower house in the Indiana Legislature of 1847 and 1849. About 
that time there was a tide of emigration westward and Mr. Hubbard, who 
was still a young man, decided to try his fortunes in Iowa. In 1857 he 
located at Sioux City and the next year was elected judge of the Fourth 
Judicial District, which had just been established by the General Assem- 
bly and included a number of the northwestern counties. He served on 
the bench for four years, or until 1862, when he was nominated by the 
Republicans of the Sixth District for Congress. The term of court at 
Estherville above mentioned was one of the last ever held by Judge Hub- 
bard. He served in Congress until March 4, 1869, when he assisted in 
organizing the First National Bank of Sioux City. He died at Sioux 
City on September 22, 1879. 

When Judge Hubbard was elected to Congress in 1862, he was suc- 
ceeded on the bench by Isaac Pendleton, of Woodbury County, who served 
as judge until 1867, when he was succeeded by Henry Ford, of Harrison 
County. Not much can be learned concerning either Judge Pendleton or 
Judge Ford. In 1874 Charles H. Lewis, of Cherokee County, was elected 


as the successor of Judge Ford. Up to this time the Fourth Judicial 
District had included twenty-two of the northwestern counties. As new 
settlers came in and the business of the court grew correspondingly, the 
district became too large for one judge and in 1876 it was divided. Judge 
Lewis' jurisdiction over Emmet County then came to an end, as the county 
was placed in the Fourteenth District, over which E. R. Duffie, of Sac 
County, was elected to preside. Judge Duffie was a man of fine legal 
attainments and his decisions were based upon the fundamental principles 
of justice. He remained upon the bench until 1884, when he removed to 
Omaha, Nebraska, where he was elected judge of the District Court and 
was later appointed one of the commissioners to relieve the congested 
docket of the Nebraska Supreme Court. 

Lot Thomas, of Storm Lake, was elected to succeed Judge Duffie in 
1884. He was a man well qualified for the duties of judge and remained 
on the bench until 1898, when he resigned to become a candidate for Con- 
gress in the Eleventh Iowa District. He was elected to that office in , 
November, 1898, and was twice reelected. 

By the act of April 10, 1886, the Fourteenth Judicial District was 
divided and the Sixteenth District was erected. This reduced the Four- 
teenth to the counties of Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Humboldt, 
Kossuth, Palo Alto and Pocahontas. When Judge Thomas resigned in 1898, 
F. H. Helsell, of Buena Vista County, was elected as his successor. Judge 
Helsell served only for the remainder of the term, being succeeded in 
1900 by Arthur D. Bailie, of Storm Lake. He remained on the bench 
until 1912, when he was succeeded by Judge Nelson J. Lee, of Estherville, 
who was reelected in 1916. 

As there have been two judges in the Fourteenth Judicial District 
since 1886, a word of explanation as to how this was brought about may 
be necessary. The constitution of 1857, Article V, Section 1, provides 
that: "The judicial power shall be vested in a supreme court, district 
court, and such other courts, inferior to the supreme court, as the Gen- 
eral Assembly may, from time to time, establish." Under this provision the 
Legislature of 1868 created a tribunal known as the 


Under the provisions of the act the state was divided into two circuits, 
with one judge in each. Emmet County was placed in the Second Cir- 
cuit, of which Jared M. Snyder, of Humboldt County, was the first judge, 
taking his place upon the bench in January, 1869. When the Fourteenth 
Judicial District was created in 1876, Emmet County was placed in the 
First Circuit, of which John N. Weaver, of Kossuth County, was elected 
judge. He served from 1877 to 1884, when he was succeeded by J. H. 


Macomber, of Ida County. At the general election on November 4, 1884, 
the people of the state ratified the following constitutional amendment 
relating to the courts : 

"At any regular session of the General Assembly, the state may be 
divided into the necessary judicial districts for District Court purposes, 
or the said districts may be reorganized and the number of districts and 
the judges of said courts increased or diminished ; but no reorganization 
of the districts or diminution of the judges shall have the effect of remov- 
ing a judge from office." 

Pursuant to the authority conferred by this amendment, the Legisla- 
ture passed an act abolishing the Circuit Court, which act was approved 
by Governor Larrabee on April 10, 1886. That act also divided the state 
into eighteen judicial districts and provided for two judges in the Four- 
teenth District. George H. Carr, of Palo Alto County, was elected as the 
additional judge in the fall of 1880 and served until 1894, when he was suc- 
ceeded by W. B. Quarton, of Kossuth County. In 1906 Judge Quarton was 
succeeded on the bench by Daniel F. Coyle, of Humboldt County, who was 
reelected in 1910 and again in 1914. As the district judges are elected 
for terms of four years, the judges of the Fourteenth Judicial District 
at the beginning of the year 1917 were Daniel F. Coyle and Nelson J. 
Lee. The term of the former expires in 1918 and that of the latter in 

Fortunately for the people of Emmet County, the judges that have been 
called to preside over her District and Ciixuit Courts have been men of 
ability and character, free from charges of venality or corruption, and 
justice has generally been administered in such a manner that few criti- 
cisms of the courts have been heard. * .. 


Prior to 1886 district or prosecuting attorneys held their office by 
appointment. One of the early district attorneys in the old Fourth Judi- 
cial District was Jacob M. Toliver, who is still living at Lake City and 
is one of the oldest attorneys in Northwestern Iowa. Another early prose- 
cuting attorney was M. B. O'Connell, who was an Irishman of excellent 
qualities and a fine orator. On one occasion he was a candidate for the 
republican nomination for Congressman of the Tenth District against 
Jonathan P. Dolliver. Although defeated in the convention, he remained 
a firm friend of Mr. Dolliver, who was accustomed to send him to fill 
public speaking appointments in political campaigns that Mr. Dolliver 
was unable to fill himself. After practicing law in the Fourth and Four- 
teenth Judicial Districts for several years, Mr. O'Donnell went to Wash- 
ington where he accepted a position in the treasury department. It would 


be impossible to give a complete list of the district attorneys who held 
their office by appointment. 

The following amendment to the fifth article of the state constitution 
was adopted by the voters at the general election on November 4, 1884. 
"Section 13, The qualified electors of each county shall, at the general 
election in the year 1886, and every two years thereafter, elect a county 
attorney, who shall be a resident of the county for which he is elected, and 
shall hold his office for two years, and until his successor shall have been 
elected and qualified." 

Under this provision the following have served as county attorney of 
Emmet County, the year in which each was elected also being given: 
J. G. Myerly, 1886; C. W. Crim, 1892; A. W. Swett, 1898; Nelson J. Lee, 
1900 ; George E. Patterson, 1904 ; J. W. Morse, 1908 ; Byron M. Coon, 1912 ; 
Francis J. Kennedy, 1916. 


While Emmet County has never produced a lawyer that has "startled 
the nation," the members of the local bar have always been equal to the 
task of handling the litigation that has come before the District Court. 
Just who was the first attorney to practice his profession in the county 
is somewhat uncertain. One of the oldest lawyers is Capt. E. B. Soper, 
who appeared in the courts of Emmet County soon after the close of the 
Civil war. Later he formed a partnership with D. R. Alexander, which 
still exists, though Captain Soper lives at Emmetsburg, in Palo Alto 
County. Another early lawyer was John W. Cory, who subsequently 
removed to Spirit Lake and from there to Spencer. An old bar docket 
of 1882 shows the names of J. A. Snodgrass, Peter Johnston, F. E. Allen, 
J. B. Binford, Frank Davey and P. O. Cassidy, none of whom is any longer 
engaged in practice in the county. During the early history of the Dis- 
trict Court lawyers from other counties frequently came to Estherville to 
represent clients. 

The present bai', according to the District Court docket at the close 
of the year 1916, is composed of the following members: D. R. Alexander 
(Soper & Alexander), George K. Allen, S. G. Bammer (Coon & Bammer), 
Byron M. Coon, C. W. Crim, Kaspar Faltinson (at Armstrong), M. J. 
Groves, Francis J. Kennedy (Morse & Kennedy), W. A. Ladd, J. W. 
Morse, A. H. Nash, George A. Patterson and A. J. Rhodes. Of these 
Geoi'ge K. Allen, A. H. Nash, George A. Patterson and A. J. Rhodes are 
not engaged in active practice. Mr. Allen is editor of the Estherville 
Enterprise and Mr. Nash is on the editorial stafi' of the Lawyers' Cooper- 
ative Publishing Company, of Rochester, New York. 



About 1906, while George A. Patterson was county attorney, he and a 
few other lawyers began to discuss the advisability of organizing a county 
bar association. A meeting was called at C. W. Crim's law office, which 
was then in a frame building where the Gardston Hotel now stands. An 
organization was effected with W. A. Ladd as president and Byron M. 
Coon as secretary. The objects of the association were to establish more 
friendly relations among the attorneys, and to agree upon a fee bill, or 
schedule of charges for certain professional services. Meetings have not 
been held regularly, the members coming together now and then upon the 
call of the president to adopt resolutions upon a death, or for some other stated in the call. In 1916 Judge N. J. Lee was president of the 
association, which includes practically all the practicing attorneys in 
the county. Jj t i^j | 


The practice of medicine, in an elementary form at least, is almost 
as old as the human race. When the first man was affiliated by some 
bodily ailment, he sought among the plants for something that would 
relieve his suffering. If a remedy was found the information was impaired 
to a neighbor and perhaps a supply of the plant garnered for future use. 
Other plants were added as they were discovered and thus, step by step, 
medicine gradually developed into a science. 

A Chinese tradition tells that the practice of medicine was introduced 
in that country by the Emperor Hwang-ti, in the year 2887 B. C. In 
India the practice of medicine is very ancient, the physicians coming 
from the highest caste, and demonology played a conspicuous parts in their 
theories regarding disease. Among the ancient Egyptians there were 
specialists as early as 1600 B. C. The Hebrews originally looked upon 
disease as a punishment for sin, but after the two captivities they had 
their regular practicing physicians and surgeons. In the history of medi- 
cine the names of the Greek physician .-Esculapius and Hippocrates occupy 
prominent places as pioneers in the healing art, the latter having been 
called the "Father of Medicine.' The oath required by Hippocrates of his 
students forms the basis of the code of medical ethics in this Twentieth 
Century. Galen, who practiced in the latter part of the Second Century 
of the Christian Era, was the first physician to lay special stress upon the 
study of anatomy as an essential to the practicing physician. 

Throughout the gradual development of the science of medicine the 
doctor has often had to meet the sneers and jibes of people who ques- 
tioned his ability and openly declared their lack of faith in his methods. 


When Doctor Harvey announced his discovery of the circulation of the 
blood, and declared the passage of the blood through the arteries and 
veins of the human body to be the source of life and health, he was scoffed 
at by the ignorant. Some priests even went so far as to charge him with 
blasphemy, asserting that man was kept alive "by the grace of God." 
Even as late as the early years of the Nineteenth Century the French 
writer, Voltaire, defined a physician as "A man who crams drugs of which 
he knows little into a body of which he knows less." That may have been 
true of a certain class of French empirics at the time it was written, but 
since Voltaire's day the medical profession has made almost marvelous 
progress, with the result that the physician of the present generation is 
usually a man who is entitled to honor and respect, both for his profes- 
sional ability and his standing in the community as a citizen. 

When the first physicians began practice in Emmet County they did not 
visit their patients in automobiles. Even had the automobiles then been 
invented the roads — where there were any roads at all — would of course 
have been found in such condition for the greater part of the year 
that the motor car would have been practically useless. Consequently, 
the doctor made his round of visits on horseback. His practice extended 
over a large district and he frequently carried a lantern with him at night, 
to assist him in finding the "trail" in case he lost his bearings. Like the 
sailor, he guided his course by the stars. On cloudy nights, when the 
stars could not be seen, after making a call, he would drop the reins on 
his horse's neck and trust to the animal's instinct to find the way home. 
There were then no convenient pharmacists to fill prescriptions, but the doc- 
tor overcame this difficulty by carrying his limited stock of remedies with 
him in a pair of "pill-bags"— composed of two leathern boxes, each divided 
into compartments to accommodate vials of different sizes, and the two con- 
nected by a broad strap that could be thrown across the rear of the saddle. 

In addition to his professional standing in the frontier settlement, the 
doctor was a man of prominence and influence in other matters. He was 
quite often the only man in the commuity who subscribed for and read a 
weekly newspaper, which led his neighbors to follow his judgment in 
matters pertaining to politics. Look back over the history of almost any 
county in the Mississippi Valley and the names of doctors will be noted 
as members of the legislature, incumbents of important county offices, and 
in numerous instances physicians have been called to represent their dis- 
tricts in Congress. He was not always above gossip and his travels about 
the settlement brought him in touch uith all the local happenings, which 
made him a welcome visitor in other households. Socially he was well 
received by the pioneers at all times, whether any member of the family 
was ill or not. A plate was always ready for him at the table, and on 
these occasions the best piece of fried chicken or the juiciest piece of pie 


would find its way to the doctor's place. More American boys have prob- 
ably been named after the family physician than for great statesmen. 

It is not definitely known who was the first physician to practice 
his profession in Emmet County. Dr. E. H. Ballard became a i^esident of 
Estherville soon after the close of the Civil war and was prominently 
identified with Emmet County aflfairs until his death. He was elected 
county treasurer in 1877 and acquired considerable notoriety by his refusal 
to remove the treasurer's office to Swan Lake when ordered to do so by the 
board of supervisors. While serving as treasurer he also performed the 
duties of county coroner. He was elected the first mayor of Estherville 
when the town was incorporated in 1881, and from 1883 to 1889 he was 
county superintendent of schools. At that time he had his office over 
Barker & Ballard's store, being the junior member of that firm. 

A little later came Dr. George M. Keller, a graduate of Rush Medical 
College, of Chicago, and Dr. F. Reynolds, a graduate of the St. Louis 
Medical College. Dr. F. L. Norin was one of the early physicians of Swan 
Lake while that place was the county seat. An old number of the North- 
ern Vindicator (1886) contains the advertisement of Dr. R. W. Salisbury, 
whose office was then located "two doors south of the Emmet House." 
Contemporary with Doctor Salisbury was Dr. E. B. Myrick, who had his 
office "over Peterson's hardware store." 


On Tuesday, August 3, 1897, a number of physicians met at Spirit 
Lake and organized the Upper Des Moines Valley Medical Society, which 
included doctors from several counties. Dr. E. L. Brownell was elected 
president; Dr. E. E. Munger, vice-president; Dr. C. S. Schultz, secretary 
and treasurer. In addition to these officers, the members of the society 
who enrolled their names at that meeting were : Drs. R. C. Mollison and 
and A. E. Burdick, of Graettinger, Palo Alto County ; Dr. C. B. Adams, of 
Estherville, Emmet County ; Drs. R. J. and R. G. Hamilton, of Ocheyedan, 
Osceola County; Dr. A. E. Rector, of Lake Park and Drs. C. M. Coldren and 
Q. C. Fuller, of Milford, Dickinson County; Drs. J. B. Stair and C. B. Foun- 
tain, of Spirit Lake. 

At a subsequent meeting in November, 1897, a few additional mem- 
bers were taken in, but the society covered too large a section of country 
and tlie members were so widely scattered that it was impossible to perfect 
a compact organization. A few meetings were held during the next two 
years, but they were poorly attended and the society was finally disbanded. 

About the beginning of the present century the American Medical 
Association adopted a rule that no physician could be a member of that 
association unless he belonged to some afiiliated county and state medi- 


cal societies. This stimulated the organization of local medical societies 
all over the country, one of which was the 


Some of the physicians of Emmet County, who were desirous of retain- 
ing membership in the American Medical Association, obtained from the 
Iowa State Medical Society the necessary infonnation and credentials for 
establishing a county society. Invitations were sent out to every licensed 
physician in the county and on Thursday, October 8, 1903, quite a num- 
ber of these assembled at the office of Dr. C. B. Adams in Estherville. The 
constitution and by-laws recommended by the American Medical Associa- 
tion and the State Medical Society were adopted, and the following officers 
were elected: Dr. C. B. Adams, president; Dr. Alice C. Stinson, vice- 
president; Dr. W. E. Bradley, secretary and treasurer; Dr. J. A. Finlay- 
son. Dr. E. W. Bachman and Dr. Albert Anderson, censors. 

Dr. C. D. Adams, the first president of the society, is now located at 
Los Angeles, California, and Dr. J. A. Finlayson, of Armstrong, a member 
of the first board of censors, is deceased. All the others who assisted 
in organizing the society are still members. The annual meeting of the 
society, at which officers are elected, is held on the first Tuesday in Decem- 
ber. The members of the society at the beginning of the year 1917 were 
as follows : Albert Anderson, E. W. Bachman, C. E. Birney, W. E. Brad- 
ley, Alice C. Stinson and M. E. Wilson, of Estherville; J. B. Knipe and 
G. H. West, of Armstrong; and H. D. Mei-eness, of Dolliver. The officers 
at that time were: M. E. Wilson, president; G. H. West, vice-president; 
W. E. Bradley, secretary and treasurer; J. B. Knipe, Alice C. Stinson and 
E. W. Bachman, censors. 

There are a few regular licensed physicians in the county who are 
not members of the society, viz: Drs. Frank Barber and W. A. Staggs, 
of Estherville ; Dr. J. K. Guthrie, of Ringsted ; and Dr. T. V. Golden, of 





The Methodist Episcopal Church in EstherviUe had its beginning as 
far back as the late '60s. The Estherville circuit was established in 
1868; this circuit included Spirit Lake in Dickinson County. Prior to 
this time the circuit had included Clay and O'Brien Counties also, but 
the latter two drew off to themselves the same as Emmet and Dickinson. 
One preacher had charge of both Emmet and Dickinson Counties and 
alternated on Sundays between the two. The exact time of holding 
services was even then in considerable doubt, as the condition of the 
country, whether the streams were swollen or normal, whether the coun- 
try was buried in snow or a blizzard raging, made the pastor's appear- 
ance a matter of extreme speculation. 

The first pastor to be sent to this part of the county to undertake 
the work of the Methodist Episcopal Chui-ch was the Rev. Cornelius 
McLean. He selected his headquarters at Okoboji, Dickinson County. 
His itinerary included services once every three weeks as follows: in 
Emmet County, at Estherville in the morning and at Emmet in the 
afternoon; in Dickinson County the following Sunday, at Spirit Lake in 
the forenoon and at Okoboji in the afternoon ; and on the third Sunday 
at Peterson in the morning and at Waterman, O'Brien County, in the 
afternoon. Mr. McLean came to this territoiy in 1859. the year of the 
organization of Emmet County. Much credit must be given to .J. S. 
Prescott, of Dickinson County, for inducing the conference to send a 
man to tliis barren country .so early. R. A. Smith in the History of 
Dickinson County (1902) has the following to say of Mr. McLean: 

"He was an ideal representative of that class of educated, con- 
scientious young men who have, in all periods of our country's history, 
struck for the frontier and labored honestly and earnestly to do what 



good they could, and exert what influence they might in forming public 
opinion and directing public sentiment along the lines of mental and 
inoral advancement. He was a young man and this was his first charge, 
and as before stated he was the first preacher on this charge." 

Rev. J. A. Van Anda and Rev. J. W. Jones followed McLean. The 
same writer as quoted above has this to say of them : "He was followed 
by Rev. J. A. Van Anda, who was the opposite of McLean in every par- 
ticular. He was trifling, flippant and insincere, to say nothing of the 
more serious charges afterward brought against him. He was finally 
dismissed from the ministry for immoral conduct. 

"Rev. J. W. Jones, his successor, was an honest, earnest man and 
a hard worker, but he was homesick. He had left his wife and two 
small children somewhere in Wisconsin when he came here. He stood 
it just as long as he could and then went back to his family, which he 
never should have left. He was a Welshman and could talk 'Gaelic' 
fluently. The charge was without a pastor until the ensuing conference 
met, when Rev. William Hyde was appointed to the circuit. He was 
simply an ignoramus, not capable of doing much of either good or harm. 
It cannot be said that he had phenominal success in expounding the 
Word to the soldier boys stationed here (Spirit Lake) at that time, but 
it was fun for the boys all the same, and they attended services regularly 
and were generous in their treatment of "Brother Hyde,' who remained 
here during the conference year. 

"The circuit had by this time grown to such proportions that the 
people thought they were entitled to more i-ecognition by the conference 
by having a more able and experienced man sent among them. In 
answer to this demand Rev. Seymour Snyder was assigned to the circuit. 
His appointment proved eminently satisfactory. He was able, honest, 
earnest and genial, and had the happy faculty of adapting himself to his 
surroundings without friction, and if he could not strictly be termed a 
genius in its expressive sense he evinced a good degree of sound sense 
and capacity for hard work. It was during his ministry that the first 
camp meeting was held in northwestern Iowa. 

The first regular pastor to be appointed to Estherville was Rev. 
W. W. Mallory and he was followed closely by Revs. Peter Baker, B. C. 
Hammond, W. Cooley, J. S. Ziegler, J. D. Hoover, H. L. Goodrich, J. W. 
Plummer, E. R. Littell and A. J. Langdell. Many pastors have served 
in the Estherville pulpit since this time, among them being Revs. Joseph 
Jeffrey, G. H. Cheeney, D. M. Yetter, F. W. Gleasan, E. M. Glasgow, 
H. E. Seeks, J. W. McCoy, L. C. Woodford, J. W. Lescomb, A. S. Coch- 
ran, H. G. Pittinger, G. W. Southwell, F. W. Ginn, T. S. Cole and W. C. 

Prominent among the early members of the Methodist Episcopal 


Church here were : Ethel EUis, Reuben Fisher, Miller, Martin Met- 

calf, R. E. Ridley and wife. IMetcalf occasionally preached before a 
pastor was sent to this country. The church was first incorpoi-ated on 
December 1, 1875, with C. W. Jarvis, E. VVhitcomb, E. B. Soper, Howard 
Graves and R. E. Ridley as trustees. New articles of incorporation were 
filed at the county courthouse on June 22, 1883, and signed by the fol- 
lowing trustees: G. M. Stafford, E. R. Littell, G. S. Trumble. 

In an article upon early church history of Emmet County published 
in the Democrat, Capt. E. B. Soper stated that "In 1871 preaching was 
held once in two weeks in a building erected for school purposes by the 
'swamp land grabbers' — Logan and Meservey — on the public square in 
Estherville north of the present courthouse. Rev. B. C. Hammond came 
in on alternate Sundays from his claim in Palo Alto County and preached 
to the people. Next Rev. F. IM. Cooley, also a Palo Alto County home- 
steader, came. The church society at Estherville then consisted of 
twenty-four members, including Charles and C. W. Jarvis and families 
and Joseph Clark. The northwest part of Iowa was then a part of the 
Des Moines Conference. The first session was held in the fall of 1872. 
In 1872 services were held in the new brick schoolhouse which later 
became the Iowa Hotel. In 1879, during the county seat fight a new 
church building was constructed by the Methodists, which was also the 
first church structure in Emmet County. The building was put up prin- 
cipally because Estherville wished to have an added advantage in claim- 
ing the countj^ seat privileges. This building was used by the society 
until 1908, when the present handsome and commodious church was 
built. This new house of woi'ship was dedicated with appropriate cere- 
mony on March 29, 1908. 

The Free Methodist Church of Estherville was organized December 
1, 1901, by Rev. John Sutton. Seven members composed the first class. 
The first meeting was held in the county courthouse and was conducted 
by Rev. John Sutton, assisted by Rev. C. M. Damon. The society was 
incorporated according to law on August 26, 1902, and the articles signed 
by Ole Anderson, John Sutton, Clara Anderson, W. G. Anderson and 
Hannah Anderson. The members drew up a fund and purchased the 
lot at the corner of North Fifth Street and Washington Avenue, also 
purchased the old Presbji;erian Church building for $2,000. 

The Presbyterians were first organized in 1881, but a little over a 
year prior to this — in the spi'ing of 1880 — Rev. G. N. Luccock was sent 
by the Home Mission to Emmet County as a missionary. He was a 
student in the theological seminary at Pittsburgh and like many of the 
young preachers in those days was first dispatched to the untried frontier 
to gain his first practical experience. Reverend Luccock first organized 
a class at Swan Lake, after which he returned to the Pittsburgh seminary 


to resume his studies. In the spring of 1881 he again came to Emmet 
County and on December 11, 1881, organized the Presbyterian Church at 
Estherville. The first meeting of the diminutive class was held in a hall 
over the State Bank. In 1882 a parsonage was built on Seventh Street. 
The society, however, continued to meet in the courthouse or the Baptist 
Church until the year 1888. In this year the railroad company pre- 
sented the society with a lot and the congregation managed to raise 
the sum of $2,000 to build thereon a small frame building. The Presby- 
terians used this house of worship until 1903, when the present magnifi- 
cent church building was constructed. It was dedicated February 15, 
1903, the dedicatory sermon being preached by Rev. Willis G. Craig of 
Chicago. At the dedication all the former pastors, namely : Revs. George 
N. Luccock, D. W. Williams, Samuel W. Steele and W. M. Evans, in the 
order named, and the incumbent at that time, Rev. W. E. McLeod, were 
present. The church building cost the society $30,000, exclusive of the 
fine pipe organ installed. 

The society at Estherville was incorporated November 28, 1888, 
with the following trustees: L. M. Culver, C. H. Bryant, David Weir, 
Howard Graves and John Woods. 

Mention has already been made of the first Presbyterian Society in 
the county to be organized — that of Swan Lake by Reverend Luccock 
a year previous to his work at Estherville. The Swan Lake Society was 
incorporated August 31, 1880, and the first board of trustees comprised 
the following: F. C. McMath, C. I. Shaw, W. S. Jones, A. Jenkins and 
L. S. Williams. In the articles it is stated that "The object of said cor- 
poration is to foster, preserve, protect, encourage and maintain a church 
organization perfected at the village of Swan Lake, in the County of 
Emmet, State of Iowa, on the 15th day of August, A. D. 1880, and 
known as the organization of the First Presbyterian Society of Emmet 
County, including the powers to build a church to be located in the 
village of Swan Lake, Emmet County, State of Iowa, or in such other 
place as may be for the common benefit of the First Presbyterian Society," 
etc. New articles of incorporation were filed in the county coui'thouse 
January 13, 1882, and were signed by C. I. Shaw, L. R. Bingham, M. K. 
Whelan, F. H. Lathrop, A. J. Fuller, J. L. Guild, A. Jenkins, B. W. Coult 
and F. C. McMath. After the county seat was removed from Swan Lake 
to Estherville in 1882, the society languished for several years, and when 
the town of Gruver was laid out in 1899 the church was removed to the 
new village. 

The First Free Will Baptist Church of Estherville was formally 
organized in the spring of 1870 and services first held in the schoolhouse. 
The society continued to worship at odd places until 1882, when their 
church building was constructed. The society was incorporated May 1, 


1883, and the articles signed by J. W. Ridley, Isaac Mattson. A. A. Pin- 
gray, R. E. Ridley, H. A. Curtis, C. B. Mattson, R. P. Ridley and C. I. 

In January, 1890, the first Baptist Church of Estherville was organ- 
ized and services were held in the courthouse until the construction of 
a house of worship in 1899. This organization was incorporated January 
11, 1894, by 0. J. Brown, S. H. Pelton and D. J. Gillett. 

The month of March, year of 1908, brought the federation of the 
two above Baptist Churches, the new organization being given the title 
of the Union Baptist Church of Estherville. The Union Church was 
incorporated August 16, 191.3, by W. H. Lesher, S. M. Osgood, Edna M. 
Barker, R. E. Ridley, W. E. Turner, L. C. Doolittle, Fred C. Treoett, 
S. P. Deming, Fred C. Nelson, J. D. Vannoy, trustees. 

The First Church of Christ at Estherville was organized in the 
spring of the year 1888 by Rev. J. B. Vawter, an evangelist on the Red- 
path Chautauqua Circuit. There were twelve charter members in the 
first class. The First Church was incorporated March 15, 1890, and 
the articles signed by the following first trustees: G. W. Hawk, F. R. 
Lyman, Lewis Lyman, M. J. Mattson, Charles H. Evans, J. W. Lough, 
I. N. Salyers and Orlando Lough. 

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized at Estherville 
in January, 1899. First the new society used the Neville Hall as a 
place of worship, then leased the old Free Will Baptist Church building. 
The church was incorporated January 31, 1900, and the first trustees 
were: Oswald Neville. Henry A. Hanson and Minnie B. Lough. 

The Grace Episcopal Church of Estherville was started in 1889, when 
Bishop Perry appointed the Rev. Francis C. Berry as the first resident 
priest of the Grace Church ilission on May 1st of that year. On Febru- 
ary 28, 1890, the mission was incorporated into a parish and the follow- 
ing vestrymen were elected: G. A. Goodell, senior warden and treasurer; 
Henry Allen, junior warden; E. J. Woods, secretary; and A. 0. Peterson, 
S. C. Vlark, W. B. Upman, James C. Atkins. Fred N. Roberts and H. F. 
Wells also signed the articles. In April, 1890, the erection of a frame 
building on the corner of East Main and Seventh streets was completed. 
The structure was consecrated by Bishop Morrison on January 19, 1902. 
During the pastorate of Rev. Richard Ellerby, 1903-8, the property on 
the coi-ner of East Des Moines and Eighth streets was purchased. The 
church was moved onto the vacant lot next to the rectory, the same 
being on the purchased property. Following is the list of pastors who 
have filled the pulpit of the Grace Church: Fi-ancis C. Berry was the 
first; Rev. T. F. Bowen. 1892-6; Sev. Paul R. Talbot, 1896-7; Rev. W. H. 
Tomlins, 1898-9; Rev. W. H. Knowlton, 1900-2; Rev. Richard Ellerby, 


1903-8 ; Rev. Harvey M. Babin, 1909-10 ; Rev. Mark Paulsen, 1911-3 ; Rev. 
Alvin Scollay Hock, 1914 . 

The Immaiuiel Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estherville was 
incorporated July 11, 1902, "for the promotion of the Christian religion 
in accordance with the usages and tenets of the Unaltered Augsburg 
Confession." The first trustees of the church were: George Scharfen- 
berg, John L. Bork, Frank Gimitz; August Reich was clerk and Otto 
Hoffman, treasurer. The church society was organized in Estherville 
several years prior to this time, but little data is procurable upon the 
early history of this organization. The first Lutheran church building 
was constructed in Estherville in 1887 and cost .$3,000. 

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church of Estherville was incorporated 
May 14, 1912, and the articles filed for record on June 11th following. 
William Fahey, J. P. Kirby and Reverend Murtagh signed the articles. 
The society in Estherville was first started in the '90s and the first 
priest was Reverend Carroll. Then came Revs. John Kelley, M. R. Daly, 
John Daly and Murtagh. In 1907 the new church building was com- 
pleted and it was dedicated on October 13th. 

The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estherville was 
incorporated July 7, 1887, with the objects of building a church and 
supporting and encouraging parochial schools. The articles of incorpo- 
ration were signed by Helge Olsen, C. 0. Lien, T. 0. Berge, K. A. Toft. 


The Methodist Episcopal Church in the town of Armstrong was 
organized sometime during the summer of 1874. Prominent among the 
first members of this little society were the Canon, Campbell, John 
Dundas and Lewis families. Reverend Forbes was the first pastor to 
preach to the congregation after the organization, then came Reverend 
Brown. The articles of incorporation of the First Methodist Episcopal 
Church of Armstrong were filed March 7, 1893, and adopted February 
20, 1893. The trustees were: William Stuart, Richard Horswell, Wil- 
liam Musson, George Burkhead and E. J. Boots. These trustees and 
the following members signed the articles: J. T. Smith, E. B. Reccord, 
Walter Horswell, M. H. Horswell, F. 0. Rutan, W. A. Richmond, L. E. 
Streater, A. M. Thompson, Jennie Stuart and Ann Musson. 

The Free Methodist Church at Armstrong was incorporated May 
31, 1887. On April 23d a meeting had been held at their place of wor- 
ship, when the following were elected trustees: H. H. Higley, G. E. 
Sanborn, S. R. Kleine, Richard Horswell and one other. On May 14, 
1895, new articles of incorporation were filed with the Emmet County 


recorder, these signed by C. W. Sutton, Charles S. Lewis, Eunice M. 
Lewis and Sarah J. Lewis. 

The articles of incorporation of the First Presbyterian Church of 
Armstrong were adopted August 1, 1891, and filed the next day at the 
county seat. Matthew Richmond, R. I. Cratty and E. B. Campbell com- 
posed the first board of trustees. The articles of incorporation were 
prepared l)y Rev. R. E. Flickinger of Tonda, Iowa. 

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church of Armstrong was incorporated 
May 13, 1912', by the Rt. Rev. Philip J. Carrigan, Bishop of Sioux City, 
Rev. James T. Saunders, vicar general, Rev. Henry C. Erkart, pastor, 
and John and William Kennedy. 

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, at Armstrong, was incorpo- 
rated November 22. 1898. The directors' names in the articles as filed 
were: Edward M. Felkey, Gustave E. Melin and Grace Thoburn. 


The Danish Lutheran Church, known as the St. Ausgar Church, was 
organized in 1884 and for three years the Rev. Hilorup Jergensen, from 
Latimer, held preaching services once a month in one of the schoolhouses. 
The society was incorporated December 14, 1882, with Hans Jensen, 
president; Neils Neilsen, secretary; A. N. Gaarde, treasurer; M. Jensen 
and Lauritz Lauritsen, trustees. Reverend Jergensen was succeeded by 
Rev. Thomas T. Horslund from Denmark, who preached for five years. 
It was during his pastorate and in 1890 that a church was built where 
the present church of St. John stands. In 1897 the church congregation 
became divided and thereafter one branch was known as the St. Paul's 
co)]gregation and the other as St. John's. In 1900 the St. Paul's Church 
erected a house of worship in the town of Ringsted. The St. Paul's 
Church belongs to the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in 
America, but still the congregation is an individual, self-supporting organi- 
zation, which helped to organize the above named synod in Minneapolis 
in 1896. There are about fifty families in the church. 

The St. John's Church was organized at the time of the split in the 
St. Ausgar's congregation with twenty-five families. "The aim of this 
congregation is to worship God in the same way as our forefathers have 
done in Denmark ever since Ausgar came and preached Jesus Christ 
for the inhabitants of our old fatherland in the year 827." The first 
minister to preach to the St. John's congregation was Kr. Ostergaard. 
He was here nine years. The society received the old St. Ausgar Church 
one mile east of town when the propeiiy was divided. The congregation 
constructed a parsonage for Ostergaard innnediately after his appoint- 
ment, also a school for the children of the members. In 1907 the 


increased number of members necessitated the enlargement of the church 
building. This was accordingly done and the remodeled structure con- 
secrated October 20, 1907, by Rev. Kr. Ostergaard. 

St. Paul's Church was incorporated April 12, 1897, with Hans John- 
sen, president; Hans Chr. Jensen, secretary; IMorten Petersen, treasurer; 
Peter Kyhl and Nicolai Hansen, trustees. 

The First Presbyterian Church of Ringsted was incorporated June 
23, 1903. The trustees elected on the 13th previous were not named in 
the articles of incorporation. These articles, however, were signed by 
H. W. Jensen, A. Ingvooldstad, 0. N. Young, C. B. Murtagh and 0. N. 


The Des Aloines Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church 
was incorporated July 22, 1873, with Iver 0. Myker, Peter G. Larsen and 
Paul Paulsen as trustees. The articles were filed on April 22, 1877. 

The Immanuel Congregation of the Norwegian Evangelical Luth- 
eran Church had for its first trustees the following: Lars Aanonson, Ole 
Peterson and Martin Anderson. 

The Bruhjil Evangelical Lutheran Church, located in High Lake 
Township near Wallingford, was incorporated April 12, 1890, bj^ 0. 0. 
Refsell, Torkel Hofi" and L. L. Gunderson, and was composed of mem- 
bers of the West Immanuel, Wathaniel and Des Moines Evangelical 
Lutheran Congregations of Emmet County, Iowa. At the time of the 
incorporation the church owned property valued at $2,000. 

The Palestina Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Emmet 
County was first incorporated January 22, 1889. The articles had been 
adopted on December 3, 1888. They were signed by J. N. Bange, Thorald 
K. Twedt, 0. Walson, K. M. Thompson and George 0. Rugtiv. Rugtiv, 

A. L. Daabbe and Oskar P. Wathre, were trustees. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Gruver was incorporated March 
28, 1900, with B. F. Taylor, president; C. S. Thomas, secretary; A. H. 
Pickell, treasurer; D. W. Cleveland and William Schraae, trustees. 

On July 18, 1901, was incorporated the First Methodist Episcopal 
Church of Raleigh. At a special meeting of the Estherville charge on 
July 10th, the following trustees were elected : Fred Kohlestedt, H. G. Col- 
man and Hugh Mack. 

The Huntington Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated Janu- 
ary 5, 1901. The first board of trustees, composed of George W. Barth, 

B. C. Bombarger, Joseph Sharar, E. E. Crumb and J. D. Sidles, was 
elected at the quarterly conference of the Dolliver charge on August 24, 
1900, and certified to by Rev. Robert Smylie, presiding elder, and Mrs. 
Ida Taylor, secretary of the conference. 


Ellsworth Methodist Episcopal Church in Emmet County filed articles 
of incorporation February 5, 1898. At the Rugtiv schoolhouse in Ells- 
worth Township, on January 28, 1898, the first trustees were elected as 
follows: J. B. Mitchell, Joseph Sharar, S. D. Foster, Albert Rouesa, 
J. G. Fisch. S. B. Reed and I. G. Willey. J. B. Trimble presided at the 
election and Birdie Trimble acted as secretary. 

The Wallingford Presbyterian Society was incorporated January 16, 
1894, being a part of the Fort Dodge Presbyteiy. The first trustees were : 
E. H. Reid, S. W. Steele and W. S. Jones, who were elected on January 12, 
1894, at the same time the articles of incorporation were adopted. 

The first Presbyterian Church of Hoprig adopted articles of incor- 
poration June 2, 1896, and filed them for record at the county seat August 
6, the same year. The first trustees were: Arthur Kitchen, George I. 
Doughty and Isaac L. Soper. 

Maple Hill Presbyterian Church of Emmet County was incorporated 
September 10, 1894. On the 6th previous to this date trustees were elected 
as follows : David Mast, W. L. Mitchell, and J. 0. Youngman. The articles 
were also signed by T. G. Wilder, E. R. Barfoot, W. A. Mast, Miss M. 
Ferguson and F. C. Henningson. 

The First Presbyterian Church of Haifa was incorporated- Febru- 
ary 13, 1902, with George W. Holmes, Peter Tornell and Lewis H. Harris 
as trustees. 

The First Presbyterian Church of Dolliver filed its incorporation 
papers August 30, 1902. The first board of trustees comprised the fol- 
lowing named men : C. C. Sullivan, Fred Moltzen and George Kydd. 





As a large majority of the people of Emmet County have always been 
engaged in tilling the soil, it was only natural that one of the first societies 
organized in the county should be an agricultural society. Late in the year 
1868 a number of citizens met at Estherville and formed the Emmet County 
Agricultural Society, the first officers of which were elected on the first 
Monday in January, 1869. The records of this old society cannot be found 
and nothing can be learned of what it accomplished as the "promotion 
of the farming interests," which its founders declared to be the chief 

Pursuant to notice previously published, a large number of interested 
people met at the schoolhouse in Estherville on Friday, July 19, 1872, for 
the purpose of organizing an agricultural society. G. M. Haskins was 
called to preside and Frank A. Day was elected secretary. After some 
discussion the following officers were elected : G. M. Haskins, president ; 
C. A. Prosser, vice-president; J. W. Cory, secretary; Isaac Skinner, treas- 
urer; H. W. Halverson, John Crumb and Lsaac Mattson, executive com- 
mittee. There were then eight townships in the county and a board of 
directors, consisting of one from each township, was also elected, to wit: 
Armstrong Grove, D. W. Perry; Center, R. E. Bunt; Ellsworth, Horace 
Meeker ; Emmet, W. Barker ; Estherville, James W. Ridley ; Fairview, 
Ammi Follett; High Lake, E. Mulroney; Peterson, Peter Larson. 

A second meeting was called by the president on August 3, 1872, when 
a constitution and by-laws were adopted, and on the 7th of September 
another meeting of the officers and directors selected Tuesday and Wednes- 
day, October 8th and 9th as the date for a county fair. The society con- 



tinned to hold fairs annually for a few years, when, like its predecessor, 
it went down for want of sufficient support. 

On June 7, 1893, articles of incorporation of the "Emmet County 
Agricultural Society" were filed with the county recorder. The objects 
of the society, as stated in the articles of incorporation, were "the improve- 
ment of agriculture, horticulture, mechanics and the arts, and of rural and 
domestic economy." The capital stock was fixed at $5,000 and the incorpo- 
ration was to date from June 1, 1893. The provisional officers and directors 
named in the articles were : R. K. Soper, president ; C. A. Williams, vice- 
president; 0. A. Meade, secretary; A. J. Penn, assistant secretary; J. D. 
Wilson, treasurer; A. 0. Peterson, H. M. Rohde, Samuel Reaney, C. S. 
Byfield and H. W. Woods, directors. 

A few days later the county board of supervisors adopted a resolution 
donating $200 to the society to aid in the erection of buildings upon the 
fair grounds, when such grounds might be secured by the society. On 
Saturday, June 24, 1893, a well attended meeting was held in Graves' 
Hall in Estherville for the purpose of offering encouragement to the enter- 
prise. S. H. Mattson presided and M. K. Whelan acted as secretary. A 
committee, consisting of J. H. Barnhart, S. R. Millar, E. B. Campbell, 
William Nivison, J. N. Lee and R. K. Soper, was appointed to solicit sub- 
sci'iptions to a fund for the "lease or purchase of fair grounds and the 
improvement thereof." At another meeting in July the committee to solicit 
funds reported that 645 citizens had subscribed, but the amount of the 
subscriptions cannot be ascertained. 

At the July meeting it was decided to reorganize the board of directors, 
so as to make it consist of one member from each township, and the fol- 
lowing were elected: Armstrong Grove, P. H. Burt; Center, I. C. Wild- 
fang ; Denmark, Morten Petersen ; Ellsworth, Nels Anderson ; Emmet, 
S. B. Weir; Estherville, E. L. Brown; High Lake, J. N. Lee; Iowa Lake, 
Ammi Follett; Jack Creek, J. C. Mollison ; Lincoln, (no election) ; Swan 
Lake, Cornelius Anderson ; Twelve Mile Lake, L. L. Bixby. 

The society obtained and improved a fair ground and for a number 
of years held successful fairs. Then the interest waned and J. H. Griffith 
bought up most of the stock, thus becoming the owner of the fair ground, 
which was converted into a farm when the society was disbanded, again 
leaving Emmet County without any organization for holding fairs or 
otherwise promoting the agricultural interests. 


Early in the year 1916 a movement was started for the revival of the 
agricultural society and a tentative organization was effected. A petition 
was presented to the county board of supervisors asking that body to pre- 


sent to the voters of the county a proposition to give official support to the 
enterprise. The petition was granted and at the general election on 
November 7, 1916, the following question was submitted to the electors: 

"Shall the County of Emmet, in the State of Iowa, purchase real estate 
for county fair purposes, at a cost not exceeding $12,000, and levy a tax 
on all the taxable property within said county at a rate not to exceed four- 
tenths of a mill on the dollar of the taxable value, in addition to all other 
taxes, year by year, commencing with the current levies, to pay the indeb- 
tedness incurred for the purchase of such real estate, and the interest 
thereon, until said indebtedness, both principal and interest is completely 

Th? majority of the voters expressed themselves in favor of the propo- 
sition and on December 21, 1916, at a meeting held in the office of Lambert 
& Case the "Emmet County Fair and Agricultural Association" was per- 
manently organized with the following officers: G. E. Moore, president; 
R. G. Ross, vice president ; H. M. Lambert, secretary ; James Rainey, treas- 
urer; L. H. Heinerich, R. S. Harris, S. M. Reed, George W. Murray, J. S. 
Peterson, P. S. Anderson, J. R. Horswell, John Thompson and I. Coleman, 
directors. At the meeting articles of incorporation were prepared and the 
new organization started on its career with bright prospects for success. 


Freemasonry is without doubt the oldest of the secret and fraternal 
organizations of modern times. One of the traditions of the order says it 
was first introduced in England about 926 A. D. by Prince Edwin, and 
Masonic documents dated in 1390 are still in existence. Mother Kilwinning 
Lodge in Scotland was established in 1599 and its records show that it has 
been in continuous existence since that date. It claims the distinction of 
being the oldest Masonic organization in the world. The Grand Lodge of 
England was instituted in June, 1717, and it is the mother of all Masonic 
lodges in countries where the English language prevails. 

As early as 1730 the Grand Lodge of England authorized the Grand 
Master to provide for the institution of Masonic lodges in the American 
colonies. Daniel Coxe was therefore appointed "Provincial Grand Master 
of the Provinces of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in America." 
About the same time a provincial grand master was appointed for the 
colonies of New England. Before the close of the year 1730 a lodge was 
organized at Philadelphia and another in New Hampshire, each of which 
claims to be the first Masonic lodge instituted in Ameica. 

The order was introduced into Iowa under the authority of the Mis- 
souri Grand Lodge. On November 20, 1840. a lodge was organized "under 
dispensation" at Burlington. It afterw^ard received a charter from the 


Grand Lodge of Missouri as "Burlington Lodge, No. 1." Rising Sun Lodge, 
at Montrose, and Eagle Lodge, at Keokuk, held charters from the Grand 
Lodge of Illinois, but they were known as Mormon lodges and were not 
recognized by the Missouri Grand lodge or the subordinate lodges under 
its jurisdiction. They continued in existence for some time after the 
assassination of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, and his brother 
Hyrum, which occurred in June, 1844, while they were held as prisoners 
in the jail at Carthage, Illinois. Some time prior to that the charters of 
Rising Sun and Eagle lodges had been revoked by the Illinois Grand Lodge, 
and they were not permitted to participate in the formation of the Iowa 
Grand Lodge in Januaiy, 1844. 

North Star Lodge, No. 447, located at Estherville, is the oldest 
Masonic lodge in Emmet County. Its charter is dated June 5, 1884. In 
the charter C. I. Hinman is named as worshipful master; W. H. Davis, 
senior warden; M. K. Whelan, junior warden. The lodge is still in 
existence and according to the Grand Lodge report for 1916 it then had 
a membership of 176. On Monday, July 22, 1889, was laid the corner- 
stone of the building on the northwest corner of Sixth and Des Moines 
streets, in the .second .story of which the Masonic bodies of Estherville 
have their home. The corner-stone was laid by Deputy Grand Master Van 
Saun and the oration was delivered by Judge Carr of the District Court. 
Visitors were present from Emmetsburg, Spirit Lake, Cedar Rapids and 
other places. The box deposited in the corner-stone contains the "archives" 
of the lodge and historical documents pertaining to Estherville and Emmet 

Emmet Lodge, No. 533, located at Armstrong, was instituted in 1893 
and at the beginning of the year 1917 reported eighty-four members. Its 
regular meetings are held on Tuesday evening before the third Wednesday 
in each month. The Masonic Association of Armstrong was incorporated 
on December 29, 1914, for the purpose of building and operating a Masonic 
hall, opera house and business offices. The capital stock of the associa- 
tion was fixed at $10,000. Through this as.sociation Emmet Lodge owns a 
good hall and is in a flourishing condition. The first board of directors 
of the association was composed of S. C. Hays, William Stuart and F. A. 

Jeptha Chapter, No. 128, Royal Arch Masons, at Estherville, was 
instituted under a charter dated September 25, 1897, and is the only Royal 
Arch chapter in the county. 

Esdraelon Commandery, No. 52, Knights Templar, was chartered 
on July 9, 1889, with George A. Goodell, eminent commander; D. L. 
Riley, of Spirit Lake, generalissimo ; J. P. Forrest, captain-general ; Alex- 
ander Peddle, of Emmetsburg, prelate ; M. K. Whelan, senior warden ; W. 
L. Telford, junior warden; J. N. Lee, recorder; P. J. Sargent, treasurer; 


T. W. Carter, warder; T. J. Randolph, sentinel. At the close of the year 
1916 this body had a membership of 126. 


Connected with the Masonic fraternity thei'e is a "side degree" called 
the Order of the Eastern Star, to which the wives, mothers, sisters and 
daughter of Master Masons are eligible. Local organizations are called 
chapters. The oldest chapter in Emmet County is North Star, No. 200, 
which was organized at Estherville with twenty-five charter members. 
Mrs. Jennie Ellerston was the first worthy matron and H. G. Pittenger 
the first worthy patron. The chapter now has 12.5 members and meets on 
the second Wednesday of each month. Sadie Ross was worthy matron 
in 1916 ; T. J. Lerdall, worthy patron, and Lulu A. Brown, secretary. 

There is also a strong Eastern Star chapter at Armstrong, with over 
one hundred members. At the close of the year 1916 Mrs. J. F. House- 
man was worthy matron and Mrs. H. A. Kingston, secretary. 


Modern Odd Fellowship is the outgrowth of an order started in Eng- 
land about the middle of the Eighteenth Century under the name of "The 
Antient and Most Noble Order of Bucks." This "antient" organization 
worked under a ritual that contained many of the essential features and 
ceremonies now used by the Odd Fellows. About 1773 the "Order of 
Bucks" begsfti to decline, but the membership who remained faithful reor- 
ganized it some four or five years later, when the woi'ds "odd fellow" first 
occur in the ceremony of initiation. In 1813 several lodges sent delegates 
to a convention in Manchester, where the "Manchester Union of Odd Fel- 
lows" was organized. A little later a few members of the Unity came 
to America and organized Shakespere Lodge, No. 1, in the City of New 
York. It lived but a short time, however, so that the credit of being the 
first permanent lodge in the United States belongs to the lodge established 
by Thomas H. Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1819. 

Estherville Lodge, No. 423, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was 
organized on April 18, 1887, with the following charter members : Samuel 
Collins, A. L. Houltshouser, H. G. Graaf, William Mahlum, S. E. Rathe 
and J. D. Rutan. The lodge was incorporated on October 24, 1893, and 
the articles of incorporation were filed with the county recorder on January 
15, 1894, after having been approved by F. W. Evans, Grand Master 
for the State of Iowa. The articles were signed by A. 0. Peterson, William 
Mahlum and Samuel Collins as the corporate trustees. This lodge is now 
in a prosperous condition and has a strong membership. 

Armstrong Lodge, No. 635, was incorporated on April 5, 1898, the 


articles having been approved by the grand master, J. C. Koonz, of Burling- 
ton, on the last day of March. Arthur Loomer, J. W. Pugsley and G. R. 
Hardman constituted the first board of trustees. The lodge holds meet- 
ings regularly and numbers among its members some of the most sub- 
stantial citizens of Armstrong and vicinity. 

McKinley Lodge, No. 332, located at Ringsted, holds regular meet- 
ings on Monday evening of each week, and has a large membership. 
There is also an Odd Fellows' lodge at Gruver, making four in the county. 

Fort Defiance Encampment, No. 1-54, was instituted on October 17, 
1893, with the following charter members: Samuel Collins, E. H. Ford, 
Olus Gates, Geoi-ge Godden, H. G. Graaf, H. A. Jehu, John Johnck, William 
Mahlum, G. W. Mattson, Frank Miller, A. 0. Peterson, W. J. Pullen, J. D. 
Rutan, H. 0. Sillge, H. Sorgenfrei and E. I. Stanhope. This is the only 
encampment in Emmet County. 


This a degree or order to which the wives, mothers, sisters and 
daughters of Odd Fellows are admitted. The members are generally spoken 
of as "Rebekahs." The oldest Rebekah lodge in Emmet County is Har- 
mony, No. 55, which was organized on April 23, 1889, with A. 0. Peter- 
son as noble grand; Mrs. W. M. McFarland, vice grand; Mrs. Orphia 
Rutan, recording secretary ; Mrs. James Espeset, financial secretary ; Mrs. 
A. 0. Peterson, treasurer; Mrs. George Allen, chaplain. There are also 
Rebekah lodges at Armsti'ong and Ringsted, both of which have a strong 
membership. The Ringsted Rebekah lodge meets on the second and fourth 
Wednesday evenings in each month. 


On the evening of February 15, 1864, five members of the Arion 
Glee Club of Washington, D. C, met and listened to the reading of a 
ritual upon which it was proposed to found a new secret order. The 
five men were Justus H. Rathbone, Davi<l L. and William H. Burnett, Rob- 
ert A. Champion and Dr. Sullivan Kimball. The ritual, which was writ- 
ten by Mr. Rathbone, was founded upon the story of Damon and Pythias, 
and some one suggested that the new order be called the Knights of 
Pythias. That name was adopted and on February 19, 1864, the five origi- 
nal "Knights" organized Washington Lodge, No. 1. The Civil war was 
then at its height and the growth of the order was slow until about 1869, 
when it began to flourish and in a few years it had spread to all parts of 
the country. 

Red Gauntlet Lodge, No. 233, was organized at Estherville on June 
5, 1889, by a "team" from Spirit Lake and members from other lodges 


in near-by towns, with sixteen charter members. The officers installed 
at that time were as follows: T. W. Carter, chancellor commander; E. 
B. Myrick, vice chancellor; Charles Miller, prelate; A. D. Cooley, master 
of arms; E. P. Butterfield, keeper of the records and seal; G. N. Evans, 
master of finance; N. A. Erdahl, master of the exchequer; E. E. Goff, 
inner guard ; Bert Miller, outer guard. 

The lodge was incorporated on February 5, 1903, with J. C. Lovell, 
G. K. Allen and J. T. Johnson as trustee. In 1909 Red Gauntlet Lodge 
went down and was reorganized as Estherville Lodge No. 14, which was 
incorporated on October 25, 1916. The officers of this lodge at tlie close of 
the year 1914 were : Edward Maniece, chancellor commander ; A. M. 
Jones, vice chancellor; Vance Noe, prelate; J. C. Lilly, master of the work; 
Frank Eiden, keeper of the records and seal and master of finance ; C. 
A. Dayton, master of the exchequer; Carl Johnson, inner guard; Horace 
Pullen, outer guard. Regular meetings are held every Thursday evening. 
This is now the only Knights of Pythias lodge in the county, though 
there was formerly a lodge at Armstrong. 


This organization is to the Knights of Pythias what the Eastern Star 
is to the Masonry and the Rebekah degree is to Odd Fellowship. Esther- 
ville Temple, No. 180, was organized on the afternoon of November 14, 
1916, in the new Knights of Pythias hall. Mrs. Martha McAllister, of 
Ha warden, grand chief; Mrs. Anna Morrison, of Grundy Center, grand 
senior ; Mrs. Bertha Cruver, of Spencer, grand mistress of records ; and 
Miss Edna Brown, of Spencer, district deputy, were present. The officers 
installed were : Mrs. Chris Rosenberger, P. C. ; Mrs. Frank Wing, M. 
E. C. ; Mrs. Frank King, E. S. ; Mrs. G. H. Lucas, E. J. ; Mrs. William 
Foshier, manager; Mrs. Frank Nelson, M. R. C. ; Mrs. Vance Noe, M. F. ; 
Mrs. George Cox, protector; Mrs. Richard Sheldon, guard. The member- 
ship roll showed forty-six charter members. 

Thirty-five members of Milford Temple were present at the cere- 
mony of instituting the new temple, after which supper was served to 
all at Wing's cafe across the street. After supper everybody returned 
to the hall, where the floor work of the degree was illustrated by the 
Milford degree team of sixteen young ladies. Their illustration was 
applauded and the affair closed with a social dance. 


Just before the close of the Civil war, Dr. B. F. Stephenson and 
W. J. Rutledge, surgeon and chaplain respectively of the Fourteenth 

Vol. 1—14 


Illinois Infantry, discussed the advisability of organizing a patriotic 
society, to be composed of those who had served as soldiers, sailors or 
marines in the service of the United States during the war. The war 
came to an end and nothing was done for about a year. Then the two 
men sent out notices to some of their old comrades calling a meeting 
at Decatur, Illinois, on Friday, April 6, 1866, and at that meeting the 
Grand Army of the Republic was born. In the declaration of principles 
at the time adopted the objects of the organization were set forth as 
follows: "To maintain and strengthen the fraternal feelings which bind 
together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the 
Rebellion ; to perpetuate the memory and history of those who have 
died ; and to lend assistance to the needy and to the widows and orphans 
of soldiers." 

The plan of organization adopted at the Decatur meeting contem- 
plated a national head, with each state as a "department," and local 
societies called posts. For a time the growth of the order was slow, but 
about 1880 it underwent a reorganization, after which posts were multi- 
plied more rapidly. The largest membership in the history of the order 
was reached in 1890, when the Grand Army numbered 409,489. Since 
then it has steadily decreased, the monthly death rate in 1915 being 
about one thousand. 

Isaac Mattson Post, now the only one in Emmet County, was organ- 
ized on September 3, 1884, with the following charter members: J. B. 
Austin, S. E. Bemis, L. L. Bixby, Hnery Brooks, James Bunt, D. W. 
Cleveland, Henry Coon, L. A. Gould, J. W. Hill, W. W. Johnson, Amos 
Ketchum, Joseph N. Lee, Fred Luikhart, C. B. Mathews, Harvey Miller, 
Philip Millei-. E. B. Myrick, A. J. Nicholson, A. K. Ridley, R. E. Ridley, 
G. F. Schaad, J. M. Sharp, M. A. Vandenburg, L. S. Williams, George 
West and Charles Young. The first officers were : S. E. Bemis, com- 
mander; Chai'les Young, senior vice commander; Harvey Miller, junior 
vice commander; Joseph N. Lee. adjutant; H. C. Coon, quartermaster. 

Isaac ]\Iattson, after whom the post was named, was born in Brad- 
ford County, Pennsylvania, in 1822. About the time he attained to his 
majority he went to Boone County, Illinois, and in the winter of 1853-54 
he came to Iowa. A few months later he went to Wisconsin, where 
he was living at the commencement of the Civil war. He enlisted in 
one of the Wisconsin infantry regiments and served until nearly the 
end of the war, when he was discharged for disability. In 1869 he 
came to Emmet County and died there on July 31, 1884, about a month 
before the post was organized. 

For years after the Gi-and Army was establislied the posts held 
meetings regularly, and on Memorial Day the members turned out to 
decorate with fiags and flowers the graves of their fallen comrades. 


But as time passed the "line of blue" grew thinner each year on Decora- 
tion Day ; many of the posts became so decimated in numbers that they 
were disbanded; and of those that remained in existence only the posts 
located in the larger cities make any attempt to hold regular meetings. 
About the only time many posts have meetings are when some member 
dies and the survivors are summoned together to bury him in accordance 
with the rites of the order. 


Connected with the Grand Army of the Republic is the ladies' 
auxiliary known as the Woman's Relief Corps, composed of the wives and 
daughters of the veterans of the Civil war. The corps auxiliary to Isaac 
Mattson Post was organized on March 18, 1886. It is known as the 
Isaac Mattson Relief Corps, No. 315. Mrs. Mary G. Williams was the 
first president; Eliza M. Bemis, senior vice president; Emma Sondrol, 
junior vice president; F]-ances Barber, secretary; Abbie Peterson, treas- 
urer ; Esther A. Ridley, chaplain ; Miss Ella Coon, conductress, and Miss 
Delia Miller, guard. The charter members, in addition to the above 
officers, were Adelia Jarvis, Mary L. Graves, Grace Johnston, Sallie 
Mattson and Grace Miller. 

A great deal of charitable work has been done by the Woman's Relief 
Corps throughout the country in caring for the sick and needy, finding 
homes for soldiers' orphans, etc. In this work the Estherville corps 
has shown a commendable zeal, but, as in the case of the Grand Army, 
the members are growing older and less able to take an active part 
as they were wont to do in the years gone by. One by one they are 
answering the "last roll call," and in a few years more the Woman's 
Relief Corps, like the organization of valiant veterans to which it was 
auxiliary, will be a thing of the past. 


In the winter of 1867-68 a few "good fellows" in the City of New 
York fell into the habit of meeting together of evenings to while away 
an hour or two in social converse, "swapping yarns," singing songs, etc. 
After a few meetings a permanent club was formed and Charles Vivian, 
a member of a minstrel company, suggested the name of "Jolly Corks," 
which was adopted. Not long after that some members of the club proposed 
they organize a fraternal society. The name of "Jolly Corks" was 
objected to, on the ground that it was not sufficiently dignified for a 
secret order, and a committee was appointed to decide upon and report a 
new name. The committee happened to visit Barnum's Museum, where 


they saw an elk and learned something of that animal's habits. The 
name, "Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks" was then proposed by 
the committee, accepted by the club, and on February 16, 1868, was 
organized the first lodge of Elks, composed largely of theatrical people 
and newspaper men. 

The second lodge was organized in Philadelphia in 1870, after which 
the order was carried, largely by actors, to other cities. There are now 
over twelve hundred lodges in the United States, and the order num- 
bers about 300,000 members. As the order grew many of the convivial 
features were eliminated and more attention paid to charity. At Bedford 
City, Virginia, the Elks have a national home for aged and indigent 
members, which is maintained at a cost of $40,000 a year. The initials 
B. P. 0. E. are sometimes interpreted as meaning "Best People On Earth." 
The motto of the Elks is: "The faults of our brothers we write upon 
the sands; their virtues upon the tablets of love and memory." 

Estherville Lodge, No. 528, was organized on November 9, 1889, 
and enjoys the distinction of being the only lodge in the country located 
in a city with less than five thousand population. Not long after the 
order began to grow a rule was adopted that no lodge should be organized 
in a city with less than that number of inhabitants. In the case of 
Estherville a special dispensation was obtained from the supreme author- 
ities, but since that tim.e similar dispensations have been refused other 
cities. The Estherville lodge was organized with forty-five charter mem- 
bers and W. L. Rannnage as the first exalted ruler. It now numbers 
about five hundred members. R. G. Ross was exalted ruler at the begin- 
ning of the year 1917, and Jay Howard was secretary. Recently the 
lodge has purchased a site on Des Moines Street, immediately east of 
the postoffice building, and the members have organized a stock company 
for the purpose of erecting a club house that will be a credit to the Elks 
and an ornament to the City of Estherville. It is to be built in the 
summer of 1917. » ., , 


Emmet County has one society that probably has few counterparts 
in the country. On July 4, 1895, at a picnic on the Nielsen farm, a short 
distance east of Ringsted, se\en men entered into a verbal agreement 
to organize a society "to promote the interest and welfare of the Danish 
population of the County of Emmet, State of Iowa," etc. Three days 
later a meeting was held at the Larsen schoolhouse and the "Demnark's 
Minde" was organized. Within a short time the society had a member- 
ship of fifty. In the constitution at that time adopted it was set forth 
that the society was organized for the purpose of promoting "harmony 


and sociality among the Danes living here, to keep fresh the memories of 
our native land, to preserve the Danish language and to give aid in case 
of sickness." 

For more than twenty years the society has lived up to its objects. 
Picnics and social gatherings have been held, a library of several hun- 
dred volumes has been accumulated, aid has been extended to orphans' 
homes and other charities, and the sick have been cared for by furnish- 
ing medical attendance, or by planting or hai'vesting the crop of some 
member during his illness. On August 8, 1900, the "Minde" was incor- 
porated. The articles were signed by John Larsen, Peter L. Petersen, 
Ole Justesen, Hans Christiansen, Iver Hansen, Peter M. Martensen, Paul 
P. Bogh, Alfred Jensen, Niels C. Krogh and Niels Jakobsen. The follow- 
ing provision is found in the articles of incorporation : 

"Article VI. This corporation shall continue as long as there are 
five members following these articles. Upon dissolving, all property 
belonging to this society must not be divided among the members, but 
must be turned over so as to benefit humanity. This article cannot he 
amended and it also takes in the sick society and library of 'Deimiark's 
Minde.' " 


In Emmet County there are a number of societies of a social or 
fraternal nature, whose history the writer has been unable to obtain. 
Others have been organized and flourished for a time, but have gone 
out of existence. On September 18, 1885, shortly after Estherville was 
made a division point on the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern 
Railroad, Emmet Lodge, No. 288, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, 
was organized with W. S. Davis as the presiding officer; F. Slayton, 
vice-president; P. J. Sullivan, secretary; George Godden, treasurer. 

On Monday evening, April 5, 1897, the Estherville Young Men's 
Christian Association was organized at the courthouse. N. A. Law- 
rence was elected president; Albert ]\Iahlum, C. S. Robinson, Leonard 
Anderson and Edward Kline, vice-presidents; Orlando Lough, secretary; 
Arthur Pelton, treasurer. Sixteen members were enrolled and it was 
voted to hold meetings every Sunday at 4 o'clock p. m. in the courthouse. 
This was the beginning of the Y. M. C. A. work in Emmet County. 

The Modern Woodmen of America and their ladies' auxiliary — the 
Royal Neighbors — have lodges at Estherville, Armstrong, Ringsted and 
one or two other points in the county. The Danish Brotherhood and 
Danish Sisterhood have strong organizations at Ringsted. The Brother- 
hood of American Yeomen, the Fraternal Brotherhood of the World, the 
Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Modern Brotherhood of America, 


and some others are represented, and on February 5, 1910, the United 
Commercial Travelers organized Post No. 485 at Estherville with twenty- 
two members. 


In attempting to give an account oi" the women's clubs of Emmet 
County it is deemed inexpedient to include every organization, but only 
those having some historic signiticance, or such as have wielded a marked 
influence upon the civic life or the literary and educational development 
of the county. 

The oldest women's organization, of which anything definite can be 
learned, is the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, which was organ- 
ized at Estherville on Sunday afternoon, February 10, 1884. Mrs. Aldrich 
addressed the meeting and a temporary organization was effected. That 
same evening another meeting was held in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, at which the following officers were elected: Mrs. Esther A. 
Ridley, president; Mrs. G. N. Luccock, Mrs. G. H. Stafford and Mrs. 
William Bartl-tt, vice-presidents; Mrs. H. A. Jehu, secretary; Mrs. S. E. 
Bemis, treasurer. For some time the society was active in its efforts to 
promote the cause of temperance, but since Iowa has "gone dry" there is 
less call for such organizations and the Union is not so active now as 
in former years. 

The woman's club known as the "K. K. K." was organized in Janu- 
ary, 1893, as a cooking club. It started with seventeen members and in 
1895 gave a banquet to the members of the Upper Des Moines Editorial 
Association. On that occasion the members justified the reputation of 
the club as a cooking club, several of the editors afterward publishing 
in their papers articles complimentary of the banquet. As time went 
on the club broadened its scope and took an interest in other matters. 
It gave to the city one of the fountains in the public square, and con- 
ducted a "tag day" for the benefit of the Estherville Public Library, 
by which a considerable sum of money was added to the library fund. 
The club never numbered over twenty-two members. Some of the early 
members moved away and from August 12th to the 20th, 1908, those 
living in Estherville arranged a home-coming for the absent members 
and invited them to return for a brief period to their old haunts in 
Emmet County. The E. E. Hartung home was the headquarters for the 
out-of-town guests and a number of the absent ones came back to renew 
old acquaintances and partake of the good things to eat prepared by their 
sisters. There were then but .=even of the original members living in 
Estherville, but they did everything they could to make the home-coming 
an enjoyable occasion. ■ . 


The Woman's Town Improvement Association of Estherville was 
organized at the home of Mrs. L. S. Williams on Monday afternoon, 
March 16, 1896 . Mrs. F. E. Allen was chosen president; Mrs. L. L. 
Bingham, Mrs. John Woods, Mrs. Jennie Ellerston, Mrs. Peter Johnston, 
Mrs. M. G. Willson and Mrs. A. 0. Peterson, vice-presidents; Mrs. Letch- 
ford, secretary, and Miss Ellerston, treasurer. The aim of this associa- 
tion was to urge the city authorities to improve the streets and to educate 
the people to clean up their premises. It was active for a while, but finally 
ceased its efforts and disbanded. 

Other women's clubs that are or have been in Estherville are the 
Ladies' Literary Club, the Searchlight Club, the Civic Club, and the 
Estherville Woman's Club. In February, 1900, these four clubs united 
in urging the passage of an ordinance by the city council prohibiting 
spitting on the sidewalks. 

THE P. E. 0. 

The woman's organization known as the "P. E. 0." is distinctly an 
Iowa institution. In 1869 seven young girls, students in the Iowa Wes- 
leyan University at Mount Pleasant, conceived the idea of organizing a 
society of some sort. The result was the P. E. 0. Just what these let- 
ters stand for is known only to the initiated and the secret of their 
significance has been carefully guarded by the members for nearly half 
a century. One of the founders, who was still living in 1914, in then 
speaking of the venture of the original seven members, said : "We had 
no very definite idea as to what we wanted to do, and when one asked, 
'What shall we call the society?' another suggested the name which in 
that day bound together seven girls, and in 1914 holds together in one 
great sisterhood 20,000 women." 

Miss Alice Bird, one of the seven girls, wrote the constitution when 
the society was organized in 1869, and it is worthy of remark that the 
fundamental principles of that constitution still remain in the organic 
law of the society. For many years the P. E. 0. was nothing more than 
a college sorority, with chapters in the college towns somewhat after 
the manner of the Greek letter fraternities. Then the scope of its work 
was broadened and women outside of the universities were admitted to 
membership. Its principal philanthropy, especially during the early 
years, is the maintenance of a fund which is loaned to young women to 
aid them in acquiring a college education. A large number of girls have 
been educated through the work of this society, and it is said that not 
one dollar has ever been lost through the failui^e of borrowers to repay 
their loans. 

The Estherville organization, known as the "A. Y. Chapter of the 
P. E. 0." was established in 1896 with only nine members. It has been 


active in the work of the general society and has also been of consider- 
able influence locally. It was instrumental in organizing and supporting 
the Esthei-ville Associated Charities and without any flourish of trump- 
ets has aided in various movements for the betterment of the city and 
the comfort of its inhabitants. 


On October 11, 1890, a number of women, whose ancestors had 
served in the Continental army during the Revolutionary war, assem- 
bled in Washington, D. C, and organized the Daughters of the American 
Revolution. The objects of the society are to collect and preserve his- 
toric documents and relics, and to mark by monuments, tablets, or other- 
wise the sites of historic events. To be eligible for membership one must 
be able to show a Revolutionary ancestry. Local societies are called 
chapters. Although only a little over twenty-five years old, the organi- 
zation has spread to almost every nook and corner of the United States 
and the members have been active in marking old trails, the sites of 
battlefields, etc. The highest officer in each state is called a regent. 

In 1895 Mrs. Emma G. Allen, of E.stherville, i-eceived her charter as 
regent, empowering her to organize a chapter. Okamanpadu Chapter 
(so named from the lake on the northern border of Emmet County) was 
organized at Mrs. Allen's residence in Estherville on May 13, 1903, with 
the following charter members: Emma G. Allen, Margaret S. Alexan- 
der, Marietta Groves, Mary G. Knight, Mary B. Lawrence, Callie B. 
Letchford, Mary E. Maxwell, Mary G. Osgood, Mary R. Orvis, Jennie J. 
Randolph, Hattie C. Rhodes, Almira Ridley, Vestaline Salisbury, Iza B. 
Soper and Ethel T. Wood. Proliably the most important thing done by 
the local chapter was the erection of the Fort Defiance monument on the 
north end of the public square, commemorative of the heroism and suf- 
ferings of the pioneers of Emmet County during the Indian troubles of 

Almost every village in the county has its woman's club, composed 
of a few members, the principal purpose of which is to meet at the home 
of one of the number and spend an afternoon in some line of work, or 
to engage in social intercourse. These clubs, while of interest to the 
members, have no special influence upon the general development of the 





Those who break away from an old settlement and go out upon the 
frontier to develop the resources of a new country, and incidentally better 
their own fortunes, are never weaklings. As a rule the pioneers are men 
and women of great strength and courage, endowed with good health 
and fortitude, full of energy, and capable of contending with the difficul- 
ties that the first settlers in every community have to meet and overcome. 
Among such persons there is little need of established charities. It was 
so in Emmet County. If some family, through misfortunes, needed as- 
sistance it was cheerfully given by the neighbors, and it was many years 
before the citizens of the county realized the necessity for the establish- 
ment of a home for the unfortunate poor. The first mention found in 
the county records regarding such an institution, is in the following reso- 
lutions, which were introduced by Supervisor Leopold : 

"Now, on this 15th day of September, 1910, this board being assem- 
bled in regular session, and deeming it advisable to establish a poor house 
in and for Emmet County and to purchase a farm to be used in connection 
therewith, it is 

"Resolved, That we estimate the cost of such poor house and lands 
necessary and suitable to be used in connection therewith to be $25,000, 
and it is further 

"Resolved, That the following proposition be submitted to the people 
of said county at the next general election, to wit: 

"1. Shall the board of supervisors of Emmet County purchase a farm 
in Emmet County upon which to establish a poor house or poor farm, at 
an entire cost not to exceed $25,000? 

"2. Shall the said board of supervisors levy a tax of one mill on the 
dollar of the assessed valuation of the taxable property within said county 
for the year 1911, and continue said levy from year to year until said 
farm is fully paid for?" etc. 



The resolutions were adopted and the auditor was instructed to pub- 
lish notice of the questions to be submitted to the voters and to see that 
all other provisions of the law in such cases were complied with in all 
respects. At the general election on November 8, 1910, both propositions 
were carried by a vote of 1,357 to 504. 

No further action was taken in the matter until January 10, 1913, 
when the board received a proposal from H. K. Groth to sell to the county 
228 acres (more or less), for $22,000. Supervisors W. H. Gibbs and 
J. J. Klopp were appointed a committee to enter into a contract with 
Mr. Groth for the purchase of the land, and to pay said Groth, out of the 
poor fund, the sum of $500 "as earnest money," the remainder to be paid 
on March 3, 1913, provided Mr. Groth agreed to satisfy the incumbrances 
against the tract of land and give to the county a clear title. This was 
done and in this way Emmet County came into possession of a poor farm. 
No buildings have been erected by the county since the purchase of the 
land, the old residence already upon the farm being considered sufficient 
to care for the few paupers who have claimed the county's hospitality. 


The Estherville Associated Charities came into existence in March, 
1912. The organization is the outgrowth of certain lines of charity work 
that had been carried on for a number of years under the direction of 
Mrs. J. P. Littell. Early in the year 1912 Mrs. Littell, by invitation, gave 
an address before the Estherville Chapter of the P. E. 0. and that organ- 
ization became interested in the subject, with the result that in March 
the Associated Charities were organized. Mrs. A. 0. Peterson was elected 
president, Mrs. J. P. Littell, vice president and general superintendent; 
Mrs. L. L. Bingham, secretary, and Mrs. A. J. Rhodes, treasurer. Mrs. 
Peterson and Mrs. Littell have held their offices continuously since the 
first organization. At the beginning of the year 1917 Mrs. W. P. Gallo- 
way was secretary and Mrs. Lou Wanamaker, treasurer. There is also 
an executive committee of three men and three women, which committee 
has general direction of the work. 

Every Saturday afternoon, especially during the winter season, Mrs. 
Littell and her assistants are to be found in the Women's Rest Room, in 
the basement of the Estherville Public Library, giving out clothing, etc., 
to the needy families of the city and the immediate vicinity. The associa- 
tion also cares for the sick and endeavors to find positions for the unem- 
ployed who are able to woi-k. In a small city like Estherville, "where 
everybody knows everybody else," less formality and red tape are neces- 
sary than in the larger cities, where impostors frequently take advantage 
of organized charities to get an easy living, consequently the Estherville 


association can render aid more promptly and without fear of being im- 
posed upon by the unworthy. 

In the summer of 1916 the association formed a sew-ing class, com- 
posed of a large number of girls aged from ten to twelve years, and on 
certain days these little girls were taught to mend clothing, some of the 
older ones being given instruction in the making of garments. Thus the 
association is trying to teach people to be self supporting in many ways, 
instead of mei-ely doling out charity in times of more than ordinary dis- 
tress. The work is supported by voluntary contributions, which have 
been liberal enough to enable the association to carry it on in such a way 
that a. great deal of good has been accomplished. 


In August, 1898, the Northern Vindicator made mention of the fact 
that the doctors of Estherville had started a movement for the establish- 
ment of a hospital, and that it was "well under way." An effort was 
made at that time to enlist the cooperation of the Chicago, Rock Island 
& Pacific Railroad Company and its employees, but the railroad company 
was more interested in hospitals at other points and did not look upon 
the Estherville project with favor, hence it was abandoned. 

The Estherville City Hospital was established in April, 1908, by the 
physicians of the*city. It was at first located on the corner of Seventh 
and Howard streets and started with accommodations for ten patients. 
In 1909 the management was transferred to Dr. Ethel E. Walker, who 
had formerly been superintendent of the Military Hospital at Danville, 
Illinois. A little later the institution was removed to the large residence 
on the corner of Eighth and Des Moines streets, thus giving larger and 
better appointed quarters. Since the removal a number of improvements 
have been added and the hospital is now as well conducted as many of 
the hospitals of the larger cities. Dr. Ethel E. Walker is still at the head 
of the hospital. 

In 1900 Dr. Albert Anderson opened a private' hospital on the corner 
of Seventh and Des Moines streets. The patronage soon increased so 
that larger quarters were necessary, and the hospital was removed to 
No. 826 North Eighth Street. In 190S the hospital was closed and was 
not reopened until 1914, when Doctor Anderson sold his interest to Miss 
Josie A. Roberts, who still remains at the head of the institution. The 
advertised capacity of this hospital is twenty-two patients, but accom- 
modations can be provided for twenty-six in an emergency. 

Neither of the Estherville hospitals is a public institution in the 
sense that it is supported by taxation. They belong to that class of insti- 
tutions known as "benevolent," rather than "charitable." Both are well 


equipped with all the necessary apparatus for taking care of patients, 
performing surgical operations, etc., and both are open to the licensed 
physicians of the city and county, who can send patients there and attend 
them during illness just as if they were in their own homes. 


There is one institution of a charitable nature which the pioneers of 
a new country are always somewhat reluctant to see make its appear- 
ance, yet it is one that must come sooner or later. That is a burial place 
for the dead. One can hardly imagine a more desolate scene than the 
first grave in a frontier settlement. After a number of burials, when 
the cemetery has grown to proportions that naturally require greater 
care, when walks are laid out and improved and monuments are erected, 
flowers planted on the graves, etc., the desolation disappears and the 
people accept the cemetery as a necessary adjunct of modern civilization. 

Probably the oldest cemetery in Emmet County is the one in the 
northeast part of the City of Estherville. It was platted and established 
on July 14, 1866, at which time James L. L. Riggs and his wife, Minerva 
Riggs, made a deed to an association conveying a certain tract of land in 
Section 11, Township 99, Range 34, to said association to be used as a 
burial place. On November 17, 1900, the Estherville Cemetery Associa- 
tion was incorporated by Howard Graves, Eliza M. Bemis, Mary J. Bar- 
nett, L. L. Bixby, J. W. Lough, W. S. Jones, C. B. Mattson, Sally A. 
Mattson and Robert Clark. The first seven of the above named consti- 
tuted the first board of directors. This association was organized for 
the purpose of taking control of and improving the old cemetery estab- 
lished thirty-four years before. A new plat was made and filed with the 
county recorder on April 26, 1901, showing 192 burial lots. Later on the 
same day an additional plat of 144 lots was also filed with the recorder. 
Since then the cemeteiy has been greatly improved and beautified, prac- 
tically all the money received from the sale of lots having been expended 
for that purpose. 

Oak Hill Cemetery, west of the Des Moines River at Estherville, was 
established in 1889. The Northern Vindicator of April 12, 1889, says: 
"The project for new cemetery grounds has materialized and the location 
selected. Seven acres on the hill west of Mr. Hardie's have been pur- 
chased of J. W. Lucas by an association of gentlemen, who propose to 
fence and lay out a cemetery that will be a credit to the community. The 
grounds are covered with second growth timber, which will be trimmed 
up as good taste may dictate. A plat will be set apart for the Grand 
Army of the Republic, with a view to erecting a monument to the mem- 
ory of soldiers and sailors, without which, North or South, no cemetery 
is complete." 


The members of the association mentioned by the Vindicator were 
as follows : F. E. Allen, John M. Barker, William Bartlett, J. B. Binford, 
W. H. Foote, J. J. Klopp, W. M. McFarland, A. 0. Peterson, F. H. Rhodes, 
R. E. Ridley, E. R. Littell, J. M. Snyder, William Stivers and E. J. Woods. 
Subsequently ten acres additional were acquired and on May 28, 1898, 
the Oak Hill Cemetery Association was incorporated with the following 
board of directors: F. E. Allen, William Bartlett, J. W. Lucas, A. 0. 
Peterson and R. E. Ridley. This cemetery has a naturally beautiful loca- 
tion and it is now one of the most popular burial places in the county. 

Swan Lake Township Cemetery was laid out on June 23, 1880, by 
J. M. Barker, who was at that time the county surveyor. It is located 
in the northwest part of Section 21, Township 99, Range 32, about two 
miles southwest of the village of Maple Hill. At the time it was first 
platted the Town of Swan Lake, about two miles southwest of the ceme- 
tery, was the county seat of Emmet County. On June 7, 1886, the trustees 
of Swan Lake Township had a new survey made, the new plat show- 
ing 132 burial lots, but the plat was not filed with the county recorder 
until April 11, 1901. Swan Lake Township Cemetery is used by the 
people occupying a large district in the central part of the county. 

About a mile west of Armstrong, on the high ground near the east 
branch of the Des Moines River and just south of the Chicago, Rock 
Island & Pacific Railroad, is one of the prettiest burial places in Emmet 
County. It is situated in the northeast corner of Section 16, Township 
99, Range 31, and was surveyed on July 10, 1888, by E. J. Woods, who 
was then county surveyor. The plat was filed with the county recorder 
on the 16th of the following November. The original plat contains 152 
lots, on which a number of fine monuments have been erected, and from 
this cemetery a fine view of the surrounding country may be obtained. 

In Lincoln Township there is a cemetery in the northeast corner of 
Section 33, near one of the public school houses. It was established as 
a burial ground at an early date by some of the early settlers in that 
vicinity. Subsequently a plat of 144 burial lots was prepared and filed 
in the office of the county recorder. 

In the northvrest comer of Section 13, in Denmark Township, is a 
small, well kept cemetery in which a number of the pioneers of that part 
of the county lie buried, and there is a neat cemetery in the northwest 
corner of Section 17, in High Lake Township, just across the road from 
the Norwegian Lutheran Church, having been established by that con- 
gregation soon after the church was organized. 




One of the annoyances the early settlers of Emmet County had to 
contend with was the great number of mosquitoes that infested the coun- 
try. Before the swamps and ponds were drained they formed a veri- 
table breeding ground for these little pests. As evening approached they 
would besiege the cabin in swarms and make life a burden to the pioneer 
and his family. Wire screens had not then been invented for doors and 
windows, and even if they had been many of the early settlers were too 
poor to afford them. The only method of combating the insects was to 
build a fire or "smudge," which was fed at intervals with moist grass or 
some other fuel that would produce a great amount of smoke without 
much flame. The mosquito does not like a smoky atmosphere and would 
do without his supper rather than pass through it to dine off the pioneer's 
family. The smoke caused some coughing and watery eyes, but it kept 
the mosquitoes away. Young girls on the frontier found it difticult to 
maintain a clear complexion, for they either had to be smoked to the 
color of a Sioux Indian or have their faces covered with mosquito bites, 
which gave them the appearance of having a mild case of small pox. As 
one old settler expressed it some years later: "It's a wonder the women 
of Northwestern Iowa had any complexion left." 

During the summer of 1858 the mosquitoes were especially vicious 
in their attacks upon the settlers. The following February, while George 
Granger one mild day was walking along a ravine between his house and 
the Des Moines River, he saw myriads of the insects swarming out of 
the hazel brush, as though getting ready to prepare for another season's 
campaign. Mr. Granger gave that ravine the name of "Mosquitoes' 
Winter Quarters" — a name by which it was known to tlie pioneers for 
several years. 




Charles R. Aldrich, at one time clerk of the lower house of the Iowa 
Legislature and a prominent member of the State Historical Society, 
used to tell a story of a dog belonging to Judge Hickey of Palo Alto 
County. The dog was not allowed to sleep in the house, but when the 
mosquito smudge was built of an evening he would get within range of the 
smoke, which he discovered would keep the mosquitoes off of him. When 
the family retired for the night, the dog would lie down close to the smudge 
and drop off to sleep. Later in the night the fire would burn low and the 
insects would wake the dog by their buzzing in his ears. Then the dog 
would rekindle the smudge by pushing the remnants of the brands to- 
gether with his nose. Some one who heard Mr. Aldrich tell the story 
suggested that it could be improved upon by having the dog carry chunks 
of wood or mouthfuls of grass to replenish the fire. To this Mr. Aldrich 
replied : "He may have done so as far as I know, but I tell the story as 
I got it." 


Among the early settlers of Emmet County was one Martin Metcalf, 
who was the first preacher to settle in the county. He was not a pro- 
found scholar, but his faith was of that kind that is said to be able "to 
move mountains." One day while he was making maple suger in a grove 
on his claim, he thought he smelled a skunk in a hollow log near by. As 
skunk skins were worth something in the fur market Mr. Metcalf de- 
cided he would add the pelt of that particular animal to his collection. 
Upon investigating the hollow log he found, instead of the expected skunk, 
three or four iron camp kettles of the kind used by soldiers when on a 
campaign. They had pi'obably been left there by the volunteers while 
on the expedition against the murderous Inkpaduta. Telling a neighbor 
about his good luck, Mr. Metcalf claimed that the kettles were sent by 
the Lord, who could work miracles as well in modern as in ancient times. 

"But why do you attribute the gift to the Lord?" asked the neigh- 
bor. "Because," replied Metcalf, "He saw my need of more kettles in my 
sugar camp, and, knowing the kettles were in the log, caused me to im- 
agine I smelled a skunk." 

But when he undertook to clean up the kettles so they would be fit 
for use, he found them so badly rusted as to be actually worthless. The 
neighbor, who evidently was not of a very religious turn of mind, then 
twitted the preacher about his miracle, but Mr. Metcalf was silent on 
the subject. Another story is told about this Metcalf. He was not 
plentifully supplied with this world's goods and on one occasion the set- 


tiers took up a collection to buy him a cow and a pair of new shoes. It 
is said he found fault because the collection was not large enough to en- 
able him to buy a pair of boots. What finally became of him is not known. 


While 0. C. Bates and E. B. Northrop were editors of the Vindicator, 
the first newspaper to be published in the county, one number of the paper 
contained an article claiming that the word "blizzard" was coined by a 
man named Ellis, who was called "Lightning Ellis," because he was so 
slow in performing everything he undertook. At that time the publi- 
cation office of the Northern Vindicator was in the officers' quarters of 
old Fort Defiance. Ellis, in commenting upon a great stoiTn in the late 
'60s used the expression that it was a "regular blizzard." As this was 
the first time the editors had ever heard the term, they gave Ellis credit 
for its authorship, though the Vindicator's claim has since been ques- 
tioned by several commentators on the subject. 


About dusk on the evening of Saturday, November 13, 1869, the 
people of Estherville were startled by hearing three shots in rapid suc- 
cession in the rear of the new building that had just been erected by 
E. B. Northrop and Dr. E. H. Ballard. Several persons hurried to the 
spot and found the body of F. E. Line with three bullets in it. The skull 
was also fractured. Mi-. Line was one of the early settlers in what is 
now Ellsworth Township. It was not known that he had an enemy and 
his murder remains a mystery to this day. 


One of the things that early settlers in Northwestern Iowa learned 
to dread was a fire on the prairie. How these fires started was often a 
mystery. The theory advanced by some writers that they were started 
by Indians for the purpose of driving out the game might apply to fires 
farther back in the past, but this theory is hardly tenable in connection 
with those that occurred after the red men had left the country. It is 
far more probable that the prairie fires of later days were caused by 
carelessness. The dropping of a burning match, the emptying of a to- 
bacco pipe, or the throwing away of the st-imip of a cigar by some trav- 
eler, might start a fire that would destroy thousands of dollars' worth of 
property. In a few instances the origin of a prairie fire can be traced 
to the action of some pioneer who tried the experiment of burning off 


the rank grass, in order that his ground might be the more easily plowed, 
the fire having got beyond his control. 

As the wild prairie was brought under cultivation prairie fires be- 
came less frequent. On October 3, 1871, a fine started in the northern 
part of Clay County and swept over the southern part of Emmet and 
the northwestern part of Palo Alto. The damage in Emmet County 
amounted to over ten thousand dollars and more than a score of families 
lost their entire winter supplies. 

One of the latest and most destructive prairie fires in Emmet County 
started in Lincoln Township on Sunday night, October 30, 1887. Pat- 
rick Bagan lost seventy tons of hay, a corn-crib full of corn, 200 bushels 
of oats, eighty bushels of wheat and all his barns and outbuildings. Fred 
Schultz lost his house and barn and barely escaped with his life while 
trying to save some of his eff'ects. Others in the neighborhood lost grain 
and hay, but the heaviest losses fell on Mr. Bagan and Mr. Schultz. 


Early in the '70s the women's crusade against saloons started in 
the East and gradually wended its way westward. There has always 
been a strong temperance sentiment in Emmet County, though saloons 
were tolerated at times, because the law allowed them to exist. At the 
beginning of 1872 thei'e were two saloons in Estherville. Some com- 
plaints were heard now and then that they were not always conducted in 
a lawful and orderly manner, and on February 16, 1872, a number of 
the women of the town held a meeting and decided that it was time to 
inaugurate the crusade. About twenty-five of them marched to the sa- 
loons, but unlike their sisters of the East, they did not depend upon 
hymns and prayers to break up the saloon. Into the dram shops they 
boldly marched, broke bottles and jugs containing liquor, rolled casks 
into the streets, where they were emptied, and advised the saloon keeper 
that the same thing would occur again if he ventured to reopen his place. 
Some resistance was offered to the drastic methods of the crusaders, but 
the women made no apologies and returned to their homes, firm in the 
conviction that they had done a good day's work. 


Old residents can recall the grasshopper invasions of early years — 
invasions that threatened to render a large part of the country barren 
and uninhabitable. As early as 1868 the voracious insects appeared in 
large numbers in several of the counties southeast of Emmet, and in the 
valleys of the Big Sioux and Floyd rivers, but it was not until five years 
later that the scourge reached Emmet County. 


About noon on June 4, 1873, the grasshoppers came in swarms and 
withm a few hours the surface of the earth was covered with them. 
Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Harrison, living in the eastern part of the county, 
spread a sheet under a small Cottonwood bush, only seven or eight feet 
in height, then shook the bush, catching enough "hoppers" to fill a large 
candy bucket about two-thirds full. The incident is mentioned here to 
show how thick the insects were. Growing crops were absolutely de- 
stroyed and many citizens of the county were rendered destitute. Dona- 
tions from charitable people all over the country were sent into relieve 
the grasshopper sufferers, and, as is frequently the case in such events, 
charges of misappropriation were common, though most of the donations 
reached the destination for which they were intended. 

Various methods were resorted to for ridding the country of the 
pests, one of the most common of which was to coat a steel scraper with 
tar and drag it through the grass. The grasshoppers w'ould stick to 
the tar, after which they were burned. 

The second serious invasion of grasshoppers came in the summer 
of 1876. This time it was more widespread, practically all the western 
states being affected. A writer on the subject says: "In Wyoming, 
Western Nebraska, Texas, the Indian Territory and New Mexico, the 
broods were annually hatched. In their native haunts they attained an 
enormous size, many specimens being three inches in length. .Scientific 
men who have studied the habits of the grasshopper state that each suc- 
ceeding brood degenerates in size and after three or four generations 
the weaker are obliged to swarm and seek other quarters, being driven 
out by the larger and stronger insects. These exiles rise and go with the 
wind, keeping the direction in which they first started, stopping in their 
flight for subsistence and depositing eggs in a prolific manned during the 
incubating season, which lasts from the middle of June to the middle of 

Not only was the scourge of 1876 more widespread that any of pre- 
vious years, but it was also more devastating in its character. Scarcely 
a green plant of any description was left in the wake of the army of 
"hoppers." Many of the settlers who had been obliged to mortgage their 
homes to carry them over the loss of their crops three years before, gave 
up the fight, disposed of their farms for any price they could get, and 
left for other parts of the country. Some localities were almost entirely 
depopulated and the few who remained were left in straitened circum- 
stances. An appeal was made to the Legislature, then in session, and a 
bill was passed appropriating .$50,000 for the relief of those whose crops 
had been destroyed. On October 25, 1876, a meeting of the governors 
of the western states and prominent scientists was held at Omaha, Ne- 
braska, to devise means of exterminating the insects. Numerous and 


varied were the plans proposed to rid the country of the grasshoppers. 
The following plan, which was proposed by a writer in the Sioux City 
Journal, seemed to be the one which could be applied at slight expense 
and was therefore rather popular: 

"The grasshopper deposits its eggs at the roots of the grass in the latter 
part of summer or early autumn. The eggs hatch out early in the spring 
and during the months of April, May and June, according as the 
season is early or late; they are wingless, their sole power of locomotion 
being the hop. To destroy them, all that is needed is for each county, 
town or district to organize itself into a fire brigade throughout the dis- 
trict where the eggs are known to be deposited. This fire brigade shall 
see that the prairies are not burned over in the fall, and thus they will 
have the grass for the next spring and to be employed upon the pests 
while they are yet hoppers — the means of sure death. To apply it let 
all agree upon a certain day, say in April or May, or at any time when 
they are sure all the hoppers are hatched and none yet winged. All 
being ready, let every person, man, woman and boy, turn out with torches 
and simultaneously fire the whole prairie, and the work, if well done, 
will destroy the whole crop of grasshoppers for that year, and none will 
be left to 'soar their gossamer wings' or lay eggs for another year." 

All this sounded plausible and the remedy was tried in several local- 
ities, but the crop of hoppers for 1877 did not seem to be diminished in 
the least, even in the districts where the prairie was burned bare. The 
State of Minnesota offered a bounty of so much per bushel and actually 
paid out a large sum of money in such bounties. The only benefit derived 
from this course was that the bounty money assisted some of the settlers 
by remunerating them in a slight degree for the loss of their crops. After 
1877 the country was not again plagued by the grasshoppers, or more 
properly speaking, the Rocky Mountain locusts. 

Cyrus C. Carpenter, who was governor of Iowa in 1876, and who 
attended the conference of governors and scientists at Omaha, afterward 
wrote a history of the grasshopper invasion, which was published in 
Volume IV of the Annals of Iowa. In his article he quotes the following 
letter from J. M. Brainard, who at the time of the invasion of 1873 was 
editor of the Story County Aegis : 

"That fall I made frequent trips over the Northwestern road from 
my home to Council Bluffs, and the road was not a very perfect one at 
that time, either in roadbed or grades. One day, it was well along in 
the afternoon, I was going westward and by the time we had reached 
Tiptop (now Arcadia) the sun had got low and the air slightly cool, so 
that the hoppers clustered on the rails, the warmth being grateful to 
them. The grade at Tiptop was pretty stiff, and our train actually came 
to a standstill on the rails greased by the crushed bodies of the insects. 


This occurred more than once, necessitating the engineer to back for a 
distance and then make a rush for the summit, liberally sanding the 
track as he did so. I think I made a note of it for my paper, for in 1876, 
on visiting my old Pennsylvania home, a revered uncle took me to task 
for the improbable statement, and when I assured him of its truthful- 
ness he dryly remarked, 'Ah, John, you have lived so long in the West 
that I fear you have grovv-n to be as big a liar as any of them.' " 

Says Governor Carpenter: "The fact that railroad trains were im- 
peded may seem a strange phenomenon. But there was a cause for the 
great number of grasshoppers that drifted to the railroad track hinted 
at by Mr. Brainard. Those who studied their habits obsei-ved that they 
were fond of warmth, even heat. The fence enclosing a field where they 
were 'getting in their work' indicated the disposition of the grasshopper. 
Towards evening the bottom boards on the south side of the fence would 
be covered with them, hanging upon them like swarms of bees. When 
the suggestion of the autumn frosts began to cool the atmosphere the 
grasshoppers would assemble at the railroad track and hang in swarms 
on the iron rails which had been warmed by the rays of the sun." 

Toward the close of the summer of 1877 the locusts made their final 
flight. Their going was as unexpected and mysterious as their coming, 
but it was far more welcome. And the settlers breathed a sigh of relief 
when they discovered the following spring that the number of eggs de- 
posited by the insects the previous season was comparatively small, so 
small in fact that the number of grasshoppers left to prey upon the crops 
of 1878 was not sufficient to cause serious damage. 

On January 5, 1877, the board of supervisors of Emmet County 
unanimously adopted the following: 

"Resolved, That in view of the fact that the crops of all kinds have 
for the past three years proved almost a total failure in this county, by 
reason of the grasshopper invasion, and in view of the further fact that 
in consequence of the vast number of eggs deposited, there is no reason- 
able probability of a crop the coming season, lands having depreciated in 
value more than 100 per cent, within the period of four years, reducing 
many of our taxpaying citizens to a condition of poverty, rendering them 
incapable of meeting their obligations for farm machinery or annual 
taxes, the board of supervisors, by a unanimous vote, have for the rea- 
sons above noted determined to fix the value of real property at a lower 
figure than in any previous year. 

"And the board of supervisors would moat respectfully call the at- 
tention of the state board of equalization to the subject matter of this 
resolution and request the said board to give the above facts their due 
consideration in equalizing the assessment of 1877, and the auditor is 
instructed to forward a copy thereof to the secretary of the state board 
of equalization, to be by him presented to the said board." 



About four o'clock on the afternoon of Saturday, May 10, 1879, an 
aerolite fell on the farm of Sever H. Lee, in Section 35, Emmet Town- 
ship. A writer describing the phenomenon says the fall of the meteor 
was accompanied by "a terrible sound resembling the boom of a great 
cannon, the crack o' doom, or some other unusual rattle, followed by a 
rumbling noise as of a train of cars crossing a bridge. The explosion 
shook houses at different points fifty or seventy-five miles distant." 

The aerolite landed upon the edge of a slough just east of the Barber 
schoolhouse. People living in the neighborhood saw a smoke and at first 
thought the schoolhouse or some of the buildings on Mr. Lee's farm were 
on fire. Repairing to the spot they saw a depression from which the 
smoke was emerging and a party was soon organized to dig for the 
meteor. At a depth of fourteen feet they came upon two pieces, one of 
which weighed 431 pounds and the other 32 pounds. About the same 
time a third piece, w-eighing 151 pounds, was found on the farm of Amos 
Pingrey, west of the Des Moines River, and the following winter another 
piece, weighing over 100 pounds, was found in Dickinson County. The 
finding of these several pieces showed that the meteor came from the 
southwest and along its course a number of smaller pieces were found 
by diff"erent parties. These small pieces were almost pure ore and had 
the appearance of being "drops" that had melted from the main body on 
its flight. It was estimated that the total weight of the aerolite was not 
far from one thousand pounds. 

Professor Hinrichs, of the Iowa State University, came up from Iowa 
City at his own expense when he heard of the fall of the meteor and 
made an examination of the larger pieces. He pronounced it a very rare 
and valuable specimen, containing iron, nickel, phosphorus, sulphur, and 
some component parts unknown to the scientists of this planet. Governor 
Pillsbury, of Minnesota, sent Professor Thompson, of the University of 
Minnesota, to Estherville to investigate and if possible obtain a piece of 
the aerolite for the University Museum. He bought the 151 pound piece 
found on the farm of Mr. Pingrey and it is still in the museum of the 

A peculiar legal transaction grew out of the falling of this aerolite. 
At that time quite a number of the settlers in Emmet County held their 
lands on contract made with speculators, the substance of which was 
that when they had paid a certain amount a deed would be executed and 
they would be given a clear title. Sever H. Lee had bought his farm 
from C. P. Birge, of Keokuk, on this kind of a contract and was some- 
what behind in his payments when the aerolite landed on his farm. Mr. 
Birge, hearing of the incident, came at once to Estherville and com- 


menced proceedings against Mr. Lee to forfeit his contract. The court 
decided in his favor, which made him the legal owner of the land at the 
time the aerolite fell, and which gave him possession of the pieces found 
upon the Lee farm. The larger piece was finally sold by Mr. Birge to the 
Imperial Museum at Vienna, Austria, where it has since been seen by 
several Estherville people while abroad. Mr. Birge also bought several 
of the smaller pieces that fell from the meteor during its flight, paying 
in some instances as high as seventy-five cents an ounce for them. These 
he afterward disposed of — at a profit no doubt — to scientific institutions 
and societies. After gaining possession of the aerolite, Mr. Birge rein- 
stated Mr. Lee's contract and gave him a deed for the farm. 

The small pieces picked up along the course of the meteor's flight 
were highly malleable, and some of the citizens of Emmet County are 
still wearing rings, watch charms, etc., made from meteoric ore. In fact 
the ore in the larger pieces was also malleable, though no use was made 
of it, as in the case of the small fragments, the value of the aerolite being 
far greater as a scientific curiosity. It is regretted by many Iowa people 
that so interesting a specimen should not have been kept in the state. 


On several occasions Emmet County has suffered severe losses 
through the destruction of property by fire. Tlie burning of the publi- 
cation office of the Estherville Democrat on March 22, 1895; the plant 
of the Estherville Enterprise on March 26, 1914 ; the Rock Island Rail- 
I'oad depot on May 13, 1909 ; and the store of the Miller Mercantile Com- 
pany at Gruver on October 11, 1909, are noticed in other chapters of 
this work. But there were two fires that stand out with more prom- 
inence than any of the others and are therefore entitled to more than 
passing mention. 

The first of these was the burning of the Coon Block, on the south- 
east corner of Sixth and Lincoln streets on the night of December 26, 
1904. The fire is supposed to have originated in the Byfield Bakery and 
was discovered about 10 o'clock P. M. by some passersby. A call was 
immediately sent in for the fire company, the members of which re- 
sponded promptly, but the mercury stood at. 6° below zero and it was a 
difficult matter to "lay out a line of hose." There were several persons 
rooming in the building and the flames made such rapid progress that 
they were rescued with difficulty. A slight wind was blowing and the 
fire was soon communicated to the adjoining buildings. Just south of 
the Coon Block was the Lincoln Hotel, kept by Samuel Campbell. It 
was soon seen that the hotel was doomed and the guests were routed from 
their warm beds without ceremony, some of them in their excitement 


rushing into the street clad in nothing but their night clothes. The cold 
atmosphere drove them back, however, and most of them saved all their 

The Estherville Democrat of the next day estimated the total loss at 
from $160,000 to $200,000. Altogether ten buildings were burned, most 
of them being frame structures of comparatively little value. According 
to the Democrat's estimate, the principal losses were as follo\ys : H. C. 
Coon, $90,000; Shadle & Sons, $20,000; Vindicator & Republican, 
$20,000; Bemis Brothers, $10,000. There were rumors that the fire was 
the work of an incendiary, but they were never substantiated. Where 
the old buildings were burned now stand structures of brick, making 
that corner one of the best improved in the city. 

The second great fire in Estherville occurred on Monday, January 8, 
1917, when the Grand Theater Building was totally destroyed. The 
building, which was conceded to be the finest in the city, had been erected 
the preceding summer and the theater was opened to the public on the 
evening of September 20, 1916. On the north side of the theater audi- 
torium was a large business room, in which the owner, Frederick H. 
Graaf, conducted a cafeteria. In the rooms over the cafeteria lived Mr. 
Graaf and his family. 

About half past two in the afternoon Elmer Fox, one of Mr. Graaf's 
employees, came up out of the basement and at that time there was no 
sign of fire. Two minutes later the girls working behind the counters 
were compelled to make a hasty exit to get away from the suflFocating 
gas that filled the cafeteria. Then came a dense volume of smoke from 
the basement. No explosion was heard and the flames were not so bad, 
so far as could be seen, but the gas and smoke that filled the building 
were unbearable. The fire department was called-, but the men could 
not enter the building for fear of asphyxiation. No doubt much of the 
contents of the cafeteria, theater and living rooms of Mr. Graaf could 
have been saved had it not been for the poisonous gas. 

Soon the fire burned through the floor and from that time made rapid 
headway. For a time it was thought all the buildings in that square, 
fronting on Sixth Street, were doomed, but the firemen succeeded in 
confining the fire to the theater building, though some of the adjoining 
stocks of goods, etc., were damaged by smoke and water. The Esther- 
ville Enterprise of the 10th estimated Mr. Graaf's loss at $175,000. Other 
estimated losses were : The H. B. Lawrence Clothing Company, $10,000 ; 
Carl Olson, jeweler, $6,000; Erickson's art studio, $1,000; Dr. A. Ivey's 
dental office, a total loss ; the Graves & Espeset Abstract Company, 
slightly damaged by smoke and water; the tenants in the second story of 
the State Bank Building, just north of the theater, suffered a similar fate. 


Mr. Graaf carried about seventy thousand dollars of insurance upon the 
building and his stock of goods. 

The Grand Theater was one of Estherville's "show places." It is 
seldom that a so well equipped theater is seen in a city of four thousand 
population. The Enterprise, in commenting upon the fire and its after- 
math, said : "On the street that evening Henry Graaf was the most com- 
posed and best braced up man in the bunch. It hurt all right, but Hank 
was game. Architect Nason told him in a crowd that if he wanted to build 
again the plans would be furnished absolutely free of charge. To this 
i-emark he quickly got the response fi'om Mr. Graaf: 'She will go up 
better than before.' " 


Two of Emmet County's citizens rose to prominence in state politics. 
William F. McFarland was born in Posey County, Indiana, in 1848, of 
Scotch parentage. When he was about six years of age he came with his 
parents to Iowa, settling in Van Buren County. There he attended the 
public schools and afterward went to the Wesleyan University for a few 
terms. He then went to California, where he studied law and was ad- 
mitted to the bar. In 1885 he returned to Iowa, located at Estherville 
and bought an interest in the Northern Vindicator. In 1888 he was 
elected to repi-esent the district composed of Palo Alto, Emmet and Dick- 
inson counties in the lower branch of the Iowa Legislature. On Novem- 
ber 4, 1890, he was elected secretary of state and was twice reelected, 
holding the office for six years. Mr. McFarland was a prominent Mason 
and an Odd Fellow and was the only man ever elected to a state office 
from Emmet County. 

George E. Delevan, who was for some time editor of the Vindicator, 
was appointed state fish commissioner on March 15, 1894, by Gov. Frank 
D. Jackson. When the Legislature of 1897 abolished the office of fish 
commissioner and created the office of state fish and game warden, Mr. 
Delevan was appointed by Gov. Francis M. Drake to the new position, 
which he held until April 1, 1901. Mr. Delevan made a splendid record 
as the state fish and game warden. He resigned from the position chiefly 
on account of the health of his son — a graduate of Grinnell College — and 
went to California. There the son recovered his health and is now prac- 
ticing law at Los Angeles, where Geoi'ge E. Delevan is living practically 


In 1897 the Iowa Legislature passed an act empowering county 
boards of supervisors to levy a tax of one mill on the dollar, after the 
proposition had been submitted to the voters of the county at a regular 



■I'lLDEN f 0'Jj\DaTIONS 


or special election, for the purpose of building a soldiers' monument to 
commemorate the gallant deeds of the "Boys in Blue" in the War of 
1861-65. The proposition to levy such a tax was submitted to the electors 
of Emmet County at the general election in November, 1898, and it was 
defeated by a vote of 196 to 180. Some years later the Fort Defiance 
Monument, on the north end of the public square, was erected by the 
Daughters of the American Revolution. 


Several cases of persons being frozen to death during one of the 
blizzards common to Northwestern Iowa are on record. One of the sad- 
dest of these was the death of Ole Knudtson, a boy of some fourteen years 
and a son of one of the early settlers. His father, Tolliff Knudtson, came 
to Emmet County soon after the Civil war and located on a quarter sec^ 
tion of land about two miles southwest of Estherville. On Sunday, Jan- 
uary 18, 1870, Ole started out to look at some traps, the farthest of which 
was about a mile from the house. Soon after he left home a snow storm 
came up and increased in intensity so rapidly that the boy was unable to 
find his way back. His parents, strange to say. felt no uneasiness. They 
knew their son was a hardy little fellow, who had demonstrated on pre- 
vious occasions that he was able to take care of himself. His father and 
mother therefore thought he had taken shelter with a neighbor for the 
night. When inquiries were made the next morning, and it was learned 
that none of the neighbors knew anything of his whereabouts, a search 
was instituted. That afternoon his body was found by his father. Un- 
able to find his way home through the blinding snow, he had perished in 
the storm. 




In June, 1916, three score years had passed since William Granger, 
Henry and Adolphus Jenkins and D. W. Hoyt came to Emmet County 
and "pitched their tents" in what is now Emmet Township. These four 
men and their families were the first white people to become permanent 
residents of the county. Others came, however, and the work of build- 
ing up the county and developing its resources has gone steadily forward 
from that day to the present. Although the census of 1910 showed only 
two counties in the state having a smaller population than Emmet, it 
must be remembered that when the first settlements were made in this 
county there were fifty-one counties of the state that had a population 
of three thousand or more each, and of these fifty-one counties ten had a 
population of ten thousand or more, and nine others were close to the 
ten thousand mark. The first settlements in Emmet County were far out 
on the frontier and nearly twenty years elapsed before the county was 
brought in touch with the rest of the state by a railroad. Yet, in spite 
of all these disadvantages the growth of the county has been of the most 
encouraging nature. The increase in population, as shown by the United 
States census since 1860, the first official census taken after the county 
was organized, is shown in the following table: 

1860 105 

1870 1,392 

1880 1.550 

1890 __:" 4,274 

1900 9,936 

1910 9,816 

By a brief comparison of these figures it will be noticed that, not- 
withstanding the Civil war and the Indian troubles on the frontier, the 
greatest proportionate increase during any decade was between the years 



1860 and 1870, when it was over 1,300 per cent. From 1870 to 1880 the 
increase was slight, being only 158 during the ten years. Then came the 
railroad, and Emmet County experienced a boom, the population in- 
creasing nearly 300 per cent, between 1880 and 1890. There was also a 
large increase between 1890 and 1900. The state census of 1905 gives 
Emmet County a population of 10,105, but the United States census of 
1910 shows a decrease of 120 during the preceding decade. Part of this 
decrease may be accounted for by errors made in taking the enumeration, 
but it is quite probable that more of it may be accounted for through the 
opening of new lands in other parts of the country, which presented op- 
portunities to men of moderate means to acquire farms and homes with a 
smaller outlay of capital. Although the decrease in the county as a whole 
was 120, seven of the twelve townships showed a gain during the census 
period. This is seen by the following comparison of the last three census 
reports relating to the population by townships: 

Townships 1890 

Armstrong Grove 293 

Center 283 

Denmark 261 

Ellsworth 291 

Emmet 293 

Estherville 1,713 

High Lake 412 

Iowa Lake 67 

Jack Creek 212 

Lincoln ^, 78 

Swan Lake 161 

Twelve Mile Lake 210 

Totals 4,274 9,936 9,816 

In the above table the population of the City of Estherville is included 
in Estherville Township, and the population of the other incorporated 
towns is given with that of the township in which each is located. Al- 
though there was a slight decrease in the number of inhabitants between 
1900 and 1910, at no time in the history of the county has there been a 
falling off in wealth and material re.sources. Statistics bearing upon the 
condition of the various industries indicate a steady advance in the amount 
of capital invested. The values of farm lands and farm products have 
appreciated within the last few years, and the banks showed larger de- 
posits in the year 1916 than at any previous period. During the last two 
years the county has spent more money for road improvement and sup- 




























port of the public school system than in any other two years since its 
organization in 1859. 


Three constitutional conventions have been hold in the State of Iowa, 
in the first two of which Emmet County was not represented. The first 
constitutional convention met at Iowa City on October 7, 1844, and 
framed a constitution which was rejected by the people at an election held 
on August 4, 1845. The second convention met at Iowa City on May 4, 
1846. The constitution adopted by this convention was ratified by a 
majority of 456 at an election held on August 3, 1846. Under this con- 
stitution Iowa was admitted as a state. 

At the time Iowa was admitted all the northwestern part of the state 
was "unorganized territory." That section of the state was divided into 
counties by the Legislature of 1851. The third constitutional convention 
assembled at Iowa City on January 19, 1857, and remained in session 
until the 5th of the following March. Emmet County had not yet been 
organized, as was the case with a number of the new counties created in 
1851, and Daniel W. Price was chosen as a delegate to represent twenty- 
three counties in the northwestern portion of the state, viz.: Audubon, 
Buena Vista, Buncombe, Calhoun, Carroll, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, 
Dickinson, Emmet, Harrison, Ida, Monona, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, 
Plymouth, Pocahontas, Pottawattamie, Sac, Shelby, Sioux and Woodbury. 

Constantly changing conditions have made necessary a number of 
amendments to the constitution and within recent years there has devel- 
oped a sentiment that the state needs a new one. The question of calling 
a convention to formulate a new organic law for the state was submitted 
to the voters at the general election in 1909 and in Emmet County the 
vote was 787 in favor of the convention to 577 opposed. The proposition 
was defeated in the state. 


A list of the first oflficials of Emmet County^elected on February 7, 
1859 is given in the chapter on Settlement and Organization. The de- 
struction of the records by the court-house fire in October, 1876, renders 
it impossible to compile a correct of the county officers prior to tliat 
time. The following list of officials since 1877 has been compiled from 
the public records and is believed to be as correct as such a can be 
made, showing wlio have been entrusted with the public business during 
the last forty years. Most of the time the officers were elected for terms 
of two years. The list gives the year of election, or the time the official 
entered upon the discharge of his duties. Where a period of several years 


elapsed between the election of an officer and that of his successor one or 
more reflections are indicated. A list of the judges of the District Court 
and county attorneys will be found in Chapter XII. 

Clerks — John M. Barker, 1877 (resigned and Lyman S. Williams ap- 
pointed on November 11, 1878) ; Lyman S. Williams, 1880; S. H. Mattson, 
1882 ; J. D. Rutan, 1886 ; Lyman S. Williams, 1894 ; John Amundson, 1898 ; 
W. H. Halverson, 1906 (failed to qualify and John Amundson continued 
in office) ; John Amundson, 1908. Mr. Amundson died before the expi- 
ration of the term for which he was elected. The board of supervisors 
appointed Louis Heffelfinger and the District Court appointed C. M. 
Brown. The position was finally awarded to Mr. Heffelfinger. Louis 
Heffelfinger, 1910; Sidney E. Bemis, 1916. 

Auditors— H. W. Halverson, 1877; Frank Davey, 1880; H. W. Hal- 
verson, 1883; E. D. Doughty, 1887; R. K. Soper, 1892; George C. Allen, 
1894; Roy J. Ridley, 1902; Charles A. Root, 1910 (twice reelected, but 
resigned before the expiration of his last term and Roy J. Ridley was ap- 
pointed to the vacancy) ; J. J. Klopp, 1916. George C. Allen and Roy J. 
Ridley each held the office for four successive terms. 

Treasurers — E. H. Ballard, 1877 ; Knuet Espeset, 1880 ; John M. Bar- 
ker, 1885 ; 0. 0. Refsell, 1893 ; A. 0. Peterson, 1901 ; J. C. Lovell, 1908 ; 
Enoch H. Hanson, 1912 (still in office by reelection). 

Recorders — James Maher, 1877 ; Bryngel Knudson, 1880 ; J. N. Lee, 
1884; F. L. Ronemus, 1888; Samuel Collins, 1890 (held the office for seven 
successive terms) ; Maggie G. Penn, 1906; Rosella Amundson, 1910; Janet 
N. Herzberg, 1914 (reelected in 1916). 

Sheriffs— Knuet Espeset, 1877; Robert Roan, 1878 (reelected in 
1880, but resigned on December 8, 1880, when M. K. Whelan was appointed 
to the vacancy) ; M. K. Whelan, 1881 ; James A. Rae, 1891 ; W. J. Pullen, 
1895; A. R. Butler, 1906; Thomas Nivison, 1914 (reelected in 1916). 

Surveyors— John M. Barker, 1877 ; Frank Davey, 1883 ; E. J. Woods, 
1885; Clifton Bradley, 1889; R. B. Callwell, 1891; Clifton Bradley, 1893; 
R. B. Callwell, 1895. Mr. Callwell continued to serve by reelection until 
the office was abolished by the act of April 22, 1913, which created the 
office of county road engineer. The board of supervisors appointed C. P. 
Smith and F. A. McDonald engineers, the former to serve for the west 
half of the county and the latter for the east half. 

Coroners— E. H. Ballard. 1877; W. B. Knapp, 1880; A. Jenkins, 1881; 
C. B. Little, 1883; E. B. Myrick, 1885 (remained in office for sixteen 
years) ; C. E. Binney, 1901; M. E. Wilson, 1906 (reelected at each suc- 
ceeding election to 1916). 

County Superintendents — Frank Davey, 1877 ; J. W. Plummer, 1880 ; 
E. H. Ballard, 1883; W. A. Ladd, 1889; Frank Barber, 1893; H. H. David- 


son, 1895 ; Maria Z. Pingrey, 1901 ; T. J. Lerdall, 1908 ; Ida A. Davis, 1912 
(still in office) . 

County Judge — When the County of Emmet was organized in Feb- 
ruary, 1859, the county judge system was in vogue in Iowa and that official 
transacted the greater part of the public business. Adolphus Jenkins 
was elected county judge at the first election and was the only county judge 
Emmet ever had. He served until after the passage of the act of March 2, 
1860, which abolished the office and created the board of supervisors, the 
members of which were to be elected at the general election in 1860 and 
take office on January 1, 1861. 

Supervisors — For the reason stated at the beginning of this roster, 
it is impossible to give a complete and authentic list of officials prior to 
1877. Since that time the board of supervisors for each year has been 
constituted of the following members : 

1877 — Matthew Richmond, Bryngel Knudson, L. S. Williams, Henry 
Barber and J. H. W^arren. 

1878 — Matthew Richmond, J. H. Warren, A. Christopher, Jesse 
Coverdale and Henry Barber. 
1879— Same as in 1878. 

1880— Matthew Richmond, A. Christopher, Charles Jarvis, F. C. 
McMath and Jesse Coverdale. 

1881 — Same as 1880 until June, when John Amnion succeeded Jesse 

1882^F. C. McMath, John Amnion, Charles Jarvis, A. Christopher 
and Matthew Richmond. 

1883— Charles Jarvis, F. E. Allen, A. Christopher, Matthew Rich- 
mond and Adolphus Jenkins. 

1884 — IMatthew Richmond, Charles Jarvis, F. E. Allen, Adolphus 
Jenkins and John Iverson. 

1885 — F. E. Allen, Charles Jarvis, John Iverson, Adolphus Jenkins 
and M. A. Vandenburg. 

1886 — Harvej' Miller, Knute A. Toft, Cornelius Anderson, John Iver- 
son and M. A. Vandenburg. 

1887 — Knute A. Toft, Cornelius Anderson, John Iverson, M. A. Van- 
denburg and Harvey Miller. 

1888 — Cornelius Anderson, John Iverson, C. B. Mathews, Harvey 
Miller and Knute A. Toft. 

1889— C. B. Mathews, Harvey Miller, Knute A. Toft, John Iverson 
and F. H. Lathrop. 

1890— Harvey Miller, Knute A. Toft. C. B. Mathews, John Iverson 
and Martin Christopher. 

1891— Harvey Miller, Knute A. Toft, F. H. Lathrop, Martin Christ- 


opher and S. D. Bunt. No changes were made in the personnel of the 
board in the years 1892 and 1893. 

1894— Harvey Miller, Knute A. Toft, F. H. Lathrop, Martin Christ- 
opher and Charles Ogilvie. 

1895 — Charles Ogilvie, T. J. Hess, A. 0. Peterson, David Fitzgerald 
and Martin Christopher. 

1896— Charles Ogilvie, A. 0. Peterson, T. J. Hess, David Fitzgearld 
and T. 0. Sando. 

1897— David Fitzgearld, T. 0. Sando, T. J. Hess, A. 0. Peterson and 
William Stuart. 

1898— Same as in 1897. 

1899 — No change in the board this year. 

1900— T. 0. Sando, S. D. Bunt, David Fitzgearld, A. 0. Peterson and 
A. R. Butler. 

1901— S. D. Bunt, A. 0. Peterson, David Fitzgearld, T. 0. Sando and 
Lemuel Irwin. 

1902— S. D. Bunt, Jay S. Mitchell, David Fitzgearld, Lemuel Irwin 
and E. H. Hanson. 

1903— Same as in 1902. 

1904— David Fitzgearld, B. T. Sorum, J. H. Barnhart, S. D. Bunt and 
E. H. Hanson. 

1905— Same as in 1904. 

1906 — Same as above. 

1907— S. W. Morton, H. A. Jehu, J. B. Mitchell, W. H. Gibbs and 
E. H. Hanson. 

1908— S. W. Morton, J. B. Mitchell, H. A. Jehu, W. H. Gibbs and 
O. 0. Refsell. 

1909— Same as in 1908. 

1910— S. W. Morton, H. A. Jehu, W. H. Gibbs, J. B. Mitchell and 
O. O. Refsell. Mr. Morton resigned before the close of the year and on 
September 12, 1910, Frank Leopold was appointed as his successor. 

1911— H. A. Jehu, 0. O. Refsell, W. H. Gibbs, W. 0. Dowden and 
J. B. Mitchell. On October 23, 1911, A. R. Johnston was appointed to fill 
the vacancy caused by the death of H. A. Jehu. 

1912 — The board this year was the same as that of 1911 until Sep- 
tember 16, 1912, when J. J. Klopp was elected to the vacancy caused by 
the resignation of A. R. Johnston. 

1913— W. H. Gibbs, O. 0. Refsell, J. J. Klopp, Glen Reisinger and 
J. D. Weir. 

1914— W. H. Gibbs, J. J. Klopp, Glen Reisinger, J. D. Weir and J. M. 

1915— Same as in 1914. 

1916— W. H. Gibbs, J. M. Wolden, J. D. Weir, J. H. Griffith and James 
L. Brown. This board was in office at the beginning of the year 1917. 



From the time of the admission of the state in 1846 to 1908 the 
General Assembly met in December of the even numbered years. At the 
general election on November 8, 1904, the voters of the state ratified an 
amendment to the state constitution abolishing the elections in the odd 
numbered years and making all elections biennial, beginning in 1906. 
Members of the Legislature, whose successors would have been chosen at 
the election in the fall of 1905, had their term of office extended until the 
election of 1906. The Thirty-first General Assembly met on January 8, 
1906, and the Thirty-second on January 14, 1907. With this exception, 
and a few cases of special sessions, the General Assembly has held its 
sessions biennially. 

For more than a quarter of a century after the organization of Emmet 
County, it was included in a district embracing a number of the adjacent 
counties. During this period Howard Graves was elected representative 
from the district in 1865, and Harwood G. Day in 1869. 

In 1887 Emmet County was given a representative of its own and 
W. M. McFarland was elected in that year. He was reelected in 1889, 
and was followed by J. 0. Kasa in 1891. J. C. Myerly was elected repre- 
sentative in 1893, M. K. Whelan in 1895 and 1897, when the county was 
attached to Dickinson for legislative purposes and in 1899 W. H. Myers, 
of Dickinson County was elected. Since that time Emmet County has 
been represented in the lower branch of the legislature by one of its own 
citizens, to wit: B. F. Robinson, 1901-03-05; Nelson J. Lee, 1906-08; 
C. B. Murtagh, 1910; Lewis L. Bingham, 1912-14; William Stuart, 1916. 

The only member of the state senate credited to -Emmet County was 
E. W. Bachman, who served in the legislative sessions of 1900 and 1902. 


At the time Emmet County was organized in 1859 there were but two 
congressional districts in the State of Iowa. Emmet was in the Second 
District, which was then represented by Timothy Davis. He was suc- 
ceeded in 1860 by William Vandever. The census of 1860 showed that 
Iowa was entitled to six representatives in Congress and the state was 
accordingly divided into six districts, Emmet County being placed in the 
Sixth. While in that district the county was represented as. follows: 
Asahel W. Hubbard, 1862; Charles Pomeroy, 1868; Jackson Orr, 1870. 

After the United States census of 1870 Iowa was given nine repre- 
sentatives and in redistricting the state Emmet County was placed in the 
Ninth District, which was represented during the next ten years by the 
following congressmen : Jackson Orr, 1872 ; Addison Oliver, 1874 ; C. C. 
Carpenter, 1878-80. , • • : , 


Another district was added by the census of 1880 and Emmet County 
became a part of the Tenth District, where it has since remained. The 
district since its formation in 1881 has been represented by the following 
members of the lower house of the national legislature: A. J. Holmes, 
1882-84-86; Jonathan P. Dolliver, 1888 to 1898; James P. Conner, 1898 
to 1908 ; Frank P. Woods, 1908 to 1916. The Tenth District is now com- 
posed of the counties of Boone, Calhoun, Carroll, Crawford, Emmet, 
Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, 
Webster and Winnebago. Frank P. Woods, the present congressman, 
lives at Estherville, Emmet County. 

Mr. Woods is a native of Walworth County, Wisconsin, where he 
received his elementary education in the public schools, after which he 
attended the Northern Indiana Normal School (now Valparaiso Univer- 
sity) at Valparaiso, Indiana. In 1887 he removed to Iowa and soon be- 
came Identified with political affairs. In 1906 and 1907 he was chairman 
of the Republican state central committee. He was elected to Congress 
on November 3, 1908, and has been reelected at each succeeding election. 


In February, 1864, a narrative poem was written by Mrs. A. L. Buck- 
land and presented to the Okobojo Literary League, a prominent literary 
organization of that time. This poem was named the "Legend of Spirit 
Lake," and found publication in several leading magazines of the country, 
in the Smith History of Dickinson County, and excerpts of it in various 
papers in Iowa. The poem itself savors strongly of the romantic days of 
the Red Men and is a colorful and vivid bit of Indian lore. In i-espect 
to the author and in appreciation of the lines she has penned it is con- 
sidered fitting that this poem should serve as an introductory to the His- 
tory of Dickinson County. It follows : 


The West, the West, the boundless West 
The land of all I love the best. 
Her beauties live on every hand. 
Her billowy prairies vast and grand, 
A landscape spread so wild and free. 
What other clime can lovelier be? 

Her rivers on toward ocean flow, 
Her lakes like gems of crystal glow. 
With pebbly beach or rocky shore 
Or wooded cliffs, trees hanging o'er 


The water's edge, while down below 
The finny tribes dart to and fro ; 
No place so dark but wild flowers spring; 
No spot so lone, but wild birds sing. 
For me the prairie and the lake 
Possess a charm I would not break. 

I love them wlien in springtime bright 
Each scene is touched with tender light, 
Or when midsummer's stronger heat 
Makes life a burden, rest a cheat. 
These wilds, these lakes, this prairie breeze, 
Make fittest place to while away 
The tedious, dull midsummer day. 

But more I love them when the year 
With autumn frosts is growing sere, 
When gorgeous sunset's golden dyes 
Light up our Indian summer skies. 
Now, Nature claims these wilds her own, 
But Art ere long will share the throne; 
E'en now the pioneer has come 
Within these wilds to make his home. 
The red man farther West has gone — 
The Indian trail is overgrown. 

Ere hither came the sons of toil 

To make them homes and till the soil, 

The bold and fearless hunter came 

In search of sport and western game ; 

And oft adventure strange he met 

While here the red man wandered yet. 

But since it is not my intent 

In rhyme to tell each wild event 

Which early settlers here befell. 

This narrative I'll briefly tell: 

'Twas years ago, perhaps a score. 
And possibly a dozen more. 
My chronicler doesn't tell exact 
But simply furnishes the fact 
The Indian summer time was here. 
The loveliest time of all the year; 


Through day the sun's bright golden rays 
Combined with autumn't smoky haze, 
The mellow harvest moon at night 
Cloaked Nature's form in misty light. 

A sportive party on a hunt, 
Who dared the warlike Sioux confront, 
From wandering many a weary day 
To these our lakes now bent their way. 
And on the shore of Spirit Lake 
Their noonday rest they thought to take. 
Now, in the grove, the lake close by. 
An Indian teepee caught their eye. 
And soon the youthful brave they met 
Who here his teepee-poles had set. 

Umpashota was the name. 

Some of you have seen the same 

As years, five I believe. 

He passed through here an aged chief, 

A prisoner with his little band 

To Captain Martin's brave command; 

But this was in an earlier day 

Long ere his locks were mixed with gray. 

But young and strong and brave was he 

As ever Sioux was known to be. 

The hunters bold he gave his hand 

And welcomed them the "smoky man." 

They saw the beauty of the place. 

The lake's walled shore and rippled face. 

And asked what name to it belonged. 

For well they knew the Indian tongue, 

"Minnie Waukon," the warrior spake ; 

Translated this means Spirit Lake. 

"And why thus called," he asked the brave, 

As he looked out upon the wave. 

While they the pipe of peace imbibe 

He told this legend of his tribe : 

How many, many moons ago 
The West belonged to all the Sioux. 
They were a countless tribe and strong. 
But soon the white man's bitter wrong 


Took of their hunting ground the best, 
Forced them to make their marches west, 
Foixed them to leave these sacred mounds. 
Their fathers' ancient burial grounds, 
Their god of war was illy pleased. 
Would not by trifles be appeased. 
But woke within the warrior's breast 
Anger for being thus oppressed. 
And war parties were often made 
The white man's country to invade; 
And many a captive brought from far 
Was offered to their god of war. 

At last they brought a maiden fair, 
Of comely form and beauty rare, 
With eyes than lustrous stars more bright, 
And flowing tresses dark as night. 
Too fair for human race seemed she, 
But fit the white man's god to be. 
Now, the Dacotah worships ne'er 
The beautiful, the bright, the fair, 
But his Waukon 's some hideous thing 
With awful eye and monster wing. 
Loves what is vilest, lowest, worst. 
Thinks truth and beauty things accursed. 
He loves the dark and hates the light. 
Protects the wrong, destroys the right. 
Ah, captive maid, what luckless fate! 
The victim of such fiendish hate. 
A savage vengeance craves thy life. 
The brave makes sharp his scalping knife. 
Those tresses dark their dance shall grace 
Ere next they venture on their chase. 

But 'mongst the warriors brave and gay 
Was one they called the "Star of Day." 
The chief's much loved and honored son. 
His first, his last, his only one. 
By all both feared and loved was he. 
Their chief 'twas said he was to be. 
He hardly seemed like others there. 
His eye was dark, his beard vas fair, 


In fact 'twas whispered round by some 
He was a paleface and had c( me 
Into the tribe some years ago — 
Was stolen by the chieftain's squaw. 

He, always swiftest in the race, 
Loved well the reckless hunt and chase. 
His arrow true ne'er spent for naught 
Was sure to bring the game it sought. 
He white man born and savage reared 
By instinct nature's God revered; 
He saw the captive, "Pale Face Dove" 
And in his breast she wakened love. 
Full well he knew the cruel fate 
Which might the captive maid await; 
Resolved himself to rescue her. 
The lovely dark-eyed prisoner. 
To take her from that savage band 
And bear her to her own bright land, 
And there with her he thought to stay 
And make her bride to Star of Day. 

The captive saw his cheek's light hue 
And curling locks, and quickly knew 
He was not of the savage race. 
But some long-captured young "paleface." 
She caught the glance of his bright eye 
And swiftly blushed, but knew not why. 
It chanced that to the warrior's care 
The chief oft left the captive fair, 
And though each spake a tongue unknown 
Love has a language all its own. 
And by some silent, magic spell 
It found a way its tale to tell. 

At Marble Grove within its shade 
'Twas planned to offer up the maid. 
The whole being left to Star of Day, 
He managed quite a different way. 
Beneath the bank, just out of view, 
He anchored near his light canoe; 
Across the lake within a glen 
Two well-trained ponies waited them. 


One eve as light began to fade 
He cut the thongs that bound the maid, 
And 'neath the twilight's dusky sky, 
While followed them no warrior's eye. 
He led her to the water's brim, 
She not resisting went with him. 
And launching quick their light canoe 
They o'er the waters swiftly flew. 

The god of war willed not that so 

This victim from his grasp should go. 

Awoke a storm upon t]\-e lake, 

Which caused the waves to madly break. 

And as the night grew wild and dark 

Upset their fragile, dancing bark, 

And angry waters closed above 

The Star of Day and Pale Face Dove. 

But water spirits 'neath the wave 

Soon led them to a shining cave, 

Whose floor was paved with sea shells light, 

Whose walls were set with diamonds bright, 

And pearls and gems, a glittering lot 

Had there been brought to deck their grot. 

And there e'en now still live and love 

The Star of Day and Pale Face Dove. 

Not mortals now but spirits grown 

They watch the lake as all their own, 

And watch its waters night and day. 

And never since that time, they say. 

Across the lake in his canoe 

Has gone as yet a single Sioux. 

But if he venture on the wave 

No power is able him to save 

From angry spirits who with frown 

A whirlpool set to drag him down. 

And no red man dare undertake 

To sail upon this Spirit Lake, 

But if the white man's jolly boat 

Upon its silvery surface float. 

Quick ceases then the whirlpool's spell, 

The spirits know their people well. 

And by a ripple on the wave 

Tell where is hid their s'linirg cave. ■ ■ • • 





Dickinson County lies in the northern tier of Iowa counties, bordering 
on the Minnesota line, and is the third county from the west line of the 
state. It is twenty-four miles in length east and west and about seventeen 
miles in width north and south. It comprises an area of about four hun- 
dred square miles, one-eighth of which area is covei-ed by lakes. 

Dickinson County received its name in honor of Daniel S. Dickinson, 
one time United States senator from the State of New York. 

The general chapter upon the "Period of Preparation" recounts accu- 
rately the early explorations in this part of the country and the events 
which happened in the territory then comprising the land now included 
in Dickinson County. One of the oldest written accounts of the Spirit 
Lake country, which means Dickinson County country, is described by 
Judge Fulton in his book "Red Men of Iowa," in which he says : "Lewis 
and Clarke's French interpreter described other localities in the country 
of the Sioux Nation now known to be within the boundaries of Iowa, with 
sufficient accuracy to warrant the conclusion that he had some knowledge 
of the geography of the country, though not strictly accurate in some 
respects. He described the Little Sioux as having its source within nine 
miles of Des Moines, as passing through a large lake nearly sixty miles 
in circumference and dividing it into two parts which approach each 
other very closely, as being very irregular in width, as having many 
islands, and as being known by the name of Lac D'Esprit, or Spirit Lake. 
This lake in the country of the Sioux, from the earliest knowledge of 



white men the chief seat of one of the Sioux tribes, is now known by 
the name of Spirit Lake and Lake Okoboji." 

That this part of the country was inhabited by roving bands of white 
men, namely trappers, voyageurs, adventurers and Indian traders, is 
considered probable, but owing to the very nature of their occupation and 
their idle regard for the supposedly sterile country, they left no records 
of the life here or their conception of the beautiful lake region. 

During the administration of President Van Buren, 1837-1841, the 
younger Nicollet was appointed by the secretary of war to draft a map of 
the Upper Mississippi River basin. This was done in accordance with the 
order of April 7, 1838, and in the general report of the region explored, 
Nicollet states : "It has heretofore been designated as the Little Sioux, 
and has its origin from a group of Lakes, the most important of which is 
called by the Sioux 'Minnie Waukon,' or 'Spirit Water,' hence its name of 
Spirit Lake." No statement is made regarding the Okoboji Indians. In 
another portion of the report the following astronomical table is given by 
Nicollet Place of observation : Spirit Lake, about the middle of the north- 
ern shore; altitude above the Gulf of Mexico, 1310 feet; north latitude, 
43° 30' 21"; longitude west from Greenwich, in time, six hours, twenty 
minutes and twenty-six seconds, in arc, 95^ 6' 30"; authority, Nicollet. R. 
A. Smith writes in regards to this: "It will be readily seen that the point 
from which this observation was taken cannot be far from where Cran- 
dall's Lodge was afterwards located. It is not at all probable that many, 
if any, of the hundreds of visitors who every summer sport on the sandy 
beach or bathe in the crystal waters of that charming region are aware 
that they are treading on ground made historic by reason of its being the 
first of which any mention is made or record preserved in all northwestern 

"The old Nicollet maps, or imperfect copies of them, were much in 
evidence back in the '50s. They showed the larger portion of Spirit Lake 
as being north of the state line. The state line was not surveyed until 
several years after these maps were made and consequently the northern 
boundary of the state had not then been determined. Nicollet's assistant 
and companion in this expedition was a man with whose name the world has 
since become familiar, being none other than Gen. John C. Fremont, then 
a young engineer in the service of the United States, afterwards the gal- 
lant 'Pathfinder of the Rockies,' the first republican candidate for the presi- 
dency, and a prominent major-general in the Union army during the 
War of the Rebellion. It is more than probable that the observation before 
noticed was taken by him and the record made in his handwriting. If this 
bo so, it can be safely asserted that John C. Fremont was the first explorer 
of the Spirit Lake region to give to the world an account of his discov- 
eries. From this time on the lakes were frequently visited by hunters. 

Then the home of Olin Pillsbury. 

THE ¥h\'J YO?K 



trappers and adventurers up to the time when the state was admitted to 
the Union in 1846." 

Another note in regard to early writings upon the vicinity of Spirit 
Lake is contained in a paragraph of Jacob Van der Zee's article in the 
Iowa State Journal of History. "The Early History of the Des Moines 
Valley," in which the following is said : Another interesting reminder of 
the relations between the far-away Canadian settlement and the nearest 
American pioneers is a map of Iowa Territory showing 'Dixon and 
McKnight's route to Pembina settlements in 1822.' These men ascended 
the valleys of the Des Moines and its tributary, the Racoon, proceeded 
almost straight northward along the divide between Spirit Lake and the 
headwaters of the Des Moines to the sources of St. Peter's and Red 
Rivers, and then descended the valley of the Red River to Pembina." 

This constitutes practically all that is known of the early lake region, 
that is, all that can be gathered from available records. Many things are 
known, however, which lead back into tradition and story. The Indians 
who dwelt here (this was the favorite hunting and camping grounds of the 
Wahpekutah branch of the Yankton-Sioux) regarded Spirit Lake with awe 
and superstition. Their legend of the lake and its mysterious currents is 
well presented in Mrs. Buckland's poem in the introductory of this History. 
That they believed the waters of Spirit Lake guarded and watched by a 
great spirit, or kindred spirits, that no Indian dare venture upon the 
water in a canoe, is true ; and it is a curious fact that no early settler of 
Dickinson County, or any traveler in this early country, remembers seeing 
an Indian canoe upon the lake. This legend of the Spirit Lake is a beauti- 
ful one and deserves commemoration in some form or other to insure 
permanency to it ; a preservation which has not yet been secured. 


On July 16, 1856 Rowland Gardner, from Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, 
and his son-in-law, Harvey Luce, came into what is now Dickinson County, 
made the necessary claims and erected rude cabins near what was then 
known as Gardner's Grove. This Gardner cabin has stood the ravages 
of time, and was occupied for several years by Rev. Samuel Pillsbury and 
then by Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp. James Mattock, from Delaware 
County, Iowa, with his family, and several other people from the same 
locality, located in the grove just south of the later Okoboji bridge. This 
grove was shortly known as Mattock's Grove, named in honor of the elder 
Mattock, a very prominent man in the community. Near the same time 
of the year another band of settlers came in, hailing from Red Wing, 
Minnesota. Among them were : William and Carl Granger, Doctor Har- 
riott and Bert Snyder. They settled on the point on the north side of the 
Okoboji bridge, upon land now included upon the C. M. & St. P. right of 


way, half way between the lake shore and the depot. The Granger boys 
claimed the point of land adjacent to East Okoboji Lake; Dr. Harriott, 
the Maple Grove on West Okoboji and Snyder, the Center Grove. Center 
Grove, in fact, was known as Snyder's Grove for several years after the 
first settlement. Joseph M. Thatcher was another early settler at the 
north end of the present Tusculum Grove ; he came from Franklin County, 
Iowa, having previously come to this state from Howard County, Indiana. 
At the same time Joel Howe made location at the south end of the grove. 
In September of the same year a man named Marble, from Linn County, 
Iowa, located upon the west bank of Spirit Lake in a grove known for a 
long time as Marble's Grove. These are the settlements made in the year 
1856 in Dickinson County. 

With Mattock and his family, which consisted of a wife and five chil- 
dren, came a Mr. Madison, who had taken a claim upon the west side of 
Okoboji Lake. He was from Delaware County also, and left his family 
there over the winter. Gardner had four children with him, the oldest 
of whom was married to Mr. Luce. Two young men, named Clark and 
Wilson, were stopping with Mr. Gardner temporarily ; Wilson after- 
ward married one of the Gardner girls, Eliza. Joel Howe had his 
wife and seven children with him. Thatcher and Noble each had one 
child. With Thatcher was a trapper named Morris Markham, a Mr. Ryan 
and a brother-in-law named Burtch. Marble had no children. One could 
hardly say that there was a scarcity of children in the first settlement of 
Dickinson County ; there were no less than eighteen or twenty of them to 
make life merry around the fireside during the long winter nights on the 

In all there were about forty persons located near the lakes by the 
end of the year 1856. This is an unusually large showing for the first 
year of a county's settlement. Ordinarily, in the average county, the 
first year's, or for that matter, the first two or three years' settlement 
comprised about a dozen people, perhaps all li\ing in the same cabin. 

Then came the terrible Spirit Lake massacre. This is described in 
detail in Chapter XXI. To the present-day reader it is hard to conjure 
up the feeling and excitement which prepailed over the entire country, 
especially along the frontier. The case is well illustrated in the case 
of any calamity which befalls the country at the present day; first 
reports are vague and often exaggerated and contorted; the people form 
their own impression and in nine cases out of ten magnify the true facts 
many times. This is not meant to carry the impression that the Spirit 
Lake massacre was anything short in horror, cruelty and ghastliness of 
the story first circulated among the settlers. It is but to show that 
the whole countryside was alarmed and expected to see the murderous 
Indians appear at any moment — from any direction. R. A. Smith writes 


that: "Nearly the whole line of frontier settlements were abandoned 
and in some instances the excitement and alarm extended far into the 
interior. In deed, in many cases where there was no possibility of 
danger the alarm was wildest. Military companies were formed, home 
guards were organized and other measures taken for defense hundreds of 
miles from where any Indians had been seen for years. The alarm spread 
to adjoining states. The wildest accounts of the number and force of 
the savages was given currency and credence. Had all the Indians of 
the Northwest been united in one band they would not have formed 
a force so formidable as was supposed to exist at that time along the 
western border of Iowa and Minnesota." 

The aftermath, though, was different. Settlers were attracted from 
every part of the land to the scene of the massacre. Emigrants, adven- 
turers, curiosity seekers and the morbid sought this territory ; the mas- 
sacre had brought this land of the lakes to their attention. The ones 
who came expecting to build their homes hei'e were, for the most pai't, 
rewarded, but the ones who came expecting to see "rivers of blood" 
and mutilated victims of the Indians were sorely disappointed and many 
returned the way they came. 


The Jasper County party, mention of which is made in the story of 
the massacre, consisting of 0. C. Howe, B. F. Parmenter and R. U. 
Wheelock, made preparations for a return to the lakes, after their return 
to Eort Dodge with Major Williams' command. Howe went to Newton, 
while Wheelock and Parmenter remained in P^ort Dodge, to attend to 
the commissariat and await Howe's- return. Howe secured a party of 
men at Newton to accompany him upon his return to the lakes. This 
party consisted of George E. Spencer (afterwards United States senator 
from Alabama), his brother Gustave, :M. A. Blanchard, S. W. Foreman, 
Thomas Arthur, Samuel Thornton and Doctor Hunter, all residents of 

Prior to this time J. S. Prescott, W. B. Brown and a guide named 
Overacker had started upon a trip to the lakes. They followed the Des 
Moines River, passing Major Williams' command en route, and reached 
the lakes about April 1.5th. After a few days spent here they returned 
to Fort Dodge to make preparations for a return to the lakes to settle 
there permanently. 

The Newton party came to Fort Dodge without Howe, who had 
been held at home by family illness, and there joined Parmenter and 
WTieelock. Others joined the party for various purposes, and the whole 
proceeded. C. F. Hill, R. A. Smith and Henry Backman were pther 


sturdy souls among those who made the first settlements subsequent to 
the massacre. 

It may be said that the motive of the above mentioned party in 
coming- to the lakes was a pecuniary one. They had ambitions to select 
a location for a town site, procure the establishment of a county seat 
there, and claim all the land around. The panic of 1857, however, 
squashed this idea to a large extent, as land values sank to amazing 
depths. O. C. Howe succeeded politically in the new country, as he 
was elected district attorney for the fourth judicial district in 1858. 
All of the young men composing the party were animated with a high 
ambition to become rich and famous over night. So it was with the 
early settlers everywhere; they hoped even stronger than they spoke 
for the discovery of a bonanza in the unfamiliar country and often risked 
their entire possessions in the quest of this. 

There were three distinct parties which started for the lakes after 
the massacre. All of them left Fort Dodge on April 30, 1857. The 
first party consisted of Dr. J. S. Prescott, W. B. Brown, Charles F. Hill, 
Moses Miller, Lawrence Furber and George Brockway. The second group 
was the Newton party, mention of which has been made. The third party 
consisted of B. F. Parmenter, R. U. Wheelock, William Lamont, Morris 
Markham, Alexander Irving, Lewis Hart and R. A. Smith. Although 
separated the three groups of men managed to keep in communication 
with each other for many reasons, that of protection not the least. They 
planned their route up the west side of the Des Moines River, to a point 
ten miles below the present site of Emmetsburg. Here the Newton party 
separated from the others and traveled in the direction of Clay County, to 
investigate the land conditions there and the opportunity of locating a 
town — namely, Spencer. The other' two groups proceeded up the river 
for a shoi-t distance and then struck across prairie to Lost Island. Here, 
on the northeast shore of Lost Island Lake, they encamped on the night 
of May 6th. They arrived at Okoboji at noon on the 8th. The Newton 
pa}-ty, which had detoured, ai-i'i\ed the same evening and all set up 
camp and cooked supper at Gardner's location. 

The making of claims and locating their limits was about the first 
task of the new settlers after arriving. R. A. Smith thus describes this: 
"It will bo remembered that the land was unsurveyed and all that anyone 
could do was to 'squat' on a piece of land and defend possession of it 
under the laws of the state. Measures were taken as far as possible to 
settle with the heirs of those holding bona fide claims, and in every 
instance they wei'e paid a valuable consideration therefor. There was 
no instance of any person settling upon any bona fide claim that had 
been improved previous to the massacre without an equitable settlement 
having been made with those entitled to receive it. The impression has 


gone abroad and is pretty generally believed that Doctor Prescott took 
possession of the Gardner place without making any settlement therefor. 
This is a mistake." 

The explanation is that Eliza Gardner was at Springfield at the time 
of the massacre and had gone down to Fort Dodge with the return of 
Major Williams' men, and there married William Wilson. Prescott him- 
self returned to Fort Dodge and they sought to sell their claims to him, 
that of Gardner along the shore of West Okoboji Lake to the south and 
west of the Gardner cabin, also that of Harvey Luce, a son-in-law, adjoin- 
on the east. East of these was Wilson's claim which embraced the site of 
the present Arnold's Park and the land east of it. These were the claims 
offered to Prescott, which he accepted, paying $1,100 in gold coin for them. 
He also promised to settle with Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp if she ever 
succeeded in escaping the hands of the Indians, with whom she was a 
prisoner at that time. Later, it is said, Prescott made another settle- 
ment with her, as she had received no funds from the Wilsons. Prescott 
also purchased the Howe claim and that of Thatcher. Prescott after- 
wards had trouble owing to the law preventing one man from holding 
more than one claim, whilst he had four or five. 

The Red Wing, Minnesota, party, mentioned in the forepart of this 
chapter, had been wiped out by the Indians with the exception of one — 
'Bill" Granger, a notorious character along the border at that time. The 
Grangers bore an ill reputation among the settlers of the Northwest, 
especially along the Des Moines River; they were reasonably suppposed to 
have been implicated in horse-stealing and counterfeiting and were decid- 
edly unpopular. The Granger claim was northeast of the Okoboji Bridge. 
After the massacre and when the new settlers had commenced to come in, 
Bill Granger started for the scene from Red Wing, accompanied by a 
party of cronies. He claimed to represent the heirs of the members of 
his former party who had been murdered and with threats and display 
of bravado he ordered. that no one should touch the claims of his party in 
any way. His attitude did not "take," however, with the settlers and 
he soon abandoned the attempt. The claims, on what is now known as 
Smith's Point and Harriott's on the present Dixon's Beach, were not 
touched, though, until almost a year later. 

Howe, Wheelock and Parmenter selected the present site of the town 
of Spirit Lake, and made their claims adjoining. This they believed to 
be the proper place for the location of the county seat and the center of 
all business transactions. The men whose names have been known as the 
original proprietors of the site were: 0. C. Howe, B. F. Parmenter, R. U. 
Wheelock and George E. Spencer. Dr. J. S. Prescott afterwards pur- 
chased one-fifth in the site for $1,000. The county seat was located here 
in 1858, James Hickey of Palo Alto County, C. C. Smeltzer of Clay County 


and S. W. Foreman of O'Brien County acting as commissioners for the 

Many others came into the lake region during the spring and summer 
months of 1857. In June Henry Barkman, witii a small party from New- 
ton, put in an appearance ; on Independence Day a number of people from 
Sparta, Wisconsin, namely, Rosalvo Kingman, William Carsley, J. D. Haw- 
kins and G. W. Rogers, drove in and settled. Jareb Palmer was another 
early arrival. The latter had been in Springfield at the time of the 
Indian raid and had assisted in defense of Doctor Thomas' home there, 
also was a member of Major Williams' forces. 


Many times during these few months reports were brought into the 
settlement of another Indian outbreak and a threatening raid. At first 
the settlers became alarmed whenever these stories came in, but later 
learned to accept them stoically and await results — in the meantime, how- 
ever, preparing themselves for any eventualities. Alarmists were rife — 
one of the most conspicuous being "Bill" Granger, who, failing to intimi- 
date the settlers by his own bearing, started a report that the Indians 
were coming. This was his last straw and it failing to "break the camel's 
back" he and his party departed for the north again. 

The first thing the settlers did in their preparedness campaign was 
to erect a general building, in dimensions about twenty-four by thirty feet, 
built of large logs, with puncheon floor and "shake" roof. Surrounding 
this house a stockade was erected, composed of logs ten feet in length and 
eight to ten inches in diameter, sunk in a trench sulhciently deep to give 
them a strong hold. For convenience in case of a siege by the Indians, a 
well was sunk inside the stockade. The row of logs surrounded the house 
at a varying distance of six to ten feet, making in all a compact, strong 
and easily defended fort. June and July, 1857, witnessed the erection of 
this stronghold. After two years service, with never an opportunity to 
test its strength against invading tribes, it was demolished and a hostelry, 
then known as the Lake View House, was erected neai'by. It may be noted 
hei'e that the town site then was about a half mile north of the present 
Spirit Lake city, having been chosen befoi'e the United States survey was 

The largest numjjei- of the settlers had located theii' claims near 
Spirit Lake and a number of cabins could be seen in the vicinity of the 
fort. The reason for this is plain, for in case of sudden attack all could 
congregate within the stockade. W. B. Brown, C. F. Hill, William Lamont 
and a few others were at Center Grove, while Prescott and his party were 
at the old Gardner claim at Okoboji. 



The year 1857, which brought the new influx of settlers to Dickin- 
son County, was the year of the great financial panic, caused in greater 
part by the fever of speculation in real estate which had gone on in the 
country during the previous two years. "Paper" towns were thick; rail- 
roads were projected, aid promised, and towns laid out on the proposed 
right of way. The value of property in the practically unknown West 
was inflated to a point where, like a toy bolloon, it was bound to burst. 
The ebb-tide grasped the country in its clutches immediately after the 
explosion ; town sites vanished ; land prices dropped to almost nothing ; 
and settlers remained in their eastern homes rather than venture a trip 
to the West under the conditions. Paper currency was worth nearly 
nothing in value and the available gold in the nation was soon used up. 
This year saw the demise of many banks all over the land, their securities 
having depreciated to such an extent that continuance was impossible. 
The settlers then in the frontier and border country hesitated to make 
extensive improvements until something of a normal condition had again 
come to the country. 

Emigration to Dickinson County in the fall of 1857 was slow ; "in 
most cases made up of persons who had been stripped of their property 
by the panic and struck for the frontier to try their luck anew." Isaac 
Jones and William Miller from Story County, Iowa, came at this time 
and set up a diminutive steam saw-mill on the banks of East Okoboji 
Lake. It was located a short distance southwest of the Stevens' boat 
landing. This brought the possibility of timber construction to the set- 
tlers, whereas logs had been used for every detail of the house before. 
Algona had been the nearest point from which to get sawed lumber prior 
to this and the addition of the mill in their immediate vicinity was heartily 

There were just four women in the settlement during the winter of 
1857-8. 0. C. Howe had his wife and one child, Rosalvo Kingman had 
his wife and family, a settler named Thurston had his wife with him, 
and Mrs. Peters who lived between Okoboji and Spirit Lake, on the 
isthmus. Thurston stayed only during the winter. 

Another mill was attempted by one James S. Peters in the fall of 
1857, on the isthmus mentioned above. He dug a mill-race across the 
isthmus, but owing to the insufficiency of the water supply, made little 
success of his plan. He succeeded in getting the mill frame up and the 
crude machinery in place during the summer of 1858, and commenced 
operations in 1859, but the work he turned out "was far from satisfactory. 
It is told that Peters was a superstitious fellow and believed in spirits 


and witches, ascribing the ill working of his mill to the wrath of the 
ghosts or whatever he happened to believe. Some person would fre- 
quently be blamed by him for bewitching his mill and_ then he would 
rudely sketch their head with chalk upon a tree and then spend hours 
shooting at the picture with silver bullets. In this way he hoped to break 
the "spell." After a year or two of vain effort he sold out to Stimpson 
& Davis of Emmet County, but they, too, failed to make a paying invest- 
ment out of the mill. The place was again sold to Oliver Compton in 
1869; he overhauled it and put in new machinery, but the water situa- 
tion prevented success as before and it was finally wrecked. 

In 18-57 a claim was taken on the Little Sioux by Philip Risling, 
remembered as a pre-massacre settler. He came here in the summer 
with William Oldman, George Deitrick, Levi Daugherty, William Wise- 
garver and others, with coffins, for the purpose of disinterring the bodies 
of their friends. Very soon after Risling made his claim on the Little 
Sioux others were made in the same vicinity by Moses Miller, Andrew 
Oleson, Mr. Gunder and Omen Mattheson. H. Meeker and a Mr. Close 
constructed a mill on the outlet, which they ceased to operate a year or 
two later. R. R. Wilcox and Hiram Davis also took claims on the river 
mentioned before 1865. This small settlement is described as being on the 
trail from Sioux City and the first sign of civilization after a forty-mile 
hike across barren prairies. The winter of 1857-8 is remembered by the 
old settlers as having been a rather mild one, with provisions easily 
obtained by the forty or so of people living at the lakes. The cabins were 
comfortable and warm, if small and inconvenient. Some of them are said 
to have borne fanciful names such as St. Cloud, St. Charles and St. 


The formation of claim clubs, or associations for protection was a 
common procedure among early settlers everywhere, in almost every 
western state. In this manner each settler was guaranteed the protection 
of his fellows and some organized opposition could be exerted against the 
speculator and claim-jumper, a type, or types, not unfamiliar upon the 
border of civilization. Disputes and neighborhood iiuarrels were often 
decided by the august body of the claim club, as well as other matters 
of business. 

The Dickinson County Claim Club, or Spirit Lake Claim Club, as it 
was sometimes called, was formed during the winter of 1857-8. This 
was before the government survey, when each man was entitled by the 
laws of the state of loWa to defend possession of three hundred and 
twenty acres of ground. Under the claim club laws each settler was 


entitled to two claims, one in his own name and another in the name 
of some other person, with the provision that the person named would 
settle upon and improve it within a year. The club was under the com- 
mand of a captain and two lieutenants, who were empowered to call meet- 
ings. The first captain was William Carsley, and his lieutenants were 
Charles F. Hill and J. D. Hawkins. The local club had not much busi- 
ness to transact, consequently was abandoned shortly. 


The first postoffice in Dickinson County and in northwestern Iowa 
was established at Spirit Lake in February, 1858, R. U. Wheelock being 
the first postmaster to assume ofiice. Prior to this time most of the set- 
tlers obtained their mail from Sioux City or Fort Dodge. Anyone travel- 
ing to and from these towns acted as mail-carrier and brought letters for 
the whole settlement, taking them there to mail as well. In 1856 there had 
been a mail route, semi-monthly from Mankato to Sioux City, becoming 
a regular route in 1857, and in charge of Mr. Eabcock of Kasota, Minne- 
sota. He was paid for his labor the sum of $4,000 a year and received 
one section of government land for each twenty miles of route in the 
state of Minnesota. 

A Mr. Pease of Jackson County, Minnesota, was subcontractor to 
Babcock; he handled the north route alone, but sublet the southern route, 
from Spirit Lake to Sioux City, to Jareb Palmer. In the summer of 
1858 Orin Nason and Cephas Bedow of Kasota, Minnesota, procured the 
mail route and operated it until 1862. They acted as "official buyers" to 
many people along the line of their delivery, when the settlers were some 
distance from a store or had no means of transportation. Their purchases 
were made at Mankato and Sioux City. 

Nason and Bedow established the first trail between Spirit Lake and 
Peterson, marking the route with bushes at first until a line was worn 
so as to be distinguishable. Snow at one time covered their route so 
deeply that Bedow could get only as far as the Norv\-egian settlement at 
the head of the south branch of the Watonwan. He solved the problem 
by engaging a Norwegian named Torson to carry the mail through on 
skiis. The snow was of just the right consistency for this style of travel- 
ing and the husky Norwegian made the trip from Spirit Lake to Sioux 
City and return in five days, an average of over fifty miles per day, carry- 
ing the heavy mail sack upon his shoulders. His trips continued until 
the snow had disappeared sufficiently for the continuance of the teams 
and wagon. 

Wheelock left Dickinson County in 1861 and he was succeeded in 


office as postmaster by B. F. Parmenter, his brother-in-law. Parmenter 
also left the county about two years later. 

The Okoboji postoffice was established one year after the one at Spirit 
Lake, with G. H. Bush as the first postmaster. He was followed by M. J. 
Smith and J. W. O'Farrell. ITntil the establishment of the Milford office 
in 1869 these two comprised the only postoffices in Dickinson County. 

The mail from Mankato to Sioux City was continued until the year 
1862. In 1859 a weekly mail was run between Spirit Lake and Algona, 
the contract being in the hands of Judge Asa C. Call of Algona, who sub- 
let the same to a man named Henderson residing also in Algona. These 
routes were discontinued in 1862 and a weekly run between Spirit Lake 
and Fort Dodge was opened. This was carried by John Gilbert. 


When the weather moderated and the season opened in 1858 there 
was a renewal of emigration to the lake district. The country here was 
well known, many having been here to investigate. Some of these 
returned to Dickinson County for permanent settlement, some bringing 
their friends. Among the men who brought their families here at this 
time were: J. D. Howe, R. U. Wheelock, B. F. Parmenter, J. S. Prescott, 
Henry Schuneman, Henry Barkman, James Ball, Leonidas Congleton, 
Alvarado Kingman, William Barkman, George Ring, Philip Risling and 
M. J. Smith with his sister, Myra. With all these new arrivals oppor- 
tunity was supplied to the settlers for social intercourse — many young 
men and women having come in to live. Sarah and Mary Howe, Belle 
Wheelock, Myra Smith, Mary and Emma Congleton, Sarah McMillen 
and Dema Adams made up the list of the season's debutantes at Spirit 
Lake. M. J. Smith made a claim on what has been called Smith's Point; 
Dan Caldwell and T. S. Ruff located on what is Dixon's Beach and Jareb 
Palmer on uppe)- Maple Grove, later known as Omaha Beach. Agricul- 
ture began to be the main sub.ject with the settlers and farming began to 
be the popular occupation. Mr. R. A. Smith is authority for the statement 
that during this season the greatest hindrance to successful farming was 
the prodigious number of blackbirds in the vicinity. The destruction 
they caused was great. He writes in regard to this: 


"Corn was the principal crop, as no machinery foi- handling small 
grain had been introduced into the country. The time when the black- 
birds were most destructive was when the grain was just coming out of 
the ground, or about the last week in May and the first two weeks in June. 
They would come in such clouds as to almost darken the sun, and lighting 


down on the mellow fields where the corn was just coming up, would 
destroy a large area in an incredibly short space of time. They have 
been known to destroy for one man an entire forty-acre field in one day. 
And one great diliiculty about it was that there was no way of keeping 
them oft". Scare them up in one place and they would immediately light 
down in another and keep right on with their work of destruction. Shoot- 
ing among them had no appreciable effect, but it was lots of fun for the 
boys and gave them good practice. Fred Gilbert, who has for so long 
held the world's championship trophy, first acquired his wonderful skill 
as a wing shot by shooting blackbirds in his father's corn field with an 
old muzzle-loader. 

"Eftigies and scarecrows placed in the field had no effect whatever. 
Various schemes and devices were tried to circumvent them, but with 
indifferent success. Some claimed that soaking the seed in copperas water 
or in tar so as to give it a bitter taste kept them off, but about the 
only remedy that had an appreciable effect, and one by which many 
farmers saved a portion of their crops, was to scatter corn on their 
fields every day for the birds to pick up. By this means, and a con- 
tinuous working of the corn until it was to large for them, a portion of 
the crop was saved for the time. But the farmer's tribulations were not 
by any means over when his corn was too large for them to pull or 
scratch up. Just when the kernel was forming, or when it was on 'roast- 
ing ears,' the birds were very destructive; nearly or quite as much so 
as in the spring. They would light on the ears, and stripping down the 
silks and husks, would desti-oy the grain on the ear in a very short time. 
Many a man who had neglected to watch his field for a few days was sur- 
prised on going to it to find only a few dried cobs. Some farmers saved a 
portion of their crops by erecting several high platforms in their fields 
and keeping their children on them yelling, screaming, ringing cow-bells 
and drumming on tin pans until they were completely worn out. The 
plan had one advantage, if no other; the children made all the noise they 
wanted to and nobody scolded them for it. The pest became so general 
that in the Eighth General Assembly Mr. Blackford of Algona succeeded 
in getting a bill through providing for paying a bounty on blackbirds, 
which remained in force about four years, when it was repealed. The 
pest died out gradually as the country settled. As the area of tillable 
land was gradually increased, the birds scattered until their depredations 
were no longer noticeable." 


Due in large part to the nature of the season, the emigration of the 
summer of 1858 was small. It was known as a wet season. Heavy 


spring rains swelled the streams and rivers out of their banks and the 
settlers, with their cumbersome wagons, "prairie schooners," and slow 
ox teams, found it difficult to ford the water-courses. Various expedients 
were tried, which are described later. 


The year 1858 was the time of the noted mill controversy, between 
Messrs. Wheelock, Parmenter and Howe upon one side and Prescott upon 
the other. In 1857 the first three men purchased a steam mill and shipped 
to Iowa City, the terminal point of the railroad. The agreement was that 
an advance payment should be made before the mill could be shipped 
from Iowa City, but the financial panic of the year came on and they 
v*-ere unable to make this payment or pay the freight upon the mill. 
In the last extremity they turned the obligation over to Pi'escott, who 
payed the freight and assumed responsibility for the payments. He also 
entered into a written agreement with Howe and Wheelock, by which they 
were to retain an interest in the mill and in operating it. In the spring 
of 1858 arrangements were made to bring the mill to the lakes — the over- 
land route to be used. From the Rock Island depot at Iowa City to Spirit 
Lake was something over three hundred miles, two-thirds of which dis- 
tance the prairie was under water and the streams unbridged. A gov- 
ernment wagon was secured to haul the four-ton boiler and other wagons 
for the smaller pai-ts, fully twenty yoke of oxen being employed to draw 
the wagons. Mr. Wheelock had charge of the caravan. 

After six weeks hard journey the mill M'as landed in Dickinson 
County and located in the grove south of the Okoboji bridge. Here a 
controversv arose between Howe, Wheelock and Parmenter and Prescott 
as to the control of the mill. The quarrel was a bitter one and rapidly 

Prescott made the effort to hold the Okoboji Gi'ove by staking it off' 
as a town site and also the Gardner place under the pre-emption law. 
The mill had been set up in the north part of the Okoboji Grove. A log 
house, thii'ty by sixteen, and a blacksmith shop had been erected in the 
vicinity. During the forepart of that winter Prescott hired men to cut 
and haul over a thousand saw-logs into the mill-yard, to be sawed into 
lumber when the mill was started. His opposition claimed that he was 
violating his agreement and his contract by doing this, also that he was 
violating the town site law by his claim. In support of this John Gilbert 
filed a claim on it under the pre-emption law and began proceedings in the 
disti-ict court to obtain possession of the saw-logs which Prescott had 
hauled onto the property. C. F. Hill, the sheriff, refused to serve the 
writ of replevin obtained by Gilbert and consequently he was removed 


from office by the simple method of requiring inore bonds fi-om him and 
then refusing to accept any he produced. 

On February 22, 1859, the newly appointed sheriff, with about ten 
men, came to Prescott's place to remove the logs. Prescott himself was 
in the East, but had left his business in charge of G. H. Bush and his 
employes. These men met the sheriff's party when they arrived and by 
rolling the logs off the wagons as fast as the latter loaded them prevented 
the timber from being hauled away that day. When the sheriff's party 
became weary of this comedy they left and in the evening came back 
with a warrant for the arrest of the men who had opposed the serving 
of the writ of replevin. With him was a small squad of soldiers from 
Captain Martin's company, which at that time was stationed at Spirit 
Lake. Everything looked ripe for a scrimmage and possibly bloodshed, 
when a courier arrived at the scene with the startling news that the 
Indians were in the grove at the head of Spirit Lake. The sheriff's party 
and the soldiers immediately left, taking with them a few of Prescott's 
leaders and the promise of the others to appear. 

Mr. Bush then consulted an attorney. Judge Meservy of Fort Dodge 
and, acting upon the latter's counsel, obtained a counter writ of replevin. 
With this and an injunction procured later all further proceedings were 
stopped and everything quieted. Gilbert withdrew from the field. 

Howe and Wheelock, however, stuck to their guns. They employed 
every tactic to prevent the mill from running. First they sent men there 
to take away the pump-valves and other parts of the mill machinery, but 
Prescott's engineer, Mastellar, made new ones. Prescott himself secured 
an injunction against such acts. Undaunted, Howe and Wheelock again 
had their men visit the mill and take away more parts of the machinery 
which could not be replaced except from the factory. Prescott retaliated 
by obtaining a warrant for the arrest of those who violated the injunc- 
tion. He came here with an officer and posse from Webster County, but 
found that his men were missing, having taken refuge in Minnesota. 
They had been warned by a soldier belonging to Martin's command, who 
had overheard the plans in Fort Dodge. After a few days they returned, 
however, and appeared before Judge Congleton who issued a writ of 
habeas corpus and they were discharged. The first term of the district 
court soon after dissolved the injunction. Prescott had become unpopular, 
owing to his swinish methods of holding land, and many settlers left, 
among them G. H. Bush and C. F. Hill, who had previously championed 
Prescott's cause. Prescott then sold off his Tusculum claims for a song, 
but retained his hold on Okoboji Grove. The claims were purchased by 
Alfred Arthur and disposed of by him to H. D. Arthur, John Francis, 
John P. Gilbert, Crosby Warner, Peter Ladu and Charles Carpenter, who 


came from Wisconsin in 1859 and 1860; these men settled upon the land 
at once. 

In the spring months of the year 1859 H. D. Arthur, John P. Gilbert 
and Spencer Humphrey built a shingle-mill at Spirit Lake. This was 
operated for a little over a year and then moved away. 


In the spring of 1861, also in the summer months, a large number 
of settlers came to Dickinson County from Winnebago County, Illinois. 
They were induced mainly through the efforts of J. S. Prescott, who had 
been sent there by the supervisors to dispose of swamp land deeds. Among 
the settlers who came were: Henry Meeker, Daniel Bennett, William 
Close, Samuel Phippen, J. W. O'Farrel, E. V. Osborn, James Evans, C. H. 
and Samuel Evans, John Brown, H. W. Davis, George Kellogg, and 
Samuel Rogers. Most all of these men had their families with them. 

Then came the opening of the Civil War and as a result emigration 
practically ceased altogether. Also, when the possibilities of the struggle 
became more apparent the large number of eligible men from Dickinson 
County enlisted for service. Detailed history of the part Dickinson County 
played in the Rebellion may be found in the chapter on military affairs. 


In 1863 there was little emigration, among the newcomers being Rev. 
Samuel Pillsbury and family, R. R. Wilcox, William Leggett and a few 
others. The Pillsburys and Wilcox are the only ones who stayed perman- 
ently. Many of the formei- settlers of Spirit Lake had left, owing to the 
nearness of the Indian troubles, among them B. F. Parmenter, Doctor 
Prescott, 0. C. Howe, R. U. Wheelock, William Barkman, R. Kingman, 
A. D. Arthur, J. D. Howe, C. Carpenter, Leonidas Congleton and Philip 
Risling. Jlore of this exodus is explained in the Spirit Lake chapter. 

The emigration had not only lessened very materially, but those here 
before were leaving, so that the county in 1865 had very few more than 
two hundred people living within its boundaries, about as many as in 
1856. The settlements were clustered in close proximity to the various 
groves and the prairie and government land avoided. Farming, stock 
raising and improvements were at a standstill, the panic of 1857 and the 
Indian troubles having completely disheartened the population. 

Everyone lived in the hopes that the close of the Civil War would 
bring with it a renewal of the emigration to this part of the country, and 
so it did, though it brought very little improvement in the county of Dick- 
inson. Indian apprehensions were largely quieted by the improved polic- 


ing of the border and this in greater part ceased to be a factor in the calcu- 
lations of the settlers. Those who had left the county for the war went in 
other directions when they were mustered out of service, believing that 
they saw better opportunities elsewhere than in Dickinson County. The 
construction of the Union Pacific Railroad held forth a tempting course 
to others. The homestead law had been passed by Congress and poor 
settlers thought by taking advantage of it they could make a fortune 
easily and quickly. In this, as history sadly states, they were disap- 
pointed, as they hardly realized the sacrifice and labor necessary to make 
paying ground out of the barren prairie. These reasons were a few of the 
many obstacles in the way of rapid emigration just after the war. 


By the spring of 1866 Dickinson County was again favored by a band 
of incoming settlers. At that time Joshua A. Pratt, George W. Pratt, 
Joseph A. Green, A. Price and others came in and made their first settle- 
ment at Lakeville. Another party composed of George Wallace, James 
Heldridge, F. C. and Israel Doolittle took claims upon the open prairie. 
They did not spend the winter months in the open, but purchased a lot in 
the timber of Okoboji Grove, built log cabins, and there hibernated. E. J. 
Davis, Jerry Knowlton, A. D. Inman and Wallace Smith came into the 
county during the same season. That these settlers had a hard time dur- 
ing the first year goes without saying. Supplies could be procured only 
at Fort Dodge and Mankato ; the wet season had flooded much of the land 
and the streams were raging; no bridges were then built; lack of crop 
cultivation had inflated prices for grain to a high figure; corn reached 
$2 a bushel and wheat $13 per hundred ; and roads were impassable. 
These were a few of the hardships encountered. 

Other settlers who drifted in to augment the colony were: John and 
James Skirving, W. S. Beers, Joseph Austin, John and Miles Strong, in 
the south part of the county ; L. W. Waugh, K. C. Lowell, George C. Bel- 
lows, 0. Crandall, Curtis Crandall, A. A. Mosher, Lauriston Mead, A. D. 
Arcy, William and John Uptagraft, Nelson and Chauncey Read; in the 
north portion of the county. Rev. Seymour Snyder made a claim on the 
west side of West Okoboji, the first on that side, and Rev. W. A. Richards 
located at the north end of the lake. 

The years 1868 and 1869 brought a full tide of emigration once more 
to Dickinson County. The open prairie began to be settled and claims 
were taken away from the sti-eams and timber, which hitherto had been 
the favorite, and in fact the only, location desired by the settler. In 1869 
and 1870 Winneshiek County, Iowa, supplied quite a large number of new 
residents, prominent among them being: A. M. Johnson, W. W. Stowe, 


William Vreeland, L. J. and L. W. \'reeland, John and James Robb, H. C. 
and E. Freeman, C. E. West, T. Pegdon, R. C. and John Johnson, A. G. 
and C. E. Sawyer, L. E. Holcomb, Samuel Allen and Wiley Lambert. 
Most of these located in the northeast part of the county, and stayed there 
until the grasshopper raid a few years later, when many of them 

About the same time another movement was made from Mitchell 
County. In this party were : James and John Kilpatrick, R. B. and 
Clark Nicol, G. S. Needham, Leonard and Ellis Smith, James H. Beebe, 
Benjamin Peck, Samuel Walker, Richard and Samuel Campbell, D. C. 
Moore and a score of others. From other localities came G. Anderson, 
J. Sid, W. H. Anderson, R. K. Stetson, Robert Middleton, Samuel Bartlett, 
Henry, S. P. and George H. Middleton (sons of Robert), and H. H. Camp- 
bell. H. J. and Daniel Bennett wei^ making their second trip to Dickinson 
County, having been here previously in 1860-1. 

Quite a large community was formed at Lakeville and a postofRce 
established, with H. J. Bennett as postmaster. This settlement was near 
the meeting point of four townships — Lakeville, Excelsior, Okoboji and 
Wcstport. A schoolhouse was built, the largest one in the county at that 

The remainder of the early history of settlement in the county will 
be reserved for the chapters on the respective townships and towns. 


The first white child born in the county was Robert Wheelock Howe, 
son of ]\Ir. and Mrs. 0. C. Howe, his birth occurring in February, 1858. 
The first girl, and the second child born in the county, was Dena Bark- 
man, daughter of Henry Barkman and wife, born in the summer of 18-58. 

The first funeral services in the county were held at Okoboji in the 
spring of 1858, for Daniel Poorman, a blacksmith from Newton, who was 
drowned in the lake. He was buried near the south end of the east shore 
of West Okoboji Lake. 

The first marriage was that of William E. Root and Addie Ring, of 
Okoboji, in the spring of 1859. Doctor Pi-escott performed the ceremony. 
The second marriage was that of Abel Keene, of Mankato, and Carrie 
Doughty, of Center Grove, also in the spring of 1859, at the residence of 
W. B. Bi"own, R. Kingman ofiiciating. 


The first hardship encountered by the pioneer settler, while traveling 
overland to tiie new country, was the difficulty of travel. Mention has 


been made before of the condition of the prairie country, particularly in 
the season of 1858, when the streams were swollen out of their banks, 
the land in large part inundated, and a total lack of bridges and passable 
roads. Add to these obstacles the slow ox-team, the cumbersome wagons 
and the trouble of getting the "outfit" over streams and across bottom- 
less sloughs, and some idea of the task may be obtained. Oxen were the 
popular motive power of the early wagon train, because they required 
less care and feed than horses. Each wagon was drawn usually by two 
to four teams of oxen, and in a train there were from two to twelve 
wagons. Many of the wagons were so heavy that when a slough or stream 
had to be crossed the oxen from all the wagons were hitched to one 
wagon and it was drawn across. This was done in turn with each of 
the other wagons, many of which had a long rope attached for that pur- 
pose, ilr. R. A. Smith describes the process rather humorously: "In 
traveling, whenever a party reached a slough or marsh, or other place 
difficult to cross, it was customary to 'double up' and help each other over. 
This was done by driving up as near to the slough as could be done with- 
out miring down, and then one or more boys would take two or three 
yoke of cattle, or as many as were needed, and cable enough to reach to 
solid ground on the other side and cross over. The cables were then 
rigged from the team and wagon on the one side to the teams that had 
crossed over, and as soon as everything was in readiness the signal was 
given to start, when by dint of much yelling and whipping, and some 
swearing, which, under the mitigating circumstances, wasn't usually con- 
sidered a very serious offense, the other side was usually reached without 
any mishap other than a general bespattering of everything with mud and 
water. It was absolutely necessary after once starting to keep going until 
solid ground was reached on the other side, since if by any unforeseen 
accident, a wagon should 'mire down' it would keep settling and the black, 
sticky mud would settle in around the wheels until it would be imjiossible 
to extricate it in any othei" manner than by unloading and prying out, 
and this in two or three feet of mud and water was no picnic. The pro- 
cess had to be repeated with variations until every wagon was over. 

"In crossing streams that were too deep for fording, the method of 
procedure was somewhat different. It was customary to take the best 
wagon box in the outfit and caulk it, making it as nearly water-tight as 
possible. Cattle are natural swimmers and they seem to like it when they 
get used to it. They soon learn, upon arriving at a stream, to strike 
straight across and make a landing upon the farther side without any 
delay whatever. Upon arriving at a stream too deep for fording the 
wagon box that had been fitted up for the purpose would be taken off 
and transformed into a ferry boat. A cable would be rigged to each end 


of it, when a boy would mount one of the oxen that had been trained for 
that kind of work, and swim the stream, holding the rope in his hand. 
Arriving- at the opposite side, he would make fast his rope, turn his cattle 
loose and proceed at once to business, which was to ferry the balance of 
the party across. The first load to go over would of course be men enough 
to manage the ferry and take care of the goods as they were sent over. 
The wagons would now be drawn up to the bank of the stream, where 
they would be unloaded and their contents placed aboard the improvised 
ferry boat, and drawn over to the farther side by the men who had pre- 
viously crossed over, and there unloaded again. The wagon box would 
then be drawn back and loaded and again sent over. This operation would 
be I'epeated and repeated until the contents of the wagons were over. 
Then the wagon boxes would be lashed down to the running gear and the 
wagons floated over. The cattle would then swim across, the balance of 
the party was ferried over and the labor of crossing the stream was 

It is easy to understand that this operation took from one to three 
days for completion, and that progress across the country was burden- 
some and slow. 

Clothing and shoes were of the most primitive kind. Luxuries, such 
as tea, coffee and sugar, were unknown, and ordinary staple groceries 
were enjoyed by few, while corn, wheat and barley were offered as a sub- 
stitute for coffee. "Prairie tea," as it was known, brewed from the leaves 
of the red-root so common on the prairie, was a favorite drink. Raw- 
hide, sacking and skins of animals wei-e the materials chiefly used for 
clothing. Comfort was the main consideration. 

Fuel and the obtaining of it was an important item in the settler's 
account. There was timber in Dickinson County, but in groves and along 
the streams. Offer a settler, upon claiming a bit of land, would purchase 
a portion of a timber grove for the wood alone, caring nothing for the 
ground. An owner of a wood lot would divide it up more or less syste- 
matically and legally among several of the nearby settlers and after the 
wood was taken from it, it was again sold for a very small sum. It is 
said that the three acres of the Okoboji Cemetery were once sold for $2.50. 

Other settlers, however, were so unfortunate as to take claims many 
miles from a patch of timber and thus were compelled to adopt some 
sort of substitute for fuel. This led to the use of prairie hay for fuel. 
One writer claims that the use of this hay in this w-ay originated in 
Dickinson County and was practiced as late as 1870. "In a short time 
the art of twisting hay for fuel came to be an acknowledged accompli.'^h- 
ment. After throwing a lock of coarse slough hay upon the ground, placing 
the left foot upon it, and then with the right hand taking enough of the 
coarse grass to make a rope of the required size, twisting it hard and 


drawing it out at the same time until it had reached the required length, 
then it was coiled back upon itself and the ends neatly secured, thus 
resembling in shape an enormous old-fashioned New England doughnut. 
In many families it came to be a part of the daily routine to twist hay 
enough in the evening to answer for the following day's fuel. The litter 
which the use of it caused was something to which it was difficult for 
the neat and thrifty housewife to accustom herself, but in the language 
of a sturdy boy of that period, 'It was a heap better than freezing'." 

Some clever inventions were made for the use of hay as a fuel. One 
man figured out a mechanical hay-twister; another a stove for burning 
the hay under pressure. Corn on the cob was also used for burning, as 
it made an excellent fire. On many a farm today corn-cobs are used for 
fuel, the heat from the blaze being exceedingly hot. 

Iowa and Nebraska are known as the states of the sod house. It is 
true that in Iowa, in Dickinson County to be exact, they were not used to a 
great extent and then not for long, but they w'ere here and assumed 
every form from a common hole in the side of a hill to a really preten- 
tious structure for the kind. Braces were erected to hold the sod in place. 
The house usually took the shape of a "lean-to". They were substantial, 
but had a faculty of poorly resisting water. One settler described how a 
miniature rivulet coming down the side of the hill during one stormy 
night had gradually moistened the sod upon the roof and about morning 
precipitated it to the ground, covering everything, including himself, with 
a layer of moist earth. 

Log cabins were the principal homes of the settlers. They were 
strong, weather-proof and comfortable, although small. A detailed descrip- 
tion of the art of constructing a log house is printed in another part of 
this volume. 


One of the chief occupations of the early residents, particularly during 
the time of the Civil War, was trapping. Fur was valuable at this time 
as it meant gold, which in itself was a very scarce medium in those days. 
During the '60s, it is said. Spirit Lake was the center of the largest fur 
business between Mankato and Sioux City. Otter, beaver, mink, musk- 
rat and fisher were the animals sought for their valuable hides. The 
trappers usually made their plans and outlined their season's work about 
the first of September, usually two going into partnership. They had 
practically limitless territoi'y in which to trap and hunt, the many lakes, 
sloughs and streams making a productive field. Each person tended and 
accounted for forty to sixty traps, a task which necessitated long marches 
each day across the prairie and through the sloughs. It is recounted that 
some hunters made thirty miles regularly every day to visit their traps. 


Traps had to be set, others moved, the "catch" skinned and likely places 
for "setting" found. The men usually lived in tents, which could be moved 
quickly from place to place. "A small tent, the smallest possible 
supply of bedding, a few indispensable cooking utensils, a generous supply 
of ammunition, together with a little flour and a few necessary groceries, 
completed the outfit. During the winter these camps were moved from 
place to place on large handsleds. A favorite method for trappers travel- 
ing over the prairie, especially during the fall and spring or any other 
time of high water, was to have a small, strongly built boat mounted on 
two light wheels, such as hayrake or cultivator wheels, and load their 
luggage in the boat. By this means they were enabled to take a direct 
course across the prairie, regardless of swollen streams and impassable 

Spirit Lake became a great starting point for the trappers and also a 
collecting and buying point. Heniy Barkman was in the fur business 
there for over twenty years and handled and shipped vast quantities of 
furs. Most of the fur was gathered in the winter months. John P. Gilbert 
and James S. Johnson, of Spirit Lake, wei-e the chief employes of Mr. 
Barkman and did most of the collecting. These men would go on long 
journeys across the prairie, lasting from ten days to two weeks, visiting 
solitary trappers' camps and buying the furs. Other trappers preferred 
to hold their season's catch until spring and then sell it all at once. The 
fur, after being assorted at Spirit Lake, was packed and sent to St. Paul, 
where it was again inspected and assorted and shipped to London and 

The rapid settlement of the counties to the north and west caused the 
fur business to decline, but even now, as ever since the early days, ti-ap- 
ping is one of the favorite occupations of the people. Muskrat trapping, 
beginning December 1st of every year, is carried on very extensively, the 
other animals having largely disappeared. The skins of the muskrat are 
sold for a price ranging from fifteen cents to a dollar and a half apiece, 
according to size and quality. 


The homestead and preemption laws, although practically dead stat- 
utes now, were at one time quite a boon to the new settler. Under the 
former the settler filed an affidavit with a register at the nearest land 
office that he entered upon his claim at a certain date and intended to 
improve the same. He was given six months to settle upon the claim and 
after five years' -continuous residence could perfect his title and own 
the land. Under the preemption law he was required to send a dollar 
to the land office and on stating that he had entered upon and improved a 
tract of government land he could claim the ground under the preemption 


law. He was entitled to one year in which to prove up his claim and make 
payment on the land if it was offered for sale in the market; otherwise 
he could hold the land until it was offered for sale. The price was $1.25 
per acre, but others, with soldier's warrants or college scrip, bought for 
seventy-five cents or one dollar an acre. 

The first settlers in Dickinson County utilized the preemption law, 
as the homestead law had not yet been passed. After the passage of the 
latter many changed to it. The nearest land office, and the one which was 
used, was located at Sioux City. 

Open sales were held, lasting for several days, when land could be 
secured in no way except by bidding, the highest bidder getting the ground. 
These sales were started by the commissioner of the general land office, 
under orders from the President. After the close of the sale any unpur- 
chased land could be had for the regular price of $1.25 per acre. 

Practically all of the land now in Dickinson County, with the excep- 
tion of Center Grove and Spirit Lake tow-nships, was ordered on sale 
during the administration of President Johnson. It was kept open for 
sale by private entry until 1870. Then it was withdrawn, in order that 
the railroads, whose grants reached into the county could file their plats 
and receive the land promised them by grant. The Chicago, Milwaukee 
& St. Paul (then the McGregor and Sioux City) and the St. Paul, Minne- 
apolis & Omaha, then the St. Paul & Sioux City, were the ones to profit 
by this arrangement. 

The Iowa Agricultural College located a few sections under grant in 
this county and Ringgold County located the indemnity land received in 
place of her swamp land here. These grants thus took over two-thirds 
of the county, leaving the remaining third for the settlers to preempt and 







At first Dickinson County was attached to Woodbury County for 
judicial purposes and was nominally a part of that civil division. In 
the fore part of the year 1857 the settlers began to talk of organizing 
the county of Dickinson, electing their own officers and deciding here the 
questions which arose among them. The August election was decided upon, 
which election was held the first Tuesday in the month at the home of 
J. S. Prescott. It was necessary for the voters to send a petition, signed 
by fully two-thirds of the legal voters, to the county judge of the county 
to which Dickinson was attached, and permit him to pass upon the ques- 
tion as to whether or not they were entitled to separate county organi- 
zation. Twenty voters signed the petition and delegated C. F. Hill to 
carry the document to Judge John K. Cook, of Woodbury County. After 
perusing the petition Judge Cook issued an order for an election, which 
was held on the date above designated. The first officers were : 0. C. 
Howe, county judge; M. A. Blanchard, treasurer and recorder; B. F. 
Parmenter, Prosecuting attorney; R. A. Smith, clerk of the district court; 
C. F. Hill, sheriff; Alfred Wilkins, county surveyor, W. B. Brown, coroner; 
R. U. Wheelock and R. A. Smith, justices of the peace. The next step 
was the carrying of the returns to Sioux City. Also, either the county 
judge, clerk of the district court or district attorney, had to appear before 
Judge Cook and give bonds for approval and be sworn in. R. A. Smith, 



the newly elected clerk of the district court, was chosen for this hard 
journey. He writes : "These trips to Sioux City were no holiday affairs. 
The route by which they were made was to strike out in a westerly direc- 
tion to the head of the Floyd and follow the stream to Sioux City. There 
were no settlements on the route until within eight miles of the city. 
The time required for making the trip was seven days ; the distance one 
hundred and twenty miles each way, or two hundred and forty miles in 
all. Let a person imagine himself taking a trip that distance alone on 
horseback, drinking from the streams he might chance to cross, eating a 
dry lunch from his portmanteau, at night }-olling up in a saddle blanket 
with the saddle under his head as a pillow, his horse picketed by his side, 
and with no probability of seeing a human being for the next three days, 
and he can form some idea of what those trips were. Add to this the 
ever-present danger of roving bands of Indians were continually hovering 
along the border, ready at any moment to waylay any luckless adventurer 
who may have ventured beyond the line of the settlements, and it will be 
understood that no slight amount of courage and hardihood were exhib- 
ited in their successful accomplishment." 

c. F. hill's letter 

The following letter, written by the first sheriff of Dickinson County, 
was originally published in the Sioux City Journal of June 10, 1900, and 
later by R. A. Smith: 

"Hazleton, Pa., June 4, 1900.' — Neil Bonner, Sioux City, Iowa. Dear 
Sir: Yours of May 30th, referring to my early visit to Sioux City, is 
received. In the spring of 1857 I located at Spirit Lake, shortly after the 
massacre took place under Inkpadutah, and I helped bury some of the 
dead that had been overlooked by the soldiers sent down from Fort Ridg- 
ley. About the month of May, 1857, the settlers at Spirit Lake decided to 
organize Dickinson County, which before that had been attached with all 
northwestern Iowa to Woodbury County, and I was designated to go to 
Sioux City and get an order from the court there to hold an election and 
organize the county. 

"I started out on my mission mounted upon an Indian pony which 
had both ears badly burned in a prairie fire, and accompanied by a young 
man by the name of Barnum, a relative of P. T. Barnum, the great show- 
man. Barnum was on foot, and as he was a good fellow, I shared my 
pony with him and allowed him to ride half of the time. After we left 
Spirit Lake we did not see a white man until we reached the Floyd River 
in Plymouth County, where we met a party of surveyors, who were stak- 
ing out Plymouth City. Barnum and I were glad to meet these men, and 
we begged the privilege of camping near them, which they reluctantly 


granted. The next day we reached Sioux City, and put up at the Sioux 
City House, a story and a half building, and to my great surprise I found 
it kept by the Trescott brothers, Wesley and Milo, who were from near 
Shickshinny, Pa. I knew them well, but I had some little trouble in 
making myself known to them, as my camp life, my leggings, Indian pony 
and other Indian fixings led them to believe that I was a half-breed, which 
amused my companion veiy much. 

"Next day I looked up his honor, the judge of Woodbury County, and 
in a day or two had matters all arranged to start the wheels of govern- 
ment for Dickinson County. While I remained at Sioux City I heard much 
talk that the remains of Sergeant Floyd were exposed by the action of the 
Missouri River, and the citizens were about to remove the remains to 
another bluff, where the aggressive Missouri River could not reach them. 
A man by the name of Brughier, a Frenchman, lived at the mouth of the 
Big Sioux River, and he had two squaw wives. 

"Sioux City at that time was an unpretentious village of one story 
and one story and a half frame houses. The town was hemmed in closely 
by bluffs, which were so numerous and so close together as in some cases 
to admit only of a wagon road between them. I remember many interest- 
ing incidents while in the city, regarding the Indians who came there. I 
remember a one-story clothing store on the wharf which had a large picture 
on canvas of an elephant, which the boys called the 'land elephant.' The 
land elephant was the great animal of those days, and woe to the fellow 
who indulged in too much land and allowed the elephant to lie down 
upon him. 

"Having completed the object of my mission, I made arrangements 
to return to Spirit Lake, and was directed to a saloon, restaurant and 
grocery store, where I could purchase a supply of provisions for my return. 
While selecting my outfit a band of Indians and half-breeds entered. They 
seemed to have plenty of money and one of the bi-aves called up the drinks 
for all hands. They were all well armed and in a state of carousal that 
would have laid 'Pat in a Grog Shop' in the shade in his palmiest days. 
The brave who was treating stepped up to me and in an animated tone 
asked: 'Are you my fren'?' I replied, 'Oh, yes, I am your friend.' 'Then 
come and take a drink wi' me.' I declined with many apologies. 'Then 
you no niy fren'.' I thought I saw trouble just ahead and I quickly changed 
my mind, as I had just discovered that I did want a drink, and I stepped 
up to the bar and took a ration of Missouri coi-n whisky. I proceeded with 
preparing my outfit, when a second brave asked me to take a drink with 
him. This invitation followed the first in such quick succession that I was 
forced to decline, when he sang out, 'You drink wi' him — you no drink wi' 
me — eh?' So I was in for a second ration, and so it went on, growing 
more lively. At no time was it long between drinks, and I devoted the 


brief time between drinks to collecting my purchases and completing my 
outfit, and at the first opportunity that offered I made a straight coattail 
out of the door. And as I walked up the street I wondered how that poor 
bartender expected to get out of that green corn whisky dance alive. He, 
however, had a six-inch Colt's revolver lying on the bar behind him within 
easy reach. It was wonderful what a respect a Colt's revolver inspired 
for its owner in that day. 

"Well, I was happy. I escaped that drunken, carousing band of 
Indians and was pleased with my little outfit, which contained a bottle of 
raspberry syrup, one can of peaches and a box of good cigars. IMr. Tres- 
cott was very kind to me and asked for my pocket compass, which he 
compared with a surveyor's instrument and it was pronounced correct. 
This was the last thing done. I was now ready to start for Spirit Lake 
alone, as Barnum did not return with me. 

"Sherman's Battery had passed through the country a few days 
before, en route from Fort Scott to Fort Ridgley, in Minnesota, and it had 
left a well beaten trail along the Floyd River. The battery suffered 
severely in the first battle of Bull Run, July 22, 1861. On my way back 
I decided to follow the trail as far as I could north and then I left it in a 
right line for Spirit Lake. I left this trail in either Buncombe (now 
Lyon) or Osceola County. In the following day, while riding under a hot 
noon-day sun, I became very somnolent and slept while riding. In fact, I 
fell off my pony, and then I tied my pony to my foot with a lariat and lay 
down and slept it out. When I awoke, to my great surprise, the sun was 
in the north. I now had to resort to my pocket compass to discover, if I 
could, what had gone wrong with the sun. Imagine my surprise when I 
discovered that my compass was as erratic as the sun. It now began to 
dawn upon me that my idea of direction was muddled and I was lost. The 
question now arose — where am I? Which way have I been traveling? 
Which way shall I go? 

"I, however, took a course and while riding along suddenly came upon 
what seemed to me to be a camp of Indian teepeees on the prairie. My 
first thought was to turn back, and then I was afraid if I should be dis- 
covered the Indians would give chase, so I decided that the best thing I 
could do was to move right on, which I did, and when I neared the sup- 
posed camp, to my great surprise up jumped a herd of elk and ran away 
over a divide. The elk horns which I saw were so magnified by the clear 
atmosphere that I mistook them for teepees. 

"After the herd ran over the divide I heard several shots fired, and 
as there were no white men in that country, as I believed, I made up my 
mind that the shots had been fired by Indians. I did not want to meet any 
Indians, yet I was curious to know whence the shots came, so I dismounted 


and crept cautiously to the top of the divide ; the elk had disappeared, but 
I saw a man going in the opposite direction to which I was going, and I, 
for the time, was greatly relieved. After going a few miles I was hailed 
by two men coming towards me, whom I took for Indians and I tried hard 
to avoid them and they tried as hard to intercept me. They finally waved 
their hats and I then knew they were white men and turned to meet them. 
When we met these two men simply exhausted their vocabulary upon me. 
They were members of a party of government surveyors and said they had 
not seen a white man for so long that they almost had a mind to shoot me 
for trj'ing to evade them. They soon informed me that their chief sur- 
veyor, Alfred Wilkins, was lost and they were trying to find him. I then 
related the incident of the elks and how I saw a man going in the opposite 
direction. They then put one of their party upon a horse and started him 
after Wilkins with a large tin horn. He returned to camp during the 
night with the surveyor all right. 

"I camped with the party and at our mess I shared with them some 
of the delicacies I had brought with me from Sioux City, which they 
enjoyed, especially the cigars. They now informed me that I was in Osce- 
ola County, and in the morning gave me the direction to take to reach 
Spirit Lake. I was glad that I had not wandered away farther than I 
did, for had they told me that I had wandered into the then unceded terri- 
tory of Dakota, I would scarcely have been prepared to dispute it. How- 
ever, I consoled myself with the thought that if I was lost the government 
surveyor had undergone a similar experience. 'Misery loves company.' 

"I reached Spirit Lake the next day and soon posted the notices for 
the election in Dickinson County. The election came and we elected a full 
line of county and township officers. I had the honor of being elected the 
first sheriff'. The election over, we held a jollification, made speeches, etc. 
O. C. Howe, in a speech, said we had the most independent set of officers 
he ever knew, that each man in the county had an office of some kind, and 
we owed no thanks to anyone, as we had elected ourselves. The election 
passed off very quietly. There were no charges of ballot box stuffing and 
no contests. It certainly was an honest eection and I know of no election 
since of which I have had the same good opinion. Every man had an 
office and the harmony that followed was great." 

Although the foregoing letter contains much information irrelative to 
the government and organization of Dickinson County, it throws a clear 
light upon the first efforts of the settlers to form a government of their 
own. Another w)-iter is authority for the statement that the beaten path 
left by the Shei-man's Battery, mentioned by Hill, aferwards became a 
noted trail and was much used by travelers to Sioux City. Later, it is 
said, the route to Sioux City passed by way of Peterson and. Cherokee, then 


across prairie land to Melbourne. The prairie stretch covered fifty miles 
without a habitation. 


The election of August, 1857, was followed by another in October, 
when state and legislative officers were chosen. The elections were then 
held under the old constitution. Dickinson County was in the Fort Dodge 
representative district and C. C. Carpenter and John F. Duncombe, both 
of that city, were candidates for representative. Dickinson County gave 
practically all of its votes to Carpenter. R. A. Smith was chosen to carry 
the returns to Fort Dodge, but fortunately for him he met R. E. Carpen- 
ter at the Des Moines River, the latter on his way to the lakes lor the 
same returns. Carpenter carried the vote by a small majority. 

The first election under the new constitution was held in the fall of 
1858. In the Fourth Judicial District, of which Dickinson County was a 
part, A. W. Hubbard, of Sioux City, was chosen district judge and 0. C. 
Howe, of Spirit Lake, district attorney. 

The first term of the district court in Dickinson County was held in 
Spirit Lake in the month of June. 1859. Judge Hubbard was in the chair, 
0. C. Howe acted as district attorney, Jareb Palmer was clerk of the dis- 
trict court and Alfred Arthur sheriff. The attorneys at this session were : 
B. F. Parmenter, this county; Patt Robb, Woodbury County, and C. C. 
Smeltzer, Clay County. 


In the old days the county judge was no less than a potentate. All 
affairs of the county in question were decided by him. When a man 
inclined to be dishonest held the office the county government was about 
as bad as possible, but where a straightforward, conscientious man held 
the position the government was even better and certainly cheaper than 
the present form. However, the county judge system was much abused 
in Iowa and fell into ill repute. It was abolished in the year 1860 and the 
supervisor system inaugurated in its place. 

The latter system, when first adopted, provided for a supervisor from 
each township. This proved too cumbersome and the present system of 
three supervisors was adopted. In this connection it may be said that the 
office of county judge was maintained in Dickinson County until the year 
1868, but after 1860 the power was so diminished that the position was 
merely an honor. Judge Leonidas Congleton was the last county judge 
before the supervisors assumed control. 

The first board of supervisors was composed of the following : J. S. 
Prescott, Okoboji ; Rosalvo Kingman, Spirit Lake ; William Barkman, East 


Okoboji, or Tusculum. The clerk of the district court acted as clerk of 
the board, the office of auditor not being in existence at that time. 


The first government survey in Dickinson County was made in 1857 
by Surveyor Wilkins from Van Buren County. This survey, though, was 
found to be faulty, and a second one was made by C. L. Estes, in 1858-9. 
All the government surveys were completed in 1859. This gave the set- 
tlers their first chance to definitely establish their boundaries and secure 
title to their claims. 


Following is a roster of the different county officers of Dickinson from 
the organization in 1857 until the present time : 

County judges : 0. C. Howe, 1857-8 ; Leonidas Congleton, 1858-62 ; J. 
D. Howe, 1862-4; Ludwig Lewis, 1864-6; H. C. Owen. 1866-8; Samuel Pills- 
bury, 1868-70. The fate of the office of county judge has been described in 
preceding paragraphs. 

Treasurer and recorder: M. A. Blanchard, 1857-9; W. B. Brovi-n, 
1859-61; James Ball, 1861-5; A. Kingman, 1865-7; A. Jenkins, 1867-9; 
M. J. Smith, 1869-73. In 1872 the state legislature separated the offices 
of treasurer and recorder, making each a separate position, beginning 
January 1, 1873. 

Treasurers: G. S. Needham, 1872-5; A. W. Osborne, 1875-86; 0. 
Oliver, 1886-94; D. N. Guthrie, 1894-8; J. C. Davis, 1898-1903; E. C. Carl- 
ton, 1903-16; A. R. Davison, 1916 . 

Recorders : R. L. Wilcox, 1873-5 ; A. A. Mosher, 1875-1881 ; C. C. Per- 
rin, 1881-89; Harvey Wood, 1889-95; C. W. Price, 1895-1906; Emma Owen 
Town, 1906-12; Opal J. Hamilton, 1912 . 

District Court Clerks: R. A. Smith, 1857-9; Jareb Palmer, 1859-61;" 
John Smith, 1861-3; R. A. Smith, 1863-5; Orson Rice, 1865-7; A. A. 
Mosher, 1867-71; W. B. Brown. 1871-3; J. A. Smith, 1873-9; W. F. Pills- 
bury. 1879-87 ; J. S. Everett, 1887-93 ; V. A. Arnold, 1893-7 ; W. A. Price, 
1897-1906 ; W. C. Drummond, 1906 . 

Auditors: Samuel Pillsbury, 1870-82; W. F. Carlton, 1882-90; C. T. 
Chandler, 1890-3 ; W. C. Drummond, 1893-7 ; S. L. Pillsbury, 1897-1902 ; 
C. C. Hamilton, 1902-10; John S. Blow, 1910-16; Angus McDonald, 
1916 . 

Sheriffs: C. F. Hill, 1857-9; A. D. Arthur, 1859-62; the records of 
the office from 1862 until 1870 were lost in the burning of the court house, 
but it is known that Daniel Bennett held the office most of this time; W. 
S. Beers, 1869-72 ; L. A. Litel. 1872-3 : L. E. Holcomb, 1873-4 ; A. L. Saw- 


yer, 1874-6; Daniel Bennett, 1876-80; P. S. Mott, 1880-8; A. D. Inman, 
1888-92; P. E. Narey, 1892-8; J. C. Guthrie, 1898-1900; Fred Jones, 1900- 
12 ; B. K. Bradfield, 1912 . 

County attorneys: B. F. Parmenter, 1857-9. The office was abol- 
ished by the legislature of 1858, and a district attorney for the judicial 
district substituted, but in 1888 the office of county attorney was revived 
and has had the following incumbents since: William Hayward, 1889-91; 
A. W. Osborne, 1891-5 ; L. E. Francis, 1895-1901 ; V. A. Arnold, 1901-4 ; 
L. W. Owen, 1904-8; W. J. Bock, 1908-12; H. E. Narey, 1912 . 

Surveyors: Alfred Wilkins, 1857-8; largely vacant from 1859 to 
1870; W. B. Brown, 1871-3; W. F. Pillsbury, 1874-6; Emmet F. Hill, 
1876-8; R. A. Smith, 1878-82; Fred Diserns, 1882-4; C. E. Everett, 1884- 
6; R. A. Smith, 1886-8; J. A. Smith, 1888-90; R. A. Smith, 1890-94; J. M. 
Johnson, 1894-1906 ; A. H. Parker, 1906-10 ; W. L. Cottingham, 1910-13. 

In 1913 the office of county surveyor was abolished and that of county 
engineer substituted, the officer to be appointed by the board of super- 
visors. C. S. Arthur was appointed to the place and is at present active. 

School superintendents : Prior to 1870 the office of superintendent of 
schools was a minor one, with few duties, and James Ball, John Smith and 
one or two others held the position. Since then there have been regular 
incumbents, as follows: A. W. Osborne, 1870-5; H. C. Crarj^ 1875-80; 
R. A. Smith, 1880-6 ; W. H. Armin, 1886-8 ; R. B. Young, 1888-94 ; H. A. 
Welty, 1894-1904; W. T. Davidson, 1904-6; F. T. Tompkins, 1906-10; 
Jennie R. Bailey, 1910 . 

Coroners : The first coroner of Dickinson County was W. B. Brown, 
elected in 1857. From this time until 1872 the records are missing, prob- 
ably destroyed in the courthouse fire. From 1872 until the present time 
the coroners have been as follows, with the date of their election : E. 0. 
Baxter, 1872 ; W. S. Beers, 1873 ; D. Bennett, 1874 ; Isaac Ames, 1875 ; J. 

F. Dare, 1876 ; Charles B. Edmunds, 1879, also 1881 ; Thomas Little, 1883 ; 
J. E. Green, 1885 ; Thomas Little, 1887 ; J. B. Stair, 1889 and 1891 ; C. B. 
Fountain, 1893; A. E. Rector, 1901; E. L. Brownell, 1904; Charles L. 
Stoddard, 1906; G. G. Fitz, 1908; J. D. Geissinger, 1910; J. L. Farr, 1916. 

Supervisors: R. Kingman, William Barkman, J. S. Prescott, 1861; 
Thomas Wyckoff', Henry Meeker, Addison Arthur, 1862 ; Thomas Wyckoff , 
Henry Meeker, Eben Palmer, 1863-1864 ; L. A. Stimpson, H. W. Davis, D. 
Bennett, 1865; L. A. Stimpson, H. W. Davis, Phillip Doughty, 1866-1867; 

G. Blackert, G. W. Pratt, Phillip Doughty, 1868 ; J. Sperbeck, G. W. Pratt, 
W. D. Morton, 1869; G. Blackert, W. D. Morton, J. Palmer, 1870; same for 
1871 ; R. A. Smith, J. Palmer, W. D. Morton, 1872 ; C. H. Ayers. R. A. 
Smith, G. S. Randall, 1873; G. S. Randall. W. A. Richards, R. A. Smith, 
1874 ; J. R. Upton, G. S. Randall, W. A. Richards, 1875 ; W. A. Richards, J. 


R. Upton, A. D. Foster, 1876 ; J. R. Upton, A. D. Foster, L. W. Waugh, 1877 ; 
L. W. Waugh, W. F. Carlton, A. S. Mead, 1878 ; L. W. Waugh, W. F. Carl- 
ton, A. S. Mead, 1879 ; same in 1880 ; same in 1881 ; I. S. Foster, 0. Olive, H. 
Brandon, 1882; I. S. Foster, 0. Oliver, W. H. Bailey, 1883; same in 1884; 
I. S. Foster, G. P. Wodell, R. S. Hopkins, 1885; same in 1886; same in 
1887; J. Austin, G. P. Wodell, R. S. Hopkins, 1888; I. S. Foster, J. Austin, 
D. B. Smith, 1889 ; I. S. Foster, J. Austin, D. B. Smith, 1890 ; C. C. Greg- 
ory, H. Calkins, D. B. Smith, 1891 ; same in 1892 ; C. C. Gregory, H. C. 
Wiley, D. B. Smith, 1893 ; same in 1894 ; C. C. Gregory, H. C. Wiley, P. 
Rasmussen, 1895; C. C. Gregory, 0. S. Jones, P. Rasmussen, 1896; P. Hag- 
erty, 0. S. Jones, P. Rasmussen, 1897 ; same in 1898 ; same in 1899 ; 0. S. 
Jones, C. C. Gregory, P. Rasmussen, 1900; 0. S. Jones, C. C. Gregory, A. 
W. Bascom, 1901 ; C. C. Gregory, A. W. Bascom, Don B. Smith, 1902 ; same 
in 1903; D. B. Smith, C. C. Gregory, W. C. Edmunds, 1904; J. T. Webb, 
C. C. Gregory, W. C. Edmunds, 1905; same in 1908; J. T. Webb, W. G. 
Adkins, David Wood, 1907 ; W. G. Adkins, D. Wood, Mike Nece, 1908 ; D. 
Wood, Mike Nece, H. C. Curry, 1909; same in 1910; D. Wood, J. H. Greg- 
ory, W. A. Brunemeier, 1911 ; same in 1912, 1913 and 1914 ; J. H. Gregory, 
A. W. Bascom, H. E. Albert, 1915; same in 1916. In the November, 1916, 
election, W. A. Brunemeier and A. Hurd were elected supervisors, to take 
office January 1, 1917. 


The first courthouse in Dickinson County was begun in the year 1859 
and partially finished in 1860. Harvey Abbott was the architect and over- 
saw the carpentiy. William Lamont did the masonry. The work upon 
the structure was slow and when the troops took possession of it in 
August, 1862, it was yet in an unfinished condition. For three years the 
troops used the building for barracks. During this time further work was 
stopped. The board of supervisors realized during this period that the 
swamp land titles, by which they expected to realize sums of money for 
county impi-ovements, would prove useless and accordingly they absolved 
the contractors and builders of the courthouse from their agreement and 
asked that the building be turned over to the county in its (then) present 
condition. Considerable discussion and hard feeling resulted from this 
action, but in the end the contractors won out and were released from 
their contract. 

After the building was vacated by the troops it was not in a condition 
for use by the county officials and again the supervisors were confronted 
with the necessity of some sort of county building. They decided to con- 
tinue the work upon the building as originally jilanned and this was done 
at different times, until in 18GS the sti'ucture was pronounced completed 
and ready for occupancy. 



ASTOn. LErrox 
TiLDt:: i ^ j.D r :.'■■:■ 


This old court-house had a veiy romantic history. Only the lower floor 
was used by the county olKcials, while the upper was used as both a court 
room and a school room. The school district, in fact, purchased the seats 
under the agreement that it could be used for school purposes as well as 
court. Meetings, dances, entertainments, political gatherings and every- 
thing of the kind were held in this upper story of the old court-house. 

This court-house was destroyed by fire November 24, 1871. The fire 
was discovered about 5 o'clock in the morning and a portion of the county 
records saved. Smith's history of the county places the date as February, 
1872, but this date is incorrect, as proved by the files of this Spirit Lake 
Beacon. For a time the county offices were kept in a store-room across 
the street from the court-house grounds. T. J. Francis, of Spirit Lake, 
was given authority to build a second county building, using the bricks 
which had been used in the construction of the first structure. This was 
done, but in the late '80s the building was condemned and plans made for 
the building of the present court-house. In September, 1889, the voters 
of the county decided by election to issue county bonds for the sum of 
$15,000 for that purpose. There was some technical error in the election 
and the courts decided that it was void, but upon the second vote upon the 
question a still greater majority of votes was cost in favor of the bond 
issue. All arrangements were completed; T. D. Allen was the architect; 
Leonard & Wallace, of Sibley, and T. J. Francis, of Spirit Lake, were th6 
contractors; and work was commneced October 4, 1890. In November, 
1891, the building was finished and accepted by the supervisors of the 
county on the 24th of that month. The- cost was close to $15,000. 
Although not the most pretentious, the Dickinson County courthouse, con- 
sidering the price, is one of the best in Iowa. It is of brick and is both 
substantial and attractive. The bricks used in the first and second court- 
houses were mixed with the concrete for the foundations. 

In writing the history of the Dickinson County court-house another 
correction must be made upon the story of the troops assigned here during 
the Indian troubles of 1862, as written in the Smith history of the county. 
It will be remembered that a company of Sioux City troops was sent to 
the border, divided into three parts, and stationed at Spirit Lake, Okoboji 
and Estherville. The detachment which arrived at Spirit Lake and took 
quarters at the court-house with the settlers was in charge of Lieut. James 
A. Sawyer and not Lieutenant Cassady, as stated. This correction is made 
upon authority of the adjutant-general's report of the period. Within a 
few days after the coming of the troops the settlers began to return to 
their claims, but the court-house remained in possession of the troops 
until July, 1865. 

The Dickinson County jail was constructed in 1902 by T. J. Francis. 


Prior to this the room in the court house now used by the county agent 
served as a jail. 


At a meeting of the board of supervisors in June, 1904, the question 
of a county poor farm, or home for the destitute, came before the meet- 
ing and all agreed that Dickinson County was badly in need of some organ- 
ized method of caring for the poor. The decision was made to submit the 
question to the voters of the county at the regular election on November 
8, 1904. This was done, in the form of a proposition to issue the bonds of 
the county for $10,000, the money to be used for the purchase of a suit- 
able piece of property. The voters gave a handsome majority in favor of 
the project. The S. A. Holcomb farm on Section 18, Center Grove Town- 
ship, was purchased and George Machesney appointed the first superin- 
tendent. In 1915 new frame buildings were constructed on the property. 


At one time the question of swamp lands was a very perplexing one 
to the people of Dickinson County. The trouble began in 1859 when the 
voters stepped to the polls and voted almost unanimously to dispose of the 
swamp lands within the county and use the profits for public improve- 
ments. J. D. Howe, B. F. Parmenter and A. D. Arthur contracted with 
the county, the latter represented by the county judge, L. Congleton, to 
take over the swamp lands and in return erect a court-house according to 
the plans of the county, also three bridges, namely: one across East 
Okoboji Lake east of the town of Spirit Lake, one across the sti'aits be- 
tween East and West Okoboji Lakes, and another across the Little Sioux 
River. Shortly after these arrangements were concluded Howe, Par- 
menter and Arthur disposed of their contract to J. S. Prescott and Henry 
Barkman, receiving in return several thousand acres of land. 

The start of the trouble may be said to have been in Washington, 
D. C, when Congress, heeding the i-equests of the states along the Mis- 
sissippi River, passed a law turning over the question of swamp lands to 
each respective state. The body had been asked to make an appropriation 
for reclaiming swamp lands along the river, but had refused to do this. 
In turn, the state of Iowa granted the power of reclaiming these lands 
and using the proceeds for improvements to each county. In the slang 
vernacular of the day they "passed the buck" to the counties. Then came 
the task of selecting those lands which could be termed "swamp" lands 
and here arose the charges of fraud and graft heard so much at that time. 
There were no definite laws upon the subject, either state or county. B. F. 
Parmenter and Andy Hood were the commissioners for selecting the 


swamp lands in Dickinson County and they reported a total of nearly 
sixty thousand acres, an amount palpably too large. Everything would 
have been smooth sailing for those interested in the lands had not the new 
administration at Washington ordered an investigation of the question and 
demanded that all claimants of the so-called swamp lands pi'ove that they 
were really swamp lands and overflowed lands. 

The contractors obtained quit-claim deeds and then sold the land for 
the purpose of proceeding with improvements, giving warranty deeds for 
the same. However, it soon began to dawn upon the commissioners that 
their title to the lands was hanging in the balance, with a strong proba- 
bility that it would be declared void. Barkman started to compromise 
with the purchasers, but he had sold so much of the land to various pur- 
chasers that it was impossible for him to compromise. The result of this 
situation has been a badly mixed bunch of titles and to this day the ques- 
tion has not been solved to the satisfaction of everyone. There was finally 
certified to the county something over three thousand acres of swamp 
lands. This, of course, had been quit-claimed to the contractors at first, 
but when the county discovered that the submission of the question to the 
voters had not been in strict accordance with the law, a suit was brought 
in equity against the original contractors for the abrogation of the contract. 
The firm of Wilson & Dye, attorneys, represented Dickinson County. No 
defense was made by the defendants; in fact, Barkman was the only one 
left in the county. Consequently, the conveyances were declared to be 
void. However, the county had made another contract with Barkman, by 
which he was to receive the entire amount of swamp land certified to the 
county. The lawyers retained by the county were supposed to get their 
fee from the people interested in having the old titles changed, but after 
the case was over, they presented a bill for $4,000 to the county. This 
was contrary to understandings, but the county had no means of recourse 
and finally compromised with them for $2,500. 

The results of this land trouble, aside from the ones previouslj^ men- 
tioned, were : heavy expense to the county ; loss of money to the contrac- 
tors ; loss to small purchasers who thought by buying these lands they 
could get a home cheaply, but later discovered their title was worth noth- 
ing; and the present difficulty in the county offices to make satisfactory 
and complete titles and description of these lands. 

The history of the bridges and roads in Dickinson County is given 
in the chapter on Transportation and Railroads. 





When the county of Dickinson was organized in the year 1857 there 
\vere no township divisions formed and no township officers elected. Two 
years later, in 1859, the county was divided into two civil townships — 
Spirit Lake and Okoboji. The bridge at the straits between East and West 
Okoboji Lakes was the di\iding line. 

In 1860 the township of Okoboji was organized, and afterwards 
given the name of Tusculum. 

In 1866 Center Grove and Lakeville Townships were formed and new 
boundaries created for all. 

At a meeting of the board of supervisors September 28, 1872, new 
townships were formed and new boundaries drawn as follows: Supei-ior 
Township to embrace the whole of Town 100, Range 35 ; Town 98, Range 
36 to contain one civil towaiship named Milford ; Lloyd and Richland Town- 
ships to remain the same; Town 99, Range 36, and that portion of Town 

99, Range 37 lying east of West Okoboji Lake to be Center Grove; Town 

100, Range 36, to be Spirit Lake Township; Town 98, Range 37 to be 
Okoboji Township; Town 99, Range 37, except that part east of West 
Okoboji Lake, to be Lakeville Township; Town 100, Range 37, to be Dia- 
mond Lake Township ; Towns 98 and 99, Range 38, to be Excelsior Town- 
ship; Silver Lake to remain as before. The first election in Milford was 
ordered to be held at the house of A. D. Inman ; the first in Okoboji at the 
residence of Hiram Davis; the first in Excelsior to be held at the house 
of C. E. Smith; and in the remaining townships the elections to be held 
at the places previously designated. The records of the townships prior to 
this time were lost in the fire of 1871. 

At the supervisors' meeting on September 6. 1875. Town 98. Range 



38, then a part of Excelsior Township, was set off into a new civil town- 
ship by the name of Westport, and the first election was ordered held at 
the schoolhouse near Randall Root's residence. 


The tax list of Spirit Lake Township in 1859 records the following 
names of persons living in the township and paying taxes that year: W. 
J. Adams, Benjamin Adams, Harvey Abbott, A. D. Arthur, W. B. Brown, 
Henry Barkman, William Barkman, F. A. Blake, James Ball, M. A. 
Blanchard, J. M. Blanchard, Dan Caldwell, J. A. Cook, William Carsley, 
Leonidas Congleton, William Donaldson, S. W. Foreman, H. Frantz, Law- 
rence Ferhen, J. P. Gilbert, C. F. Hill, S. Humphrey, J. D. Howe, J. D. 
Hawkins, Isaac H. Jones, R. Kingman, A. Kingman, William Lamont, David 
Maxwell, Frank Moore, W. D. Moore, William Miller, F. Palpuman, Jareb 
Palmer, Ebenezer Palmer, J. S. Pi'escott, James Peters, B. F. Parmenter, 
Charles Richards, George Ring, F. S. Robb, George Rogers, R. A. Smith, 
M. J. Smith, John Smith, William C. Swett, George E. Spencer, L. E. 
Strait, J. H. Schuneman, H. E. W. Smeltser and R. U. Wheelock. By 1860 
the following names were added to the foregoing list: H. D. Arthur, 
Walter B. Brown, Charles Carpenter, Phillip Doughty, William T. 
Doughty, William Jordan, John Johnson, Hans Johnson, Peter Ladu and 
Norton Warner. 

The list above will give the reader a clear idea of the names of the 
first settlers in Spirit Lake Township, which embraced at the time one- 
half of the county. The early history of the settlement has been described 
in the chapter on early settlement of the county, and further description 
here would be only repetition. 


This division of the county at first comprised one-half of the county, 
the other half being Spirit Lake Township. The tax list of 1859 gives the 
following names of the then residents : B. Adams, G. H. Bush, Levi 
Daugherty, George Detrick, L. Morse, Moses Miller, William Oldham, 
Joseph Pasti, J. S. Prescott, R. Perigo, P. H. Risling, William E. Root, F. 
Webster, Philander Webster, Martin Webster, A. Wagoner, William Wise- 
garber, G. Mattison, A. Olson, M. P. and J. M. Webste)'. Prominent 
among the settlers prior to 1870 wei'e: Levi Knowlton, C. A. Arnold, 
J. B. Florer, D. T. Janes, William Patten, John Matthesen, Halvor Knut- 
sen, Samuel Waller, Thomas Barcus, Homer Calkins, Ed Miller and L. F. 
Griswold. The township was named by R. A. Smith. Like Spirit Lake 
Township the early settlement has been noted elsewhere. 



Under the heading of Tuscukim Township, or East Okoboji Town- 
ship, appear the names of the following taxpayers : H. D. Arthur, Will- 
iam Barr, C. Crandall, 0. Compton, Arthur Dodge, Nathan Esty, John 
Francis, John Gilbert, Allen Gould, James Johnston, William Jenkins, 
William G. Jenkins. John Jenkins, P. Ladu, John Loomis, J. T. Loomis, 
William C. McClellan, B. Marvin, James Pollard, F. D. Reilly, C. Pveid, 
L. A. Stimpson, Seth Thomas, C. Thurston, William Uptagrafft, C. War- 
ner, Consider Yarns. 


The original taxpayers in Center Grove Township, as it was first 
formed, were: W. B. Brown, G. C. Bellows, G. Blackhert, H. Barkman, 
F. A. Blake, G. Clark, 0. Crandall, H. Crandall, 0. Compton, F. Doughty, 
Aaron Dixon, Jesse Doughty, Phillip Doughty, James Evans, N. 0. East- 
man, E. C. Ellis, A. B. Ellis, C. Evans, Elihu Ellis, E. D. Howell, David 
Jenkins, G. H. Johnson, George Kellogg, G. Kingsley, E. C. Lowell,' J. B. 
Mack, A. A. Mosher, A. S. Mead, H. C. Owen, E. Palmer, A. E. Peck, 
Samuel Rogers, John Robertson, 0. Rice, M. J. Smith, G. W. Sherman, 
John Strong, James Skirving, R. A. Smith, J. A. Van Anda, T. Wyckoff 
and L. W. Waugh. 


The first settlement in what is now Lakeville Township was made 
about 1866, when a party consisting of Joshua A. Pratt, George W. Pratt, 
Joseph A. Green, A. Price and others came in, and located at Lakeville, 
at the site of the three lakes — Pratt, Silvan and Pillsbury. The tax list 
of 1871 for Lakeville Township gives the names of the following resi- 
dents: John Atwood. W. B. Arnold, C. L. Aldin, J. S. Anderson, G. 
Anderson, W. H. Anderson, Charles Betts, S. B. Betts, W. A. Blair, J. M. 
Brown, Ole Bjornson, T. N. Boyle, J. H. Beebe, W. Berg, F. Brown, Dan- 
iel Bennett, H. J. Bennett. J. H. Carpenter, J. A. Casey, J. Covington, 
Richard Campbell, Samuel Campbell, Harrison Campbell, S. M. Fair- 
child, Joseph Garrett, Alfred Goss. James Grant, William Gerhart, Foster 
Gerhart, J. A. Green, E. F. Hill, Oscar Hooker, G. W. Heard, J. W. Hop- 
kins, James Heldridge, Samuel Hutchinson, Nathan R. Jones, David Kenn, 
R. P. Kingman, James Kilpatrick, John Kilpatrick, William F. Lewis, 
William S. Leggett, John Lawlei-. F. M. Lawton. A. R. Lawton. J. J. 
Mosher, G. S. Myers, S. P. Middleton. H. J. and Daniel Bennett and Rev. 
Samuel Pillsbury came to the Lakeville settlement in the year 1868. A 
postofiice was established at the site and kept for several yeai's by H. J. 



THE r;Ev'^ YORK 



Bennett. H. J. Bennett and J. Heldridge suggested the name for the 
township. , 


It is said that the name of this township was given by W. B. Flatt 
and recognized by the trustees. Some of the first settlers in the town- 
ship were: E. V. Davis, WiUiam Campbell, W. B. Flatt, J. C. Davis, 
Randolph Freeman, David Farnham, G. W. and H. N. Morse, Gid Mott, 
Jacob Groce, N. J. Woodin, F. N. Snow, G. Patterson, Aaron Shultz and 
Simon Young. Most of these settlers, however, did not remain here per- 
manently. The grasshopper raid demoralized the settlement. The tax 
list of 1873 for this township gives the names of: R. R. Andrus, Will- 
iam Campbell, W. A. Davis, Walter Flatt, R. Freeman, D. Farnham, 
Jacob and John Groce, Joseph Howell, Gid Mott, Henry Morse, Wark 
Morse, W. A. Morse, G. W. Morse, G. Patterson, William Pattei-son, 
Aaron Shultz, Lucian Stewart, F. N. Snow, N. J. Woodin, William Young, 
Thomas J. Stone and David Kinkade. Much swamp land is listed in this 
township in the early '70s. 


This township was named in honor of John Lloyd, one of the fii'st 
settlers within its boundaries. The first settlement was made in 1869, 
the first comers being: John B. Smith, John Lloyd, John Wilkinson, Ole 
Gilbertson, Joseph Kinney, A. G. Saxe, J. Johnson, Berg Bergeson, J. S. 
Bingham, R. R. Haugen, A. Dodge, G. S. Randall, M. Chappell. The 
majority of the settlers in this township were Norvv'egians. The tax 
payers in the early '70s were : Jull Arneson, B. Bergeson, E. Brenmon, 
Asa Benedict, J. L. Bingham, H. N. Chappell, M. B. Chappell, George 
Danford, Paul Dofi'enson, Erick Ellingson, Benjamin Felt, H. W. Foster, 
Tollif Fode, Joseph Gallop, Ole Gilbertson, Egbert P. Haugen, John Jar- 
vis, Jacob Johnson, Tollif Knudson, Joseph Kenney, Charles Knowlton, 
John Lloyd, Peder Oleson, R. Oskatabo, Lars Oleson, Gulick Oleson, Ole 
Oskatabo, Iver Oleson, John Peterson, William Randall, George Ran- 
dall, W. T. Smith, John B. Smith, David C. Shepherd, K. T. Sandesson, 
Henry Schambaum, Frank Truhn, Peder Thompson, Peter Uldnekson, 
John Wilkinson, B. Whitcome. 


The first settlements in Diamond Lake Township occurred in 1869 
and 1870. Among the first settlers were: M. W. Lemmon, P. P. Pierce, 
P. Nelson, A. J. Welch, 0. W. Savage, 0. Sanford, Peter Vick, J. R., 


J. T. and H. Tuttle, L. H. and William Vreeland, G. Horn, S. W. Harris. 
Most of these settlers left during the time of the grasshopper raids upon 
this county. Lemmon, the Vreelands, Horns, Vick, Welch and several 
others stayed through the attack. 

The tax list of 1873 for Diamond Lake Township shows the follow- 
ing land holders here: A. W. Allen, Ole Bjornson, W. Burg, John Erick- 
son, William Ellsworth, Andrew Erickson, H. Gabijell, G. W. Harris, 
W. W. Lemmon, Peter Nelson, Otis Sanford, O. W. Savage, Joseph Ste- 
vens, Charles Swineson, the Tuttles, G. Vreeland, William Vreeland, War- 
ren Wilcox, A. J. Welch, Ed Miller, F. M. Lawton, A. R. Lawton, G. F. 
Griswold, Aaron Daniels, Robert Carter, H. F. Lawton, Thomas West, 
E. M. Denison, J. D. Dammon, Osker Hoakes, R. P. Kingman, E. F. Hill, 
John Pierce, Benjamin Grover, John Atwood, Peter Nelson, B. H. Hallett, 
David Kern, Pit P. Pierce, Benjamin Strickler, J. H. Miller, George 
Myers, E. T. Graham, Wicks Willard, J. F. Carrington, Ruben Tivey, 
Hiram Smith, A. C. French, Christ Walter, J. F. Dore, Daniel Daniels, 
John P. Herman, Oliver Swartz, M. H. Tappin, James Sherman, F. S. 
Horn, W. A. Richards, John Webster. The name of Diamond Lake was 
given to the township by the first settlers within its borders. 


The first settlement in Superior Township was made in 1867 by 
Robert McCulla and his sons. McCulla had the distinction of having 
twenty-three living children at one time. Others who came shortly after 
McCulla were: Oscar Norby, R. S. Hopkins, Gilbert Anderson, Alfred 
Davis, M. and C. Reiter, Fred Jacobs and John Morgan, also the Everett 
family. R. S. Hopkins is given credit for naming the township. 

The tax list of 1871 for Superior Township is as follows: James 
Braden, Arnold Davis, George Davis, Alfred Davis, K. Fisher, John Lam- 
bert, Jacob Lamb, Robert McCulla, William McCulla, Abraham McCulla, 
James McCanna, Oscar Noi'by, Solomon Nichols, P. Olson, Even Peder- 
son, Sever Severson, John Tolefson, John Wilson, Nich Siebold, Thomas 
J. Stone, S. H. McKnight, Alex McKay, E. K. Olson, John and James 
Cussey, Lawrence Stone. 


The first settlement made in Silver Lake Township was by George 
Nicholson in August, 1868. He homesteaded his claim here. His coming 
was for this purpose — that of getting his claim in shape, and then he 
returned to the East for his family, returning in the late fall. Andrew 
Cloud came with him and also entered a claim, which he disposed of a 


year later to C. B. Knox. John Dingwall and James Acheson were other 
settlers of the year and were followed in 1870 by Alexander Robertson 
and John Dickerson. Later arrivals were: J. B. Drew, who bought out 
Nicholson, Robert Fletcher, C. Lewis and John K. Robertson. 

The first tax list gives the following names: James Acheson, John 

Dingwall, J. B. Drear, Duggan, J. N. Dickerson, C. B. Knox, J. K. 

Robertson, Alexander Robertson, James Ross, H. Schuneman. 

The name of Silver Lake was given by the many trappers who in- 
habited this region before the first settlers came. It was a favorite and 
productive hunting and trapping territory and the hunters usually picked 
the shore of Silver Lake as a camping place. It is also related that when 
the first settlers came here thej' found teepee poles set up here and left 
by the Indians. It was the custom for the red men to place these poles 
in advantageous spots over the counti'y and when they arrived there at 
odd times simply stretch their robes over the framework and have a fin- 
ished teepee, thus saving the trouble of transporting a supply of poles. 
Silver Lake Township was originally, until 1872, attached to Lakeville 


The first settler in Milford TowTiship was A. D. Inman in 1866. 
Some other claims were entered that year, but were never improved, nor 
is it certain who made them. The year 1869 brought in a large number 
of homesteaders, however, among whom wei^e: Andrew Blackman, R. C. 
McCutchin, Z. Slayton, C. Christensen, John AUar, Homer Wise, S. E. 
Inman, G. P. Clark, Hiram Ogg, H. H. Shipman, the Reeves brothers, 
C. Tinkham, E. Freeman, Eli Miller and a few others. 

The tax list of 1873 for Milford Township gives the names of the 
settlers here then as follows: W. B. Arnold, John Allen, Jake Barnett, 
A. Blakeman, W. S. Beers, Austin Case, B. Carlton, G. P. Clark, R. B. 
Carpenter, William Everett, Ira S. Foster, A. D. Foster, G. P. Hawkes, 
Phillip Hales, A. D. Inman, Stephen Inman, Mike Johnson, George Kid- 
ney, Hance Lar.son. John McKibben, R. C. McCutchin, Eli Miller, Ed 
Moran, Hiram Ogg, Lain Paul, Ole Paul, Benjamin Pitcher, Elisha Page, 
John Page, Daniel Reeves, Wallace Smith, T. S. Seymour, M. W. Stone, 
Volney Smith, Smith, Henry Seaton, Z. B. Slayton, H. H. Shipman, 
Clarence Tinkham, S. Whitcomb, Homer Wise, Samuel Zink, John Law- 
ler, R. S. Gaylord, John Jarvis, Alfred Goss, A. C. Burnham, A. R. Cot- 
ton, G. W. Phillips, D. C. Shepherd, R. A. Smith and W. S. Reese. Some 
of the above are names of men owning land in the township, but not re- 
siding within its borders. The name of Milford was given by Seymour, 
Foster & Company. 



As before stated, Excelsior Township originally embraced all of the 
present Westport Township, their division occurring in 1875. The first 
tax list, 1873, names the following persons as holding land within the 
township : J. S. Anderson, G. Anderson, W. H. Anderson, John Allman, 
Samuel Bartlett, Frank Boyd, J. H. Beebe, R. S. Beebe, R. Campbell, 
Samuel Campbell, H. Campbell, James C. Conkling, W. H. Coltrien, John 
Decker, Alfred Goss, James Grant, B. E. Hutchinson, George W. Hurd, 
Samuel Hutchinson, J. W. Hopkins, John T. Jewell, N. R. Jones, John 
Lambert, William F. Lewis, C. Lowder, Joseph Lucian, Charles Ladd, S. 
Middleton, R. A. McCutchin, M. McGhan, D. C. Moore, R. Nicol. C. D. 
Nicol, G. S. Needham, J. Putman, A. Peck, S. 0. Pillsbury, Norman 
Phillips, D. Phillips, Lewis Potter, Edward Parker, H. C. Partridge, 
Randall Root, James R. Sloan, F. H. Stone, Thomas H. Stone, Leonard 
Smith, Eldis Smith, D. C. Shepherd, G. W. Smith, J. Smith, William 
Stillwell, A. S. Smith, Samuel Trindle, Lewis Taber, J. R. Upton, A. D. 
Wilson, Samuel Walker, John C. Work, H. W. White, W. 0. White and 
G. Wilbur. 


When the first tax list under the heading of Westport Township was 
compiled the following names were given : Henry Barkman, Frank 
Boyd, James C. Conkling, John Decker, John Giles, Samuel Hutchinson, 
J. W. Hopkins, Nathan R. Jones, J. T. Jewell, W. F. Lewis, John Lam- 
bert, J. S. Lucian, C. H. Ladd, Charles Lee, James, Hugh and Alexander 
McCutchin, R. B. and C. S. Nicol, Leonard Pearson, J. Putnam, Samuel 
Bartlett, Randall Root, D. C. Shepherd, Alex Smith, G. W. Smith, J. D. 
Smith, Samuel Trindall, Lewis C. Taber, W. 0. and H. L. White. Most 
of the above had been previously listed in the township of Excelsior. The 
list is of the vear 1876. 






The crowning figure in the famous Spirit Lake massacre was undoubt- 
edly Inkpadutah, the Wahpekutah Sioux Chieftain. In him was combined 
all the bravery, revenge, cruelty and arrogance of the Sioux tribe ; he was 
an Indian in every sense of the word. Before nan-ating the part he played 
in the tragedy of Dickinson County something shall be told of the events 
leading up to the murderous raid upon the settlements in 1857. 

It is related elsewhere in this book thei-e were four bands of Sioux on 
the Minnesota River, following the treaty of 1851. There were two 
agencies — known as the Upper and the Lower — the former on the Yel- 
low Medicine River, about three miles from the mouth, and the latter 
on the I\Iinnesota River, five miles below the Redwood and thirteen miles 
above old Fort Ridgley. The four tribes, or bands, were divided equally 
between the tw^o. 

The Wahpekutah band was identified with the Lower Agency. Wamdi- 
sappi was one of their principal chiefs and he, with a small portion of the 
l)and, afterward deserted the main body and hrs tribe became Nomads. 
They were outlaws. In this band was Sidominadotah, a brother of Inkpa- 
dutah. In Harvey Ingham's "Scraps of Early History" the following is 
said of him : "Fort Dodge was established as the frontier outpost of north- 
ern Iowa in 1850, just four years after Fort Des Moines was abandoned. 
Fort Des Moines was located in 1843 and occupied by troops until 1846, 
the years during which the Sacs and Foxes were being removed from the 
state. Between the occupancy of the two forts the Sioux came promi- 

Vol. 1 — 19 



nently into notice, driving out every white man who attempted to push 
into their territory and trying to stem the tide of emigration to the 
Northwest. The event which, more than any other, led to the establish- 
ment of the fort, was old Sidominadotah's attack upon March, a govern- 
ment surveyor, in 1848. Sidominadotah is one of the conspicuous figures 
in our pioneer history. He was a brother of Inkpadutah and leader of a 
band of Wahpekutah outlaws. He was comi^ionly called Chief Two Fin- 
gers, having lost the remainder of his right hand in battle. Major Wil- 
liams knew him well and has left an accurate description of him. He 
says : 'Sidominadotah was a man about five feet ten in height, stout and 
well formed, very active, had a piercing black eye, broad face and high 
cheek bones.' The major adds an item to the description which certainly 
entitles Sidominadotah to be called the man with the iron jaws : 'Both 
rows of teeth were double all around.' A dentist could have paid off all 
the old scores of the white race at one sitting. When killed he was forty- 
five or fifty years of age. He evidently was the leader of all the bands of 
the northern Sioux at that time, or, at least, held a prominent place among 
the leaders, for nearly all the attacks upon the whites who began to 
invade the territory north and west of Des Moines were led by him." 

Mr. Ingham continues: "During the years of the occupancy of the 
fort (Dodge), Major Williams became acquainted with the various Sioux 
bands and their leaders. He has left veiy interesting descriptions of the 
latter. His estimate of the character of the outfit tallies with that before 
given of the Wahpekutahs. 'The Sioux Indians,' he says, 'who inhabited 
this district of country, were the most desperate characters, made up of 
renegades from all bands.' They were generally very active, stout Indians 
and great horsemen. The majority of them were well armed with guns. 
They always had in their possession horses and mules with white men's 
brands. They generally encamped on high gi-ound where they could not be 
easily surprised, and when any number of them were together, they en- 
camped in a circle. They were very expert hunters. Their famous leaders, 
Sidominadotah and Inkpadutah, were very stout, active men, also Titonka 
and Umpashota ; in fact, all of them. Of Inkpadutah, who led in the Spirit 
Lake massacre, and who was present in person at the raid on Mr. Call and 
the settlers south of Algona in 1855, he says : 'Inkpadutah was about fifty- 
five years old, about five feet eleven inches in height, stoutly built, broad 
shouldered, high cheek bones, sunken and very black sparkling eyes, big 
mouth, light copper color and pockmarked in the face.' " 

Regarding Inkpadutah's sons the following is said by the same author- 
ity: "Besides these there were Cosomeneh, dark, silent, stealthy; 
Wahkonsa, Umpashota's son, a dude, painting his cheeks, forehead and 
chin with stars; Modocaquemon, Inkpadutah's oldest son, who was shot 
for his part in the Spirit Lake massacre, with low forehead, scowling 


face and thick lips; Mocopoco, Inkpadutah's second son, sullen and ill- 

When Sidominadotah was killed Inkpadutah stepped into his place 
as chief of the band. The latter was known as "Scarlet Point" or "Red 
End." Judge Flandrau writes of them as follows: "By 1857 all that 
remained of Wamdisappi's band was under the chieftainship of Inkpa- 
dutah. In August, 18.56, I received the appointment of United States 
Indian Agent for the Sioux of the Mississippi. The agencies for these 
Indians were on the Minnesota River at Redwood and on the Yellow 
Medicine River a few miles from its mouth. Having been on the frontier 
some time previous to such appointment, I had become quite familiar 
with the Sioux and knew in a general way of Inkpadutah and his band, 
its habits and whereabouts. They ranged the country far and wide and 
were considered a bad lot of vagabonds. In 1856 they came to the pay- 
ment and demanded a share of the money of the Wahpekutahs, and made 
a great deal of trouble, but were forced to return to their haunts on the 
Big Sioux and adjoining country. To this Mrs. Sharp adds: 'Accord- 
ing to the most authentic testimony collected by Major Pritchette, Inkpa- 
dutah came to the Sioux Agency in the fall of 1855 and received annuities 
for eleven persons, although he was not identified with any band.' " 

Of the movements of Inkpadutah and his band of ruffians little is 
known, as the natural hostility between the Sioux and the early settlers 
prevented any intercourse. In an article in the Midland Monthly, Harvey 
Ingham writes : "Major Williams expressed the opinion that but for the 
rapid influx of settlers an attack would have been made on Fort Dodge in 
1855. As it was, Inkpadutah and his followers contented themselves 
with stripping trappers and surveyors, stealing horses, and foraging on 
scattered settlers, always maintaining a hostile and threatening atti- 
tude. Many pages of the Midland would be required for a brief enum- 
eration of the petty annoyances, pilferings and more serious assaults 
which occurred. At Dakota City, in Humboldt County, the cabin of 
E. McKnight was rifled in the spring of 1855. Farther north, within a 
few miles of Algona. the cabin of Malachi Clark was entered, and the 
settlers gathered in great alarm to drive out the Indians — a band of 
eighty braves led by Inkpadutah in person. Still farther north, near 
where Bancroft stands, W. H. Ingham was captured by Umpashota, a 
leader under Inkpadutah in the massacre, and was held a prisoner for 
three days." 

Judge Fulton writes: "During the same summer (1855) Chief Ink- 
padutah and his band, comprising about fifty lodges, encamped in the 
timber near where Algona now stands. They occasionally pillaged the 
cabins of the white settlers in that vicinity. At last the whites notified 


them to leave, which they did reluctantly. They returned no more to 
that vicinity except in small hunting parties." 

Further characterization may be presented by the narration of Ink- 
padutah's acts in the massacre. 


When Henry Lott murdered Sidominadotah in January, 1854, at 
Bloody Run, in Humboldt County, he furnished Inkpadutah a motive for 
the horrible revenge the latter took in Dickinson County three years later. 
It is an admitted fact that this was the cause of the Spirit Lake mas- 
sacre — a burning desire on Inkpadutah's part to avenge the murder of his 
brother and family. 

First a word as to Lott. He was a typical border desperado. He was 
of the type for whose depredations the honest settlers had to pay. He set- 
tled at the mouth of Boone River in Webster County in 1846. He gained 
notoriety first by selling cheap whisky to the Indians which in itself was 
a practice heartily condemned by the better class of white men. Whisky 
invariably made a bad Indian out of a good one. Later Lott began to steal 
horses from the Indians and soon they decided to e.xpel him from the 
country as a punishment. A chief and a number of braves called upon him 
one day and gave him a certain time in which to gather his belongings and 
move. He did not heed the warning, however, and when his time limit 
had expired the Indians came again and destroyed his property. They 
killed his live stock, robbed his bee hives, and drove him and his step-son 
from the house. A younger lad, Milton Lott, twelve years of age, in 
attempting to follow them was frozen to death. A short time later Lott 
returned to his home here and stayed until his wife's death, all the time 
planning revenge upon the Indians. In 185.3 he and his step-son located 
a new home on Lott's Creek, in Humboldt County, on the east branch of 
the Des Moines River. Near here Sidominadotah and his family encamped 
one day. Here was his chance. 

Lott and his step-son went to the chief's tepee and told him that an 
elk herd was feeding near and requested him to go with them to get one. 
He accepted the invitation. After they had reached a point some distance 
from the camp the Lotts turned their guns upon Sidominadotah and killed 
him. After night had come they returned to the camp and murdered the 
rest of the Indian's family, except two of the children, a boy and girl, each 
about ten years old. The girl had concealed herself in the underbrush and 
tlie boy was left for dead, but recovered. It is said that this boy after- 
ward lived with a family named Carter on the West Fork of the Des 
Moines in Palo Alto County, and was known as "Indian Josh." 


Lott and his step-son loaded a wagon immediately after their crime, 
burned their cabin with everything which could not be transported, and 
left. They 'traveled south until they reached the overland trail to Cali- 
fornia and there joining an emigrant party went to the coast. It is re- 
ported that Lott was shortly afterward killed in a row. The crime which 
they committed was not discovered for a fortnight and then the guilty ones 
were safe from capture. Like Inkpadutah himself the Lotts escaped 
the fate which they deserved — the justice of the settlers in Northwestern 
Iowa. Had either been captured their sentence would have been death. 
It is improbable that the Spirit Lake massacre would have occurred had 
it not been for the ruthless murder of Sidominadotah. The Indians were 
in the right when they persecuted Lott first. This, however, does not 
mitigate the cruelty and heartlessness of Inkpadutah's revenge in 1857. 


In November, 1856, Inkpadutah and his followers were encamped 
at the south end of Black Loon Lake in Minnesota. They were considered 
by both the other bands of Indians and the settlers as renegades. Gov- 
ernor Grimes of Iowa made repeated appeals to Congress and to President 
Pierce for adequate protection of the territory in northwestern Iowa, but 
each appeal was unheeded, and as a result the Indians gained a confidence 
which they would not otherwise have had. Charles Aldrich, in the Annals 
of Iowa, writes : "Governor James W. Grimes wrote letters to our United 
States senators and to the authorities at Washington some time before the 
outbreak of hostilities, asking that the general government take imme- 
diate steps for the protection of our exposed frontiers. Little or no atten- 
tion was paid to his reiterated requests, and so when the Indians resorted 
to hostilities our Iowa border was wholly without protection. Had the ear- 
nest appeals of Governor Grimes been heeded, the Spirit Lake massacre 
would not have occurred. What makes this neglect appear more stupidly 
and wickedly cruel was the fact that in those days the catching of a run- 
away negro under the infamous 'Fugitive Slave Law' was rife in the land, 
and detachments of the Federal Army or vessels of the United States Navy 
could be readily secured to return a slave to his master." The reader of 
1917 can well compare this condition with the present "preparedness" of 
the country and thereby draw a parallel. 

The winter of 1856-7 was one of the most severe ever experienced in 
Iowa. The snow at one time reached a depth of four feet and the cold was 
intense. High winds prevailed upon the prairies. These conditions made 
the settlers in Dickinson County suffer and endure hardships unknown to 
us of the present day. Provisions were scarce and difficult to obtain and the 
cabins were in no way constructed to keep out the cold. 



In December Inkpadutah and his band departed from Loon Lake and 
went down the Little Sioux as far south as Smithland. They detoured 
around the settlements, it is believed, as no record was made of any set- 
tlers seeing them en route. Here at Smithland the first troubles of the 
year occurred between the Indians and the settlers. Judge Fulton writes of 
this as follows : 

"One day while a party of them (the Indians) were in pursuit of an 
elk in the vicinity of Smithland, they had a difliculty with some white set- 
tlers. It is difficult to state with certainty the nature of the trouble, as 
different and conflicting accounts of it have been given. The Indians, how- 
ever, claimed that their pursuit of the elk was intercepted by the whites 
who forced them to give up their arms and availed themselves of the use 
of their guns in the pursuit of the game. This arou.sed the indignation 
of the Indians and they demanded provisions of the settlers. They con- 
tinued encamped in the vicinity of Smithland for several days, during 
which time the whites became more and more annoyed by their presence. 
Finally the settlers resorted to strategy to get rid of them. At that time 
the name of General Harney was a terror to the Indians of the North- 
west, owing to a recent severe chastisement some of them had received 
at his hands. One of the settlers donning the old uniform of an army 
officer, made his appearance on the opposite side of the Little Sioux from 
the Indian encampment, while some of the other whites pointed him out 
to the Indians as General Hai'ney and told them he was in pursuit of 
them. The ruse had the desired effect and the Indians hastily moved up 
the river with their savage nature aroused to a desire for revenge." 

R. A. Smith explains the trouble as follows: "Large numbers of 
elk had been driven in from the prairie by the deep snows and terrific 
storms. These the Indians surrounded, slaughtering large numbers of 
them. This created excitement and indignation among the .settlers, and 
some of them conceived the idea of driving the Indians away. To accom- 
plish this they got up a drunken frolic and invited the Indians in. They 
represented themselves as soldiers sent out by General Harney to drive 
them out of the country. At that time the operations of General Harney 
at Ash Hollow and other places had made his name a perfect terror to 
the Sioux, and they became very much alarmed and excited, so much so 
that they started at once on their return, leaving a portion of their guns 
and equipage in the hands of the supposed soldiers. When this ti-ansac- 
tion became known, the more level-headed citizens denounced it and did 
what they could to counteract what they feared would be the result. They 
gathered up the guns and other property which the Indians had left be- 
hind and sent them forward to them, and did what else they could to 


appease their indignation, but as will soon appear, however, all to no 


So it can be understood that the Indians were angered by the trick 
played upon them and resolved to take revenge upon the settlements not 
so well defended. They followed up the Little Sioux after leaving Smith- 
land, robbing settlers' cabins, killing stock and intimidating the women 
and children. Having reached the point where Clay County now is, they 
became doubly ferocious and committed many deeds of cruelty. W. C. 
Gilbraith, in the history of Clay County, thus describes their depreda- 
tions : 

"The Clay County settlers had heard of the depredations they were 
committing and were thoroughly alarmed for the safety of themselves 
and their property. When they came to the home of Mr. Bicknell and' 
finding no one there, he with his family having gone to Mr. Kirchner's, 
across the river, they immediately appropriated everything which met 
their fancy. The next day they made their appearance at the Kirchner 
house, where they found the terror-stricken settlers huddled together. 
Without any ceremony they captui^ed all the arms to be found, killed the 
cattle and took what they wanted. After remaining in the Peterson set- 
tlement a day and a night, they pushed on, leaving the whites badly 
frightened but thankful that they had escaped with their lives. This 
band of bloodthirsty Sioux then proceeded to the home of Ambrose Mead, 
who was absent at the time in Cedar Falls. Previous to leaving for this 
place, he had arranged to have a Mr. Taylor and family remain with 
Mrs. Mead and children during his stay. When the Indians came, Mr. 
Taylor protested against their taking the property or disturbing the 
premises. Becoming angry at Taylor for his interference they threatened 
to kill him if he did not keep out of the way. Fearing that they would 
carry out their threats Taylor left the women and children and set out 
to secure assistance. The Indians killed the stock, drove off the ponies 
and carried the women with them. But, fearing they would be pursued 
and overtaken, they decided to allow the women to return after taking 
such liberties as the helpless women could not prevent. They then 
directed their steps toward Linn Grove and Sioux Rapids, where they 
subjected the settlers to the same treatment they had given the Mead and 
Taylor families." 

Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp describes the same occurrence as fol- 
lows : "After remaining a few days in Cherokee, where they busied 
themselves with wantonly shooting cattle, hogs and fowls and destroying 
property generally, sometimes severely beating those who resisted, they 
proceeded up the Little Sioux to the little settlement in Clay County, now 


called Peterson. Here they tarried two or three days, committing acts 
of atrocity as usual. At the house of A. S. Mead (Mr. Mead being away) 
they not only killed his cattle and destroyed his property but knocked 
down his wife and carried off to camp his daughter Hattie (seventeen 
years old) and started away with a younger sister, Emma, but she 
resisted so hard and cried so loud that an Indian picked up a stick 
and whipped her all the way back to the house and left her. At the 
same house they knocked down Mr. E. Taylor, kicked his body into the 
fireplace, burning him so badly that he still carries the scar on his leg, 
and took his wife off to their camp, but as yet they had committed no 
murder. After one night in an Indian camp, Mrs. Taylor and Hattie 
Mead were permitted to return home." 


From Peterson the Indians went to Sioux Rapids, where they com- 
mitted similar deeds. From Sioux Rapids they went to Gillett's Grove 
and their actions there are described by Gilbraith in the history of Clay 
County as follows : "Mr. Gillett, one of the earliest settlers of the county, 
and for whom Gillett's Grove was named, recently visited friends in this 
county and the scene of his former home. During his visit he related an 
event which he had hitherto never made public. The story is substan- 
tially as follows : He with his brother came to Clay County in the fall 

of 1856 and located at what is now known as Gillett's Grove 

Everything passed along quietly for several months, until one day a tribe 
under Chief Inkpadutah came and set up their teepees upon the bank of 
Lost Island Lake. The settlers upon learning of their arrival and loca- 
tion feared that the Indians would discover the location of their houses 
and visit them. Their fears were well founded, for in a few days several 
of the redskins paid them a visit. The white settlers treated them kindly 
and gave them provisions, and they left for their camping grounds ex- 
pressing their friendship and thanks for the food given them. In a few 
days another lot of them came, headed by a stalwart brave who had been 
with the others a few days before. After saying their usual 'How' they 
were supplied by the whites and returned to the lakes. During both 
visits it was noticeable that one of them, the one who led the second 
group, had his eyes constantly fixed in admiration upon Mrs. Gillett. 
Wherever she went and whenever she moved his eye was upon her. In 
a few days he returned; this time alone. He was given a seat and pro- 
vided with a meal. He went away, but every two or three days he came, 
and although saying nothing, his looks indicated his admiration for Mrs. 
Gillett. His visits grew so constant and frequent that they became an- 
noying, not only to Mrs. Gillett, but to the two families. He was con- 


stantly prowling around and appearing before them at the most unex- 
pected moments, until he became a great nuisance. He was given to 
understand that his visits were not desired, but to these reminders he 
paid not the least attention. He was always fed and well treated, for 
the reason that the settlers did not wish to give any offense to the tribe 
or incur their enmity. But, becoming emboldened by the kind treat- 
ment that had been extended to him, one day in the absence of Mr. 
Gillett, and mastering all the English language he possessed, he made 
certain proposals to Mrs. Gillett, which she indignantly rejected, and 
warned him to leave. He left the house in a short time, but had not gone 
a great distance when Mr. Gillett returned home. His wife immediately 
informed him of the Indian's conduct. The husband took down his rirte 
and learning the direction the Indian had taken, .set out after him. 
After a few minutes' walk he caught sight of him and drew up his rifle 
and fired. He did not wait to ascertain the result of his shot, but re- 
turned to his cabin and ate his supper. In the morning, in company with 
his brother, he visited the spot and there found a dead Indian. The 
brothers, after severing the head from the body — which they subse- 
quently sent to an eastern medical college — placed it in a hollow tree. 
They at once packed up their belongings and started for Fort Dodge, 
knowing full well that the Indians would discover the absence of the 
buck, and knowing his fondness for Mrs. Gillett, would come there in 
search of him, and finding no trace of him, would suspect they had killed 
him, and would revenge themselves upon the white settlers. They, 
therefore, deemed it prudent to make their escape before the arrival of 
the searching party, which they did. 


Mr. Duncombe, in writing of the Spirit Lake expedition, says of the 
conditions at this time : "In January, 1857, word was brought to Fort 
Dodge that a large band of Indians, under the lead of Inkpadutah, had 
followed down the Little Sioux River to a point near Smithland; that 
this band was composed of Sioux half-breeds and straggling renegades 
of the Sioux tribe, and that they had become exceedingly insolent and 
ugly. The next information received at Fort Dodge was in the latter 
part of February, when Abner Bell, a Mr. Weaver and a Mr. Wilcox came 
to Fort Dodge and gave Major Williams and myself the startling intel- 
ligence of acts and depredations of these scoundrels, said to be about 
seventy in number, including thirty warriors. These three men had left 
the Little Sioux River, and coming through the awful storms and almost 
impassable snows for sixty miles without a house or landmark on the 
way, sought aid from our people. They gave a sad and vivid descrip- 


tion of the shooting down of their cattle and horses, of the abuse of their 
children, the violation of their women and other acts of brutishness and 
cruelty too savage to be repeated. They pictured in simple but eloquent 
words the exposures of the dear wife, mother and childi'en, their starving 
condition and their utter helplessness. These reports were repeated from 
day to day by other settlers from the Little Sioux who from time to time 
came straggling into Fort Dodge. These repeated accounts of the acts 
of the Indians led everyone familiar with the Indian character to become 
fully satisfied that they were determined on some purpose of revenge 
against the exposed fi'ontier settlements, and this caused much alarm 
among the people. Among the number giving this information were : 
Ambrose S. Mead, L. F. Finch, G. M. and W. S. Gillett and John A. 
Kirchner, father of John C. and Jacob Kirchner, who are now citizens 
of Fort Dodge. These depredations commenced at the house of Abner 
Bell, on the 21st day of February, 1857. On the 24th of February, 1857, 
the house occupied by James Gillett was suddenly attacked by ten or 
more armed warriors and the two families living under the same roof, 
consisting of the heads of each family and five small children, were ter- 
rorized and most villainously abused. After enduring outrages there, 
they managed to escape at midnight and late the following evening ar- 
I'ived at the residence of Bell, poorly clad, and having been without food 
for over thirty-six hours. The sufferings of these people and their little 
children will be appreciated by those who remember the driving storms, 
piercing winds and intense cold of the unparalleled winter of 1856 and 
1857, to my knowledge the longest and the most severe of any winter for 
the last forty-three years. From Gillett's Grove, near the present beau- 
tiful and prosperous city of Spencer, the Indians proceeded to Spirit 
Lake and the lakes nearby. No preparation could be made for resist- 
ance on account of the sparsity of the population and the scattered homes. 
In fact, it is improbable that any family knew that depredations were 
being committed by these red devils until they were themselves attacked 
when wholly unprepared for any such event." 

A company of men was made up at Sac City and along the Coon 
River and dispatched to Peterson, but too late to be of any assistance. 


Near March 7, 1857, the Indians arrived in the timber bordering 
upon the lakes and pitched their teepees on each side of the road leading 
from the Gardner to the Mattock cabin. One authority places their camp 
at fifteen rods from the latter home. This was about a fortnight after 
the disturbance near Sioux Rapids, this time having been spent probably 
at Lost Island. It is also known that only a portion of the band which 


caused the trouble along the Little Sioux came to the lakes and partic- 
ipated in the massacre. The inhabitants at that time living at the lakes 
had no intimation of impending trouble, as they had heard nothing from 
the southern settlements and perceived nothing especially out of the way 
among the Indians. A letter left in the Granger cabin by Dr. Harriott, 
written on the 6th, refers to the Indians but mentioned no fear of their 
purpose. This, of course, was the Indians' strategy— to gain the confi- 
dence of the settlers and catch them off their guard. Mr. R. A. Smith 
places the number of warriors at the lakes as fifteen. Mrs. Abbie Gard- 
ner Sharp gives, as well as memory permits, the names of the Indians 
who attacked the Gardner cabin as follows: 

Ink-pa-du-tah, or Scarlet Point. 
Mak-pe-a-ho-to-man, or Roaring Cloud. 

Mak-pi-op-e-ta, or Fire Cloud, twin brother of Roaring Cloud. 
Taw-a-che-ha-wa-kan, or His Mysterious Father. 
Ba-ha-ta, or Old Man. 

Ke-cho-mon, or Putting On As He Walks. 
Ka-ha-dat, or Ratling, son-in-law of Inkpadutah. 
Fe-to-a-ton-ka, or Big Face. 

Ta-te-li-da-shink-sha-man-i, or One Who Makes a Crooked Wind As 
He Walks. 

Ta-chan-che-ga-ho-ta, or His Great Gun. 
Hu-san, or One Leg. 

J. M. Thatcher and Asa Burtch were absent from the lakes at the 
time of the massacre, as was also Eliza Gardner. Harvey Luce and 
Thatcher had previously gone to Waterloo, Iowa, and other points for 
supplies and were accompanied upon their return by Enoch Ryan, a 
brother-in-law of Noble; Robert Clark, of Waterloo; Jonathan Howe, a 
son of Joel Howe; and Asa Burtch, a brother of Mrs. Thatcher. They 
were traveling by ox-team and when they reached a point in Palo Alto 
County it was found necessary to stop for a time and rest their animals. 
Burtch and Thatcher were chosen to stay with the teams while the re- 
mainder of the party came on foot to the lakes, arriving on the 6th of 
March, just in time to sufi'er their fate at the hands of the Indians. 
Bui-tch and Thatcher, by waiting with the oxen, saved their own lives. 
Eliza Gardner had gone to Springfield the previous autumn to visit the 
family of Doctor Strong, and was prevented by the severity of the win- 
ter from returning home. Hence her absence in March, 1857. 


The morning of March 8, 1857 dawned — a crisp, early-spring morn- 
ing. The brilliant sun, the fresh odors in the air and the promises of 


early leaves and green grass formed an inappropriate setting for the 
day of tragedy. The elder Gai'dner rose earlier than usual, contemplat- 
ing an early start for Fort Dodge to obtain provisions. Luce had re- 
turned on the 6th and was to remain at the cabin during Mr. Gardner's 
absence. Breakfast was prepared and set upon the table and the family 
were just about to take their places around the board. Just then a 
solitary Indian stalked in and demanded food. He was given room at 
the table with the others. He was shortly followed by Inkpadutah and 
fourteen other warriors, with their squaws and papooses. This crowd 
of Indians soon consumed all the food left and then became insulting, 
asking for everything they fancied, particularly ammunition. Gardner 
took a box of caps and was in the act of giving a portion of them to the 
Indians, when a young brave gi'abbed the whole box from his hand. Mr. 
Luce was just in time to prevent another from getting a powder horn 
from the wall. This enraged the Indian and he attempted to put a bullet 
into Luce, but was prevented by the latter seizing the barrel. 

Just at this time Doctor Harriott and Bertel E. Snyder came to the 
cabin with some letters for Gardner to carry to Fort Dodge. By this 
time Gardner had decided that something dangerous was afoot and that 
his trip must be postponed and so informed Harriott and Snyder, adding 
that the settlers had better get together somewhere for defense. The 
two young men derided this statement, not believing that the Indians 
were that hostile. After trading with some of the redskins, they re- 
turned to their own cabin. 

The Indians remained in the Gardner cabin until about noon, then 
started back to their camp, driving Gardner's cattle ahead of them and 
shooting some of them on the way. The white people then realized that 
some sort of warning had to be sent to the other settlers and finally 
Luce and Clark agreed to undertake the task and return in time to be 
of assistance to the family. 


Mrs. Sharp, in her book, describes the murder of her family as fol 
lows : "About three o'clock we heard the report of guns in rapid succes- 
sion from the house of Mr. Mattock. (Luce and Clark had left the Gard- 
ner cabin about two o'clock.) We were then no longer in doubt as to 
the awful reality that was hanging over us. Two long hours we passed 
in this fearful anxiety and suspense, waiting and watching with con- 
flicting hopes and fears for Mr. Luce and Mr. Clark to return. At 
length, just as the sun was sinking behind the western horizon and shed- 
ding its brilliancy over the snowy landscape, father, whose anxiety would 
no longer allow him to remain within doors, went out to reconnoiter. He, 
however, hastily returned, saying: 'Nine Indians are coming now only 




Looatlon of the 
Settlers 'Cabins 
in the Spirit 
Lake Massacre 
of 1857. 



a short distance from the house and we are all doomed to die.' His first 
thought was to barricade the door and fight till the last, saying, 'While 
they are killing all of us I will kill a few of them with the two loaded 
guns left in the house.' But to this mother protested, having not yet 
lost all faith in the savage monsters and still hoping they would appre- 
ciate our kindness and spare our lives. She said, 'If we have to die, let 
us die innocent of shedding blood.' Alas for the faith placed in these 
inhuman monsters ! They entered the house and demanded more flour, 
and as father turned to get them what remained of our scanty store, they 
shot him through the heart. He fell upon his right side and died with- 
out a struggle. When first the Indian raised his gun to fire, mother or 
Mrs. Luce seized the gun and drew it down, but the other Indians in- 
stantly turned upon them, seized them by their arms and beat them over 
their heads with the butts of their guns ; then dragged them out of doors 
and killed them in the most cruel and .shocking mannei-. They next seized 
the children, tearing them from me one by one while they reached their 
little arms out to me, crying piteously for protection that I was powerless 
to give. Heedless of their cries, they dragged them out of doors and 
beat them to death with sticks of stove wood." 


Abigail Gardner, expecting them to kill her as they did her family, 
was spared and dragged to the Mattock cabin. Night had fallen when 
they reached that place, but the trees and snow were lighted by the 
flames which were consuming the Mattock home. The lurid light also 
revealed the bodies of the brave defenders scattered upon the snow in 
front of the house. Nothing is known for certain of the killings here, 
for no one was left to describe it, but it is known that some resistance 
was made at this point. The bodies of Doctor Harriott, Snyder and 
young Harshman were found here. In the doctor's hand was a revolver, 
one shell discharged. Also a couple of Sharp's rifles were found nearby. 
The indications were that the attack was in the nature of a surprise, 
but the settlers found time to make a partial defense of their lives. 

That night occurred a war dance — an experience nearly as terrifying 
to the young captive as the murder of her family. Until far into the night 
the excited warriors danced their hideous frenzy of motion and gave vent 
to their blood-chilling howls. 


The next morning the bloody work on hand was resumed. They 
started for the Thatcher and Howe cabins, about four miles distant. 
Howe met the party about a quarter of a mile from his cabin, as he was 


on his way to some other settler's home for meal or flour. He was dis- 
patched immediately by the Indians and his head severed from his body. 
The head was discovered some time after this on the shore of the lake. 

They then went to the house of Mr. Howe, where they brutally killed 
Mrs. Howe, a daughter and son, and five younger children, also a child 
of Mrs. Noble. 


From Howe's the band proceeded to the Thatcher cabin. In this 
abode were: Mr. Noble, his wife and one child, Mrs. Thatcher and a 
child, and Enoch Ryan. All were murdered except Mrs. Noble and Mrs. 
Thatcher, who were taken prisoner and taken back to the camp. On 
the return trip the party again halted at the Howe cabin, and here Mrs. 
Noble found the dead body of her mother lying under the bed and her 
brother, Jacob, thirteen years old, sitting up in the yard, so seriously 
wounded that he could not speak. She cautioned him to wait until the 
savages had gone and then to crawl into the house to wait until help 
came, but such could not be — the savages found that he was still living 
and then completed their work, before Mrs. Noble's eyes. The Indians, 
with their captives, returned to the camp near the Mattock cabin. This 
was the night of the 9th'. 


The next morning they rolled their teepees and crossed the ice of 
West Okoboji Lake to Madison Grove, where they spent one night. The 
following day, the 11th, they traveled north to Marble Grove, on the 
west side of Spirit Lake, where they again encamped to the north of 
Marble's home. 

William Marble and wife, newly married, had come to Spirit Lake 
from Linn County in the fall of 1856. Mrs. Marble afterward became 
Mrs. S. M. Silbaugh, of California, dying in that state October 19, 1911. 
In February, 1885, she described the tragedy at their home in a letter to 
Mi-s. Abbie Gardner Sharp, a part of which is quoted as being the best 
description available of the murder of her husband. "It was just after 
breakfast, and my husband and I had partaken of our cheerful meal in 
our sunny little cabin. Little did we dream of danger, or that the stealthy 
and murderous savages were then nearing our happy home. But, being 
attracted by noise outside, we looked through the window and saw, with 
fearful forebodings, a band of painted warriors nearing the door. Know- 
ing nothing of the massacre, though the outbreak had commenced five 
days before, my husband stepped to the door, spoke to the leader of the 
band, and welcomed them to the house. A number came and one of them 
perceived my husband's rifle, a handsome one. The Indian immediately 


offered to trade; the trade was made on his own terms. My husband 
gave him $2.50 extra. The Indian then proposed to shoot at a mark and 
signaled to my husband to put up the target. It was then that the fearful 
work began, for while putting up the target, the fiendish savage leveled 
his gun and shot my noble husband through the heart. With a scream 
I rushed for the door to go to him, but two brawny savages barred my 
passage and held fast the door. But love and agony were stronger than 
brute force and with frantic energy I burst the door open and was soon 
kneeling by the side of him who a few minutes before was my loving and 
beloved husband. But before I reached him a merciful God had re- 
leased his spirit from mortal agony." 


So the Indians completed their murderous work in what is now 
Dickinson County. Mrs. Marble was held captive with Mrs. Noble, Mrs. 
Thatcher and Abbie Gardner. Another war dance was held that night 
in celebration of their day's work. Before leaving the Indians tore the 
bark from the side of an ash tree and on that space drew signs and 
characters to represent the number of people they had killed and the 
location of the cabins. The tree was first discovered by 0. C. Howe, 
R. U. Wheelock and R. A. Smith, who were the first to visit the west side 
of Spirit Lake after the massacre. Mr. Smith writes as follows in regard 
to this record : "The tree was first noticed by Mr. Howe and he called 
the attention of the rest of the party to it. It was a white ash standing 
a little way to the southeast of the door of the Marble cabin. It was 
about eight inches in diameter, not over ten at the most. The rough 
outside bark had been hewed off for a distance of some twelve or fifteen 
inches up and down the tree. Upon the smoothed surface made were 
the representations. The number of cabins (six) was correctly given, 
the largest of which was represented as being in flames. Thei'e were 
also representations of human figures and with the help of the imagina- 
tion it was possible to distinguish which were meant for the whites and 
which the Indians. There were not over ten or a dozen all told, and ex- 
cept for the hint contained in the cabins, the largest one being in flames, 
we could not figure any meaning out of it. This talk of the victims 
being pierced with arrows and their number and position given, is all 
nonsense. Mr. Howe and the writer spent some time studying it, and 
while they came to the conclusion that it would convey a definite mean- 
ing to those understanding it, they could not make much out of it." 

After the Indians had packed up their belongings, they left the 
vicinity of the Marble home, and traveled slowly to the northwest, tak- 
ing their four captives with them. About the 25th of March they ar- 
rived at Heron Lake, thirty-five miles northwest of Spirit Lake. 






Mention has been made before of the trapper, Morris Markham, who 
lived at the house of J. M. Thatcher. It so happened that in the spring 
of 1857 Markham received word that some cattle which he had lost late 
in the fall of 1856 had strayed as far as Mud Lake in Emmet County. 
Thither he went and obtained his cattle. On March the 9th he started 
for the lakes again, the same day on which the murders took place at 
the Howe and Thatcher cabins. 

En route to his home Markhain met one of the severe storms so 
common that winter and in fighting his way blindly through the snow 
and wind was driven southward from his intended course. Near mid- 
night of the 9th he reached the Gardner cabin and undoubtedly would 
have stayed there the remainder of the night. In B. F. Cue's Hi.story 
of Iowa is the following: "Returning on the evening of the 9th, cold, 
hungry, exhausted, he reached the Gardner cabin near midnight. It 
was very dark and cold, and arkham was surprised to find the doors 
open and the house deserted. Upon examination he found the bodies of 
the family, some lying on the floor and others about the yard." R. A. 
Smith writes that Markham did not discover any bodies at the Gardner 
home; in fact, different writers have given different versions. It would 
seem logical that he would find the murdered bodies there, but again the 
fact that the night was intensely dark and cold might have prevented 
him from seeing them. 

Surmising that something was wrong — the thought of Indians prob- 
ably the first conjecture — he started down the footpath for the Mattock 

. 304 


cabin. He had covered perhaps two-thirds of the distance when he was 
startled by the barking of a dog and the low voices of people. He halted 
and listened intently. Suddenly he conceived the fact that he had walked 
into the vicinity of the Indian camp, the teepees having been erected on 
both sides of the path which he had taken. His predicament was an ex- 
tremely dangerous one, for any strange noise would have aroused the 
Indians and resulted in his cei'tain death. As cautiously and quietly as 
only a trained woodsman could move he left the spot and detoured, going 
up and across East Okoboji Lake to the cabin of Mr. Howe. Here he 
found another scene of desolation and the mutilated bodies of the settlers 
scattered around. From here he went on north to the Thatcher home, 
where he lived, and again discovered the bloody work of the Indians. 
Knowing that further traveling that night was out of the question and 
that rest must be had, he went into a ravine nearby and made himself 
as comfortable as the bitter cold would allow. He could not build a fire 
as the light would possibly attract the attention of the enemy. 

When dawn came Markham's feet were partially frozen and painful, 
but despite this handicap he started for the Des Moines River, which he 
reached at the George Granger place. Here he met with a company of 
trappers, to whom he related the story of the massacre at the lakes. 
Two of the band immediately started for Fort Dodge, there to give the 
alarm and seek aid. The people at Fort Dodge, however, were dubious 
of the trappers' story, as many a similar false alarm had been given that 
winter. Markham himself turned north from the Granger place and 
proceeded to Springfield, where he warned the settlers there that they 
might expect an attack from the Indians soon. Morris Markham died 
in Clark County, Wisconsin, on December 4, 1902, at the age of seventy- 
nine years. He left a widow and several children. 

The party consisting of 0. C. Howe, R. U. Wheelock and B. F. Par- 
menter, from Jasper County, had come to the lakes in November, 1856, 
but did not stay during the winter, preferring the return in the spring 
and make a permanent settlement. About the first of March they left 
Newton, went to Fort Dodge and then came north along the west side 
of the Des Moines River. En route they heard nothing of the massacre 
which had just occurred. By the 15th they had reached a point in what 
is now Lloyd Township, where they camped. The following morning, 
before sunrise, they were on their way again, intending to reach the 
Gardner cabin before nightfall. However, another storm arose and 
they missed their path. By the time they had reached a slough near Gar 
Lake their slow-going oxen and heavy load proved too much of a burden 
and they were abandoned and the three pushed on alone to the settle- 
ments, which they reached about midnight. The Thatcher cabin was 
first encountered, where they found everything deserted, but did not 


perceive any bodies. The three men then went to Howe's and there 
stopped for the night. The morning brought the intelligence of the mur- 
ders to them and with this news they started for Fort Dodge again, ar- 
riving on March 22d. 


The citizens of Fort Dodge were now thoroughly aroused and im- 
mediately began preparations for succoring any possible survivors and if 
possible to punish the guilty Indians. Eveiyone realized the handicap of 
the season for an organized expedition — the snow having begun to melt 
and the sti-eams to rise, but the plans were formulated notwithstanding 
and on the 23d, the day after the confirmation of the news, a meeting 
was held. Major Williams presented a commission from Governor 
Grimes which gave him the authority to assume the initiative when 
emergency demanded. He called for volunteers and shortly a force of 
nearly seventy men was raised. The volunteers were formed into two 
companies — A and B — under the command of C. B. Richards and J. F. 
Duncombe respectively. Another company, C, was raised at Webster 
City. In all there were nearly one hundred men ready to start north. The 
force was under the command of Major William Williams, with George 
B. Sherman as quartermaster. 

The hardships and privations which lay before this brave band of 
men were unnumbered. To meet them they were very poorly equipped. 
No tents were to be had and each man was allotted just one blanket. 
Thus prepared they were to encounter snow from three to four feet deep, 
snow filled ravines, slush, water and sloughs. It was no child's play, but 
the men were all hardy frontiersmen and inured to such dangers, so did 
not shirk the duty which laid before them. 


On March 24, 1857, the expeditionary force left Fort Dodge. R. A. 
Smith says of the trip: "Thoy started on the 24th and were nine days 
in reaching what was then known as the Granger place, in Emmet 
County, the point where the command divided and the main body turned 
back. Nine days of rougher campaigning it would be difficult to imagine. 
The snow had so filled in around the groves and along the streams that 
at times it was impossible to reach them. It was no uncommon expe- 
rience to wade through snow and water waist deep during the day, and 
at night to lie down in their wet clothing, without fire and without tents, 
and on short rations of food. The only way the men could keep from 
freezing was by lying so close together that they could only turn over by 


platoons. The ravines were all filled level with snow and it was often 
necessary to detach the teams, rigging a cable to the wagons for the 
whole party to take hold and make their way through. As the expedition 
neared the state line and settlements became sparser and smaller, it was 
deemed prudent to send a force of scouts out in advance of the main 
body. Accordingly, on the morning of the 30th of March, Major Wil- 
liams made a detail of ten men to act as scouts, under the command of 
William L. Church, who, by the way, was a veteran of the Mexican War. 
Mr. Church with his family, consisting of wife, his wife's sister, and two 
small children, had settled at Springfield the fall befoi-e, and in February 
Church had made a trip to Webster City for supplies, leaving his family 
in the settlement at Springfield during his absence. He had reached 
McKnight's Point, on the West Fork of the Des Moines in Humboldt 
County on his return when he heard of the mas.sacre at the lakes, and 
also that a relief party was being organized at Fort Dodge and would be 
up in a few days. He accordingly awaited their arrival, when he en- 
rolled himself as a member of Company C. He had heard nothing of 
his family since he left home nearly a month before, and was contin- 
ually in a state of feverish anxiety. Some of the accounts say that Lieu- 
tenant Maxwell had command of the scouting party, but this is a mis- 
take. Church had charge of the scouts up to the time they fell in with 
the Springfield refugees, when he went down the river with them and 
the scouts were then turned over to Maxwell." 


The scouting expedition once started, nothing was encountered of 
undue nature until they had about entered the boundaries of the present 
Emmet County. A band of strangers was then seen some distance away, 
but whether it consisted of Indians or white people could not be deter- 
mined. The scouts prepared for a fight and then advanced, the other 
party also coming to meet them — with the same caution. The discovery 
of an ox team in the band identified the strangers to the scouts as white 
people. Signals were given and the two parties approached each other, 
each glad that the other was not the enemy. The newcomers were from 
the vicinity of Springfield, Minnesota, whence they had fled from the 
Indians. Church's family formed a part of the band of refugees. Among 
the score or so of people wei-e: The Churches, Miss Swanger, Mr. 
Thomas, wife and several children ; David Carver, John Bradshaw, Mor- 
ris Markham, Jareb Palmer, Eliza Gardner, Doctor Strong and wife, and 
Doctor Skinner. Messrs. Thomas and Carver and Miss Swanger were 
suffering from wounds received in the fighting in Minnesota. 

Camp was made immediately and Frank Mason and R. A. Smith 


ordered to return to the main body and hustle up supplies, also to bring 
the surgeon to dress the wounds of those injured. The camp was pitched 
in what was later known as Camp Grove, on the line between Palo Alto 
and Emmet Counties. The remainder of the troops were quickly upon 
the scene and everything possible was done for the comfort of the ref- 
ugees. The next day the latter started down the river, while the expe- 
ditionary force continued on toward the lakes. 

An account of the incident is related by Governor Carpenter as fol- 
lows : "If the expedition had accomplished nothing more, every man 
would have felt himself repaid for his share in its toil and suffering by 
the relief it was able to afford to these suffering refugees. In the haste 
of their departure from Springfield they had taken but little provisions 
and scanty clothing. The women in wading through the drifted snow 
had worn out their shoes, their gowns wei-e worn to fringes at the bot- 
tom, and all in all, a more forloi'n and needy company of men and women 
were never succored by the hands of friends. They cried and laughed, 
•and laughed and cried, alternately. A part of one squad then returned 
to the main command with the information of our discovery and the 
residue conducted the worn and weary party to the nearest grove on the 
Des Moines River, where the main body joined them later in the after- 
noon and where we spent the night. The next morning we divided our 
scanty rations and blankets with them and they went forward toward 
safety and friends, whilst, we pushed toward the scene of the massacre." 

In the afternoon of April 1, 1857, the expedition arrived at the 
Granger place. Here they learned that government soldiers from Fort 
R'dgley had arrived at Springfield for the protection of the settlers there, 
that another group of the soldiers had visited Marble's place on Spirit 
Lake and buried the unfortunate settler, and that the Indians had es- 
caped over the Big Sioux River. 

The pursuit of the Indians was rendered almost hopeless, that is, 
pursuit by the expeditionary force. Also, it was believed that it was 
unnecessary for the entire hundred men to continue on to the north. 
Major Williams decided to return to Fort Dodge with the larger part of 
the command and detailed a party of twenty-three men under Captain 
Johnson and Lieutenant Maxwell to go on to the lakes and bury the dead 
there. The names of the detachment ordered to continue, as given by 
Smith, were : Captain J.^C. Johnson, Lieutenant John N. Maxwell, Henry 
Carse, William E. Burkholder, William Ford, H. E. Dalley, 0. C. Howe, 
George P. Smith, 0. S. Spencer, C. Stebbins, S. Van Cleve, R. U. Wheel- 
ock, R. A. Smith, William A. De Foe, B. F. Parmenter, Jesse Addington, 
R. McCormick, J. M. Thatcher, William R. Wilson, Jonas Murray, A. 
Burtch, William K. Laughlin, E. D. Kellogg. 



Having started on the morning of the 2d of April the party at three 
o'clock in the afternoon arrived at the Thatcher cabin. The remains of 
Noble and Ryan were first discovered in the rear of the cabin and were 
the first buried. The night was spent at the Thatcher home; the cook 
stove inside used for preparing the hot supper. 

A small number of the men walked over to the Howe cabin before 
dark and there found the bodies of the Howe family, also the Thatcher 
and Noble children. They carried the body of the Thatcher child back 
and buried it at the head of the ravine west of the house. It is believed 
that the Indians took the children named as far as the Howe cabin with 
their mothers who were prisoners, and there dispatched them. 

After breakfast the following morning the men started for the Howe 
cabin. After reaching there the command was divided into three parties, 
under the command, respectively, of Captain Johnson, Lieutenant Max- 
well and R. U. Wheelock. One detachment was ordered to remain and 
bury the bodies at the Howe cabin, another was to go to the Mattock 
place and inter the bodies found there, and the other was to go in search 
of the supply wagon Howe and Wheelock had abandoned the night they 
reached the lakes. 

At the Howe cabin a grave was dug, thirty inches deep and six by 
seven feet, and in this were buried the bodies of nine victims: Mrs. 
Millie Howe; Jonathan Howe, a son, Sardis Howe, five younger children 
of Mr. Howe, and the Noble child. Mr. Smith says in regard to this 
burial: "There is a discrepancy between the actual facts and all ac- 
counts so far published relative to the number massacred at the Howe 
cabin. The number given by Mrs. Sharp in her book, as well as other 
published accounts, give it as 'Mrs. Howe, a grown up son, a grown up 
daughter, and four younger children.' When the bodies were disinterred 
for burial at the time of the erection of the monument, there were cer- 
tainly nine bodies found in that grave, and they can bo accounted for only 
as above stated. There were no children found at the Thatcher cabin, 
and Thatcher himself identified his child found at the Howe cabin, and 
the men with him assisted him in carrying it back to his own place, 
where it was buried as before stated, near the head of the ravine west 
of the house." 

The burial party commanded by Maxwell before reaching the Mat- 
tock cabin, found the decapitated body of Joel Howe lying on the ice. 
"Here is another discrepancy in which ascertained facts differ from the 
usually accepted accounts. Henry Daley, of Webster City, who is the 
only member of that party whose whereabouts is now known, insists that 
when they found the body of Mr. Howe they carried it to the Mattock 


place and buried it in the same grave with the Mattock family and the 
others that were found there. He says the recollection of that circum- 
stance is the most vivid and distinct of anything that transpired on the 
trip and that he cannot be mistaken about it. The usually accepted ac- 
count is that Mr. Mattock's body was taken to the shore by those who 
found it, and buried on a bluff some distance southwest of his house. 

"It will be remembered that the party had no provisions except the 
lunch they brought with them from their camp the morning before, and 
that was now exhausted. The party under Wheelock, consisting of five 
men, started at once in search of the abandoned wagon, which they found 
without difficulty among the sloughs that form the source of Spring Run, 
together with the supplies, all safe as they had left them three weeks 
before. They took what they could conveniently carry of flour, pork, 
coffee and sugar, and sarted back, joining the other parties at the Mat- 
tock place, reaching there just as they had finished digging the grave 
and were gathering up the bodies for burial. As has been stated, here 
was the only place that showed signs of any resistance having been made, 
and that has already been described. There were eleven bodies found 
here and buried. As identified by Thatcher and Wilson at the time, they 
were as follows : James Mattock, his wife and three oldest children, 
Robert Madison, Doctor Harriott, Bert Snyder and Joseph Harshman. 
Right here comes in a discrepancy that has never been explained, and 
probably never will. Mrs. Sharp maintains that the bodies of Luce and 
Clark were found later and buried near the outlet of East Okoboji, they 
having been waylaid in their attempt to warn the other settlers. All 
accounts agree that eleven bodies were buried here. The writer found 
one body, that of a twelve year old boy, about a month later and assisted 
in burying it, and if one perished in the flames this makes thirteen to 
be accounted for. Who were they? Seven of the Mattock family, Mad- 
ison, Harriott, Snyder, Harshman and two others. Even on the theory 
that none perished in the burning cabin, there is one more than can be 
accounted for. Was there one or two strangers stopping at either the 
Mattock or Granger cabin of whom no account was ever given? It is 
not strange that an occasional discrepancy is found. The only wonder 
is that they are not far more numerous." 

The party next went to the Granger cabin where the body of Carl 
Granger was discovered and buried near the lake east of the cabin. 
Their next destination was the Gardner cabin, where six bodies were 
found — Mr. and I\Irs. Gardner, Mrs. Luce, the young son of Mr. Gardner 
and two Luce children. All of them were interred in a single grave 
southeast of the house, their casket a covering of praii'ie hay. Mr. 
Smith is authority for the statement that none of the bodies discovered 
at the lakes was scalped, tluis refuting numerous accounts to the con- 



After the work of burying the massacre victims was accomplished, 
supper was prepared for the men, the meal consisting of potatoes taken 
from the Gardner cabin and a portion of the supplies brought up from 
the abandoned wagon. The next question was the return to their starting 
point, and upon this there arose a difference of opinion. Part of the 
force was in favor of retracing their steps by the same route as they had 
come — by Estherville and Emmet County, but others wished to strike 
directly in a southeasterly direction for the Irish colony. The weather 
indicated stormy days ahead and the ones in favor of the Estherville 
route debated that their way was the safest, that there was less chance 
of the men becoming separated. 


Seeing that no agreement was possible among the men. Captain 
Johnson ordered the men into line, and told those who favored starting 
at once across the prairie to step to the front and the others to stand 
fast. Sixteen men walked forward, including Captain Johnson, Lieu- 
tenant Maxwell, Burkholder. Seven remained standing: O. C. Howe, 
R. U. Wheelock, B. F. Parmenter, William R. Wilson, Joseph M. Thatcher, 
Asa Burtch and R. A. Smith. 

Those left at the lakes immediately returned to the abandoned wagon 
and laid in another stock of provisions, about four days' supply. They 
were overtaken by the storm before reaching their camp again, but 
managed to arrive safely and quarter themselves in the cabin. Fuel 
was laid in in sufficient quantity to withstand the siege by the elements 
and in all they made themselves very comfortable, a far better fate than 
that which overtook the other portion of the command that luid left, 
which is described later. 

Monday morning came. The storm had ceased and the party soon 
started for home. They reached the Des Moines River without difliculty, 
the hard snow crust and frozen ground providing good walking, and 
there met Jareb Palmer at the Granger place. After a day's rest they 
started down the river, employing the team which had been left there 
previously to carry the baggage. After undergoing many difficulties 
and severe exposure the men arrived at Fort Dodge. 


Following is a portion of the official account of the expedition, 
written by Lieutenant Maxwell: 

"We left Fort Dodge March 24th, but owing to our commissary 
being hindered in procuring transportation, we were obliged to camp 


at Badger Creek, not more than four or five miles north. We now 
began to reahze that we were soldiers. Cold, wet and hungry, we built 
up large campfires, provided a hasty meal, dried our clothes as well as 
we could, and without tents lay down and slept soundly. 

"On the morning of the 25th we resumed our maix-h, crossing the 
east branch of the Des Moines without difficulty, and camped at Dakota 
City. The 26th the road became more and more difficult. In some 
places the snow was so deep that it was necessary to break our road 
before teams could pass through. In other places it had drifted in the 
ravines to the depth of eight or ten feet. The only way to proceed was 
to wade through, stack arms, return and unhitch the teams, attach ropes 
to them and draw them through ; then perform a similar operation with 
the wagons. This performance took place every mile or two, and by such 
progress we were two days in reaching McKnight's Point on the east bank 
of the west branch of the Des Moines River, twelve miles from Dakota 
City. On the 27th we camped at McKnight's Point. 

"On the night of the 26th the command camped out on the prairie, 
but a detail under Captain Duncombe had gone ahead to look out the 
road to the Point. Duncombe had been ill during the day, and he became 
so exhausted that he had to be carried into camp, running a very close 
risk of losing his life. 

"Resuming our march on the 2Sth, we camped that night at Ship- 
pey's, on Cylinder Creek. Sunday, the 29th, we reached the Irish colony, 
Emmet County, and were all cared for by the inhabitants who had assem- 
bled for protection in case of an attack, but were greatly relieved wlien 
we came in sight. The morning of the 30th found the command greatly 
refreshed, having butchered a cow that had been wintered on prairie 
hay. The beef was not exactly porterhouse steak, but it was food 
for hungry men. We left our teams, which were nearly exhausted, and 
impressed fresh ones. We camped that night near Big Island Grove. 
At this place the Indians had kept a lookout in a big cedar tree that 
grew on an island in the middle of the lake, and their campfires were 
still burning. A platform had been built in this tree, forty feet from 
the ground, from which one could easily see twenty miles. The place 
had probably been deserted several days, but the fire was still burning. 
One Indian doubtless kept watch here alone, leaving in a northwesterly 
direction when he abandoned the place. 

"The morning of the 31st the command moved out early. Ten 
men were sent forward as scouts. When about eight miles out we met 
the Springfield refugees, the Churches, Thomases, Carver and others. 
We went into camp and our surgeon dressed the wounds of the fleeing 
party. On the morning of April 1st Major Williams sent an escort with 
the Springfield people back to the Irish colony, and proceeded northwest. 


with an advance guard ahead. We camped that night at Granger's 
Point, near the Minnesota Hne. Here we learned that the United States 
troops from Fort Ridgley were camped at the head of Spirit Lake and 
that the Indians had fled to Owl Lake, some eighteen miles away. As 
we were on foot and the Indians supposed to be mounted, there would 
not be any chance of overtaking them. 

"A council was held and it was decided to return the main part 
of the command to the Irish colony and wait for the rest to come in. 
Twenty-six men were selected, including those having friends at the 
lake, to cross the river, proceed to that point to bury the dead, recon- 
noiter, and see if there were any who had escaped the Indians. I 
was one of the party. On the morning of the second of April, under 
Captain J. C. Johnson, we crossed the Des Moines River and took a 
south and west direction. The traveling was much better than it had 
been since we left Fort Dodge. It was warm and clear. About two 
o'clock we struck East Okoboji Lake on the sotuheast shore. The first 
cabin we came to was that of Mr. Thatcher. Here we found the yard 
and prairie covered with feathers. Two dead men were lying at the 
rear of the house, both bodies being numerously shot in the breast. 
They evidently had been unarmed and everything indicated that they 
had been surprised. The rest of the family had been killed in the house 
or taken prisoners, and everything indicated that there had been no 
defense. From here we went to Mr. Howe's, where we found seven 
dead bodies. There were one old and one middle aged woman, one man 
and four children — all brutally murdered. It .seemed that the man had 
been killed by placing the muzzle of a gun against his nose and blowing 
his head to pieces. The other adults had been simply shot. The children 
had been knocked in the head. 

"We divided into parties to bury the dead, camping for the night 
near the residence of the Howe family. Old Mr. Howe was found on 
the third of April, some distance from the house on the ice, shot through 
the head. We buried him on a blufl" southwest of the place, some eighty 
rods from the house. The next place was Mr. Mattock's. Here we found 
eleven dead bodies and buried them all in one grave, men, women and 
children. The ground was frozen and we could only make a grave about 
eighteen inches deep. It was a ghastly sight. The adults had been 
shot, but the childrens' brains had been knocked out, apparently by 
striking them across the foreheads with heavy clubs or sticks of wood. 
The brains of one boy about ten years of age, had been completely let 
out of his head, and lay upon the ground. Every one else shrank from 
touching them. I was in command and feeling that I would not ask 
another to do a thing from which myself revolted, I gathered up the 
poor scattered fragments upon the spade and placed them all together 


in the grave. About forty head of cattle had been shot at this place, 
the carcasses split open on the backs and the tenderloins removed — all 
that the Indians cared to carry off. The house had been burned with one 
one dead body in it at the time. At this place it seems to me that the 
only man who fought the Indians was Doctor Harriott, who had formerly 
lived at Waterloo. He made heroic defense, probably killing or wounding 
two or three Indians. He was falling back toward Granger's, evidently 
defending the women and children, when he was finally shot himself. 
He still grasped his Sharp's rifle, which was empty and broken off at 
the breech, showing that he had fallen in a hand to hand fight. I have 
little idda that any other man about the lakes fired a gun at the Indians. 
It was simply a surprise and a butchery. 

"From here we went to Granger's and found the dead body of one 
of the brothers of that name. He had been first shot and his head had 
been split open with a broad axe. He and his brother had kept a small 
store and the Indians had taken eveiything away excepting some dozen 
bottles of strychnine. We buried him near his own house. The next 
house was Gardner's. Here were the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Gardner, 
one grown up daughter, and two small children in the yard and a baby in 
the house. We buried the family all in one grave about two rods from the 
house. Tired and hungry we went into camp in a small grove at the rear 
of the house, with nothing to eat but potatoes. 

"Some of the party had visited the lake in the fall and had seen 
Mr. Gardner bury two bushels of potatoes in a box under his stove. 
These we found and roasted in the campfire. They lasted two days. 
On the morning of the ,4th, we completed our sad task, and without 
any food, turned our faces homeward, taking a southeast course, hop- 
ing to reach the Irish colony the same day. In the forenoon it was 
quite warm, melting the snow, and consequently traveling was very 
difficult. We were obliged to wade sloughs waist deep or go miles 
around and run the risk of losing the course. We were wet to the 
shoulders and while in this fearful condition the wind changed. About 
four o'clock a blizzard was upon us. In a short time our clothes 
were frozen .stifi". Many of us cut holes in our boots to let the water 
out and several pulled their boots off and were unable to get them on 
again. Up to this time the detachment had kept together. About sun- 
down we came to a to\\^lship corner placed there the year before. Laugh- 
lin and I wanted to be governed by the pit. While we were talking, part 
of the detachment came up and passed us some distance to the right. 
Those who happened to be with Laughlin and me stopped on a piece of 
dry ground close to township corner, determined to remain near it all 
night, lest in the night we should lose our course as shown by the corner. 


We marched back and forth all night long. When a comrade would 
fall others would help him to his feet, encourage and force him to keep 
moving as the only hope, for no living being could survive an hour in 
such a storm without hard exercise. Captain Johnson's party, led by 
a trapper, became a little separated from us by a slough, where they 
found a dry place and commenced pacing back and forth as we were 
doing. They were within speaking distance of us. They stayed there 
all night, but in the morning took a southeast direction, while we went 
east. They seemed to have perfect confidence in the old trapper's knowl- 
edge of the country. 

"During the night some of our men begged to lie down, claiming 
that it was useless to try to keep up any longer as the ice on their 
clothes gave them fearful annoyance. But the more hopeful would not 
consent to anyone giving up. In this distressed condition we traveled 
up and down that path all night. 

"One man by the name of Henry Carse from Princeton, Illinois, had 
taken his boots oii in the evening and wrapped his feet in pieces of 
blankets. He succeeded in getting along as well as the rest during the 
night, but in the morning when we went on the ice to break a road, his 
feet got wet and the wraps wore out. I stayed with him until within 
thiee or four miles of the Des Moines River, when I became satisfied 
that he could not get there, as his mind had failed. Every time I would 
bring liim up he would turn away in any direction. Finally, Henry 
Dalley came along and succeeded in getting him to the river. The river 
v/as about three miles from the Irish colony. We had no matches, but 
some of the party knew how to strike a fire by saturating a damp wad 
with powder and shooting it into the weeds. In this way we succeeded 
in striking a fire. Henry Carse was now unconscious and the blood was 
running from his mouth. We cut the rags from his feet and the skin 
came oflf the soles of his feet with the rags. 

"As soon as the fire was well going Laughlin and I, being the least 
frozen, determined to try and cross the i-iver and reach the settlement for 
help. We walked to the middle of the river, laid poles over the weak 
ice and crawled over. We reached the Irish colony and sent back help 
to the rest of the party. I went to sleep soon after entering a warm 
room and did not awaken until the next day, when I took some nourish- 
ment and started on to overtake the command under Major Williams 
which had been detained on Cylinder Creek. In the morning C. C. Car- 
penter tried to get a guide to go and help search for Johnson and his 
friend Burkholder, but failed. As we left the colony I looked back and 
saw Carpenter going down the river to see if they had struck the river 
below. At Cylinder Creek the party broke up into squads, each reaching 
his home the best he could, and all of us more or less demoralized. 


Laughlin and I came by the way of Fort Dodge, while Frank Mason and 
some of the others came across north of here. Most of us had our ears 
and feet frozen, but we only lamented the loss of the slain settlers, and 
our comrades Johnson and Burkholder, whose precious lives had been 
given for the relief of the helpless. But it was always a wonder to me 
that we did not leave the bones of more of our comrades to bleach with 
these on those wild and trackless prairies." 

GOV. c. c. carpenter's account 

"The third day after commencing our return march, we left Medium 
Lake, in a hazy, cloudy atmosphere, and a drizzling rain. By the time 
we had reached Cylinder Creek, beneath the descending rain overhead 
and the melting snow beneath our feet, the prairies were a flood of water. 
On arriving at Cylinder Creek we found the channel not only full, but the 
water covering the entire bottom bordering the creek to a depth of from 
three to four feet. When we found that it would be impossible to cross 
at a point where the road intersected the creek, we resolved to 
send a party up the .stream to see if a better crossing could not be 
found. But in less time than I have occupied in telling this story the 
wind began blowing fi'om the north, the rain turned to snow and every 
thread of clothing on the entire command was saturated with water and 
our clothing began to freeze to our limbs. I had not given up the hope 
of either crossing the stream or finding a more comfortable place to 
camp, and await the result of the now freezing and blinding storm. So 
with one or two others I followed down the creek a mile or moi-e, until 
we came to the bluffs ovei'looking the bottoms bordering the Des Moines. 
I had hopes we might discover some elevated ridge through the bottom, 
over which we could pass and reach the timber that fringed the river. 
But on reaching the lilutTs, and looking out over the bottom which fell 
back from the river from one to two miles on either side to their base, 
it was a wide waste of water. So we concluded our only hope was to 
remain right where we were until the storm abated. 

"On getting back to the road we found our comrades improvising 
a cover by taking the wagon sheet and one or two tents which we had 
along, and stretching them over the wagon wheels and staking them 
down as best they could to the frozen ground, leaving a small opening 
on the south side for a doorway. This done, we moved the animals to 
the south side of our tent, on ground sloping to the south, in order to 
afford them all the protection possible. Then we put all our blankets 
together, made a common bed upon the ground, and all crawled into it 
without removing our clothes, every thread of which was wet, and most 
of which was frozen as stiff as boards. There we lay through that long 


Saturday night. The air outside was full of fine snow. At diff'erent times 
during the night three or four of us crept out of our nests and went 
around our tents, banking it with snow on the north, east and west sides. 
And when the fierce winds would blow the banking away so as to open 
a new air hole we would repeat the operation. To add to the horrors of 
the situation during this more than thirty-six hours of absolute imprison- 
ment, we were without food. 

"By daylight, on Monday morning, we were on the move, and to our 
joy found the ice, which had formed on Cylinder Creek the day before, 
would bear us up. The severity of the weather cannot be better attested 
than by stating the fact that all of the men, our wagon, loaded with the 
little baggage of the camp, and the few horses belonging to the command, 
were crossed upon this bridge of ice with perfect ease and safety. Since 
that experience upon Cylinder Creek I have marched with armies engaged 
in actual war. During three and a half years' service, the army with which 
I was connected marched from Cairo to Chattanooga, from Chattanooga 
to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to the sea, from the sea through the Caro- 
linas to Richmond. These campaigns were made under southern suns 
and in the cold rains and not infrequent snow stoi-ms of southern winters. 
They were sometimes continued without intermission three or four days 
and nights in succession with only an occasional halt to give weary, foot- 
sore soldiers a chance to boil a cup of cofl'ee. But I never in those weary 
years experienced a conflict with the elements that could be compared 
with the two nights and one day on the bank of Cylinder Creek. 

"After crossing the creek on Monday morning we went to the Shippey 
house, some two miles south, where we cooked our breakfast. From this 
time forward no order of march was observed, but each man found his 
way home to suit himself. I followed down the river, in company with 
several comrades, to McKnight's Point, where we got our dinner. After 
dinner Lieutenant Stratton, Smith E. Stevens and myself determined we 
would go to Dakota, in Humboldt County, that afternoon and evening, and 
accordingly we stai'ted. We had gone but a short distance when George W. 
Brizee came on after us. We tried as delicately as possible to dissuade him 
from attempting to go farther that evening. But go he would, so we 
pushed on. Night found us on the wide prairie some eight or ten miles 
southeast of McKnight's Point and at least eight miles from Dakota. 

"It became very dark, so that it was difiicult to follow the track. 
Soon Brizee began to complain, declaring he could go no farther and 
would have to take his chances on the prairie. As I had been over the 
road several times, Stratton and Stevens suggested that they would depend 
upon me to guide them through ; so I kept ahead, looking and feeling out 
the path. I could hear them encouraging Brizee, while he persistently 
declared his inability to go any further. Stevens finally took his blanket 


and carried it for him, and soon after Stratton was carrying his gun. 
I now told them that Henry Cramer and Judge Hutchinson Uved about a 
mile south of our road, and some three miles west of Dakota, and that 
we would go in there and spend the night. Brizee thought he could pull 
through that far. At last I thought we had arrived at a point nearly 
opposite of Cramei's and we left the road and struck across the prairie. 
We had scarcely started before Brizee began to aver that we were lost ; 
that I, like a fool, was leading them a wild goose chase, and that we would 
all have to lie upon the prairie. I kept on, however, fixing my course 
as well as possible, and shouting back to 'come on, that we were all right.' 
Finally we were greeted by the barking of a dog, and in a few minutes 
were in Mr. Cramer's house. After Cramer and his wife had gotten 
out of bed and made us a bunk on the floor, and Cramer had pulled off 
Brizee's boots, Brizee began to repeat in various forms the adventures of 
the evening, emphasizing the persistency and pluck it had required in us to 
pull through ; and the hearty manner in which he commended my skill 
as a guide, over a trackless prairie, was hardly consistent with the upbraid- 
ing whilst we were plodding along in the darkness. The next morning 
3Irs. Cramer prepared the best breakfast I ever ate. My mouth waters 
today in memory of the biscuits which were piled up on that breakfast 
table. I have often thought since that there could have been but little 
for the family dinner. That evening found us in Fort Dodge and our 
connection with the expedition had ended. 

"I have frequently thought in later years of the good discipline pre- 
served in a command where there was absolutely no legal power to enforce 
authority. The fact is really the highest compliment that could be paid 
(he officers. Had they not possessed the characteristics which secured 
and maintained the respect of these men no shadow of discipline could 
have been enforced. On the contrary, during those trying days, on the 
march and in the bivouac, there was complete order. Of the three cap- 
tains, two are living — IMessrs. Richards and Duncombe. Their subse- 
quent careers in civil life have been but a fulfillment of the prophecy of 
the men who followed them through the snow banks of northwestern 
Iowa in 18.57." 


The following is the account of the second division of the expedition 
at I\Iud Creek on its return. "About noon we came to a large stream 
and had to follow up and down for some time before finding a crossing. 
Two of our men, Robert McCormick and Owen Spencer, went far above 
and crossed and separated from us but finally succeeded in getting through 
to the colony in safety. . . . Late in the afternoon we came to some 
small lakes with some scattering trees upon the opposite side. By this 


time the wind changed suddenly and it began to grow colder. . . . 
The lake was apparently between us and the course we ought to take and 
we followed close around the shore. Off to the west side lay a large 
marsh covered with tall grass. Those in advance passed between marsh 
and lake and succeeded in getting around, when we discovered that Cap- 
tain Johnson, Burkholder, Addington, George Smith and one other (Jonas 
Murray), five in all, had dropped off in our rear and were going around 
the marsh. We expected they would return to us when they got around, 
but as it was growing dai'k and we could still see them on high ground 
beyond, we thought best to try to go to them, as Major Williams' parting 
advice was, 'stick together boys,' but they soon passed out of our sight 
into the darkness. We then retraced our steps, passed the south end of 
the lake, and traveled directly east. . . . We traveled until about nine 
o'clock, when we halted, finding that we were making but little headway, 
having to meander ponds and wade streams that were fast freezing, and 
decided to go no farther until morning. Soon the most of us were tumbled 
down in a promiscuous heap, lying close together to keep one another 
v;arm, on the naked, burned pi-airie. Our pants were a sheet of ice. 
Some had blankets, but many only their wet clothes. 

"Lieutenant Maxwell and myself did not lie down during that terri- 
ble night, but kept tramping around and occasionally arousing the sleepers 
and making them stir around to keep from freezing. I expected that we 
all would be frozen before morning. I had taken my socks off the day 
before and wrung them out and carried them in my pocket and as soon as 
we halted I pulled off my boots, replaced my socks and put on my boots 
again. I thus saved my feet and I got through without freezing any part. 
The following morning the sun was clear and we were in sight of timber 
directly east, eight or ten miles away. I was among the last to leave our 
camping ground. I remember picking up one empty provision sack and 
following on. I soon overtook Mr. Carse, the oldest and best clad man in 
our party, having double mackinaw blankets and a fur overcoat. He was 
on the sunny side of a gopher hill trying to put on his boots which he 
had pulled off at night. I passed him without a thought that they were 
frozen so that he could not get them on. The ponds and also the streams 
where there was not much current were frozen, so they bore our weight. 
Most of the men made a bee line, wading streams, running slush 
ice, but I was more fortunate, being long and light; by seeking 
places that were iced over and crawling at full length I got over without 
getting wet. Elias Kellogg and myself were the first getting to the timber. 
I immediately, went about starting a fire. I had no matches and neither 
had the others. My gun was empty and my powder dry, so I put a 
charge of powder in my gun and loaded it with some cotton from out of 
my vest lining. I discharged it into some rotten wood, which caught 


and by pouring on more powder and with vigorous blowing I succeeded 
in starting a fire. 

"Lieutenant Maxwell was among the first to get to the timber, and 
by the time we got our fire to going well most of the boys had straggled 
in. Mr. Carse came in last, led by Henry Dalley, a mere boy poorly clad, 
whom Mr. Carse had befriended by taking him under his double blankets 
that night. Carse had his boots in his hands and was ill and delirious. 
The soles of his feet were worn out walking on the frozen ground. Kel- 
logg was the next object of attention. He had seated himself by a tree 
and was almost helpless and unconscious of his misery. We had to arouse 
him and cut his frozen overalls away. Has he been left alone he prob- 
ably would never have arisen from his condition. With a good fire we 
were soon warmed. . . . The river had to be crossed. It was high 
and full of floating ice, but we got some long poles and with this help 
crossed fiom one cake of ice to another and reached the other side. No 
sooner was the advance party over than the others all followed, and when 
we gained the open ground upon the other side we could see the colony 
as conjectured, and footsore and weary as we were, we soon made the dis- 
tance. We found Major Williams and a part of the men there waiting 
for us with much anxiety. Major Williams had made preparations for us. 
Fresh beef from the poor settlers' poorer oxen was cooked and ready. . . . 
The next morning Smith, Addington and Murray came. They had been 
to another cabin farther on, and finding some provisions, had stayed all 
night. They stated that they had separated from Captain .Johnson and 
Burkholder early the previous morning; that they had taken their boots 
off at night and they were frozen so they could not get them on, and while 
they were cutting up their blankets and getting them on their feet they 
had disagreed as to the course to be taken. Pulling off" their boots was a 
fatal mistake. To reach the place where their bones were found eleven 
years afterwards, they must have traveled all that day and part of the 
next night, and have laid down together in the sleep that knows no 

It will be understood from the foregoing articles that the original party 
separated as follows: first, the separation at the lakes; second, Spencer 
and McCormick left at Mud Creek in Lloyd Township ; third, when John- 
son, Burkholder, Smith, Addington and Murray left and went to the west- 
ward ; fourth, when Burkholder and Johnson left the other three. 






Just prior to the attack on Springfield and after the massacre at the 
lakes Inkpadutah's band was encamped at Heron Lake, a point thirty-five 
miles northwest of Spirit Lake. Mrs. Sharp writes of two other bands 
of Indians in the vicinity of the Minnesota-Iowa border. "In the fall 
of 1856 a small party of Indians came and pitched their tents in the neigh- 
borhood of Springfield. There was also a larger band, under the chief- 
tainship of Ishtahaba, or Sleepy Eye, encamped at Big Island Grove on 
the same river." Big Island Grove was on the north side of High Lake 
in Emmet County. Major Williams took extra precautions when in the 
vicinity, but the troops found no Indians here, although their fires and 
other signs were still fresh, proving that they had just left. These bands 
did not participate in the massacre at the lakes, but it is practically certain 
that they were in the attack on Springfield, Minnesota. Mrs. Sharp again 
writes: "On the 20th of March two strange and suspicious looking 
Indians visited Wood's store and purchased a keg of powder, some shot, 
lead, baskets, beads and other trinkets. Each of them had a double bar- 
reled gun, a tomahawk and a knife, and one, a very tall Indian, was painted 
black — so said one who saw them. . . . Soon afterward Black Buffalo, 
one of the Springfield Indians, said to the whites that the Indians who 
were at the store told his squaw that they had killed all the people at 
Spirit Lake." Inkpadutah was all the time encamped at Heron Lake. 

Vol. 1 — 21 



although the Springfield Indians gave the information that he had gone 
to the Big Sioux. 

It has been related before that Morris Markham, after discovering 
the murders at the lakes in Dickinson County, went to Springfield and 
there told of the massacre and warned the few settlers that a similar 
attack would in all probability be made there. At Springfield, now Jack- 
son, at that time were the Wood brothers, who conducted a general store ; 
Mr. Thomas, Stewart, Wheeler, Doctor Strong, Doctor Skinner, Smith 
and a few others. 

The families immediately sought protection at the house of Mr. 
Thomas and Mr. Wheeler, determined not to be taken by surprise as the 
others had been. Charles Tretts and Henry ChifFen were dispatched to 
Fort Ridgley. seventy-five miles north, for assistance. They did not return 
before the beginning of the attack. One week — two weeks — passed in 
anxious waiting, in hourly expectation of the sound of the war-whoop. 
It is said that the Wood brothers persistently argued that the Indians 
would make no attack and even sold the red men ammunition a few days 
before the outbreak. This attitude upon their part placed them in a doubt- 
ful position and some of the settlers began to cast hostile glances in their 

On the afternoon of March 27th the attack was made, about four 
o'clock in the afternoon. The men of the settlement had just returned 
from cutting timber and had partaken of dinner. The attack was deliv- 
ered simultaneou.sly at the Stewart and the Thomas homes. Mrs. Sharp 
writes : "The confidence of William Wood in the friendship of the Indians 
proved altogether a delusion. He was one of the first who fell. It 
appears that after he was killed the Indians heaped brush upon his 
body and set fire to it. His brother, George, had evidently attempted 
to escape, but was overtaken by the Indians in the woods and shot down." 
One Indian went to the Stewart home and asked to buy a hog. Mr. 
Stewart started with him to the pen, when he was shot and killed by 
concealed enemies. The Indians then killed the rest of the family, except 
an eight-year-old boy who hid behind a log. The following account of 
the defense of Springfield is from the pen of Charles Aldrich and was 
read by him before the meeting for the inauguration of the Memorial 
Tablet in Webster City, in August, 1887: 

"We have placed conspicuously on this beautiful tablet the names 
of Mrs. William L. Church and her sister, Miss Drusilla Swanger, with 
a high tribute to these heroines. Why we have done this I will briefly 
explain. Not many months before the massacre the Churches had set- 
tled at Springfield, Minnesota, some fifteen miles from Spirit Lake, and 
al)out eight miles north of the Iowa line. They resided there when Ink- 
padutah's band so tei'ribly raided the little settlement at Spirit Lake. 
. . . At that time, in the absence of Mr. Church to this county (Ham- 


ilton), his wife was living in their log house with her tW'o little boys 
and her sister. When the news came to this settlement of four or five 
families of the murders at Spirit Lake, the people assembled at the 
home of Mr. Thomas, one of the settlers, and prepared to defend them- 
selves. This was what is called a double log house, quite a large build- 
ing for that locality at that day, and standing in the margin of the 
oak grove, not far from the west branch of the Des Moines River. 
There were in the party Mr. Thomas, his wife and five chldren ; Mrs. 
Church, her two children and sister; Mrs. Strong and two children. Miss 
Eliza Gardner, Jareb Palmer. David Carver and John Bradshaw. . . . 
Just after they had assembled, two young men, whose names I have 
forgotten, volunteered to go for aid. Those who were left were well 
armed, reasonably provisioned, stout of heart and determined to make 
the best defense in their power if they should be assailed. 

"A week had nearly passed when little Willie Thomas, aged nine, 
came running in, exclaiming that the boys were coming who had gone 
for soldiers. This was good news, and the people rushed to the door, 
forming a little group just outside. Sure enough two men were seen 
coming dressed like whites, but they were Indians in the clothing of 
men killed at Spirit Lake. Just then the main party of the Indans, 
who were approaching from another direction, fired a volley from a 
dozen pieces into the group of men, women and children near the door. 
Willie Thomas was shot through the head and fell to the ground ; Miss 
Swanger was shot through the shoulder, inflicting a severe flesh wound ; 
Thomas was shot through the left arm, which was broken and bled 
profusely ; Carver was shot in the body, and for a time suffered the 
severest pain. 

"All except the wounded boy rushed into the house and speedily 
barricaded the doors and windows. In fact, the poor boy seems to have been 
forgotten for the instant, but it mattered little in the result. The firing 
on both sides now became hot and frequent and continued so for two or 
three hours. Port holes were made on the four sides of the house by 
removing the chinking from between the logs. Through these the 
besieged could plainly see the Indians without exposing themselves. When- 
ever an Indian showed himself he was fired upon and so they wei'e held 
at bay.. Several times, however, the red devils made a rush toward the 
house, which they wished to set on fire, but each time discretion proved 
the better part of valor and they fell back. During this time the condition 
of things in this remote little fortress can scarcely be imagined or 

"Miss Swanger and Mr. Thomas were bleeding profusely from their 
wounds, while the little wounded boy lay shrieking and groaning outside. 
The little fellow lived about two hours, when death mercifully ended his 


sufferings. At one time the poor mother feared her husband would bleed 
to death in spite of everything she could do, while the shrieks and groans 
of the dying boy just outside the door could be distinctly heard. Miss 
Swanger at first bled very freely, but Mrs. Church stuffed her handker- 
chief under her sister's dress and so stopped the flow of blood, while Mrs. 
Thomas bound up her husband's arm and stopped the bleeding, which 
otherwise would have ended his life. Mrs. Church and Miss Gardner 
loaded the guns and kept watch at some of the portholes. At one time 
it was thought their bullets would be exhausted, but Misses Swanger 
and Gardner cast some from an old iron spoon. 

"The fight went on until the dusk of evening was beginning to come 
on. It then happened that Mrs. Church and Miss Gardner were in one 
of the rooms watching while the men were in the other. They now saw 
an Indian dodging behind a large oak tree. While here he kept peering 
out toward the house. No man was handy to 'draw a bead' upon him 
and Mrs. Church picked up a shot gun heavily charged with buckshot and 
leveled it in that direction. Presently he stuck his head out again farther 
than before. Mrs. Church says, 'I saw plainly a large dark object by 
the side of the tree, which I knew to be the head of an Indian, and at 
this I discharged my gun. I was terribly excited and fell back and cannot 
tell you whether I hit him or not. I certainly wanted to kill him.' Miss 
Gardner, who was watching the Indian, averred that she plainly saw 
him fall. 

"In the account written at my instance for the Hamilton Freeman, 
by Jareb Palmer, who was one of the besieged, he states it as a fact that 
Mrs. Church killed the Indian. ... A year or more later the body 
of an Indian was found upon a rude platform in a tree top, tree burial 
being the custom of the tribe. The body was then wrapped in a buffalo 
robe and some white woman's feather pillow was under his head. What 
was left of this ducky brave was tumbled down upon the ground by the 
men of H. B. Martin's command, from our county. The skull was brought 
to me and I sent it to the phrenological collection of Fowler & Wells, 
New York City. I saw it thei'e some time later with a notice which 
had appeared in the Freeman pasted across the forehead. Upon the 
return of some of the men to the locality a few months later the tree 
was examined and part of the charge of buckshot was still imbedded 
in it near the spot where Mrs. Church had aimed and the other part 
had plainly passed on. It would thus seem to be settled as nearly as 
such an event can be proven that she killed one of the assailants. 

"Immediately after this event the Indians ceased firing and left the 
place. . . . One of the settlers, a man named Stewart, with his wife 
and three children, had been stopping at the Thomas house. Fort Thomas 
it really deserves to be called henceforth, but the poor wife and mother 


became insane through her fears of the Indians, and being in such a 
crowd of people added to her discomfort and mental trouble. Her hus- 
band finally concluded to return to their own house a mile or so distant, 
believing the danger had passed away. But the same band which had 
invested the Thomas house came to Stewart's. They called him to the 
door and shot him the instant he appeared. The fiends then murdered 
the insane mother and the two little girls. The boy, Johnny, who was 
eight or nine years of age, managed to hide behind a log. The Indians 
plundered the cabin and soon left. The boy then fled to the double log 
house, where he was recognized and taken in at one of the windows. 

"The home of the Churches was also pillaged and everything movable 
carried away or destroyed. The other houses in the settlement shared the 
same fate. A span of horses was in the barn at the Thomas place, but 
the Indians took them away when they left. When darkness came at 
last, the besieged determined to start south toward the nearest settle- 
ment with an ox team and sled, which was the only means left them. 
The oxen were yoked, hitched to the sled upon which were placed the 
wounded, the little children and such provisions and clothing as could 
be carried. The forlorn little party, with this poor means of locomotion, 
probably started near the middle of the night, traveling very slowly, as 
the ground was covered with snow. Mrs. Church and her sister each 
led or carried one of her little boys. The march was kept up until the 
oxen tired out, when there was a short rest. Progress was very slow 
and most wearisome for some two days. Finally on the third day they 
saw several men approaching from the south, whom they mistook for 

"This was a trying time for the poor refugees. The men, who were 
rapidly advancing upon them, wore shawls, which made them look like 
Indians with blankets. Then it was evident that they were well armed. 
Some of the women and children were wild with affright, and gave utter- 
ance of shrieks and lamentations. Two of the men were helpless from 
wounds, and another was not naturally an Indian fighter, though doubt- 
less brave enough. John Bradshaw thought his time had come, but far 
from flinching, he took their eight loaded guns and stacked them some 
rods in advance. He asked the other well men to stay with the women 
and children and wounded and keep them from embarrassing him and 
he would sell his life as dearly as possible. Thus the dauntless hero stood 
until he saw a signal from the advancing party and knew they were 
friends. When the latter came up his face was pale as ashes, but no one 
doubted that he would have fought while life lasted. We can well imagine 
that men can be brave when surrounded by other brave men, whatever 
the odds. But what a grand figure was that of our Hamilton County Brad- 
shaw, going out alone to yield up his life, as he supposed, in so hopeless a 


fight with merciless savages. It seems to me that that was a scene for a 
painter or sculptor, and that some time it will be placed upon canvas 
or in imperishable marble for the adornment of our magnificent capitol." 


The day following the attack at Springfield, Tretts and Chitfen 
returned from Fort Ridgley with a company of regular troops under Cap- 
tain Bee and Lieutenant Murray. The soldiers had undergone hardships, 
suffering privations such as the Fort Dodge expedition had experienced 
and were totally exhausted when they reached the scene. Judge Flandrau 
wrote as follows regarding the expedition : "The people of Springfield 
sent two young men to my agency with the news of the massacre. They 
brought with them a statement of the facts as related by Mr. Markham, 
signed by some persons with whom I was acquainted. They came on foot 
and arrived at the agency on the 18th of March. The snow was very 
deep and was beginning to thaw, wiiich made the traveling extremely diffi- 
cult. When these young men arrived they were so badly afflicted with 
snow blindness that they could scai-cely see at all and were completely 
worn out. I was fully satisfied of the truth of the report that murders 
had been committed, although the details of course were very meager. I 
at once held a consultation with Colonel Alexander, commanding the Tenth 
United States Infantry, five or six companies of which were at Fort Ridg- 
ley. The colonel, with commendable promptness, ordered Capt. Barnard 
E. Bee with his company to proceed at once to the scene of the massacre 
and do all he could, either in the way of protecting the settlers or punish- 
ing the enemy. (Bee afterwards became a Confederate officer and was 
killed in the first battle of Bull Run.) 

"The country between the Minnesota River at Ridgley and Spirit Lake 
was, at that day, an utter wilderness, without an inhabitant. In fact, none 
of us knew where Spirit Lake was, except that it lay about due south of 
the fort at a distance of from one hundred to one hundred and twenty- 
five miles. We procured two guides of experience among our Sioux half- 
breeds. . . . These men took a pony and a light train to carry the 
blankets and provisions, put on their snow shoes and were ready to go 
anywhere, while the poor troops, with their leather shoes and their back 
loads, accompanied by a ponderous army wagon on wheels, drawn by six 
mules, were about as fit for such a march as an elephant is for a ballroom. 
But it was the best the government had and they entered upon the arduous 
duty bravely and cheerfully. . . . We started on March 19th, at about 
one o'clock p. m., at first intending to go straight across the country, but 
we soon decided that the course to be utterly impossible, as the mules could 
not draw the wagon through the ('eon snow. It became apparent that our 


only hope of reaching the lake was to follow the road down by the way 
of New Ulm to Mankato, and trust to luck for a road up the Watonwan 
in the direction of the lake, we having learned that some teams had recently 
started for that place with some supplies. The first days of the march were 
appalling. The men were wet nearly up to their waists with the deep and 
melting snow and utterly weary before they had gon ten miles. 

"Neither of the officers had ever made a snow camp before and when 
we had dug out a place for our first camp and were making futile efforts to 
dry our clothes before turning in for the night, I felt that the trip was hope- 
less. So much time had elapsed since the murders were committed, and so 
much more would necessarily be consumed before the troops could possibly 
reach the lake, that I felt assured that no good could result from going 
on. I told Captain Bee that if he wanted to return I would furnish him 
with a written opinion of two of the most experienced voyageurs on the 
frontier that the march was impossible of accomplishment with the inap- 
propriate outfit with which the troops were furnished. . . . The Cap- 
tain agreed with me that the chances of accomplishing any good by going 
on were very small, but he read his orders and in answer to my sugges- 
ion, 'My orders are to go to Spirit Lake and do what I can. It is not for 
me to interpret them, but to obey them. I shall go on until it becomes 
physically impossible to proceed farther. Then it will be time to turn 
back.' And go on we did. We followed the trail up the Watonwan until 
we found the teams that had made it stuck in a snow drift, and for the 
remaining forty or fifty miles the troops marched ahead of the mules and 
broke a road for them, relieving the front rank every fifteen or twenty 

"When the lake was reached the Indians were gone. A careful exami- 
nation was made of their camp and fires by the guides, who pronounced 
them three or four days old. Their trail led to the west. A pursuit was 
made by a portion of the command, partly mounted on mules and partly 
on foot, but it was soon abandoned on the declaration of the guides that 
the Indians were by the signs several days in advance. ... I learned 
afterward by Mrs. Marble, one of the i-escued women, that the troops in 
pursuit came so near that the Indians saw them and made an ambush for 
them, and had they not turned back the prisoners would have all been 
murdered. The guides may have been mistaken or they may have deceived 
the troops. I knew the young men so well that I never have accused 
them of a betrayal of their trust, but it was probably best as it was in 
either case, because had the troops overtaken the Indians the women would 
have certainly been butchered and some of the soldiers killed. The satis- 
faction of having killed some of the Indians would not have compensated 
for the result." 


Mrs. Sharp writes that the Indians, when they returned to Heron 
Lake after two days' absence at the Springfield attack, were loaded do^\^^ 
with plunder. "They had twelve horses heavily laden with dry goods, gro- 
ceries, powder, lead, bed quilts, wearing apparel, provisions, etc. Among 
this plunder were several bolts of calico and red flannel. Of these ,especially 
the flannel, they were exceedingly proud, decorating themselves with it 
in fantastic fashion. Red leggings, red shirts, red blankets and red in every 
conceivable way was the style there as long as it lasted." 

The Indians did not remain at Heron Lake, but packed up and moved 
westward, with their four captives, Mrs. Marble, Mrs. Thatcher, Mrs. 
Noble and Abbie Gardner. They realized that the pursuit was practically 
abandoned and so took their time and leisure in traveling. Mrs. Sharp is 
authority for the statement that in covering the one hundred miles from 
Heron Lake to the place of crossing the Big Sioux, near he town of Flan- 
dreau, six weeks were consumed. 

Joe Gaboo and Joseph La Frombone, the Indian guides for the sol- 
diers pursuing the Sioux, were undoubtedly more concerned in the escape 
of the quarry than in the success of the soldiers in capturing them. Their 
statement that the trail was two or three days old was probably made when 
they knew that the Indians were just ahead, within sight practically. The 
soldiers returned to Springfield. Mrs. Sharp made the statement in her 
book that "whether the guides were true or false or whether or not the 
soldiers were justified in turning back it was life to us as captives." 


After the scouts for the fleeing Indians had discovered the pursuing 
soldiers and the main body had cleverly prepared an ambush for the 
detachment, the soldiers decided to return and give up the pursuit as a 
hopeless task. When it became apparent that the troops had returned 
toward Springfield, the Indians made oH' with increased speed, traveling 
steadily all day and all night. They went by way of Pipestone Quarry, in 
Pipestone County, Minnesota, where they stopped for a time and made 
pipes for themselves. Mrs. Sharp writes : "After six weeks of incessant 
marching over the trackless prairie and through the deep snow, across 
creeks, sloughs, rivers and lakes, we reached the Big Sioux at or about 
the point where now stands the town of Flandreau. Most of the journey 
had been performed in cold and inclement weather, but now spring seemed 
to have come. The vast amount of snow which covered the ground that 
memorable winter had nearly gone by reason of the rapid thawing during 
the last few weeks, causing the river to rise beyond all ordinary bounds 
and assume majestic proportions." 



Here it was, while crossing one of the driftwood bridges across the 
stream, that Mrs. Thatcher was cruelly murdered by her captors. For 
many days Mrs. Thatcher had been too ill and suffered too much to carry 
a pack, which the captives were required to do. Upon this day she had 
recovered somewhat and was again forced to assume her part of the work. 
Mrs. Sharp thus describes the murder : 

"As we were about to follow the Indians across one of the uncertain 
bridges, where a single misstep might plunge us into the deep waters, an 
Indian, not more than sixteen years old, the same who snatched the box 
of caps from my father, and who had always manifested a gi-eat degree 
of hatred and contempt for the whites, approached us, and taking the pack 
from Mrs. Thatcher's shoulders and placing it on his own, ordered us for- 
ward. This seeming kindness aroused our suspicions, as no assistance had 
ever been offered to any of us, under any circumstances whatever. Mrs. 
Thatcher, being confident that her time had come to die, hastily bade 
fne good-bye, and said, 'If you are so fortunate as to escape, tell my dear 
husband and parents that I desired to live and escape for their sakes.' 
When we reached the center of the swollen stream, as we anticipated, this 
insolent young savage pushed Mrs. Thatcher from the bridge into the ice 
cold water, but by what seemed supernatural strength she breasted the 
dreadful torrent, and making a last struggle for life reached the shore 
which had just been left, and was clinging to a root of a tree at the bank. 
She was here met by some of the other Indians, who were just coming 
upon the scene. They commenced throwing clubs at her, and with long 
poles shoved her back into the angry stream. As if nerved by fear, or 
dread of such a death, she made another desperate effect for life, and 
doubtless would have gained the opposite shore, but here again she was 
met by her merciless tormentors and was beaten off as before. She was 
then carried down by the furious, boiling current of the Sioux, while 
the Indians on either side of the stream were running along the banks, 
whooping and yelling, and throwing sticks and stones at her, until she 
reached another bridge. Here she was finally shot by one of the Indians 
in another division of the band, who was crossing with the other two 
captives some distance below." 

MRS. marble's release 

After crossing the Big Sioux the Indians continued on into Dakota. 
Mrs. Sharp remarked in her story of the journey that when they met other 
bands of Indians they seemed to treat Inkpadutah's men with great friend- 
liness, thus refuting in a way the statement that the latter were regarded 


as outlaws by other bands. On May 6th, when the Indians were encamped 
about thirty miles west of the Big Sioux two young Indians from the Yel- 
low Medicine Agency visited the camp and became inerested in the cap- 
tives. They selected Mrs. Marble and took her with them on their return 
to the agency. A ransom was demanded and afterward Riggs and William- 
son and Major Flandrau raised $1,000 which was paid to the Indians for 
Mrs. Marble. Major Flandrau's report in part follows : "I was engaged 
in devising plans for the rescue of the captives and the punishment of 
the Indians in connection with Colonel Alexander of the Tenth Infantry, 
but had found it very difficult to settle upon any course which would not 
endanger the safety of the prisoners. We knew that any hostile demon- 
stration would be sure to result in the destruction of the women, and were 
without means to fit out an expedition for their ransom. While we were 
deliberating on the best course to pursue, an accident opened the way to 
success. A party of my Indians were hunting on the Big Sioux River, and 
having learned that Inkpadutah's band was at Lake Chauptayatonka, about 
thirty miles west of the river, and also knowing of the fact that they held 
some white women prisoners, two young men (brothers) visited the camp 
and after much talk they succeeded in purchasing Mrs. Marble. They 
paid for her all they possessed and brought her into the agency and deliv- 
ered her into the hands of the missionaries stationed at that point. She 
was at once turned over to me with a written statement from the two 
Indians who had brought her, which was prepared for them at their request 
by Mr. Riggs, who spoke their language fluently. I will allow them to tell 
their own story. It was as follows : 'Hon. C. E. Flandrau : Father. In 
our spring hunt, when encamped at the north end of Big Wood on the 
Sioux, we learned from some Indians who came to us, that we were not far 
from Red End's camp. Of our own accord, and contrary to the advice 
of all about us, we concluded to visited them, thinking that possibly we 
might be able to obtain one or moi^e of the white women held by them as 
prisoners. We found them encamped at Chauptayatonka Lake, about thirty 
miles west of our own camp. We were met at some distance from their 
lodges by four men armed with revolvers, who demanded of us our busi- 
ness. After satisfying them that we were not spies and had no evil inten- 
tions in regard to them we were taken into Inkpadutah's lodge. The night 
was spent in reciting their massacre, etc. It was not until the next morn- 
ing that we ventured to ask for one of the women. Much time was spent 
in talking and it was not until the middle of the afternoon that we obtained 
their consent to our proposition. We paid for her all we had. We brought 
her to our mother's tent, clothed her as we were able, and fed her bounti- 
fully on the best we had — duck and com. We brought her to Lac qui 
Parle, and now, father, after having her with us fifteen days, we place 
her in your hands. It was perilous business, for which we think we should 


be liberally rewarded. We claim for our services $500 each.' This com- 
munication was signed by the Indians and witnessed by the missionary, 
Mr. Riggs. ... By the action of these Indians we not only got one 
of the captives but we learned for the first time definitely the where- 
abouts of the nlarauders and the assurance that the other women were 
still alive as these Indians had seen them in Red End's camp." 


About a month after the release of Mrs. Marble Inkpadutah's band 
met a small number of Yanktons while roving over the prairie country. 
The leader of the Yanktons succeeded in buying from the Sioux both cap- 
tives, Mrs. Noble and Abbie Gardner. However, he did not immediately 
leave with his purchase, but remained with the Sioux in their meander- 
ing travels. This delay resulted in the death of Mrs. Noble, the details 
of which are better described by Mrs. Sharp, who witnessed the scene. 
"One evening, a few days after we were sold, just as we supposed we were 
settled for the night, and as Mrs. Noble and I were about to lie down to 
rest, a son of Inkpadutah, Roaring Cloud, came into the tent of the Yank- 
ton and ordered Mrs. Noble out. She shook her head and refused to go. 
I told her that she had better as I feared he would kill her if she did not. 
But still she refused. Mrs. Noble was the only one of us who ever dared 

refuse obedience to our masters Frequently before she had 

refused obedience, but in the end was always compelled to submit. No 
sooner did she positively refuse to comply with Roaring Cloud's demand, 
than, seizing her by the arm with one hand, and a great stick of wood 
she had a little while before brought in for fuel in the other, he dragged 
her from the tent. When I saw this I well knew what would follow. I 
could only listen in silence to the cruel blows and groans, as the sounds 
came into the tent; expecting he would return to serve me in the same 
manner. He struck her three blows, such as only an Indian can deal, 
when, concluding he had finished her, he came into the tent, washed his 
bloody hands, had a few high words with the Yankton, and lay down to 
sleep. The piteous groans from my murdered companion continued for 
half an hour or so — deep, sorrowful and terrible; then all was silent. 

"The following morning the warriors gathered around the already 
mangled corpse and amused themselves by making it a target to shoot at. 
To this show of barbarism I was brought out and compelled to stand a 
silent witness. Faint and sick at heart, I at length turned away from the 
dreadful sight without their orders to do so, and started oflf on the day's 
march expecting they would riddle me with their bullets, but why should 
I escape more than others? But for some unaccountable reason I was 
spared. After going a short distance I looked back and they were still 


around her, using- their knives cutting off their hair and mutilating her 

body At last the bloody camp was deserted and the mangled 

body left lying on the ground unhurried. Her hair, in two heavy braids, 
just as she had arranged it, was tied to the end of a stick, perhaps three 
feet long, and during the day as I wearily and sadly toiled on, one of the 
young Indians walked by my side and repeatedly slashed me in the face 

with it, thus adding insult to injury If Mrs. Noble could only 

have escaped the vengeance of Roaring Cloud a few days longer she doubt- 
less would have been set at liberty and restored to civilized society and 
the companionship of her sister and brothers. . . . Could she only 
have known the efforts being made for her rescue and how near they 
already were to success, she would have had courage to endure insults a 
little longer and hope to bid her look forward. At the very moment when 
she was dragged from her tent and brutally murdered, rescuers under the 
direction of the United States Commissioner fully prepared for her ran- 
som were pressing forward with all the dispatch possible." 


After Mrs. Marble's rescue and full knowledge of the fate of the 
captives had been obtained, steps were taken to fit out an expedition for 
the purpose of rescue. Major Flandrau was the leader iVi this and he 
describes his work thusly: "The question of outfit then presented itself 
and I ran my credit with the traders for the following articles at the 
prices stated: (Three scouts had been selected for the work of rescue.) 

Wagon $110.00 

Four horses 600.00 

12 3-point blankets; 4 blue, 8 white 56.00 

32 yds. squaw cloth 44.00 

■371/2 yds. calico 5.37 

20 lbs. tobacco 10.00 

1 .sack of shot 4.00 

15 lbs. powder 25.00 

Corn 4.00 

Flour 10.00 

Coffee 1.50 

Sugar 1.50 

'With tliis outfit, and instruction to give as much of it as was neces- 
sary for the women, my expedition started on the 23d day of May from 
Yellow Medicine. I at once left for Fort Ridgley to consult Colonel Alex- 
ander as to the plan of operation for an attack upon the camp of Inkpa- 
dutah the instant we could get word as to the safety of the white women. 


The colonel entered into the spirit of the matter with zeal. He had four 
or fi\e companies at the fort and proposed to put them into the field, so 
as to approach Skunk Lake, where Inkpadutah had his camp, from several 
different directions and insure his destruction. If an event which was 
wholly unforseen had not occurred, the well laid plan of Colonel Alexander 
would undoubtedly have succeeded. But unfortunately for the cause of jus- 
tice, about the time we began to expect information from my expedition, 
which was to be the signal for moving on the enemj% an order arrived at 
the fort commanding the colonel, with all his available force, to start imme- 
diately and join the expedition against the Mormons, which was then mov- 
ing to Utah, under the command of Gen. Sidney Johnston. So pei'emptory 
was the command that the steamboat that brought the order carried ofl" 
the entire garrison of the fort and put an end to all hopes of our being 
able to punish the enemy." 


Several days after the murder of Mrs. Noble the Indians arrived at 
the James River in South Dakota, at a point where is now located the town 
of Old Ashton, Spink County. There was an immense camp of Yanktons 
across the river at this point, a tribe described as being very primeval, still 
using bows and arrows and wearing garments made only from animal 
skins. The white captive was a source of much wonderment to them. 

After a few days here there arrived in camp the three scouts, who 
were also Indians and who had been sent by Major Flandrau. These 
scouts entered into negotiations with the Yanktons and after several days 
in bargaining, purchased Miss Gardner from her captives. Mrs. 
Sharp wrote that the price paid for her was : two horses, twelve 
blankets, two kegs of powder, twenty pounds of tobacco, thirty- 
two yards of squaw cloth, thirty-seven and a half yards of calico, 
and ribbon and other small articles which had been supplied by Major 
Flandrau. After the sale was completed the scouts took Miss Gardner 
across the river to a point where a horse and wagon had been con- 
cealed. Mrs. Sharp wrote of the rescue : "Almost the first move was 
to cross the James River. I was put into a frail little boat made of 
buffalo skin stripped of hair and dressed so as to be impervious to water. 
The boat was not more than five feet long by four wide and incapable of 
carrying more than one person. When I found that I was the only 
occupant I concluded that the story of the Indian who told me I was to 
be drowned was after all a true one. ... I was, however, happily 
disappointed to see my new purchasers divest themselves of their fine 
clothes and swim across, holding the end of a cable made of buffalo hide 
which had previously been fastened to the boat. With this they drew 


the boat with me in it to the eastern shore. Thus, though I knew it not, 
I was being drawn toward home and friends, and the river was put 
between me and my cruel foes. . . . Hiding the team and wagon 
was not only a piece of sharp practice, but a wise stroke of policy, and 
showed diplomacy. . . . The names of the persons composing this 
rescue party should be put on record and held in remembrance not only 
for their mission, but for other humane deeds done by them. They were 
Mazaintemani, now familiarly known among the whites as John Other 
Day; Hotonhowashta. or Beautiful Voice; and Chetanmaza, or Iron 

"The Yankton chief having been placated and I safely towed across 
the river the team was brought out. The Yanktons filled the wagon 
with dried buffalo meat and buffalo robes. I was installed driver and 
the five Indians (three Yellow Medicine and two Yanktons) leading the 
way in single file we took up our march. . . . After seven days 
of incessant traveling we came into a region thickly peopled with Indians." 

Not until arriving at the home of a half-breed two days later did 
Miss Gardner learn her destination and that .she had been purchased 
by friendly Indians. "I also learned from this half-breed that Mrs. 
Marble had been there about a month before and had gone on to St. Paul. 
. . . After a day and a half spent at the half-breed's trading post 
in which time I had tried to make myself as presentable as possible, we 
proceeded to the Yellow Medicine Agency and then to the mission station 
of Dr. Thomas Williamson." 

The three Indians who went to the rescue of Miss Gardner were well 
known at the Yellow Medicine Agency. John Other Day became promi- 
nent as a spy and scout in the Sioux Indian wars of later years. Chetan- 
maza visited Mrs. Sharp at the dedication of the momument in 1895. 

Having arrived at the agency Miss Gardner was presented with a 
war-cap by the Indians, in honor of her bravery, a quality which the 
Indians said alone saved her from death by Inkpadutah's followei's. The 
cap gave her the protection of all the Dacotah tribes. 

From the agency the party went down the river to Fort Ridgley, then 
to Traverse, the head of navigation on the IMinnesota River, and then 
by steamer to St. Paul. There numerous festivities were held in cele- 
bration of the return of the captive, including an audience with the 
governor. Each of the three Indians received $400 in addition to the 
amount paid the Yanktons. 


It is a well known fact that had the Ihiited States government 
assumed an aggressive attitude and vigorously attacked the savages dur- 


ing the summer, the guilty ones could have been wiped out and the debt 
of the white man paid. It was known, too, that the camp of the band 
was located at Skunk Lake, in Dakota. But, despite the urgings and 
pleadings of the settlers, the appeals from the state government, noth- 
ing was done by the war department. The men at Washington seemed 
completely indifferent to the situation in this part of the country. About 
the only thing that was done was the suggestion that all annuities to the 
Indians be withheld until the outlaws were surrendered, an act which 
very nearly created another uprising. Some authorities have placed this 
as one of the sources of the Minnesota uprising in 1862. 


In July the information came to the agency that a part of Inkpa- 
dutah's band was encamped on the Yellow Medicine, and immediately 
Major Flandrau decided, with the commander of the fort, to send a force 
of men after them. Lieutenant Murray, with a score or so of regular 
troops and about as many volunteers, and John Other Day as scout, left 
Fort Ridgley at nightfall for the camp. The Indian scout returned to 
them when they were within a few miles of their destination and reported 
that the Indians were just ahead. At daylight they reached the river, 
the Indian camp in full view on the other side. When the soldiers 
approached one brave dashed from one of the teepees, dragging a squaw 
with him, and started for the river. John Other Day quickly identified 
him as Roaring Cloud, the son of Inkpadutah. The soldiers fired upon him 
until he reached cover on the bank. From his hiding place the Indian 
returned the fire, but in turn was answered by a volley of lead. Soon 
the murderer of Mrs. Noble was filled with bullets and one of the soldiers 
polished off the job with his bayonet. However, the other Indians 
escaped. The squaw was taken prisoner and taken to the agency. En 
route the other Indians resented the fact that one of their number was 
a prisoner in the hands of the whites and for a time serious trouble 
threatened. The soldiers reached the agency safely and prepared for an 
attack. None was forthcoming, though, and a few days later additional 
troops arrived for the payment of annuities. The squaw was eventually 
released and the Indians appeased. 

One more attempt to capture the noted Inkpadutah was made when 
the government informed the Indians that until they could deliver Ink- 
padutah and his band to the authorities their annuities w^ould be with- 
held. This did not please the Indians and they grew very indignant. 
A small party was organized under the leadership of Little Crow, and 
a camaign started against the outlaws. After a fortnight the Indian 
expedition returned, claiming that they had killed three of Inkpadutah's 


band and captured a squaw and papoose. This, they said, was all they 
could accomplish. The government at first refused to accept this as 
final and again demanded Inkpadutah and his whole band before annui- 
ties were paid. The situation rapidly became ominous. Trouble with 
the entire Sioux Nation was eminent. The settlers were in favor of pay- 
ing the annuities and closing the incident, and finally the government 
concurred in this opinion and ordered the annuities paid. This ended 
the government's effort to capture Inkpadutah. 


Inkpadutah, according to Cue's History of Iowa, was last heard of 
among the Sioux who fled to the far West, pursued by Sibley's Army, in 
1863. Of the four sons. Roaring Cloud's fate has been described. The 
remaining three were trouble makers for years along the border. They 
played a prominent part in the outbreak of 1862. and in the fights on 
the plains afterwards. They are known to have been engaged in the 
Custer Massacre on the Little Big Horn in 1876. Joseph Henry Taylor, 
in "Twenty Years on the Trap Line," writes: "Striking the valley of 
the Little Sioux at least once a year on a hostile raid seemed to be a 
fanatical observance of Inkpadutah's band that they could not abandon. 
Whether fishing for pickerel around the shores of Lake Winnipeg, or 
hunting antelope on the plains of the upper James River, or buffalo 
in the Judith Basin or along the Musselshell River, time and opportunity 
were found to start out hundreds of iniles on a dreary foot journey to 
count a 'coup' on their aggressive conquerers. The battle on the Little 
Big Horn is still rated the most important engagement between the 
whites and Indians since that day on the banks of the turgid Tippecanoe, 
when the sycamore forest hid the broken columns of Tecumseh and the 
Prophet from Harrison's victorious army. Various writers have ascribed 
Custer's death as the culminating episode in this latter day fight ,and 
to heighten the color of the picture have laid his death to the personal 
prowess of Rain in the Face or on the field altar of Chief Priest Sitting 
Bull. It has long since been proven that Rain in the Face was not on 
the field of battle that day, but was miles away in charge of the pony 
herd. About Sitting Bull's hand in the affair, he has expressed himself 
again and again in saying about these words to the charge, 'They tell 
you I murdered Custer. It is a lie. I am not a war chief. I was not 
in the battle that day. His eyes were blinded that he could not see. 
He was a fool and rode to his death. He made the fight, not I. Who- 
ever tells you I killed Custer is a liar." Any intelligent Yankton, Santee, 
Uncpapa, Blackfoot or other Sioux, who participated in the fight against 
Custer's battalions on that 2.5th day of June, 1876, will tell you it was 


difficult to tell just who killed Custer. They believed he was the last 
to fall in the group where he was found. That the last leaden messen- 
gers of swift death hurled amongst this same group of falling and dying 
soldiers were belched forth from Winchesters held in the hands of Ink- 
padutah's sons." 


The Twenty-fifth General Assembly of the State of Iowa made it 
possible that the massacre of 18.57 should be perpetuated by the erec- 
tion of a monument. The act was entitled "An act to provide for the 
proper interment of the remains of pioneers on Okoboji and Spirit Lakes, 
massacred by Sioux Indians in 1857, and for the erection of a commemo- 
rative monument." C. C. Carpenter, John F. Duncombe, R. A. Smith, 
Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp and Charles Aldrich were appointed a com- 
mission. The monument was completed in March, 1895, and accepted 
by the commission. The shaft is fifty-five feet in height, composed of 
Minnesota granite, with alternate sections highly polished. The base is 
fourteen feet square. The top is in the form of an arrow head. The 
inscriptions are upon bronze tablets on the four sides of the column. 
The dedication exercises and the presentation to the state occurred on 
July 25, 1895. Many pioneer notables were present including: Ex-gov- 
ernor Carpenter, a member of the expedition from Fort Dodge; Mrs. 
I. A. Thomas, a survivor of the Springfield massacre ; Jareb Palmer, sur- 
vivor of Springfield ; R. A. Smith, member of the expeditionary force ; 
Charles E. Flandrau, the Indian agent at Yellow Medicine; Mrs. Abbie 
Gardner Sharp, the survivor of the Gardner family massacre; 
Chetanmaza, who bought Miss Gardner from the Indians ; Charles Aldrich, 
W. S. Richards, Judge Given, Senator Henderson, Col. Warren S. Dungan 
and Judge Hendershott. 


The inscriptions upon the monument are valuable in that they give 
accurately the names of the massacred, the rescued, the expedition, and 
the proper dates. On the north tablet under a seal are the words: 
"Erected by order of the Twenty-fifth General Assembly of the State 
of Iowa, 1894." 

On the east tablet is the following: 

"The Pioneer Settlers named below were Massacred by Sioux Indians, 
March 8-13, 1857. The Barbarous Work was Commenced Near this 
Spot and Continued to a Spot North of Spirit Lake. 

"Robert Clark, Rowland Gardner, Francis M. Gardner, Rowland 
Gardner, Jr., Carl Granger, Joseph Harshman, Isaac H. Harriott, Joel 


Howe, Millie Howe, Jonathan Howe, Sardis Howe, Alfred Howe, Jacob 
Howe, Philetus Howe, Harvey Luce, Mary M. Luce, Albert Luce, Amanda 
Luce, William Marble, James H. Mattock, Mary M. Mattoclt, Alice Mattock, 
Daniel Mattock, Agnes Mattock, Jacob M. Mattock, Jackson A. Mattock, 
Robert Mattheson, Lydia Noble, Alvin Noble, John Noble, Enoch Ryan, 
Bertel E. Snyder, Joshua Stewart, wife and two children, Elizabeth 
Thatchei, Dora Thatcher, William Wood, George Wood. 


"Mrs. Margaret Ann Marble, Mrs. Lydia Noble, Mrs. Elizabeth 
Thatcher and Miss Abbie Gardner were carried into captivity. Mrs. 
Marble was rescued May 21st and Miss Gardner June 27, 1857, through 
the efforts of Gov. Sam Medary and Hon. Charles E. Flandrau, of Minne- 

"Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher were murdered by the Indians." 

On the west tablet is the following: 

"Roster of the Relief Expedition, Fort Dodge, March 24, 1857. 

"Major Williams, Commanding. 

"Company A 

"C. B. Richards, captain : F. A. Stratton, 1st lieutenant ; L. K. Wright, 
sergeant ; Solon jMason, corporal. 

"Privates: William Burkholder, G. W. Brizee, C. C. Carpenter, 

L. D. Crawford, Julius Conrad, Henry Carse, Chatterton, William 

Defore, J. W. Dawson, William Ford, John Farney, John Gales, Andrew 
Hood, Angus McBane, William McCauley, Michael Maher, E. Mahan, 
W. P. Pollock, W. F. Porter. B. F. Parmenter, L. B. Ridgeway, Winton 
Smith, R. A. Smith, George P. Smith, 0. S. Spencer, C. Stebbins, Silas 
Van Cleave. R. U. Wheelock, D. Westerfield. 

"Company B 

"John F. Duncombe, captain; James Lane, 1st lieutenant; S. C. 
Stevens, second lieutenant; W. N. Koons, sergeant; Thomas Calagan, 

"Privates: James Addington, Asa Burtch, Hiram Benjamin, D. H. 
Baker, Orlando Bice, Richard Carter, A. E. Crounse, R. F. Carter, 
Michael Cavanaugh, Jere Evans, John Heffley, 0. C. Howe, D. F. Howell, 
A. S. Johnson, Jonas Murray, Daniel Morrisey, G. F. McClure, A. H. 
Malcome, Michael McCarty, J. N. McFarland, Robert McCormick, John 
O'Laughlin. Daniel Okeson, Guernsey Smith, J. M. Thatcher, W. Searles, 
John White, Washington Williams, Reuben Whetstone. 


"Company C 

"J. C. Johnson, captain ; J. N. Maxwell, first lieutenant ; F. B. Mason, 
second lieutenant; H. Hoover, sergeant; A. N. Hathaway, corporal. 

"Privates: Thomas Anderson, James Brainard, T. B. Bonebright, 
Sherman Cassaday, W. L. Church, Patrick Conlan, H. E. Dalley, John Erie, 
John Gates, Josiah Griffith, James Hickey, H. C. Hillock, M. W. Howland, 
E. D. Kellogg, W. K. Laughlin, A. S. Leonard, F. R. Moody, John Nowland, 
J. C. Pemberson, Alonzo Richardson, Michael Sweeney, Patrick Stafford, 
A. K. Tullis. 

"G. R. Bissell, surgeon. G. B. Sherman, com'ary." 

On the south tablet is inscribed the following: 

"Captain J. C. Johnson, of Webster City, and William Bui-kholder, 
of Fort Dodge, were frozen to death on the return march in Palo Alto 
County, April 4, 1857. 

"Persons who fled from the Attack on Springfield, Minn., and were 
Rescued by the Relief Expedition: 

"John Bradshaw, David Carver, Mrs. S. J. Church and two chil- 
dren, Eliza Gardner, George Granger, Mrs. Harshman and children, 
Mr. Harshman (son of preceding) and wife, Morris Markham, Mrs. 
William Nelson and child, Jareb Palmer, A. B. Shiegley, J. B. Skinner 
and wife, Mr. Smith and wife. Dr. E. B. N. Strong, wife and two 
children, John Stewart, Drusilla Swanger, J. B. Thomas, wife and five 





The fact has been stated before in this work that in the summer 
of 1856 three men — Howe, Parmenter and Wheelock — brothers-in-law, 
came to Dickinson County from Jasper County, Iowa, and decided to 
organize the county, locate a county seat and enter the land upon which 
it was located, also to lay out a town into lots to be sold for their own profit. 
The location of the town was decided upon in June, 1857, after the 
massacre. The three men made two trips here, one before the massacre 
and one just after the murders. These have been described. First, the 
men favored the Okoboji crossing, but the fact that this was held by the 
Granger brothers — Carl and Bill — prevented them from securing it. It is 
said that the Grangers also had the county seat scheme planned, but later 
Bill Granger relinquished it in 1859 and left the county, his brother Carl 
having been killed by Inkpadutah's Indians. 


The first plat of Spirit Lake was made by a Newton, Iowa, surveyor 
named S. W. Foreman, the town to cover one half a section of land. 
The site was about a half mile north of the present business center of 
the to\\n. Foreman was promised one-tenth interest in the lots for the 
trouble of making this plat. 


The building of the fort and the small stockade has been noted else- 
where. Also, in the autumn of 1857, three or four log cabins were con- 
structed on the site, the first one by O. C. Howe, which was occupied 
by liini du'ing the winter months and a portion of the following summer. 


REV. S. ].. ril.l.sliCBY 

Came to Spirit Lake in 1863. Born 
in New York, July 12, 1802; died, 
Spirit Lake, October 29, 1888. 

TVM^ V-l'^l^ '''^'■'^ 1 
•rlLDLN S^--- 


His father's family and his own family later came here to live. In 
the first winter there were very few people residing at the new town 
of Spirit Lake and among the number just four women — Mrs. 0. C. 
Howe, Mrs. R. Kingman, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Thurston. In fact, there 
were very few settlements in northwestern Iowa and those that were 
here were miles apart, Estherville being about the closest to Spirit 

A small sawmill was put into operation in the fall of 18.57 and 
Howe managed by much persuasion to obtain the first lumber turned 
out here, which he used in the construction of his cabin. Kingman pro- 
cured a concession upon the old fort and after some i-emodeling turned 
it into a hotel for the accommodation of the travelers through this part 
of the country. 

The first frame house in Spirit Lake was constructed by R. U. 
Wheelock, which structure was also the first of its kind north of Sioux 
City and wesrt of the east fork of the Des Moines River. During the 
same season of the year B. F. Parmenter, 0. C. Howe, Henry Schuneman 
and Dr. James Ball constructed frame houses, as did A. Kingman. It is 
said by one writer that Parmenter afterward sold his house for a hun- 
dred ratskins. West of town a home was built by A. D. Arthur, later 
becoming known as the Barkman house. Other frame houses were built 
that summer by George E. Spencer and Miller & Jones, the mill firm. 
Leonidas Congleton came into possession of the Spencer house, which 
he used until 1863. 


In the spring and summer of 1858 quite a number of new settlers 
came into the town. A spirited Fourth of July celebration was held 
that year, attended by almost all of the pioneers within walking or Iriv- 
ing distance. R. U. Wheelock, C. F. Hill, R. A. Smith, R. Kingman and 
other gentlemen helped to plan the meeting, and altogether it was a 
great success. R. A. Smith, one of the participants, writes: "Lumber 
was brought from the mill for a platform and seats. It didn't i-equire a 
great deal as the crowd was not expected to be large. 0. C. Howe pre- 
sided and Doctor Prescott delivered the oration, his eloquence, versatility 
and tact as a speaker never being more manifest than on that occasion. 
He was not notified until the evening before that he was expected to 
speak, and yet his oration would compare favorably with any that has 
ever been heard here since. The choir, composed of J. D. Howe, R. U. 
Wheelock and F. A. Blake and Misses Sarah and Mary Howe and Belle 
Wheelock would command respect and attention anywhere and their 
rendition of the old patriotic songs was applauded to the echo. The Star 


Spangled Banner, Red, White and Blue, Uncle Sam's Farm and other 
favorites were given to the enthusiastic and delighted audience, after 
which R. A. Smith read the Declaration of Independence. At the close 
of the exercises in the grove, all parties repaired to the old fort, which 
had been vacated by the soldiers a few days before, and was again being 
fitted up for the accommodation of the public by Mr. Kingman. This 
was made to do duty as a dining room and he and his wife soon had ready 
a repast that, considering the surroundings and the dilliculties in the 
way of pi'ocui'ing necessary material, would have been a credit to any 
localitj". It goes without saying that the repast that followed was keenly 
appreciated and hugely enjoyed by all participants. When the repast 
was over some time was spent in toasts and responses, impromptu remarks 
and sly hits, which were participated in by the crowd at large and 
tended much to increase the enjoyment of the occasion. One noticeable 
feature of all the social events of the early days, was the absence of 
conventionalities, the hearty good will and good fellowship which char- 
acterized the relations of one with another. As evening came on seats 
and tables were removed and old and young proceeded to enjoy the 
first dance in Dickinson County, Daniel Caldwell and R. U. Wheelock 
furnishing the music. Good church members, whose dancing days had 
been over for years, threw aside their scruples and prejudices for the 
time being and joined in the general hilarity and all went merry as a 
marriage bell.' " 


The first store to be constructed as such was a house built in the 
fall of 1858 by A. Kingman, who sold it to A. D. Arthur who, in turn, 
moved it into town. W. B. Brown and Harvey Frantz fixed it, up as 
a store building. M. M. Mattheson, a Mankato, Minnesota, Norwegian, 
was the fii'st man to place a stock of goods on sale in Spirit Lake. This 
was in the fall of 1859. He moved his stock to Yankton, South Dakota, 
in 18(i;). C. Blackert then occupied the store until 1867, when he disposed 
of it to George C. Bellows. It was then moved and turned into a shoe 

The first hotel in Dickinson County was erected at Spirit Lake in 
the summer of 1859 by R. Kingman. This is excepting the use of the old 
fort as a hostelry. This was the only hotel building then between Sioux 
City and Mankato, Minnesota. Kingman named his hotel the Lake View After the Minnesota massacre Kingman contracted a case of 
"pedes frigidi" and sold out to Joseph Thomas of Jackson, Minnesota. 
The latter operated the hotel for about two years, enjoying a good patron- 
age all the time. He sold it in 1864 to J. H. Johnston, who ran it until 
1867, when he sold to Thomas Wycofi", who moved it to the site of the 
Crandall House and afterwards sold to Orlando Crandall. It was after- 


wards moved to make room for the Crandall House and was later demol- 
ished. The Antlers Hotel, the leading hostelry in Spirit Lake at the 
present time, was opened to the public on June 28, 1902. 


The town site question was in the early days a troublesome matter. 
The facts of this case are well written by R. A. Smith, who knew the 
details of the transaction and sets them forth as follows: 

"The fact has already been referred to that the government surveys 
had not been made when the town site was selected. Indeed, they were 
not wholly completed and the plats filed in the local land office until about 
January, 1860. Of course, nothing could be done towards securing the 
title to the town site until after the plats were filed. This was nearly 
three years after the site was first selected. The ardor of the first 
projectors of the scheme had cooled off materially by that time, and none 
of them cared to advance the $1.25 per acre necessary to secure the title, 
and so the matter was allowed to drag along year after year. 

"The writings that had been given for lots were not worth the paper 
they weie written upon. People bought and sold and trafficed in the 
buildings, but so far as town lots were concerned, they were a standing 
joke, a laughing stock and a bjnvord. 

"Alatters pertaining to the title of the town site drifted along in 
this uncertain and slipshod way until some time in 1864, when Mr. Bark- 
man conceived the project of claiming it under the provisions of the pre- 
emption law and pioving it up as a private claim. Other parties had 
considered the same scheme previous to that time, but so far none had 
cared to undertake it. Mr. Bai'kman made his claim sometime during 
the summer of 1864, and proved it up June 10, 1865. It may be well to 
remember right here that none of the land in either Center Grove or 
Spirit Lake townships was ever ofi'ered at public sale or was ever sub- 
ject to sale by private entry, and the only way title could be acquired at 
that time was to prove up either under the pre-emption law, the home- 
stead law, or the town site law. The pre-emption law was the least 
trouble, provided there were no contestants. The other townships of 
the county had previously been offered at public sale and were for sev- 
eral years subject to sale at private entry, but these two townships were 
left out. Barkman's claim comprised the east half of the southwest 
quarter, the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter, and the south- 
west quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 4, Township 99, Range 
36, and contained one hundred and seventy-five and thirty-five one-hun- 
dredths acres, which was one-half of the original town site. Of the other 
half, the northwest one-fourth of the northeast one-fourth was claimed 


by G. Blackert, as a part of his homestead, and the balance, consisting 
of the west one-half of the southeast one-fourth and the south one-fourth 
of the southwest one-fourth was taken by Joseph Currier and proved up 
January 1, 1867. 

"As before stated, Mr. Barkman obtained title to this June 10, 1865, 
but it was nearly five years after this his first survey and plat were 
made. The survey and plat covered but eighty acres. The southeast one- 
fourth of the northwest one-fourth and the northeast one-fourth of the 
southwest one-fourth of Section 4, and was made by Emmet F. Hill some- 
time in 1870. This plat had been filed, but not recorded, and was lost 
at the burning of the courthouse in November, 1871 (correction). At 
the ne.xt term of court Mr. Barkman procured from the judge an order 
authorizing him to file for record a copy, the original having been 
destroyed, which was done. 

"Previous to proving up his claim, Mr. Barkman had promised those 
having interests in the town site that in consideration of their not put- 
ting any obstacles in the .way of his securing title, he would deed to 
them without further consideration the premises to which they laid claim 
or to which they were entitled. This part of the bargain was honestly 
kept, and those having buildings on the town site received title to the 
lots on which they were located. It was in fulfillment of this promise 
that the county received title to the block on which the courthouse is 
located, and the school district the one on which the schoolhouse stands. 

"Somehow the idea has gained ci'edence of late that Mr. Barkman 
deeded the courthouse block to the county in consideration of being 
released from the old swamp land contract, of which he was one of the 
assignees, and that he be allowed to make a new contract whereby all 
of the swamp land should come to him. Now this is a mistake. The 
old swamp land contract had nothing to do with the title to the court- 
house lot. Mr. Barkjnan had nothing to do with the town site when the 
courthouse was built, and it was not until after the town site was aban- 
doned by its original projectors that he conceived the idea of proving 
it up as a private claim. He had not observed the details of the pre- 
emption law very carefully and liad any determined opposition been 
made could not have proved up, and he was only too glad to agree to 
any reasonable proposition that those living on the land to which he 
sought to perfect title saw fit to make. He had never lived on the land 
at all. There were others who had lived on it for years, and had any 
of them ofi"ered any serious opposition he could not have perfected his 
title, and for that reason he promised to protect the rights of all parties, 
and to carry out the agreements previously made by the original projectors 
i-elative to streets and public grounds, which promise was kept to the 
satisfaction of all concerned. 

"As before stated, Mr. Barkman proved up his claim on the 10th 





:;:D liONS 


of June, 1865, and the patent to the land issued April 2, 1866, but it was 
not until the summer of 1870 that the first survey and plat of the town 
site were made. Mr. Barkman, in deeding to those having prior inter- 
ests in the town site, did not in all cases make his descriptions by lots 
and blocks, but deeded in patches of different dimensions describing 
them by metes and bounds. This accounts for so many additions, some 
of them being on ground covered by the original plat. The measurements 
of these tracts were often carelessly made, which had been a source of 
much perplexity in adjusting lines and corners and determining the 
riglits of parties. As regards the southwest one-fourth of the northeast 
one-fourth of the section, Mr. Barkman never laid that out into lots and 
blocks at all, but sold it off in patches of from one to ten acres. These 
tracts were afterwards laid out and platted by their respective owners as 
additions to the town. It was in this way that Rice's, Crandall's, Whit- 
lock's, Shroyer's and several other additions on that forty were made." 

It has been noted before that the town of Spirit Lake suffered a great 
decline during the years of the Civil War. By 1865 the town was in a 
miserable condition. Many of the settlers who had enlisted in the army 
went to other fields when mustered out instead of returning to Dickinson 
County, and those that did return brought little of progressive character 
with them. 

The old Lake View House was moved fi-om the north end of town to 
the future site of the Crandall House, now the site of the Antlers Hotel. 
George C. Bellows at this time also opened a shoe shop on the later site 
of the Stevens Building. The store was next occupied by a drug store, 
in charge of H. C. Nims. This is said to have been the first drug store in 
Dickinson County, although there had been drug dealers in the county prior 
to this time. George Haskins succeeded Nims and held the property until 
1876, when the building was moved away to make room for the Beacon 
Block. In the former Mr. Snyder opened up the first banking business 
in the county, in conjunction with William M. Smith. The business of 
banking was formally begun on February 1, 1877. 

In 1869 a restaurant building was constructed by Roscoe Brown, but 
shortly afterward sold by him to A. W. Osborn, who utilized it as a resi- 
dence after moving it down town. Dan Bellows also erected a building 
to be used as a saloon. E. P. Ring was a later proprietor of this grog- 
shop. George Edwards purchased the structure, moved it to the rear, and 
it was used as a dining hall for the Minnie Waukon Hotel which he built 
in 1874. 


A new era of building commenced in Spirit Lake about 1869, when 
increased numbers of homesteaders came into the county with the purpose 


of settling upon the open prairie. Daniel Stone constructed a concrete 
store on the northeast corner of Hill and Lake streets, where A. M. John- 
son first opened up a general merchandise business, in the year 1870. E. 
Palmer and Henry Barkman erected a building in 1870, which was after- 
ward known as the postoffice building. Palmer placed a hardware and 
agricultural implement stock in this building. 

The first blacksmith shop in Spirit Lake was established by Jemerson 
& Chisholm in December, 1870. In 1874 A. M. Johnson abandoned the 
concrete block which he first occupied and took up quai'ters in a new- 
building on the corner north of the courthouse. The next building was 
that built by Philip Doughty in the summer of 1873. It was sixty by 
twenty-five feet and two stories in height. Doughty occupied the main 
part with a general store, which later passed into other hands. It was 
known as the New York Store, the Variety Store, and was finally moved 
away to make room for the Stevens Block. 

In the spring of 1877 T. J. Francis and S. P. Middleton built a black- 
smith and machine shop. A. L. Sawyer and P. S. Mott first started in the 
livery business in 1874. Johnston & Gilbert succeeded them and also 
had charge of the Spirit Lake and Sibley and the Spirit Lake and Worth- 
ington stage lines. J. F. Dare was the first man to enter the furniture 
and undertaking business here. The first lumber yards were started by 
F. W. Barron and D. L. Riley in the early '80s. In 1882 J. A. Ellis built 
the Dimond Store and started into business, but soon sold out to John 
Dimond. Henry Baxter bought the old postoffice building and a few other 
structures and moved them together, calling the combination the Baxter 
House. On June 1, 1882, the Lake Park House was opened to the public. 

The first brick business block in Spirit Lake was erected by E. M. 
Betzer on the northeast corner of Hill and Lake streets. This was the 
start of better building operations in the town. In 1893 B. F. Stevens, 
of St. Louis, decided to construct a brick block in the city upon a large 
scale, choosing the northwest corner of Hill and Lake streets for a site. 
The property was owned by Mrs. Abbie Rice, Marcus Snyder, William 
Hayward, F. F. Phippen and Mr. Ashby and was purchased by Stevens. 
The property then included the Beacon Block, the Variety Store and the 
Snyder Building, the first named being torn down and the others moved 
to difi'erent sites. The block was made ready for occupancy by February 
1, 1894. and the first to occupy the new structure were: the First National 
Bank; Bergman & Farnham, drugs and groceries; E. C. Renken, drugs 
and stationery ; John Dimond, general store ; Copley & Blackert, hardware. 
The opera house in this block was opened on the night of February 25, 
1894, with "The Galley Slave," played by the Woodward Theatre Com- 
pany. The Masonic and Knights of Pythias Orders occupied the lodge 
rooms in this block. 

The First Methodist Church 
Built in 1877, Spirit Lake. 

H. H. Van Steenburg & Co. Bank 
Established 1876. 

Spirit Lake Brass Band 

SI'll;lT LAKE IX 1.S74 
A. M .Icilmson's store on eoriier. 

Pux.-:^ i-i-'^'' 


ILD^N i-our:DAnoN5 


In the spring of 1894 A. M. Johnson moved away his store building 
from the corner north of the court house and erected a new and modern 
brick structure. The store was opened in its new quarters, the same as at 
present, on the first of December, 1894. In 1898 Lovesee and Hurd erected 
a modern and fully equipped steam flouring mill. 


Believing that the town of Spirit Lake had grown to sufficient size and 
importance the people of the community in 1879 decided to incorporate 
it as a city. This was accomplished according to the law in October, 1879, 
and the following first officers were elected: A. B. Funk, mayor; W. F. 
Pillsbury, recorder; A. M. Johnson, J. A. Doughty, W. H. Bailey, T. L. 
Twiford, J. T. Whitlock, Henry Baxter, trustees. 

The mayors who have served since this first election have been : 
J. A. Doughty, J. W. Cory, B. B. Van Steenburg, Silas Northey, A. W. 
Osborne, E. M. Betzer, E. D. Carlton, J. B. Stair, A. F. Bergman, V. A. 
Arnold, William Hayward, A. W. Osborne, C. L. Stoddard, E. G. Fitz, 
John W. Hartman, C. S. Arthur and Oscar Lindquist. 

In the matter of public improvements, Spirit Lake has not made 
rapid progress. Electricity was first used in the town for lighting in 
1894, when B. F. Stevens erected a plant, primarily to light his new 
building, but also to supply current to local consumers and to the city. 
The current was first turned on February 5, 1894. Six years later he 
presented the power house and heating and lighting plant to the city. 
Not until the last year or so has Spirit Lake been adequately provided 
with water facilities. A pumping station and elevated water tank now 
supply sufficient water for the city's use and for fire protection. Sewer- 
age is a recent improvement, but paved streets have yet to come. Boule- 
vard lights were placed on the downtown streets in 1912. 


The first bank in Dickinson County was established by Marcus Snyder 
and William M. Smith and opened its doors for business January 1, 1877. 
Snyder later bought out Smith's interest in the institution and named it 
the Spirit Lake Bank. The bank then went into the hands of Duff, 
Pearsall & Company, and later became the Dickinson County Bank, the 
Dickinson County Savings Bank, and is now conducted under the name 
of the Spirit Lake National Bank. 

In the summer of 1877 B. B. Van Steenburg, the elder, erected a 
small building on the north side of Hill Street, which was afterward 
occupied by his bank. This bank is now the First National. This institu- 
tion has grown until now it is the principal banking house in Dickinson 
County. The officers are: C. E. Narey, president; 0. S. Jones, vice 


president; Fred W. Jones, vice president; G. H. Rozema, cashier; L. A. 
Price, assistant cashier. The capital stock of the First National is $50,- 
000 ; the surplus about $30,000 ; and the deposits average nearly $500,000. 

The Spirit Lake National Bank is now officered by the following: 
B. B. Van Steenburg, president; Marcus Snyder and H. H. Buck, vice 
presidents ; G. C. Taylor, cashier ; A. D. Chisholm and Hari-y Kuhn, assist- 
ant cashiers. The capital stock is $50,000; the surplus approximately 
$25,000 ; and the deposits in the neighborhood of $350,000. 

The Farmers & Merchants Bank of Spirit Lake was opened for 
business on April 3, 1916. This bank was organized by Estherville busi- 
ness men. John P. Kirby is the president and B. A. Gronstal the cashier. 
The capital stock is $10,000. 


In the chapter on early settlement in this history of Dickinson County 
something is said of the early mail routes to and from the settlement at 
Spirit Lake and difficulty of transporting mail matter across the prairies. 
It is needless to repeat this description. The office at Spirit Lake was 
established in February, 1858, and R. U. Wheelock was made the first 
postmaster, a position which he kept until he left the county in 1863. 
His leave-taking was not expected to be permanent, consequently B. F. 
Parmenter superintended the office in his name during his absence; the 
office was kept at his residence near the site of the Presbyterian Church. 
In two years Parmenter moved to Boone, Iowa, and turned the few 
duties of the office over to G. Blackert, who was the next commissioned 
postmaster. The office was then kept in his residence on the later Carlton 
residence site. Blacker kept the office until 1869, when he resigned, and 
was succeeded by Eben. Palmer. Palmer kept the position until 1883, 
when the office was made a presidential one. Following him, these men 
have filled the position of Spirit Lake postmaster: A. B. Funk, A. F. 
Heath, E. L. Brownell, A. F. Bergman, Joseph A. Smith, A. F. Bergman 
and G. W. Stapleton. M. C. Nelson is the present incumbent. 


The most disastrous windstorm ever experienced in Dickinson County 
occurred on May 3, 1905. At seven o'clock in the evening the fury of the 
gale struck the city and destroyed buildings and property of fully $50,000 
value. The Spirit Lake flouring mill and the Rock Island depot were 
more seriously damaged than any other buildings in town. Several 
people were injured by falling timbers and debris, but fortunately no one 
was killed. Many miraculous escapes were reported from the country 
districts, where great loss was suffered also among the live stock. 






The town of Lake Park has one of the most beautiful locations of any 
town in northwestern Iowa — on the northeastern shore of Silver Lake in 
Silver Lake Township. The town of Lake Park owes its existence to the 
construction of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad 
through the present site in the year 1882. Several towns such as Supe- 
rior and Montgomery were established by the railroad and Lake Park is 
numbered among them. 

Something of the first settlement of Silver Lake Township has been 
given in another chapter — how the first settlement was made by George 
Nicholson in August, 1868, etc. The first postoflSce in the township was 
established in 1872, called Austin, with C. B. Knox as postmaster. The 
mail was carried through the township over two routes, the Spirit Lake 
and Sibley and the Spirit Lake and Worthington, each with weekly ser- 

As stated before the railroad was projected westward from Spirit 
Lake in the late summer of 1882 and the site for the new town selected on 
a portion of Section 27, Township 100, Range 38. Dr. Henry Shimer of 
Mt. Carroll, Illinois, was the original proprietor, and the plat was filed in 
the county courthouse August 18, 1882. 

The first building to be erected on the new town site was a store by 
William Thompson. Armin & Riley soon established themselves in the 
grain business, but after a few years sold out to Stockdale & Bahls. Har- 
vey & Tru'esdale opened up a hardware business and W. S. Bowles started 
the first blacksmith shop. The first hotel was constructed by Anthony 



Arnold, who later sold out to E. P. Ring, the latter also being the first to 
operate a livery stable. S. Benson is said to have been the first man to 
open a restaurant, afterward installing a stock of dry goods in connection. 
In 1887 Strathman & Bock started a dry goods store. L. Stoltenberg 
first sold agricultural implements in 1885. John Hunt had the first meat 
market and Ole Knuteson was the first shoemaker. The latter built a 
structure for the shop in 1886. J. T. Benson sold the first furniture in 
1890 and in the following year Elmer Buff'um opened the first harness 

The year 1888 brought new life to the town and better buildings 
were erected, a better business and civic spirit came into existence, and 
for the first time the little community began to progress properly. One 
of the first attempts at better stores was that of Koester & Company, 
which firm in 1888 placed a stock of goods on sale which was considered 
far ahead of anything previously offered. 

Lake Park was incorporated in August, 1892, with the following 
first officers: John Buffum, mayor; Theodore Strathman, recorder; H. H. 
Rohlf, D. C. May, E. P. Ring, F. W. Tutin, John Linder, William Patterson, 

The first bank in Lake Park was the private institution of Green & 
Patch, which commenced business in 1889. A year afterward it was or- 
ganized as the Lake Park State Savings Bank, with John W. Cravens, 
president, and M. D. Green, cashier. In 1892 a brick building, the first 
in the town, was erected by the bank. The present officers of the bank 
are : Aug. Sindt, president ; F. W. Schoellerman, vice president ; J. Denk- 
man, cashier; C. N. Arens and A. E. Goetsch, assistant cashiers. The 
capital stock is $25,000 and the deposits average about $175,000. The 
German Savings Bank of Lake Park was organized in 1901 and is now 
officered by the following named: Louis Stoltenberg, president; A. H. 
Stoltenberg, vice president; Theodore Strathman, cashier; E. Moeller, 
assistant cashier. The capital stock is $25,000; the surplus $43,000, and 
the deposits about $315,000. 

In 1882 the name of the postofRce was changed from Austin to Lake 
Park and William Thompson appointed postmastei-. He was succeeded by 
Ira Breffle. 


The town of Milford had its start on account of the ei'ection of the 
Milford flouring mill in the summer of 1869. A small community began 
to grow around the location of the mill. The company which operated 
this mill procured a half section of land and, after completing the erec- 
tion of the mill and other improvements, laid out a plat of the town of 


Milford in the summer of 1870. The sawmill was started in July, 1869, 
and the grist-mill in December. 

In the summer of 1870 several buildings were constructed on the new 
plat, among them being two hotels, one by A. D. Inman and the other 
by Case & Arnold. T. S. Seymour built a residence at the same time. 
The Fourth of July was fittingly celebrated at Inman's this summer. The 
Case & Arnold Hotel was known as the Case House, and was three stories 
in height, the upper story being used as a public hall. Lumber was the 
material used in the construction of all these first buildings, part of which 
was hauled from Algona. Shortly, the business of the new towii of Mil- 
ford not being sufficient for the maintenance of two hostelries, the Case 
House was abandoned. However, the upper room, which was the public 
hall, still served to house the various entertainments, meetings, religious 
services, dances, etc., which were the only means of diversion possible for 
the settlers. The hall was the home of the celebrated Milford Dancing 
School in the early '70s, the Milford Pioneer Society and other organiza- 

The first postoffice in the town of Milford was established in the year 
1869, I. S. Foster, postmaster. L. A. Litel followed Foster, then W. F. 
Carlton. Carlton was succeeded in 1881 by Foster and the latter was 
postmaster when the towai was moved in 1882. A daily stage from Spen- 
cer to Jackson carried all the mail received at Milford. It was called 
the Bailey & Barney stage line. 

The first store to be opened in Milford, the old town, was that of 
L. A. Litel, in the summer of 1870. He bought an old granary building 
from A. D. Inman and used this temporarily for his stock of goods until 
he could the construction of his own building. He was supplanted 
by Carlton Brothers in November, 1871, who had a stock of groceries and 
hardware. They also added a set of tinner's tools, the first in the county, 
in 1872 and in 1873 a stock of dry goods. R. A. Smith was the builder 
of a store building in the fall of 1870, in which he put on sale a general 
line of goods. Mr. Smith himself writes of the early business of Milford 
from then on as follows: "R. A. Smith remained in business there until 
January 1, 1872, when he sold out to Dr. W. S. Beers, who, after con- 
tinuing there in business for a while, bought the Case House and fitted 
up the lower room for a store, to which he transferred his business, where 
he remained until 1874. He then sold out to Wallace Smith and moved 
to Spirit Lake. In the meantime he had rented the old store to A. Price, 
of Lakeville, who occupied it as a drugstore for a while, after which it 
was moved down to the lower mill. Wallace Smith remained in business 
until the -spring of 1877, when he sold out and moved to Westport. . . . 
In 1876 the Carlton Brothers finished off" a store building which had been 
commenced by I. S. Foster & Company, across the street from theii' fii'st 


location and moved their business into it, remaining there until 1879, 
when the store was occupied by I. S. Foster & Company, and the Carltons 
occupied the building vacated by Wallace Smith. I. S. Foster & Company 
continued in the business until the locating of the railroad forced the 
moving of the town, they moving with it. The first blacksmith shop in 
Milford was conducted by S. E. Inman and George Middleton, but they 
were in a short time succeeded by Chris Kessey. Several residences were 
built, but these cannot be noticed in detail. 

"As a village the old town of Milford started in with as bright pros- 
pects as any new town away from railroads could desire, but the money 
panic of 1872, succeeded as it was by the four years of entire destruction 
of crops by the grasshopper raids, put a stop to its growth, and when 
they had partially recovered from that the location of the Chicago, Mil- 
waukee & St. Paul Railroad forced an entire change of location. Most of 
the important buildings were moved to the new town, the last but not 
least being the "old grist mill," which, by the way, had been thoroughly 
overhauled and entirely rebuilt and fitted up with modern machinery 
long before its removal. ... In the summer of 1873 Henry Barkman 
and R. A. Smith erected a second mill on the outlet a mile below the other 
one. It was believed at that time that the outlet water power would 
prove a permanent one and had it done so it would have been one of the 
best in the state. The work on the mill was in an advanced state when 
the country was struck by the memorable grasshopper raid of 1873. To 
stop where they were with the work meant the loss of all that had been 
done, while the outlook was not very promising in case they went forward 
with their work. This, however, they finally decided to do. Accordingly 
the work was continued and the mill put into running order in October, 
1873. The mill did fairly well that season as the destruction of crops was 
but partial. Had emigration i-emained what it had been for three years 
previous, the mill could doubtless have been made to pay, but instead of 
that large tracts of land were abandoned and in some instances whole 
neighborhoods almost depopulated. Again, what wheat was raised dur- 
ing and after the grasshopper visitation was far inferior in quality to 
that raised before. Owing to all of these adverse circumstances the mill 
never was made to pay. Mr. Barkman died in February, 1878." 

The land upon which the new town of Milford, or North Milford as 
it was called, was laid out, was purchased from John Lawler. The town 
was laid out by him, surveyed, platted, and the plat filed at the Dickinson 
County courthouse August 21, 1882. 

The first business to open up in the new location was the lumber 
yard of Rasmussen Brothers. Coal and grain were added to their stock 
later. Besides the old buildings which were transported from the old 
town to the new, several new buildings were quickly constructed. One 






was that of the Commercial Savings Bank, now the First National. R. M. 
Brigham erected a hardware store for the firm of Snyder & Bowers. 
I. S. Foster & Company sold the first dry goods. J. A. Ellis built a store 
building and in January, 1883, the firm of Ellis & Blackert opened a gen- 
eral store there. P. Staur & Company started a second lumber yard. 
Chris Kessey opened the first blacksmith shop, having moved up from 
the old town. The first agricultural implement stock was carried by Ben- 
der Brothers of Spencer, Frank Knight acting as their i-epresentative. 
George A. White also dealt in the same line of goods. The first hotel in 
new Milford was the Central House, run by R. C. McCutchin. C. Potter 
catered to the public with a restaurant. Ira F. Hall and Hiram Davis 
took care of the first livery business. I. S. Foster was the first postmaster 
in the new town, and was succeeded by E. A. Case. It was made a pres- 
idential office in July, 1900. 

The Commercial Savings Bank of Milford was started in 1884, by 
H. L. Goodrich and W. M. Smith, with a capital stock of $5,000. Subse- 
quently it became the First National Bank of Milford and now has a cap- 
ital stock of $35,000; a surplus of $55,000, and deposits averaging 
$375,000. The officers are as follows: C. F. Mauss, president; C. Tor- 
stenson, vice president; P. 0. Bjorenson, cashier; and L. D. Daily, assist- 
ant cashier. The new building of the institution was dedicated in Feb- 
ruary, 1912. 

The Milford Savings Bank, now the Milford National Bank, was 
established in 1895. The officers now are: H. H. Overocker, president; 
J. F. Moy, vice president ; E. L. Ewen, cashier. The capital stock of this 
bank is $25,000; the surplus $8,000, and the deposits over $125,000. 

The town of Milford was incorporated June 11, 1892, and the first 
officers were W. F. Pillsbury, mayor; H. J. Norheim, recorder; William 
Chase, J. A. Ellis, C. A. West, R. C. McCutchin, Andrew Davidson and 
G. A. O'Farrell, councilmen. 


Superior owes its inception to the railroad as do many of the other 
smaller towns along the line. Superior Township itself once defeated the 
railroad proposition, but the railroad promised to build and equip a sta- 
tion within the township, so at a second election the proposition carried. 
The road came through in the spring of 1882, and the station was built 
during the following year, with Frank Taylor as local agent. 

W. S. Gardner bought a quarter section adjoining the town site the 
same year and put in the first general store. He delivered and traded in 
about every article of produce a community would need, including gro- 
ceries, hardware, dry goods, grain and live stock. The second store in 


Superior was erected by Warren Hurd in 1884 and was used by David 
Mitchell as a general store. Ed Fogarty was the first grain dealer ; Rob- 
erts & Sullivan had the first lumber yard in 1885, and were succeeded by 
the Farmers' Cooperative Company; the first hotel was built by D. E. 
Hurd; the first livery barn was constructed by Warren Hurd and run by 
Frank Coyle. About the first building of any size in Superior was built in 
1889 and was used for many purposes and many kinds of stores. 

The Superior postoflice was established in 1883. W. S. Gardner was 
given the position of postmaster. He kept the office at his farm, but find- 
ing this a great inconvenience, decided to build up-town and go into busi- 
ness. David Mitchell succeeded him in 1890. 

The first bank in Superior, the Superior Savings Bank, was started 
in 1890 by W. W. Hurd. The present Superior Bank was established as 
such in 1904 and now has a capital stock of $6,500 ; a surplus of $4,000, 
and deposits of $55,000. G. W. Small is president; John Jacobs, vice 
president; J. C. Smith, cashier, and Alice Garling, assistant cashier. 

Superior was incorporated in February, 1896. The first meeting of 
the council was held on March 6th of that year. The first officers were : 
L. Broderick, mayor; John Jacobs, assessor; G. M. West, recorder; L. F. 
Kleibenstein, M. C. Hogle, D. L. Wylde, C. D. Sergeant, T. Trowbridge 
and J. P. Nelson, councilmen. 

Since the establishment of the town two disastrous fires have caused 
large amounts of damage in the business section. The first of these con- 
flagrations occurred in 1897, when the bank, hotel, drug store, printing 
office, dry goods store and furniture store, also other places of business 
were destroyed. Some of these buildings were afterward rebuilt, but the 
havoc was of such extent that the people were slow in recovering. The 
second fire of consequence occurred on August 11, 1903, when the entire 
row of buildings on the west side of the main street, including the drug 
store, bank and J. P. Nelson's general store, were consumed. The Es- 
therville fire department came to the assistance of the local fire fighters. 


The town of Terrill was born in the summer of 1895. It was the 
outcome of the railroad agitation in Lloyd Township, which has been 
described in its proper place in this volume. A tract of land in Section 
15, owned by E. E. Taylor, was selected, and he had it surveyed, platted 
and placed on file at the county seat. The name of Trilby was decided 
upon as the proper title for the new town, but upon application to the 
postoffice department for a local office, it was discovered that another 
town of that name existed in Iowa, so the name was changed to Terrill. 
A store, bank and hotel were the first buildings erected here, these dur- 
ing the initial summer. J. R. Phelps started the hotel ; C. H. Avery the 


dry goods store ; and the Terrill Bank was established by Taylor & Ewert. 
The firm of Sharkey & McNary opened a hardware store. Soon, how- 
ever, a period of depression came to the new community, when the in- 
flated Manitoba & Gulf Railroad Company was punctured and all the 
wind let out. The men who had established business in Terrill became 
discouraged and several of them moved away, while others stuck grimly 
to their guns and waited for better times to come, displaying a courage 
which had its merited reward. 

The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad was built through the township 
in 1899 and Terrill was made a station upon the line. The first survey 
had been a little to the east of Terrill, missing the tovni, but eventually 
the officials decided to swing farther west and take in that community. 
Mr. Taylor, the town proprietor, donated the right of way through the 
land in which he was interested. 

This road in operation, Terrill began a new life and quickly grew to 
a town of civic excellence, prosperous business conditions and attractive 
appearance. The old buildings were renovated and many new ones 
erected. Terrill is now one of the busiest towns in Dickinson County. 

Two banks are doing business here, a sufficient testimony to the 
conditions here. The First National Bank was established in 1899 and 
now has a capital stock of $25,000; a surplus of $8,000, and deposits of 
over $150,000. H. H. Buck is the president of the institution; A. W. 
Bascom, vice president; C. C. Gravatt, cashier; and E. J. Starkey, as- 
sistant cashier. 

The Terrill Savings Bank was established here in 1905. A. W. 
Bascom is the president; H. H. Buck, vice president; L. A. Koon, cashier; 
and Donald Scott, assistant cashier. The capital stock amounts to 
$10,000, and the deposits about $50,000. 

The town of Terrill was incorporated in 1899 and Howard Everett 
was elected the first mayor. D. M. Shaffer was the first postmaster. 


The town of Montgomery is a small village located on Section 34, 
Diamond Lake Township, on the Rock Island Railroad. This village was 
started with the railroad, but has never grown to the extent of the other 
towns along the line. 

One bank is located here — the Bank of Montgomery, established in 
1901. C. E. Narey is the president and B. A. Webb the cashier. There 
is a capital stock of $5,000 ; a surplus of $4,000, and deposits amounting 
to $55,000. 

Other towns in Dickinson County, too small to merit detailed de- 
scription are: Orleans, Okoboji and Hagerty. The first two are prom- 
inent as summer resorts and are mentioned elsewhere as such. 








Prior to the coming of the railroads to Dickinson County travel and 
transportation were chief among the settlers' difficulties. Fort Dodge, 
Sioux City and Mankato were supply points and to obtain provisions, 
clothes and other materials the pioneer was compelled to travel overland 
to these points and return. Ox teams were principally used, a method 
of travel slow and tedious. The hardships endured en route have been 
described among the early settlers' experiences — how they bridged 
streams, crossed sloughs and directed their path. No regular roads 
were surveyed for several years, although frequent travel had beaten 
paths in the different directions, upon the lines of which many of the 
first roads were later laid out. 

The first road to be laid out in the county, according to the official 
records at the county courthouse, was one from Spirit Lake running in 
the direction of Sioux City. One from Spirit Lake to Gar Outlet was 
another and was surveyed by S. H. Morrow. Another county road 
commencing at the bridge east of Spirit Lake and running to Gar Outlet, 
a resurvey and relocation of the former road, was done by C. Carpenter 
and R. A. Smith in 1860. A road from Stimson Mill by way of Center 
Grove to a "point where the east line of Samuel Roger's claim intersects 
a road running from Spirit Lake to Clay County" was completed in 1861 
only in the southern part. A road from Spirit Lake to the south side 
of Center Grove was surveyed in 1865, also the Marble Grove road. The 
Okoboji and Sioux City road was laid out by A. Inman and R. A. Smith 
in December, 1866. The Spirit Lake and Sioux City i-oad, the Spirit 



Lake and Jackson road, the Silver Lake road, the West Okoboji road and 
the Lost Island road were surveyed in 1868 by W. F. Pillsbury and R. A. 
Smith. The Milford road, the Swan Lake and Estherville road and the 
Grand Prairie road were completed shortly afterward. 

One of the first acts for the securing of railroad facilities was when 
much of the government land was granted to the state of Minnesota for 
aid of the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad, which, however, passed 
through the counties west of here in 1871, bitterly disappointing the peo- 
ple of Dickinson County. This made the town of Sibley for many years 
the nearest railroad station, to reach it requiring a journey of from 
twenty-five to forty miles for the people of this county. Algona, sixty 
miles away, was located on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, and was 
the next nearest station for the people of this county. In 1878 the road 
was built on westward as far as Spencer, Iowa. 


By 1871 the need of a railroad in Dickinson County had become 
imperative. The county was becoming settled rapidly and large crops 
were being raised, and some method of transporting the grain and other 
produce, as well as supplying traveling means to the people was neces- 
sary to the life of the county and its continued prosperity. In the summer 
of 1871 a local company was organized by some of the public spirited cit- 
izens of northwestern Iowa. The first move in this enterprise was made 
by citizens of Sioux Rapids, among them D. C. Thomas and Stephen 
Olney, Jr. A meeting was held at Spirit Lake on July 6, 1871, and a 
company formally organized. The committee on incorporation was com- 
posed of the following: D. C. Thomas and Stephen Olney, Jr., of Sioux 
Rapids; C. M. Squire and J. F. Calkins of Spencer; R. L. Wilcox and 0. 
Rice of Spirit Lake; and H. S. Bailey of Jackson. Henry Barkman of 
Spirit Lake was elected president of the new organization, and Stephen 
Olney, Jr., secretary. E. F. Hill of Spirit Lake was named as engineer. 
This company planned to make a campaign along the pi'oposed line of 
the railroad and secure whatever aid could be voted by the people. A 
survey was made in the fall of the year of organization and everything 
found to be promising. In every township of Dickinson County elections 
were held for aiding the road, and in all but one or two the proposition 
passed favorably. Clay County, in fact, was about the only place in 
which the proposed road was not regarded with favor. The people of 
that county 'even refused to hold an election. This division of opinion 
among the people of this part of the state doomed the new road at the 
start, and it was not long until the organization effected at Spirit Lake 
was abandoned. 



Shortly after the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul had completed their 
western main line through Spencer in 1878 a number of prominent cit- 
izens of Spirit Lake, among whom were Henry Barkman and T. S. Sey- 
mour, requested the road to build a line from Spencer to Spirit Lake, and 
in compliance with this request the railroad company made a survey of 
the line between the two towns. This was as far as the work progressed 
at that time, the company believing that it would not be a profitable 

THE C. & N. W. PLAN 

In the summer of 1880 the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Com- 
pany planned to build a branch line from Goldfield, or nearby point, 
toward the west to the Black Hills. As was the custom, the railroad 
company demanded a specified amount of aid from the people living along 
the route. In Dickinson County elections were held in all of the town- 
ships and the proposition was carried favorably in Center Grove, Spii-it 
Lake, Diamond Lake, Silver Lake, Superior and Excelsior Townships. 
This small number of townships voting favorably on the railroad tax did 
not satisfy the company, nor did it comply with the number demanded 
when the offer of building the road had been made. The company was 
surveying another route at the same time, through Sioux Rapids and 
Peterson, and by some authorities it is considered improbable that they 
would have built the road through Dickinson County even if the aid had 
been voted in every township. The Chicago & Northwestern made no 
further plans to help the people of Dickinson County by a line. 


In the summer of 1881 the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern, 
through S. L. Dows, offered to build a railroad through the county, pro- 
viding sufficient aid was voted by the different townships. Elections 
were held accordingly and the following towiships were found to be in 
favor of the proposition: Center Grove, Spirit Lake, Silver Lake, Dia- 
mond Lake and Superior. Superior first voted against the road, but the 
latter's promise to maintain a depot in the township had the effect of 
changing the vote to the favorable side. The number of townships in 
Dickinson voting in favor of the road, as in the election for the North- • 
western, was not as large as the road officials had demanded in their 
promise to build, but in this case the company decided to build anyhow 
and so notified the people and the taxes were levied. The building of the 


line went ahead rapidly and on July 11, 1882, the first train was run 
into Spirit Lake. This line is now a part of the Chicago, Rock Island & 
Pacific System. 


About the time of the completion of the work on the B. C. R. & N. 
the Des Moines & Northwestern Railroad Company, through its repre- 
sentative, J. S. Polk of Des Moines, made a proposition to the people of 
the county. The road had been constructed to Fonda in Pocahontas 
County, and the proposition gave the information that it was under con- 
sideration to extend it to Jackson, Minnesota. A survey of the line was 
made by Surveyor Wilkins of Dickinson County in 1881. The town- 
ships of Milford. Okoboji, Excelsior, Lloyd, Richland and Lakeville voted 
aid to the road, the right of way was purchased, and the actual work of 
grading the roadbed was commenced. This part of the work was com- 
pleted from Spencer to Spirit Lake and then progress ceased. The true 
reason for this abandonment of the project was never learned, but noth- 
ing was ever attempted in getting the road completed. 


While these diflFerent railroad lines were being projected and built, 
the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Company determined to construct 
their own line, a work which they had declined to do before. The pros- 
pect of other roads usurping the field and securing the business of the 
county evidently caused their sudden move. In the fall of 1881 surveys 
were made and a sufficient force of workmen put to work to finish the line 
between Spencer and Spirit Lake. The first train entered Dickinson 
County on August 1, 1882, but not until the following spring was the 
road completed to Spirit Lake. 


The third railroad in the county, the Minneapolis & St. Louis, was 
built through Lloyd Township in 1899. The railroad company used part 
of the roadbed of the defunct Manitoba Company. The first survey for 
the proposed line was in a direct line between Estherville and Spencer, 
but later the officials decided to make the town of Terrill a station. Mr. 
Taylor, town proprietor, and others, donated the right of way for the 
road. There. was an efl'ort made by citizens of the county to have the 
Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad built through the center of the county, 
with stations at Spirit Lake and Milford, but this eflfort was unsuccessful. 



The Manitoba & Gulf Railroad was the name of a railroad enterprise 
started in 1894 or 1895. The name suggests the proposed scope of the 
work. A Mr. Carpenter and others advanced the scheme, it is said 
without capital, intending to secure as much right of way and as large 
donations as possible, and then dispose of the work to some other con- 
cern. Minnesota gave them plenty of aid, but the townships in Dick- 
inson County refused to vote taxes for a scheme which they had expe- 
rienced before. However, this did not deter the company from surveying 
a line through SSuperior, Richland and Lloyd Townships. In the summer 
and autumn of 1895 grading was completed across Richland Township, 
and a little done in Lloyd and Superior, but before the year closed the 
company had gone into bankruptcy and the work ceased. 


About the first rhention of bridges in this county was when the con- 
tractors in the swamp land deal agreed to erect the county courthouse, 
also three bridges — one across East Okoboji Lake east of the settlement 
at Spirit Lake, one across the straits between East and West Okoboji 
Lakes, and one across the Little Sioux River. The two bridges across 
the lake were finished in the year 1860, the one at Spirit Lake being three 
hundred feet long and the one at Okoboji two hundred and ten feet in 
length. The Spirit Lake bridge was superintended by Harvey Abbott, 
a brother-in-law of Howe and Wheelock, while John Loomis built the 
one at Okoboji, having taken the contract from Howe and Arthur before 
the principal contract was given to Barkman and Prescott. Four times 
these bridges have been rebuilt since that time. 

The first bridges were not constructed with the idea of permitting 
lake vessels to pass under them. A plan was advanced at one time that 
a light, strong bridge, which could be lifted to an upright position in 
order to let boats through, would be feasible. This was constructed, but 
the task of lifting it proved too burdensome and some other means be- 
came necessary. In 1883 the bridges were taken out and the swing 
bridges erected, the first ones set on piles. In the winter of 1897-8 these 
were taken out and stone piers set in cement substituted for the piles. 






The first schools in Dickinson County were opened at Spirit Lake, 
Okoboji, Center Grove and Tusculum. Dr. J. S. Prescott established a 
private school soon after his arrival in this county in 1858. In his house 
one room was used for school purposes and Miss Amanda L. Smith was 
employed to teach the pupils, most of whom were from Prescott's family 
and a few others. However, the first real public school was taught at 
Okoboji in the winter of 1862-3 by Myra Smith. 

J. S. Prescott was a visionary person — a man with good intentions, 
but inability of execution. He was one of the founders of a college at 
Appleton, Wisconsin, also at Point Bluff, Wisconsin. He heard of the 
country around the lakes in northwestern Iowa and conceived the idea of 
founding another institution of learning here, one which would follow the 
lines of the one at Appleton. In order to further this undertaking he per- 
suaded various men of means in Wisconsin and Ohio to advance funds to 
him. He planned to select a site well located, lay out a town site, and then 
hold the most desirable pieces of land for the institution of learning and 
as an endowment. He selected what was later known as Tusculum Grove, 
on the east side of East Okoboji Lake, bought Thatcher's claim and also 
that of Mr. Howe. He laid out the town per arrangement and named 
it Tusculum. The seat of learning, however, did not materialize, for 
many reasons'which are stated in an earlier chapter. Doctor Prescott did 
not win for himself an enviable reputation by his "land-grabbing" tac- 
tics and finally disposed of his Tusculum claims for a mere song. Pres- 



cott was given the title of "doctor" because he was educated for that 
profession, but later turned to the ministry and preached in Dickinson 
County. He was unique, well educated and well meaning, but simply 
lacked the necessary quality to insure success. His private school taught 
by Miss Amanda Smith, later Mrs. A. L. Buckland, was abandoned after 
a year and a half. 

Smith's History of Dickinson County states : "It may seem strange 
to some that this county did not have public funds as early as the adjoin- 
ing counties of Clay and O'Brien. The reason is this : In Clay and 
O'Brien Counties the greater part of their land had been proclaimed for 
sale previous to the panic of 1857 and was entered up by speculators and 
non-residents, and was held by them at the time of the first settlement 
of the counties, and of course one of the first duties of the patriotic set- 
tler was to see that the non-resident 'land shark' paid his proper propor- 
tion of taxes, and especially of school, road and bridge taxes. His second 
duty was to see that the proceeds arising from these taxes were properly 

"The late Judge A. W. Hubbard of Sioux City used to tell a story of 
his own experience that illustrates the point better than any amount of 
explanation would. He owned quite a tract of wild land in one of the 
counties between here and Sioux City, and he said that he always noticed 
from his tax receipts that he was all of the time paying a good round 
school tax. Having business in that vicinity at one time, he thought he 
would drive out and see his land and see what sort of a neighborhood it 
was in. Accordingly he employed a man who knew the country to drive 
out with him and made the trip, and found somewhat to his surprise that 
there was but one man living in the school district in which his land was 
located. He found a commodious, well furnished schoolhouse, with all of 
the fixtures and appurtenances for maintaining a first class school, while 
the lone settler and the hired man were the full board of directors. His 
aries. His wife was also teacher and his children were the only ones 
wife was treasurer and his oldest daughter secretary, both on good sal- 
of school age for miles around. 

"The judge took in the situation at a glance and was highly amused 
by it, and driving up to the settler's log cabin, entered into conversation 
with him. After talking awhile about the country and the prospects of 
its settlement and growth, the judge made some inquiries regarding their 
school and finally remarked that he could not see why it would not be a 
good idea for the settler to move right into the schoolhouse and live there. 
His cabin was small and uncomfortable, while the school house was large 
and commodious, and then as there were no other children, there would 
be no one to complain. The settler answered that he had been thinking 
a great deal about it of late, and he believed he would. And sure enough 


when wintei' came on it found the family comfortably fixed in the new 
schoolhouse, while the 'teachers' fund' and the 'contingent fund' con- 
tributed liberally to their support." 


The first school in Spirit Lake was a private school, taught by Miss 
Mary Howe, who was paid for her services by the parents of her pupils. 
The first school here maintained by a public school fund was taught by 
Rev. William Leggett, a preacher, in the winter of 1863-4. Any room 
available was used for holding classes, no schoolhouse being built until 

In an article in a local paper G. E. Schuneman wrote of the first 
school in Spirit Lake: "In the summer of 1861 Mary Howe taught 
school in her father's attic, above the living rooms, the chimney passing 
through the middle of the room, and the cooking being done in the rooms 
below. The house stood on the site of Ed Carleton's present home. Miss 
Howe could stand upright only in the center of the room. The heat was 
intolerable. The following winter, after the Indians had ceased to trou- 
ble, an elderly Congregational minister, named Leggett, kept school in 
a log house near the east end of the lot where William Stapleton lives. 
Miss Lockwood taught the next winter in my Uncle Henry's house, and 
Miss Lawton began the next term in the Orson Rice house, then removing 
to the Johnston home on the McMahon place, the old school room being 
in the back part and a store in the front. Mr. Andrew Smith next taught 
a term on the east shore of East Okoboji. Then I rode horseback to the 
little log hut near the poorhouse. After that the courthouse was used 
and the first teacher was Horace Bennett." 

It has already been stated how the school authorities utilized the 
upper story of the first courthouse, paying the rent by buying and in- 
stalling the seats and other equipment. Miss Myra Smith taught the first 
term here, in the summer of 1866. 

After the courthouse had been destroyed by fire, entailing the loss 
of all the school furniture, a building was erected south of the Crandall 
House, the upper story used for a Masonic lodge room and the lower for 
school purposes. This was used until the school grew to such an extent 
that both rooms were necessary, and then the whole structure was moved 
to the present location of the consolidated school building, the ground 
which had been donated by Henry Barkman. W. F. Pillsbury was the 
first teacher in. this schoolhouse. The last ones in this building were 
H. I. Wasson and Mrs. Albert Arthur, the former for the advanced 
grades and the latter for the primary. In 1882 it was torn down and a 
new building erected, which was more adequately suited to the needs of 


the community and which was quite a pretentious structure for the time. 
This school served until 1914, when the present consolidated building was 


At least one authority says that the first real schoolhouse in the 
county, that is, built and used for that purpose and none other, was the 
log schoolhouse at Center Grove. In the spring and summer of 1863 
Philip Doughty, Ludwig Lewis, Samuel Rogers, C. H. Evans, M. J. 
Smith and W. B. Brown began a movement to erect this school, to pro- 
vide educational facilities for the many youngsters in the vicinity. Private 
donations were secured, some of them in the form of building mate- 
rials. A "house raising" was held after all the logs, shingles, etc., had 
been hauled to the site and in a short time the structure was complete. 
The shack, as it really w^as, was about seven feet in height, fourteen feet 
wide and twenty feet long. Boards fastened around the wall served as 
desks and the seats were rude benches fashioned out of rough logs. After 
a few years' service this "furniture" was removed ^nd good equipment 
installed. The building was located in the extreme southwestern corner 
of Center Grove. Myra Smith taught the first classes here in the winter of 
1863-4. The first summer school was taught by Julia Bennett. Some 
of the other early pedagogues here were: Ardella and Arietta Waugh, 
G. Fairchild, C. H. Rogers, A. C. Justice and George Hilbert. The latter 
was the last in the log building, the school being demolished in the winter 
of 1874-5. 

The Center Grove district is notable as having been the only district 
organized under the law of 1872, authorizing rural independent districts. 
The law was repealed at the next session of the Legislature. A new school 
building was erected after the log one was torn down and in this A. C. 
Justice was the first teacher. 


The honor of being the first school in the county has been accorded 
to that held in the Harvey Luce cabin at Okoboji and taught by Miss 
Myra Smith. In the summer of 1864 a class was held in J. S. Prescoot's 
barn, a new structure of frame, which was also used for church meet- 
ings. Miss Syrena Pillsbury taught here during the following winter. 
Prescott had a frame building, sixteen by twenty, and this he donated 
to the district with the understanding that they would move it to a suit- 
able site and furnish it as a school. A band of the settlers got together 
and moved the building part of the way, an accident stopping them. Be- 
fore they could again undertake the task Prescott's home was burned and 


he himself utilized the intended school building as a residence. In the 
summer of 1865 subscriptions were taken for a new building. The plan 
was successful and a lumber structure, twenty by thirty, was put up. 
The walls were bricked up. The first school, according to several author- 
ities, was taught here by Syrena Pillsbury, followed by Mrs. A. L. Buck- 
land, W. F. Pillsbuiy and Anna Fairchild. 


The first school in the Tusculum district was held in the old Thatcher 
cabin and was taught by Miss Theresa Ridley of Estherville. Christopher 
Rasmussen, Burgess Jones, Miss Nellie Arthur were other early teachers. 
In 1870 the cabin was abandoned and a modern school, for the time, 

Beginning with the year 1870 the county began to grow in popula- 
tion ; emigration became larger ; and in conformity with this increase 
new and more schools were needed in the new communities. 


At Lakeville the settlers erected a schoolhouse in 1869, which at the 
time was the largest and best furnished of any school in the county. Mrs. 
Esther Carleton taught first here. 

The first school in Milford was taught by Miss Helen Lawton of 
Emmet County in the summer of 1872. Her immediate successors were: 
Miss Emma Gillett, Mrs. A. L. Buckland, Mrs. H. C. Crary and R. B. 
Nicol. After the removal to the new town the independent school dis- 
trict of Milford was formed of territory from both Milford and Okoboji 
Townships and a schoolhouse from each was moved into town. These 
were used until 1888, when they were sold and a modern building erected. 
In 1891 this structure was destroyed by fire, but was immediately re- 
placed by a similar building. 

The first school in Silver Lake Township was taught by Louise Mid- 
dleton of Lakeville and was held in the house of C. B. Knox. The second 
term was held in the house of John Dingwall. After the town was set 
off from Lakeville the first thing done was to erect a school building. It 
was constructed in 1873 opposite the northeast corner of the lake and 
was known as the Knox School. In 1874 another building was put up 
at the southwest corner of the lake and became known as the Dingwall 
School. R. B. Nicol taught the first term in each of these schools, the 
winter of 1873-4 in the Knox School and in the Dingwall School the 
following winter. After a time the township adopted the plan of having 
alternate terms in each of the two houses, a plan which was more sue- 


cessful than dividing the attendance between the two places. In 1884 a 
new two-room building was erected in Lake Park. 

Probably the first schoolhouse in Superior was built in 1886. The 
first term of school in Terrill was taught by E. E. Heklridge soon after 
the opening of the town. Lloyd Township has the distinction of having 
been the first township in the county to adopt the township school sys- 
tem. This was done in the spring of 1901 and a modern schoolhouse 
erected the summer of the same year. 


The Dickinson County Teachers' Association was organized in 
November, 1873, the same time of the first institute meeting in the county. 
This first institute was held and conducted by Prof. James L. Enos of 
Cedar Rapids. Mrs. A. L. Buckland was the first president of the insti- 
tute and R. B. Nicol the first secretary. Meetings were at first held 
quarterly. This institute remained in force for about eight years. 


Some discussion is presented in the educational chapter dealing with 
Emmet County on the subject of consolidated schools, a repetition of 
which in this chapter is unnecessary. 

Practically the first district in Dickinson County adopting the fea- 
tures of the consolidated system was that of Terrill, which had a cen- 
tralized system of education as early as 1901. 

On August 19, 1913, an election was held which resulted in the con- 
solidation of the town of Superior with eight sections of Superior Town- 
ship and sixteen sections of Richland Township. On January 17, 1914, 
the consolidated independent district of Superior voted bonds to the sum 
of $30,000 for a site and new building. 

On December 24, 1913, the Lloyd Township centralized school reor- 
ganized under the state law and on June 12, 1914, voted $50,000 worth 
of bonds for a new school building, also the site. 

On February 16, 1914, Spirit Lake and Arnold's Park each consol- 
idated with surrounding territory comprising the entire township of Cen- 
ter Grove and some adjacent territory. In these two new consolidated 
districts the entire former districts of Center Grove Township, Center 
Grove Independent and Crescent Independent were included, also some 
territory of Spirit Lake Township. 

On April 22, 1914. the consolidated independent district of Spirit 
Lake voted bonds for the sum of $90,000, for the construction of the pres- 
ent school building. The old school was demolished and the new one 
erected on the same site. 


111!;, |.l. > -• 





In April, 1914, Superior Township voted to consolidate five sub-dis- 
tricts and on June 18, 1914, voted bonds for $17,000 for a building and 

On April 27, 1915, the school township of Okoboji voted to consol- 
idate and on the 15th of July voted bonds for $22,000 for a building and 


The following table of statistics relative to the schools in Dickinson 
County is taken from the 1916 report of the county superintendent of 
schools. Miss Jennie R. Bailey: 



Pupils between 





5 and 21 years. 


Arnold's Park (C) 1 






Lake Park (Ind.) 3 






Milford (C) 2 










Okoboji (C) 





Spirit Lake (C). 3 





Superior (C) 1 





Superior Tp. (C)_ 2 





Terr ill (Lloyd 

Tp. (Con.) 1 






Total of Consol- 

idated and In- 

pendent Dists. 13 






Diamond Lake 1 


















Milford 1 






Richland 1 






Spirit Lake _ 






Westport 1 






Total of Cities 

and Towns 

Rural 4 






St. Joseph's Cathohc parochial school at Milford has 4 teachers and 
118 pupils. 




The Spirit Lal<e Beacon was the first newspaper established in Dick- 
inson County. The first number of the paper was issued on September 6, 
1870, the writing and editing being done at Spirit Lake and the printing 
at Estherville. In the issue of December 9, 1875, the following account 
was written by J. A. Smith, one of the early editors : 

"Five years ago the people of Spirit Lake and Dickinson County made 
up their minds that a newspaper was necessary to promote their interests. 
The county then contained about twelve hundred inhabitants. Spirit Lake 
boasted of a dozen buildings and Milford had just been platted. Not a 
very promising field truly, but the project was discussed pro and con and 
finally decided in the affirmative. The question then arose as to who would 
stand sponsor for the literary fledgling. The responsibility was a grave 
one. It entailed much labor without remuneration and the chances were 
about nine in ten that the publisher would sink his money. 

"Finally Messrs. Orson Rice and R. L. Wilcox agreed to make the 
venture, Mr. Rice to attend to the financial arrangements and Mr. Wilcox 
to do the editorial work. Another important problem was the choosing of 
a name for the embryo journal. This took some hard thought and was for 
several days the subject of grave deliberation in the Crandall House bar- 
room, George Bellows' boot and shoe shop and Roscoe Brown's saloon, 
which were the three principal places of public resort. It was the general 
feeling that there is everything in a name, and common titles, such as 
Gazette, Times, Journal, Reporter, etc., were unanimously and indignantly 
rejected. Who was the first to suggest the 'Beacon' cannot be satisfac- 
torily determined, for at least half a dozen different persons claim the 
honor. However, the name 'took' as being remarkably appropriate. Why 
it is so appropriate we cannot explain better than to give the language of 
an enthusiastic gentleman who had a hand in the parturition. Said he, 
'The position which Dickinson County occupies geographically, being the 
most elevated portion of the state, together with our facilities for naviga- ' 
tion,' hei-e he paused and wet his throat with some of Roscoe's distilled 
lake water, 'makes it particularly fitting and meet that we should have a 
Beacon to shed its light upon the world and serve as a guide to the weary 
emigrant seeking a homestead, and by the way, I will show a man a 
devilish good claim for ten dollars.' 

"This last sentence, however, is foreign to the subject, and is only 
introduced for the sake of euphony. The management and name being 
settled, the question of ways and means was left to the newly installed 
journalists who decided to commence by getting patent outsides and hav- 


ing the inside printed at the Estherville Vindicator office. Accordingly 
the arrangements were thus made and in due time the Beacon appeared in 
seven column folio form with about three columns of home advertising and 
some two hundred subscribers, including exchanges and deadheads. In a 
few weeks Mr. Wilcox retired, leaving the whole burden on Mr. Rice. Dur- 
ing the balance of the first year the editorial work fell upon the broad