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Full text of "Indian history of Winneshiek county"

I6H5 







THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 




INDIAN HISTORY 



WINNESHIEK (XHJNTY 




BY 

CHARLES PHILIP HEXOM 



INDIAN HISTORY 

OF 

WINNESHIEK COUNTY 



Compiled by 
CHARLES PHILIP HEXOM 



A. K. BAILEY & SON, INCORPORATED 

DUCORAIl. tOW.\ 

1913 



Copyright, 1913 
CHARLES PHILIP HEXOM 



PREFACE 



In the preparation of this article it has been the compiler's 
aim to make the work as complete and correct as possible. Dili- 
gent search has been made for information, and considerable 
pains have been taken to give the people of Winneshiek county 
a reliable account of the Indians who once inhabited this section 
of the country. The writer has discovered that a number of 
erroneous statements in regard to these Indians have unfortu- 
nately found their way into print. In such instances every effort 
has been made to procure accurate information. 

In gathering the data here assembled the writer has had the 
kind assistance of the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Iowa 
Library Commission, and the United States Ethnological Bu- 
reau. Thanks are also due to Oliver Lamere (a first cousin of 
Angel De Cora), who has made diligent search for desired in- 
formation among members of his tribe on their reservation in 
Nebraska; Geo. W. Kingsley, Angel De Cora, Little Winne- 
shiek, and Antoine Grignon (all of whom are Winnebago In- 
dians, except the last, who is part Winnebago and part Sioux) ; 
Dr. Eben D. Pierce ; Roger C. Mackenstadt ; Chas. H. Saun- 
ders, and H. J. Goddard. 

All of the above have responded in a most gratifying man- 
ner to requests for information, some of them taking the trouble 
to prepare long communications, which have been indispensable 
in the preparation of the following article and which the writer 
cherishes as among his most valued possessions. All quotations 
credited to them in this article have been taken from letters re- 
ceived by the writer since December, 1912. 



In regard to Angel De Cora, a summary of her career is 
given in the body of the article, where the main facts about 
Antoine Grignon's life will also be found. That the reader may 
form a proper conception of the value of the information im- 
parted by other individuals mentioned above (and all this has 
a bearing on the trustworthiness of the article), the following 
statements are appended : 

"During the month of August, 1911, there came to Madison 
from the Nebraska reservation two Winnebago Indians, Mr. 
Oliver Lamere and Mr. John Rave. Both men were in the em- 
ploy of Dr. Paul Radin of the American Bureau of Ethnology, 
who for several years past has been conducting researches 
among their tribe for the government. They remained in Wis- 
consin until the first weeks in September. Both were Indians of 
exceptional intelligence. Mr. Lamere is a grandson of Alex- 
ander Lamere, one of the group of early Lake Koshkonong fur- 
traders, and a grandson of Oliver Armel, an early Madison fur- 
trader. Mr. Lamere [Oliver] acted as Dr. Radin's assistant 
and interpreter." From an article in "The Wisconsin Archeolo- 
gist," 1911, by Charles E. Brown, secretary and curator of The 
Wisconsin Archeological Society, and chief of The State (Wis.) 
Historical Museum, Madison, Wis. 

"George Kingsley * * * * a member of the Wiscon- 
sin Branch of the Winnebago Tribe of Indians, I consider to be 
the best authority on these matters." L. M. Cpmpton, Super- 
intendent of Tomah School (United States Indian Service), 
Wisconsin. 

Dr. Eben D. Pierce is a member of the state (Wis.) and 
county (Trempealeau) Historical Societies. He has written a 
biography of Antoine Grignon, a short history of the Winne- 
bago Indians, and has contributed several articles on the history 
of that section. 

Roger C. Mackenstadt, now at the Uintah and Ouray In- 
dian Agency, Utah, was formerly chief clerk at the Winnebago 
reservation in Nebraska. 



Chas. H. Saunders is a white man who has lived with the 
Indians most of the time (since he was thirteen years old). He 
married into the Waukon family of Winnebago Indians, whose 
language he speaks fluently. He was raised at Lansing, la., and 
was for a number of years a resident of Wisconsin. He now re- 
sides in Nebraska. 

H. J. Goddard of Fort Atkinson has been a resident of 
Winneshiek county since 1849. Mr. Goddard has willingly 
placed at the disposal of the writer his well-stored memory of 
early recollections. He is a Civil War veteran and is thus es- 
pecially competent to speak with authority in regard to military 
matters connected with the fort. 

Other old settlers have also responded cheerfully to re- 
quests for information. In most instances their names appear in 
the article. The writer acknowledges a debt of gratitude to 
them all. 

The following authorities have been consulted : 

"History of Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties." W. E. 
Alexander, 1882. 

"Atlas of Winneshiek County." Anderson & Goodwin, 
1905. 

"The Making of Iowa." Henry Sabin, LL. D., 1900. 

"History of Iowa," v. i. G. F. Gue, 1903. 

"The Red Men of Iowa." A. R. Fulton, 1882. 

"The Indian, The Northwest." C. & N. W. Ry., 1901. 

"North Americans of Yesterday." F. S. Dellenbaugh. 

"Handbook of American Indians." B. of A. E., 1911. 

"Smithsonian Report," 1885. 

"Annals of Iowa." ' 

"The Wisconsin Archeologist." a 

CHARLES PHILIP HEXOM. 
June 18, 1913. 

1 Articles by Eliphalet Price, C. A. Clark, and War Dept. Records 
of Fort Atkinson. 

* " The Winnebago Tribe," by P. V. Lawson, LL. B. 



THE WINNEBAGO TRIBE 



Taki maka a-icha'gha hena mita'wa-ye lo Yo, yoyo! 
All that grows upon the earth is mine Yo, yoyo! 

Translation of a Sioux song. 



The Winnebago tribe is the fourth group of the great 
Siouan, or Dakota, family. The Wninebagoes were styled by 
the Sioux, Hotanke, or the "big-voiced people;" by the Chippe- 
was, Winipig, or "filthy water ;" by the Sauks and Foxes, Wini- 
Pyagohagi, or "people of the filthy water." Allouez spells the 
name Ovenibigouts. The French frequently called them Puans, 
or Puants, names often roughly translated Stinkards, The lowas 
called them Ochungaraw. They called themselves Ochungurah, 
or Hotcangara. Dr. J. O. Dorsey, the distinguished authority on 
the Siouan tribes, states that the Siouan root, "changa," or 
"hanga," signifies "first, foremost, original or ancestral." Thus 
the Winnebagoes called themselves Hotcangara, "the people 
speaking the original language," or "people of the parent 
speech." Traditional and linguistic evidence shows that the 
Iowa Indians sprang from the Winnebago stem, which appears 
to have been the mother stock of some other of the southwestern 
Siouan tribes. 

The term "Sioux" is a French corruption of Nadowe-is-iw, 
the name given them by the Chippewa Indians of the Algonquin 
family. It signifies "snake," whence is derived the further 
meaning "enemy." The name Dakota, or Lakota, by which the 
principal tribes of the Siouan stock call themselves, means "con- 
federated," "allied." 



Regarding the remote migrations that must have taken 
place in such a widespread stock as the Siouan. different theories 
are held. An eastern origin is now pretty well established for 
this stock; for in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and 
Mississippi were the homes of tribes now extinct, which eth- 
nologists class as belonging to the Siouans.* The prehistoric 
migration of these Indians, which undoubtedly was gradual, pro- 
ceeded towards the west ; while the Dakotas, Winnebagoes, and 
cognate tribes, it appears, took a more northerly course. 

Passing to the authentic history of the Winnebagoes the 
first known meeting between this tribe and the whites was in 
1634, when the French ambassador, Jean Nicolet, found them in 
Wisconsin near Green Bay. At this time they probably ex- 
tended to Lake Winnebago. How long the tribe had main- 
tained its position in that territory previous to the coming of 
the whites is unknown. They were then numerous and power- 
ful. Father Pierre Claude Allouez spent the winter of 1669-70 
at Green Bay preaching to the Winnebagoes and their Central 
Algonquian neighbors. 

The Winnebagoes constituted one party in a triple alliance, 
to which also the Sauks and Foxes belonged, and were always 
present with the Foxes in their battles against the French, and 
their ancient enemy the Illinois Indians. In an effort to com- 
bine all the tribes against the Foxes, the French in some way 
won over the Winnebagoes. After being on unfriendly terms 
with the Foxes for several years, the old friendship was re- 
vived ; yet the Winnebagoes managed to retain the friendship of 
the French and continue in uninterrupted trade relations with 
them, for, following the missionary, came the trader. 

In 1763 France ceded Canada to England. The Winne- 
bagoes, however, were reluctant to transfer their allegiance to 

"The Siouan Tribes of the East," by James Mooney, Bulletin Bureau 
of Ethnology, 1894, Washington. 



the English ; but when they did, they remained firm in their new 
fealty. The English were known to the Winnebagoes as 
Mo n hi n to n ga, meaning "Big Knife ;" this term is said to have 
originated from the kind of swords worn by the English.* 
When the thirteen colonies declared their independence in 1776, 
the Winnebagoes allied themselves with the British and fought 
with them through the Revolutionary War. They participated 
in the border outbreaks in Ohio and were among the savages 
defeated by General Anthony Wayne on August 20, 1794. In 
the War of 1812-15 they espoused the cause of England, and in 
the years immediately following this war they became quite in- 
solent. 

The so-called Winnebago War of 1827 was of short dura- 
tion. The energetic movements of Governor Cass, the prompt- 
ness of the militia under Colonel Henry Dodge, and the des- 
patch of General Atkinson of the federal army filled the Winne- 
bagoes with such respect for the power of the United States that 
the disturbance was quelled before it had fairly begun. At this 
time the tribe numbered nearly 7,000. It might also be men- 
tioned that a few of the tribe secretly joined the Sauks and Foxes 
in the Black Hawk War of 1832. 

Smallpox visited the tribe twice before 1836, and in that 
year more than one-fourth of the tribe died. Mr. George Catlin, 
famous painter of the Indians, made the statement, when at 
Prairie du Chien in 1836, that, "The only war that suggests it- 
self to the eye of the traveler through their country is the war 
of sympathy and pity." 



* " The Omaha Tribe," by Alice C. Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, 
Eth. Ann. 27, pg. 611. 



REMOVAL TO IOWA 



Historical evidence reveals the fact that at one time the 
northern part of Winneshiek county formed a small part of the 
vast hunting grounds of the Sioux Indians, and that the south- 
ern portion was given over to the Sauks and Foxes. In a coun- 
cil held at Prairie du Chien, August 19, 1825, a boundary line 
was established between the Sioux, on the north, and the Sauks 
and Foxes, on the south. The principal object of this treaty was 
to make peace between these contending tribes as to the limits 
of their respective hunting grounds in Iowa. 

This boundary line began at the mouth of the Upper Iowa 
river and followed the stream, which traverses Winneshiek 
county, to its source. In order to decrease still further the en- 
counters between the Sauks and Foxes, on the one hand, and 
the Sioux, on the other, the United States secured, at a council 
held at Prairie du Chien July 15, 1830, a strip of territory twenty 
miles wide on each side of the boundary line already established 
and extending from the Mississippi to the east fork of the Des 
Moines. This strip, forty miles in width, was termed the "Neu- 
tral Ground." The tribes on either side were to hunt and fish on 
it unmolested, a privilege they ceased to enjoy when this terri- 
tory was ceded to the Winnebagoes. In this way the tract of 
land now known as Winneshiek county became a part of the 
Neutral Ground. 

September 15, 1832, the Winnebagoes ceded to the United 
States their lands south of the Wisconsin and Fox rivers, east of 
the Mississippi. The government on its part, by this treaty 
granted to the Winnebagoes "to be held as other Indian lands 



are held, that part of the tract of country on the west side of the 
Mississippi river known as the Neutral Ground, embraced with- 
in the following limits." The boundaries specified confined the 
Winnebagoes to that portion of the Neutral Ground extending 
forty miles west of the Mississippi. By the terms of this treaty 
they were to be paid $10,000 annually for twenty-seven years, 
beginning in September, 1833. 

November I, 1837, a treaty was concluded with the Winne- 
bagoes at Washington, by the provisions of which they ceded to 
the United States the remainder of their lands on the east side 
and certain interests on the west side of the Mississippi river, 
and agreed to remove to a portion of the Neutral Ground in 
Northeastern Iowa, set aside for them in the previous treaty of 
September 15, 1832. This treaty of 1837 was loudly proclaimed 
by the tribe to be a fraud. It was stated that the delegation 
which visited Washington in that year had no authority to exe- 
cute such an instrument. Chiefs, also, who were of this party all 
made the same declaration. * 

The first attempt to remove the Winnebagoes was made in 
1840, when a considerable number were induced to move to the 
Turkey river. That year a portion of the Fifth and Eighth regi- 
ments of U. S. infantry came to Portage, Wis., to conduct their 
removal. Antoine Grignon and others were connected with this 
force as interpreters. 

Two large boats were provided to transport the Indians 
down the Wisconsin river to Prairie du Chien. Captain Sum- 
ner, who later was a commanding officer at Fort Atkinson, 
secured 250 Winnebagoes in southern Wisconsin. These were 
also taken to Prairie du Chien. They first disliked the idea of 
going on to the Neutral Ground, because on the south were the 
Sauks and Foxes, and on the north were the Sioux, and with 



* Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 112. 



these tribes they were not on friendly terms. Considerable re- 
sentment was felt by the Sauks and Foxes towards the Winne- 
bagoes for having delivered Black Hawk over to the whites, 
although previous to this occasion the Winnebagoes had been 
in intimate relationship with these tribes. However, they soon 
grew to love the Iowa reservation. 



SOCIAL ORGANIZATION 



And they painted on the grave-posts 
On the graves yet unforgotten, 
Each his own ancestral Totem, 
Each the symbol of his household; 

The Song of Hiawatha. 



In each tribe there existed, on the basis of kinship a divi- 
sion, into clans and gentes. The names given to these divisions 
were usually those of the animals, birds, reptiles, or inanimate 
objects from which their members claimed descent, or which 
were regarded as guardian deities common to them all; these 
were known as their totems. 

The term "clan" implies descent in the female, and "gens" 
in the male line. Clans and gentes were generally organized into 
phratries ; and phratries, into tribes. A phratry was an organi- 
zation for ceremonial and other festivals. 

The Winnebago social organization was based on two phra- 
tries, known as the Upper, or Air, and the Lower, or Earth, 
divisions. The Upper division contained four clans: (i) Thun- 
der-bird, (2) War People, (3) Eagle, (4) Pigeon (extinct) ; while 
the Lower division contained eight clans: (i) Bear, (2) Wolf, 
(3) Water-spirit, (4) Deer, (5) Elk, (6) Buffalo, (7) Fish, (8) 
Snake. 

The Thunder-bird, and Bear, clans were regarded as the 
leading clans of their respective phratries. Both had definite 
functions. The lodge of the former was the peace lodge, over 
which the chief of the tribe presided, while the lodge of the Bear 
clan was the war, or disciplinary, lodge. Each clan had a num- 



her of individual cutsoms, relating to birth, the naming-feast, 
death, and the funeral-wake. An Upper individual must marry 
a Lower individual, and vice versa. 

When Carver, an early traveler, first came in contact with 
the Winnebagoes, their chief was a woman. The man, how- 
ever, was the head of each family. Where clans existed, a man 
could become a member of any particular clan only by birth, 
adoption, or transfer in infancy from his mother's to his father's 
clan, or vice versa. The place of woman in a tribe was not that 
of a slave or beast of burden. The existence of the gentile or- 
ganization, in most tribes with descent in the female line, forbade 
that she be subjected to any such indignity. 

Dr. J. O. Dorsey obtained a list of the gentes of the Hot- 
cangara, or Winnebagoes.* They were (i) Shungikikarachada 
('Wolf'); (2) Honchikikarachada ('Black Bear'); (3) Huwani- 
kikarachada ('Elk'); (4) Wakanikikarachada ('Snake'); (5) 
Waninkikikarachada ('Bird'); (6) Cheikikarachada ('Buffalo'): 
(7) Chaikikarachada ('Deer') ; (8) Wakchekhiikikarachada 
('Water-monster'). The Bird gens was composed of four sub- 
gentes, namely: (a) Hichakhshepara ('Eagle'), (b) Ruchke 
('Pigeon'), (c) Kerechun ('Hawk'), (d) Wakanchara ('Thunder- 
bird'). It seems probable that each gens was thus subdivided 
into four sub-gentes. 

In 1843 tne y were on the Neutral Ground in different bands, 
the principal one, called the School band, occupying territory 
along the Turkey river. 



The late J. Owen Dorsey of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 
in Bull. 30, pg. 961. 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 



The Winnebagoes are distinctly a timber people, and always 
confined themselves to the larger streams. In early days their 
wearing apparel consisted commonly of a breechclout, mocca- 
sins, leggings, and robes of dressed skins. The advent among 
them of the whites enabled them to add blankets, cloths, and 
ornaments to their scanty wardrobes. 

Jonathan Emerson Fletcher, the Indian agent at the Turkey 
river, furnished Mr. Henry R. Schoolcraft, LL. D., at one time 
Indian agent for Wisconsin Territory and author of "Historical 
and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition 
and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States," a des- 
cription of the costume of the Winnebagoes, from which the 
following is condensed* : "White blankets are preferred in 
winter, and colored in the summer. Red is a favorite color 
among the young, and green with the aged. Calico shirts, cloth 
leggings, and buckskin moccasins are worn by both sexes. In 
addition to the above articles, the women wear a broadcloth 
petticoat, or mantelet, suspended from the hips and extending 
below the knee. 

"Wampum, ear-bobs, rings, bracelets, and bells are the most 
common ornaments worn by them. Head-dresses ornamented 
with eagle's feathers are worn by the warriors on public occa- 
sions. The chiefs wear nothing peculiar to designate their office, 
except it be medals received from the President of the United 
States. 

* Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 121. 



"Some of the young men and women paint their blankets 
with a variety of colors and figures. A large majority of the 
young and middle-aged of both sexes paint their faces when 
they dress for a dance. 

"Old and young women divide their hair from the forehead 
to the back of the crown, and wear it collected in a roll on the 
back of the neck, confined with ribbons and bead-strings. The 
men and boys wear their hair cut similar to the whites, except 
that they all wear a small quantity on the back of the crown, 
long and braided, which braids are tied at the end with a ribbon. 
The men have but little beard which is usually plucked out by 
tweezers." 

One style of Winnebago wigwam consisted of an arched 
frame-work of poles firmly set in the ground and lashed together 
with strips of bark and so arranged as to give it sloping sides 
and a rounded top. Cross-pieces of wood secured the poles to 
one another. The roof and sides were covered with pieces of 
bark, or matting. The general outline was round or elliptical. 
Conical lodges were employed chiefly in the summer time. Fur 
robes, matting, and blankets served for bedding. Branches were 
heaped around the side walls, and on these, covered with blan- 
kets, served as a bed. 

Mr. Fletcher stated * that the lodges at the Turkey river, 
Iowa, were "from twelve to forty feet in length, and from ten 
to twenty feet in width, and fifteen feet in height from the ground 
to the top of the roof. The largest would accommodate three 
families of ten persons each. They generally have two doors. 
Fires, one for each family, are made, along the space through 
the center. The smoke escapes through apertures in the roof. 
The summer lodge is of lighter materials and is portable." 

* Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 124, condensed from 
Information furnished to H. R. Schoolcraft. 



Council houses and other structures were erected in each 
village. Mr. Oliver Lamere states : "It is said that all of their 
councils were held at the Turkey river, as that was their agency 
at the time. Usually everything went as the chiefs wanted it." 
Regarding the vicinity of Fort Atkinson, Mr. H. J. Goddard 
says : "There were two Indian camping grounds south of here, 
one about a quarter of a mile, and the other half a mile, distant. 
One had about 50 wigwams, and the other between 300 and 
400. They took poles and stuck them in the ground, then bent 
them over and tied the tops together and covered them with 
bark. The bark was pealed from the water- or slippery-elm trees 
during the spring." 

Bark served the Indians in a multitude of ways. It was 
stripped from trees at the proper season by hacking it around 
so that it could be taken off in sheets of the desired length. The 
Winnebagoes also made a kind of drink from bark. Mr. Lamere 
says, "They also made a matting from reeds sewed or matted 
together with strings made out of bass-wood bark; of course, 
they used canvas when they could purchase it, but their perma- 
nent lodges would be of bark." 

It was the man's duty to protect his village and family, and 
by hunting to provide meat and skins. The women dried the 
meat, dressed the hides, made the clothing, and, in general, per- 
formed all the household duties. The processes employed for 
dressing skins were various, such as fleshing, scraping, braining, 
stripping, graining, and working. In the domestic economy of 
the Indian, skins were his most valued and useful material, as 
they also later became his principal trading asset. A list of the 
articles made of this material would embrace a great many of 
the Indian's principal possessions. 

Moccasins and other articles made of skin were often cov- 
ered with artistic bead-work, replete with tribal symbolism. The 



Winnebagoes also had, not long ago, a well developed porcupine 
quill industry. 

In common with other tribes the Winnebagoes were accus- 
tomed to prepare dried and smoked fish and meat. Nuts, wild 
fruits, and edible roots of various kinds were also used for food. 
Corn was raised and such vegetables as squash, pumpkins, beans, 
potatoes and watermelons. Corn was often eaten green, but 
usually after it had been dried, ground, and made into bread ; it 
was sometimes boiled with meat. At the Turkey river near Fort 
Atkinson the Indians cached their corn in holes dug in the 
ground three or four feet square and about three feet deep. 
Wild rice was raised and was prepared by being boiled with 
meat and vegetables. Shelled dried corn, dried hulled fruit, and 
nuts were cached in storage pits for future use. Tobacco was 
raised, but only in small quantities. Notwithstanding the abund- 
ance of animal and vegetal food that the fields and forest 
afforded, the Indians suffered occasionally from famine. For 
wood the limbs of trees were used, but not the trunk; in the 
neighborhood of Fort Atkinson evidence remains to-day of this 
practice. 

Of the Winnebago marriage customs Moses Paquette, who 
went (1845) to tne Presbyterian school at the Turkey river, 
stated* in 1882 : "Presents to the parents of a woman, by either 
the parents of the man or the man himself, if accepted, usually 
secure her for a partner. However much the woman may dis- 
like the man, she considers it her bounden duty to go and at 
least try to live with him. Divorce is easy among them. There 
are no laws compelling them to live together. Sometimes there 
are marriages for a specified time, say a few months or a year. 
When separations occur, the woman usually takes the children 
with her to the home of her parents. But so long as the union 
exists, it is deemed to be sacred, and there are few instances of 

Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 126. 



infidelity. Quite a number of the bucks have two wives, who 
live on apparently equal, free, and easy terms ; but although there 
is no rule about the matter, I never heard of any of the men 
having more than two wives. With all this ease of divorce, 
numerous Indian couples remain true to each other for life." 
Many of the early traders took Winnebago wives. 

The Indians had their favorite pastimes and games, some of 
which were played by the women and children. There were also 
several kinds of dances for various occasions. 

Regarding their burial customs, the graves were in later 
times protected by logs, stones, brush, or pickets. With the 
bodies of the deceased were buried their personal possessions 
or symbolical objects. With the corpse of a woman were buried 
her implements of labor. The graves of chiefs and persons of 
distinction were sometimes enclosed with pickets. Over such a 
grave it was customary to place a white flag. The blackening of 
the face by mourners was a common custom. In the winter the 
remains were encased and placed on a scaffold and then elevated 
into the branches of a tree, or placed between two trees. In the 
spring the permanent burial was made in a shallow grave. Over 
this was erected an A-shaped structure, consisting of two short, 
forked posts, which, placed one at each end of the grave, sup- 
ported a cross-piece. Against this frame-work were placed 
wooden slabs. 

Lengthwise the graves at the Turkey river extended from 
from east to west, in order that the dead might "look towards 
the happy land" that was supposed to lie somewhere in the direc- 
tion of the setting sun. The body of the dead was sometimes 
placed in the grave in a sitting posture, the head and chest ex- 
tending above the ground. A pipe of tobacco was buried with 
an adult male, and a war-club was placed in the grave of a war- 
rior. The hieroglyphics painted on the post at the head of a 



warrior's grave represented the exploits of those who danced 
about the grave at his funeral. 

Mr. Goddard says: "There were about a dozen or more 
Indian graves close to the fort, but these have long since been 
obliterated. An Indian child, about seven or eight years of age, 
was put above ground in a coffin placed between, and near the 
top of, four cedar posts set in the ground, and about seven or 
eight feet high. I was told by the Indians who later traveled 
through the country quite frequently that the child belonged to 
a Chippewa woman who was visiting the Winnebagoes. Later, 
a man who stopped at my place took from inside the heavily 
beaded blanket, in which the child was wrapped when buried, a 
round mirror ornament with a loop for suspension, about three 
inches in diameter, on the back of which was a picture of Gen- 
eral Jackson. 

"An Indian grave was on the top of a hill in Jackson town- 
ship, section twenty. The Indians told me that a chief called 
Black Bear was buried there ; however, there is nothing further 
authentic to prove this. The grave was surrounded by a stock- 
ade made of boards split out of logs and was seven feet high ; it 
enclosed a space about seven by eight feet in area. The boards 
were spiked together. 

"Near the Little Turkey river, a fork of the Turkey river, 
at a point about one and one-half miles from Waucoma in Fay- 
ette county, was a farm of about 100 acres broken up (suppos- 
edly by the government) and owned by a chief called Whaling 
Thunder [evidently Whirling Thunder, but not definitely 
known]. Here Whaling (?) Thunder died, and on his land was 
a group of about thirty graves, six Indians being buried in one 
grave." 

Hon. Abraham Jacobson, of Springfield township, stated* 

* " Reminiscences of Pioneer Norwegians," by Hon. A. Jacobson in 
"The Illustrated Historical Atlas of Winneshiek County, Iowa," 1905, 
Sec. II, pg. 12. 



that, "On the banks of the Upper Iowa river many Indian graves 
were found. The bodies were buried in a sitting position, with 
the head sometimes above ground. A forked stick put up like a 
post at each end of the grave held a ridge pole on which leaned 
thin boards placed slanting to each side of the grave. Thus each 
grave presented the appearance of a gable of a small house." 

On Mr. J. I. Tavener's land in West Decorah are three 
mounds, or artificial hillocks, now nearly obliterated by culti- 
vation. These mounds are circular in form and, before being 
worn down by the plow, were low, broad, round- topped cones 
from two and one-half to three feet high in the center. The 
largest of the group was about forty feet in diameter. Conical 
mounds are, as a rule, depositories of the dead. As yet, no 
bones have been exhumed from any of these mounds, so that it 
is not known at present what purpose they served ; but it seems 
probable that they were burial mounds. 

The early settlers furnished evidence of the existence of 
many Indian graves throughout the county, notably where the 
city of Decorah is located. These graves are now almost im- 
perceptible. 



RELIGION 



Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple, 
Who have faith in God and Nature, 
Who believe, that in all ages 
Every human heart is human, 
That in even savage bosoms 
There are 1'ongings, yearnings, strivings 
For the good they comprehend not, 
That the feeble hands and helpless, 
Groping blindly in the darkness, 
Touch God's right hand in that darkness 
And are lifted up and strengthened; 
Listen to this simple story, 

The Song of Hiawatha. 



The fundamental religious concept of the Indian is the be- 
lief in the existence of magic power in animate and inanimate 
objects. This gave rise to their idea that there are men who 
possess supernatural power. This magic power is called Ma n 'una 
(Earth-maker)* by the Winnebagoes, and corresponds to the 
Gitchi Manito of the Central Algonquian tribes, and Wakandtf 
of the Siouan tribes. As a verb, "wakanda" signifies "to reckon 
as holy or sacred, to worship ;" the noun is "wakan" and means 
"a spirit, something consecrated." "Wakan," as an adjective, is 
defined as "spiritual, sacred, consecrated, wonderful, incompre- 
hensible, mysterious." "Wakan" and various other forms of 
that word are of common occurrence in the Winnebago lan- 
guage. 

The Winnebago mythology consists of large cycles relating 
to the five personages, Trickster, Bladder, Turtle, He-who- 

Bureau of American Ethnology. Bulletin 30, part 2, pg. 960. 
t Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, part 2, pg. 897. 



wears-heads-as-earrings, and the Hare. Other deities known to 
them are Disease-giver, Sun, Moon, Morning Star, the Spirits of 
the Night, One-horn, the Earth, and the Water. 

The Indian had no understanding of a single, all-powerful 
deity, the "Great Spirit," till the Europeans, often unconsciously, 
informed him of their own belief. He believed in a multitude of 
spirits that were the source of good or bad fortune, and whom 
he feared to offend.* He seems to have had no conception of a 
future punishment. The mortuary rites of the Winnebagoes, 
and other tribes, testify to the fact that they believed in a life 
after death ; but as to the nature of "the happy land of the west" 
their ideas were vague. 

The Winnebagoes had two important tribal ceremonies, the 
Mankani, or Medicine Dance, and the Wagigo, or Winter Feast. 
The Medicine Dance could take place only in summer; and the 
Winter Feast, only in winter. The Medicine Dance was a secret 
society, ungraded, into which men and women could be initiated 
on payment of a certain amount of money. The purpose of the 
society was the prolongation of life and the instilling of certain 
virtues, none of which related to war. These virtues were in- 
stilled by means of the "shooting" ceremony, the pretended 
shooting of a shell, contained in an otter-skin bag, into the body 
of the one to be initiated. The ceremony was performed in a 
long tent occupied by five ceremonial bands, whose positions of 
honor depended on the order of invitation. The general cere- 
mony itself was public, but a secret vapor-bath ceremony pre- 
ceded, and a secret ceremony intervened between the first and 
second parts. 

The Winter Feast was a war feast and the only distinctively 

clan ceremonial among the Winnebagoes. Each clan had a 

sacred bundle, which was in the hands of some male individual, 

and was handed down from one generation to another, care 

Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, part 2, pg. 284. 



being always taken to keep it in the same clan. The purpose of 
this feast was to appease all the supposed deities known to 
them. Mr. Fletcher, the agent at the Turkey river, gave Mr. 
Schoolcraft a description of the War dance and the Medicine 
society. 

There were a number of other important ceremonies, of 
which the best known were the Herucka and the Buffalo Dance. 
The latter was performed in the spring, and had for its purpose 
the magical calling of the buffalo herds. All those who pre- 
tended to have had supernatural communication with the Buffalo 
spirit might participate in the ceremony, irrespective of clan. 
It seems that the object of the Herucka was to stimulate an 
heroic spirit. 

Moses Paquette gave Dr. Thwaites of Wisconsin a brief 
account of the Buffalo Dance, which he describes, as "Probably 
the most popular of their dances." "They represent," he con- 
tinues, "themselves to be bisons, imitating the legitimate motions 
and noises of the animal, and introducing a great many others 
that would quite astonish the oldest buffalo in existence. Of 
course it has been a long time since any Winnebagoes ever saw 
buffaloes; their antics are purely traditionary, handed down 
from former generations of dancers."* 

Other dances and feasts were the Snake, Scalp, Grizzly- 
bear, Sore-eye, and Ghost dances. Little Hill, a Winnebago 
chief, gave Mr. Fletcher an account of their creation, which, in 
all its parts, bears testimony to their belief in numerous spirits, f 
Mr. Lamere states that, "The Buffalo Dance was carried on by 
the Winnebagoes for a long time, but the dance that they 
seemed to have liked and indulged in mostly while there [Iowa] 
was the Fish Dance, which was only a dance of amusement. 
The Herucka dance was adopted from some of the western tribes 

Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 130. 
t " Red Men of Iowa," by A. R. Fulton. 



and was brought back by the Winnebagoes who enlisted as 
scouts during the Sioux outbreak in 1862 and was introduced 
after the Winnebagoes came here to Nebraska;" he further 
states, "The Thunder-bird was held in awe by the Winne- 
bagoes, and they believed that thunder-storms were caused by 
these beings, the lightning being caused by the opening and 
closing of their eyes ; the Winnebagoes do not describe them as 
birds, but beings of the human type and always wearing cedar 
boughs on their head, or hair, and carrying flat war-clubs." 



GENEOLOGY AND HISTORY OF THE 
DECORAH FAMILY 



How fair is Decorah, 

Our city named so 
For the Indians that roamed 

O'er its hills years ago, 
Whose well trodden pathways 

The story could tell 
How from all directions 

They came here to dwell. 

In fitting remembrance 

These lines we inscribe 
To Waukon Decorah, 

A chief of their tribe. 
Whose name is a landmark 

And honored shall stand 
For heeding the fiat 

"Move on, yield your land." 

And Indians that peopled 

This beautiful site, 
Reluctant but friendly 

Relinquished their right. 
They left us this valley 

With beauties untold, 
Gave way to the settlers, 

Our pioneers bold. 

Things have changed, to be sure, 

In this valley, still 
'Tis but sixty odd years 

Since they camped on yon hill 
Where now stands the courthouse 

A pride of our town, 
The heart of the county, 

Of widespread renown. 

Mra. John C. Hezom. 



Hopokoelcau, or "Glory of the Morning," also known as the 
Queen of the Winnebagoes, was the mother of a celebrated line 
of chiefs, all of whom, well known to border history, bore in 
some form the name Decorah. Her Indian name is also given 
as Wa-ho-po-e-kau. She was the daughter of one of the prin- 
cipal Winnebago chiefs. There is no record of the date of her 
birth or death. 

She became the wife of Sabrevoir De Carrie, who probably 
came to Wisconsin with the French army, in which he was an 
officer, in 1728. He resigned his commission in 1729, and be- 
came a fur-trader among the Winnebagoes, subsequently marry- 
ing "Glory of the Morning." He was adopted into her clan 
and highly honored. After seven or eight years, during which 
time two sons and a daughter were born to him, he left her, 
taking with him the daughter. The Queen refused to go with 
her husband, and remained in her home with her two sons. 
"The result is to-day that one-half or two-thirds of the Winne- 
bago tribe have more or less of the Decorah blood in their 
veins."* Through the intervening generations there has been 
no other mixture of Caucasian blood, so that the Decorahs of 
to-day are probably as nearly full-bloods as any Indians in any 
part of the country. 

De Carrie returned to Canada, re-entered the army, and was 
killed at Ste Foye in the spring of 1760. The daughter whom 
he took with him, became the wife of a trader, Constant Keri- 
goufili, whose son, Sieur Laurent Fily (so-called), died about 
1846. 

Captain Jonathan Carver, who visited the Queen in 1766, 
states that she received him graciously, and luxuriously enter- 
tained him during the four days he remained in her village, 
which "contained fifty houses." Her two sons, "Being the de- 
scendants of a chief on the mother's side, when they arrived at 

Statement by Geo. W. Kingsley. 



manhood * * * * assumed the dignity of their rank by 
inheritance. They were generally good Indians and frequently 
urged their claims to the friendship of the whites, by saying 
they were themselves half white." 

Choulceka Dekaury, or Spoon Decorah, sometimes called the 
Ladle, was the eldest son of Sabrevoir De Carrie and Hopokoe- 
kau. The name is also rendered Chau-ka-ka and Chou-ga-rah. 
After having been made chief he became the leader of attacks on 
the Chippewas during a war between them and the Winne- 
bagoes, but he maintained friendly relations with the whites. 
He was the ancestor of the Portage branch of the family. It was 
principally through his influence that the treaty of June 3, 1816, 
at St. Louis, Mo., was brought about. 

His wife, Flight of Geese, was a daughter of Nawkaw 
(known also as Carrymaunee and Walking Turtle), whose man- 
agement of tribal affairs was decidedly peaceful. According to 
La Ronde, Choukeka's death occurred in 1816, when he was 
"quite aged." He left six sons and five daughters. The sons 
were: (i) Konokah, or Old Gray-headed Decorah; (2) Augah, 
or the Black Decorah, named by La Ronde, Ruch-ka-scha-ka, 
or White Pigeon ; (3) Anaugah, or the Raisin Decorah, named 
by La Ronde, Chou-me-ne-ka-ka ; (4) Nah-ha-sauch-e-ka, or 
Rascal Decorah ; (5) Wau-kon-ga-ka, or the Thunder Hearer ; 
(6) Ong-skaka, or White Wolf, who died young. Three of the 
daughters married Indians. One married a trapper named 
Dennis De Riviere and later married Perische Grignon. The 
other married Jean Lecuyer. 

Cyrus Thomas* makes the statement that, "From Chou- 
keka's daughters who married white men are descended several 
well known families of Wisconsin and Minnesota." 

Chah-post-kaw-lcaw, or the Buzzard Decorah, was the second 
son of De Carrie and "Glory of the Morning." He settled at 

* Of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 



La Crosse in 1787, with a band of Winnebagoes, and was soon 
after killed there. He had two sons: (i) Big Canoe, or One- 
eyed Decorah ; and (2) Wakun-ha-ga, or Snake Skin, known as 
Waukon Decorah. 

Old Gray-Headed Decorah, called by the whites Konakah 
(eldest) Decorah, often mentioned as Old Dekaury, was 
the eldest son and successor of Choukeka Dekaury. His 
common Indian name was Schachipkaka, or The War 
Eagle. The signature "De-ca-ri" attached to the treaty of Prai- 
rie des Chiens (as the word is frequently spelled in early docu- 
ments), Michigan Territory, August 19, 1825, is probably that of 
Old Dekaury. He signed the treaty of Prairie du Chien, Michi- 
gan Territory, August I, 1829, as "Hee-tsha-wau-sharp-skaw- 
kau, or White War Eagle. "Among those representing the Fort 
Winnebago deputation at the treaty of Fort Armstrong, Rock 
Island, 111., September 15, 1832, he signed as "Hee-tshah-wau- 
saip-skaw-skaw, or White War Eagle, De-kau-ray, sr." 

Old Decorah was born in 1747, and died at Peten well, the 
high rock on the Wisconsin river, April 20, 1836, about ninety 
years old. Old De-kau-ry's town contained over 100 lodges, 
and was the largest of the Winnebago villages. Before he died 
he called a Catholic priest, who baptized him the day of his 
death. 

Before his father's death, in 1816, Old Gray-headed De- 
corah had joined a band of Winnebagoes who took part, August 
2, 1813, in the attack led by General Proctor, with 500 regulars 
and 800 Indians, on Fort Stephenson on lower Sandusky river, 
Ohio, which was so gallantly defended by Major George Crog- 
han with a force of 150 Americans and only one cannon. He 
also fought with Proctor and Tecumseh, a celebrated Shawnee 
chief, at the battle of the Thames, Canada, where a great part 
of the British army was either slain or captured by the American 
forces under General Wm. H. Harrison, October 5, 1813, and 



where Tecumseh was shot. Old Decorah was held as a hostage 
for the delivery of Red Bird, a war chief, during the so-called 
Winnebago War. Old Decorah gave assurance to General 
Atkinson, during this war, of the peaceable intentions of the 
Winnebagoes. 

It was while Major Zachary Taylor was located at Prairie 
du Chien that he received from Old Gray-headed Decorah a 
peace pipe now in the State Historical Museum at Madison, 
Wis. This calumet is a fine specimen, the head is of catlinite 
inlaid with lead polished to look like silver. The stem, or wooden 
handle, is about three feet long, rather rudely carved. 

Mrs. J. H. Kinzie described* him as "The most noble, dig- 
nified, and venerable of his own or indeed of any other tribe. 
His fine Roman countenance, rendered still more striking by his 
bald head, with one solitary tuft of long silvery hair neatly tied 
and falling back on his shoulders ; his perfectly neat, appropriate 
dress, almost without ornament, and his courteous manner, 
never laid aside, under any circumstances, all combined to give 
him the highest place in the consideration of all who knew him." 

Mrs. Kinzie further states t : "The noble Old Day-kau-ray 
came one day from the Barribault to apprise us of the state of 
his village. More than forty of his people, he said, had now- 
been for many days without food, save bark and roots. My hus- 
band accompanied him to the commanding officer to tell his 
story, and ascertain if any amount of food could be obtained 
from that quarter. The result was the promise of a small allow- 
ance of flour, sufficient to alleviate the cravings of his own 
family. When this was explained to the chief he turned away. 
'No,' he said, 'if his people could not be relieved, he and his 
family would starve with them,' and he refused for those nearest 
and dearest to him the proffered succor until all could share 

* " Wau-Bun," pg. 89. 

t Same reference as above, pg. 484. 



alike." During the winter of 1832-33 food was scarce at Fort 
Winnebago, and the Indians suffered severely. 

Old Day-kau-ray delivered an address on education to the 
agent, Mr. Kinzie, at a conference held with the Winnebago 
chiefs in 1831, in regard to sending the children of the Indians 
away to school. The following quotation is from his speech * : 
"The white man does not live like the Indian; it is not his na- 
ture; neither does the Indian love to live like the white man. 
* * * * This is what we think. If we change our minds we 
will let you know." 

The known sons of Old Dekaury were (i) Little Decorah 
and (2) Spoon Decorah. 

Big Canoe, or One-eyed Decorah, a son of Chatpost-kaw-kah, 
told George Galef about 1855 that he had but one brother, 
Waukon Decorah. One-eyed Decorah's Indian name was 
Wadge-hut-ta-kaw, or the Big Canoe. The signature, Watch- 
ha-ta-kaw, (by Henry M. Rice, his delegate) is attached to the 
treaty of Washington, October 13, 1846, and is undoubtedly 
that of One-eyed Decorah. 

He was born about 1772, and was fifteen years of age when 
his father settled at La Crosse. He aided in the capture of 
Mackinaw, July 17, 1812, and was with the British in the attack 
on Fort Stephenson, August 2, 1813, near Fremont, Ohio, and 
with McKay at the capture of Prairie du Chien. It is said that 
he signed the treaty there in 1825. The act for which he became 
celebrated was the capture of Black Hawk and the Prophet, in 
1832. Black Hawk's force was pursued by General Atkinson, 
who completely defeated him August 3, 1832. The famous 
Sauk leader and the Prophet escaped to the northward and 

* Smithsonian Report, 1885, part 2, pg. 128. 

t A Wisconsin pioneer who in 1851 removed to the copper Mississippi 
region, where he was judge, state senator, etc., founding the village of 
Galesville and the academy thereat. He wrote a history of the Winne- 
bago Indians, which is still in manuscript form in the Wisconsin His- 
torical Society's possession. 



sought refuge among some Winnebagoes, whither they were 
followed and captured by One-eyed Decorah and Chaetar (an- 
other Winnebago), who delivered him to General Street (a 
former Winnebago agent) at Prairie du Chien, August 27, 1832. 
On this occasion One-eyed Decorah made the following 
speech :* 

"My father, I now stand before you. When we parted I 
told you I would return soon, but I could not come any sooner. 
We had to go a great distance. You see we have done what you 
sent us to do. These (pointing to the prisoners) are the two 
you told us to get. We have done what you told us to do. We 
always do what you tell us, because we know it is for our good. 
Father, you told us to get these men, and it would be the cause 
of much good to the Winnebagoes. We have brought them, but 
it has been very hard for us to do so. That one (Black Hawk) 
was a great way off. You told us to bring them to you alive ; 
we have done so. If you had told us to bring their heads alone, 
we would have done so, and it would have been less difficult than 
what we have done. We would not deliver them to our brother, 
the chjef of the warriors, but to you, because we know you, and 
we believe you are our friend. We want you to keep them safe ; 
if they are to be hurt, we do not wish to see it. Wait until we 
are gone before it is done. Father, many little birds have been 
flying about our ears of late, and we thought they whispered to 
us that there was evil intended for us ; but now we hope these 
evil birds will let our ears alone. We know you are our friend 
because you took our part, and that is the reason we do what 
you tell us to do. You say you love your red children ; we think 
we love you as much as, if not more than, you love us. We 
have confidence in you and you may rely on us. We have been 
promised a great deal if we would take these men that it 
would do much good to our people. We now hope to see what 

" Red Men of Iowa," pgf. 160. 



will be done for us. We have come in haste ; we are tired and 
hungry. We now put these men into your hands. We have 
done all that you told us to do." 

In 1832, One-eyed Decorah married two wives and went to 
live on the Black river, Wis. He had at least one son, Spoon 
Decorah. Chas. H. Saunders says. "One-eyed Decorah has one 
daughter, Mrs. Hester Lowery, still living in Wisconsin. Her 
Indian name is No-jin-win-ka. She is between eighty-five and 
ninety years old." One-eyed Decorah was living in Iowa be- 
tween 1840 and 1848, as Moses Paquette, who went to the Pres- 
byterian school at the Turkey river, says that he saw him while 
he was at school, and Decorah was then an old man. Big Canoe 
disliked to leave their Iowa reservation. 

Geo. W. Kingsley says : "One-eyed Decorah or Big Canoe, 
after being driver around by the United States Government from 
the Turkey river reservation, Iowa, to Long Prairie in northern 
Minnesota, then back to Blue Earth, southern Minnesota, his 
family brought the old chief back to his native home and stamp- 
ing grounds in Wisconsin. * * * * He requested his chil- 
dren not to bury him, but instead, to place him on top of the 
ground in a sitting position, and so it was done." 

He lived for a number of years with his tribe on Decora's 
Prairie, Wis., which is named after him; there is also a bluff 
called Decora's Peak back from the Prairie which was also 
named after him. George Gale states : "The One-eyed De 
Carry, who is now [about 1864] about ninety years old, had his 
cheedah (or wigwam) and family during the summer of 1862 
two miles west of Galesville, Wis., and a part of the summer of 
1863 ne was near New Lisbon." On both of these occasions 
Gale interviewed him on the traditions of his tribe and family. 
One-eyed Decorah (also written One-Eyed Decorah) died near 
the Tunnel, in Monroe county, not far from Tomah, Wis., in 



August, 1864. A. R. Fulton says* : "While young he [One- 
eyed Decorah] had the misfortune to lose his right eye." 

Some historiest contain the statement that, "One-eyed De- 
corah, a son of Waukon Decorah, was a drunkard and unworthy 
of his father;" there is no evidence, however, to show that he 
was more debauched than other chiefs, for nearly all Indians 
were more or less addicted to firewater. That he was a son of 
Waukon Decorah is an error, as One-eyed Decorah himself testi- 
fies that Waukon was his brother. 

Wakun-ha-ga, or Snake Skin, a son of Chahpost-kaw-kah, 
was commonly known as Waukon Decorah, or Washington 
Decorah because in 1828 he went to Washington with the 
chiefs ; he also visited Washington later. Waukon Decorah was 
a great council chief and orator of his tribe. 

The following treaties were signed by him : August 19, 
1825, Prairie des Chiens, Michigan Territory, as "W 7 an-ca-ha-ga, 
or snake's skin;" August 25, 1828, Green Bay, Michigan Terri- 
tory, as "Wau-kaun-haw-kaw, or snake skin;" August i, 1829. 
Prairie du Chien, Michigan Territory, as "Wau-kaun-hah-kaw, 
snake skin ;" among those representing the Prairie du Chien 
deputation at Fort Armstrong, Rock Island, 111., September 15, 
1832, as "Wau-kaun-hah-kaw, or snake skin, (Day-kau-ray) ;" 
November i, 1837, Washington, D. C., as "Wa-kaun-ha-kah, 
(Snake Skin)." In 1832, Mr. Burnett found him, with the prin- 
cipal part of his band from the Wisconsin and Kickapoo rivers, 
about sixty miles up the Mississippi from Prairie du Chien. 
This was during the Black Hawk war, at which time Waukon 
Decorah aided the whites. This chief belonged to the Missis- 
sippi river bands. 

Mr. Saunders says, "Wakun-ha-ga had one son named 
'Ma-he-ska-ga, or White Cloud;' he is buried here on this reser- 

* "Red Men of Iowa," A. R. Fulton; "The Making of Iowa," Sabin. 
f Same reference as above. 



ration [Nebraska]. This man was known around Prairie du 
Chien and Lansing as John Waukon (there is a Charley Wau- 
kon who is now living at Lansing, la., but he is no relation to 
the Waukon Decorah family). John Waukon has one daugh- 
ter, Mrs. Henry Big Fire, and two sons, Henry Smith ('Hunting 
Man') and John Smith ('Che-wy-scha-ka') still living. John 
Waukon was my father-in-law; my wife's name, by birth and 
number of female children, was Oc-see-ah-ho-no-nien-kaw. She 
died February 21, 1913." 

Waukon Decorah's portrait (recently identified), painted by 
J. O. Lewis* at the Treaty of Prairie du Chien in 1825, is shown 
in Lewis' Aboriginal Portfolio. He is there called "Waa-kaun- 
see-kaa, or the Rattle Snake." Its chief distinction is a turban 
composed of a stuffed rattlesnake, wound around the head, on 
which are some feathers ; a blanket is draped around the lower 
part of his form, while a bunch of hair (evidently horsehair) is 
thrown over his arm. 

Waukon Decorah evidently had adopted for his badge a 
stuffed snake skin, so that by some he was called "snake skin," 
by others, "rattlesnake," the former term, according to historical 
data, being more commonly used. Thomas McKenney, later 
United States Indian Commissioner, gives a portrait of this chief 
in McKenney and Hall's "Indian Tribes," with a biography. 
Here he is called "Wa-kaun-ha-ka, a Winnebago Chief." In his 
biographic note McKenney speaks of "Wa-kaun-ha-ka" as a De- 
corah, moreover, he says that the subject was part French. The 
Wa-kaun-ha-ka of McKenney and the Waa-kaun-see-kaa of 

* Mr. J. O. Lewis was employed by the Indian Department from 182?. 
to 1834 to make portraits of the Indians, which was In furtherance of the 
plan of Hon. J. A. Barbour, Secretary of War. He accompanied Governor 
Lewis Cass and Colonel H. L. McKenney in their western tours, 1819 and 
1829, and was present at the several treaties made by these gentlemen 
with the Chippewas, Winnebagoes, Sioux, Pottawattamies, and others. 
One of the folios contained a letter from General Cass in September, 1835, 
to Mr. Lewis, confirming the correctness of his pictures and commending 
him to the public. The sketches made by Mr. Lewis were deposited in the 
Indian Office, War Department, at Washington, and many of them were 
afterwards copied, at two different times, for the work of McKenney and 
Hall. Part 2, Smithsonian Report, 1885. 



Lewis are portraits of the same person, and both coincide in the 
rattlesnake turban. 

The variation in Indian names *is not a formidable matter in 
identification. Mr. Lamere states that, "The literal translation 
of 'Wa-kaun-see-kaa' is 'the Yellow Snake.' " Mr. Saunders 
says: "At times of feasts or medicine dances Wa-kun-ha-ga 
wore on his head a cap [turban] made of yellow rattlesnake 
skins; the feathers denote bravery in battle." L. H. Bunnell 
mentions that the yellow rattlesnakes of the Mississippi bluffs 
were held as acred by the Winnebagoes and Dakotas, who killed 
them only when a skin was required for a religious ceremony or 
dance.* 

Miss Kellogg, research assistant to Reuben G. Thwaitest, 
reports as follows : "We can unhesitatingly affirm, that there is 
every probability that this is the well known Winnebago known 
as Waukon Decorah. * * * * I think there can be no 
doubt that Lewis's portrait is a genuine one, and correctly iden- 
tified." 

Several historians* of Iowa, it seems, have taken their ac- 
counts of Waukon Decorah from a statement originally made in 
the "Annals of Iowa," 1866, by Eliphalet Price of Elkader, Clay- 
ton county. This contains numerous errors. The Waukon De- 
corah described as a very small Indian is not the person of that 
name known to Wisconsin history. Price says, "He was usu- 
ally called 'the Blind Decorah,' having lost his right eye;" he 
further states that the meaning of Waukon Decorah is "White 
Snake." In this he is also mistaken, as the previously given 
treaty signatures testify. Decorah is a corruption of the French 
surname De Carrie. 



* Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pgr. 134. 

t Superintendent of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

t A. R. Fulton, " The Red Men of Iowa; " B. F. Gue, " History of 
Iowa," Vol. 1; Sabin in "The Making of Iowa" also gives the same 
account. 

$ In his article entitled " Wakon Decorah," Annals of Iowa, 1866. 




WAA-KAUN-SEE-KAA (The Rattlesnake or Waukon-Decorah) 

From a painting by J. O. Lewis at the Treaty of Prairie du Chien, 1825 



George W. Kingsley makes the following statements : 
"There was a White Snake also, but he was not a chief, although 
a very prominent Indian. He died in Houston county, Minne- 
sota, about the time the Decorahs lived in Iowa, his remains 
were left in a sitting position on the point of a hill about one 
mile north of the village of Houston. White Snake lost a part 
of his family in a massacre on the Wapsipinicon river, Iowa, a 
few years after the Black Hawk war while on an elk hunt, by a 
band of Sauk and Fox Indians by mistake. White Snake was 
part Sauk." 

The speech referred to and partly quoted in W. E. Alex- 
ander's History of Winneshiek and Allamakee counties, 1882, 
and credited to Waukon Decorah, is obviously connected with 
this incident. Evidently the speech was made by White Snake. 
He complained that his tribe had been firm friends of the whites, 
had aided them in the Black Hawk war, and because of this had 
incurred the enmity of the Sauks and Foxes, who first struck 
at his own family. He desired some token of remembrance for 
his services. 

It is claimed by Alexander* that, "The name 'Wachon 
Decorah' is found translated in some places as the 'White Crow' ; 
this is an error. There was a White Crow whose Indian name 
was Wa-haw-ska-kaw, also given as Kau-kich-ka-ka. He was 
a prominent Winnebago civil chief and orator and died about 
the year 1834 in Wisconsin, and was buried there. Spoon De- 
corah, a son of Old Gray-headed Decorah, stated that White 
Crow was a one-eyed chief. 

Eliphalet Price took the census of 1850 and is credited by 
the Day family (who were some of the first white settlers in 
Winneshiek county) with suggesting Decorah as a very proper 

* In his History of Winneshiek and Allamakee counties. 



name for the town site that they had in mind to plat.t In the 
act of organizing the county (1851) Decorah is herein first 
named, two and a half years before the town plat was recorded. 
The district represented by Hon. Eliphalet Price consisted of 
Clayton, Fayette, Allamakee, and Winneshiek counties. John 
Day made the remark* that Decorah "was a small Indian about 
five feet in height." 

Mr. Price and Mr. Day were probably mislead in their 
identification of this chief, as there were other Winnebagoes 
whose names began with Waukon. Apparently, they were 
familiar with the name Waukon Decorah, and had this in mind 
when it came to selecting a name for the new town. Mr. Price 
in his article relates that, "Soon after the removal of the Winne- 
bagoes from the Wisconsin to the Neutral Ground in Iowa, De- 
corah and his band took up their residence on the Iowa river 
near the present site of the town that bears his name, in the 
county of Winneshiek." Antoine Grignon states : "Wakun- 
ha-ga [Waukon Decorah] was camped on the Iowa river 
[Upper Iowa] when I knew him. * * * * He did not re- 
main in that section long." Mr. Saunders says, "Wakun-ha-ga, 
and his band, also had a village at or near Waukon, la., where 
they went in the summer, and raised corn and squash, and picked 
berries for winter use." 

In a statement made by Col. C. A. Clark in "Annals of 
Iowa," 1903, he remarks that, "The name of the city of Decorah 
evidently comes from Little Decorah." This is very improbable, 
as there is nothing which corroborates it. Old Waukon lived a 
generation or two before Little Decorah, and was a distin- 
guished chief, while it appears that the latter was of lesser note. 

It is evident, therefore, that our county seat is named in 
honor of the venerable Waukon Decorah. Alexander states, 

t From a paper prepared by A. K. Bailey for deposit in the corner 
atone of the new Court House. 

In Alexander's History of Winneshiek and Allamakee counties. 



"Our neighboring town of Waukon gained its name from the 
first half." Oliver Lamere confirms this in the following ac- 
count: "Waukon and Waukon Junction have derived their 
names from Waukon Decorah. * * * * A very prominent 
chief lived at the time the Winnebagoes were there [Iowa] 
called 'Ah-la-me-ga.' It is thought that the name Allamakee 
is taken from him, and therefore it is a Winnebago name." 

Waukon Decorah was noted for his large and imposing 
stature and is said to have been a fine-looking man. Col. Bris- 
bois of Prairie du Chien, who knew him well, speaks particularly 
of his stature. Antoine Grignon states that, "he was a large 
man over six feet tall and very powerful;" he further states, 
"Mr. Price is mistaken, Waukon Decorah was not blind." He 
is said to have had a family of several children while here in 
Iowa, but the number is not known. Wakun-ha-ga was a 
member of the Snake clan and belonged to the Lower phratry. 
It is said that his sons had eagle clan names and claimed to be 
of the eagle clan. 

What are said to be the remains of Waukon Decorah, 
which have been twice re-interred, now repose in the Court 
House Square, near the northeast corner. These are, however, 
the bones of some other Indian. The first grave supposed to be 
that of Decorah was on ground now occupied by Winnebago 
street, just below Main, almost at their intersection. The open- 
ing of the street to travel made it desirable that the remains be 
removed to another spot. This was done by a formal meeting 
of prominent citizens August 4, 1859. When the grave was 
opened the remains were found to consist of human bones, a 
blanket, a tomahawk, a pipe, and a great number of beads. 
These were taken out and buried under Ellsworth and Landers' 
store, the place now occupied by John C. Hexom & Son, where 
they remained for about six months. When the stone wall in 



front of the Court House was completed, the remains were re- 
interred. They were placed in the Court House Square, where 
they lay undisturbed for about seventeen years. But the grad- 
ing and terracing of these grounds and the building of the new 
stone wall compelled another re-interrment in the summer of 
1876. The bones were taken out and placed in a box to be 
buried again inside the new stone wall. 

When the remains were first exhumed in 1859, the skull had 
black hair ; this assertion is corroborated in a statement made by 
R. F. Gibson, January 27, 1913, to the writer of this article. 
Mr. Gibson was one of a committee of three appointed to take 
charge of the remains. 

Waukon Decorah was at this time living in Minnesota with 
his people ; this fact has been established beyond question. It is 
stated in Alexander's history that even prominent participants 
in the first exhumation of the alleged remains of Decorah 
were confused with doubts, by rumors, current at the time, 
to the effect that Decorah was still living. He died at 
the Blue Earth agency, southern Minnesota, in 1868, and 
was buried there. Mr. Lamere says, "He was about ninety- 
three years old when he died, and it is said that his hair was as 
white as it could be." This is practically conclusive proof that 
the death of Waukon Decorah did not occur here, and that his 
remains are not buried in the Court House Square. 

Little Decorah was the oldest son of Old Gray-headed De- 
corah. His Winnebago name is given as "Maw-hee-coo-shay- 
naw-zhe-kaw," which Mr. Kingsley interprets as "The pillar that 
reaches the clouds." The following treaties were signed by 
Little Decorah: November i, 1837, Washington, D. C., as 
"Ma-hee-koo-shay-nuz-he-kah, (Young Decori) ;" October 13, 
1846, Washington, as "Maw-hee-ko-shay-naw-zhee-kaw ;" Feb- 
ruary 27, 1855, Washington, as "Maw-he-coo-shaw-naw-zhe- 



kaw, "one that Stands and Reaches the Skies, or Little De- 
corie;" April 15, 1859, Washington, as "Little De Corrie;" 
March i, 1865, Washington, as "Little Dacoria." It is probable 
that "Little Decorah" is simply another term for Decorah, 
Junior. 

This chief established a village on the Iowa river (Upper 
Iowa) in 1840, and it is thought that he was about forty years old 
while here. Antoine Grignon, who was acquainted with him, 
says, "Little Decorah spent very little time in Iowa but lived 
mostly in the region of Portage, Wis." He belonged to the Mis- 
sissippi river bands of Indians. Waukon Decorah and Little 
Decorah had separate camps on the Upper Iowa river. 

Little Decorah was of medium height, five feet, eight or ten 
inches, and was chunky and fleshy. It is said that he was slow 
of action and speech, but possessed a mild and kind disposition 
and was very sensible. He belonged to the Cloud clan. Little 
Decorah died near Tomah, Wis., April i, 1887, about 100 years 
old. 

Spoon Decorah was a son of Old Gray-headed Decorah. (It 
will be remembered that Old Decorah had a brother Choukeka, 
also called Spoon Decorah). Spoon Decorah was born at his 
father's village near the mouth of the Baraboo river, Wisconsin. 
In March, 1887, Dr. Reuben G. Thwaites had an interview with 
him. He was then "living with his aged squaw," whose name, 
it is said, was Gray Eagle-eye. "His progeny, reaching to the 
fourth generation, were clustered about the patriarchal lodge 
in family wigwams." He could only converse in his native 
tongue. He related, "In 1840, we were all moved to the Turkey 
river [Iowa] ; but in the spring our party went to Iowa 
[Upper] river, where Little Decorah had a village. We went 
down soon afterwards to the Turkey river to get our ammuni- 
tion, but for some reason perhaps because we had moved to 
Iowa river without the consent of the agent we couldn't get 



any."* He then went back to Wisconsin, where he died Octo- 
ber 13, 1889, in a cranberry marsh, near Necedah. It is said that 
he was about eighty-four years old when he died, t 

Spoon Decorah, a cousin of the Spoon Decorah interviewed 
by Dr. Thwaites in 1887, was a son of One-eyed Decorah. In 
regard to him we have no further information. 

Angel De Cora known in private life as Mrs. William Deitz 
is the daughter of a descendant of the hereditary chief of the 
Winnebagoes. The name "Angel" came about through an acci- 
dent; its bearer was carried, while a baby, to a young kins- 
woman, who, being asked to choose a "Christian name," opened 
a Bible at random, and the first word which caught her eye was 
''angel." Her Indian name, which means "Queen of the Clouds," 
identifies her with the Thunder-bird clan. Angel De Cora 
Deitz states: "Wakan [Waukon Decorah] was a generation or 
two before Maw-he-coo-shaw-naw-zhe-ka [Little Decorah]. 
The latter was my grandfather." 

Her education began, while very young, when she was car- 
ried off to Hampton, Va. A strange white man appeared on the 
reservation and asked her, through an interpreter, if she would 
like to ride on a steam car ; with six other children she decided to 
try it, and when the ride was ended she found herself in Hamp- 
ton. "Three years later, when I returned to my mother," says 
Angel De Corat, "she told me that for months she wept and 
mourned for me. My father and the old chief and his wife had 
died, and with them the old Indian life was gone." She then 
returned to Hampton, where, through the efforts of a kind 
family who gave her employment, she was enabled to work her 
way through a local preparatory school for girls, and later the 
art department of Smith College, Northampton, Mass. 

* Wisconsin Historical Collections. 

f Same reference as above. 

t The Literary Digest, January 27, 1912, pg. 161. 

Same reference as above. 



Her husband's name is Wicarhpi Isnala, or Lone Star ; he is 
one-quarter Sioux and the rest German. Both are now teaching 
art at the Carlisle Indian School, her husband having also 
studied art and become an artist of some note. Angel De Cora 
has been under the art instruction of such men as Howard Pyle, 
Frank Brown, Joseph De Camp, and Edmund Tarbell. She has 
won distinction in her work. In 1904 her husband, Lone Star, 
supervised the interior and mural decorations of the Indian ex- 
hibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. It was 
while in St. Louis that he became acquainted with Angel De 
Cora.* 

Roger C. Mackenstadt, whose boyhood was spent in the 
city of Decorah, where his parents still reside, says, "Our best 
policeman, and one of my intimate friends, was Peter Decora, a 
grandson of Chief Wakan Decorah. * * * * In the whole 
tribe I would say that fifty are named Decora. They drop the 
H. There are several Waukons, about ten, and twenty Winne- 
shieks. The Winneshieks and Waukons are all Wisconsin Win- 
nebagoes and about half of the Decoras are Wisconsin." Mr. 
Mackenstadt having received a promotion, is now stationed at 
the Uintah and Ouray Agency, Utah. 




1. Peace pipe presented by Old Gray-Headed Decorah to Maj. 
Xachary Taylor. 

2. Chief Winneshiek's pipe (after suggestion furnished by Oliver 
Lamere.) 

3. Winnebago courting flute, known on the frontier as the deerskin 
flute, after Oeo. Catlin. 

* From an article in The Literary Digest, January 27, 1912, pg. 161. 



CHIEF WINNESHIEK 



And though the warrior's sun has set, 

Its light shall linger round us yet. 
Translation from the Spanish by H. W. Longfellow. 



Winneshiek, who seems to be a somewhat shadowy charac- 
ter, was a notable chief of the Winnebagoes. It appears that 
there was a family, like the Decorah family, that took that name. 
The name Winneshiek is evidently not a Winnebago name, but 
an Algonquian (that is, Fox) name, and is properly Winnishig* 
and signifies "a dirty person who is lying down." He was com- 
monly known by his Fox name. In his own language he was 
called "Wa-kon-ja-goo-gah," meaning "Coming Thunder;" he 
was also called "We-lou-shi-ga," meaning "ties them up," or 
"has them tied up." It is also said that his name in his own 
language was "Maun-wau-kon-kaw ;" *regarding the last two 
names Little Winneshiek says, "I understand that this name 
[We-lou-shi-ga] is a Sioux word for Wa-kon-ja-goo-gah, or 
Coming Thunder. The name, Maun-wau-kon-kaw, is unknown 
to us." The following treaty signatures show the name to be 
variously written : August 25, 1828, Green Bay, Michigan Ter- 
ritory, " Wee-no-shee-kaw ;" February 27, 1855, Washington, D. 
C., "Wau-kon-chaw-koo-haw, the Coming Thunder, or Win-no- 
shik," (the first Indian to sign the treaty.) 

From A. R. Fulton, in "Red Men of Iowa," we learn that, 
"He was promoted to the rank of a chief when quite young, and 
always maintained popularity among his people. * * * * 
Both physically and intellectually he was a remarkably fine speci- 

* Wisconsin Historical Collections. 



men of his race. * * * * As a man he was modest, kind, 
and courteous ; as a chief, dignified, firm and just in the exercise 
of his authority. * * * * Winneshiek was made head chief 
of the tribe in 1845 t at tne Turkey river, Iowa], an appoint- 
ment that did not affect his position as chief of his own particular 
band." Alexander states* : "He was made chief by order of 
the United States War Department, on account of his ability 
and fitness for the position. Under him as head chief, there 
were several chiefs of respective bands into which the tribe was 
divided." When the tribe was removed to Long Prairie, Minn., 
Winneshiek was the head chief, and in 1857, when they 
were at Blue Earth, he was called a worthy chief and ruler of his 
tribe, f 

Old chief Winneshiek was an intelligent and very kind man, 
and had perfect control over his people. He belonged to the 
Thunder clan, and was a member of the Upper phratry. Mr. 
Lamere says : "He is said to have been of medium size, had 
black mustache and chin whiskers. He was very handsome, and 
it is said that he always wore goggles, or dark glasses. He al- 
ways carried a pipe, which was made out of a round stick about 
a foot and a half long with the stem hole bored through it, and 
the bowl bored into the other end; he carried this most all the 
time, and especially at council meetings would he have it with 
him." 

Mr. Kingsley says : "We-no-shee-kah was strictly a pagan; 
he did not believe in the white man's way, therefore his band of 
followers, which consisted of about one-half or two-thirds of the 
tribe, were known as blanket Indians. He was a very shrewd, 
wise, and stubborn man, but free-hearted to everybody ; no per- 
son ever left or entered the chief's great lodge without receiving 

* In his History of Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties. There is 
no further authentic mention regarding this statement. 
t Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 166. 



something to eat. These were his teachings ; he regarded all the 
Winnebagoes as his children and treated them as such. We-no- 
shee-kah was no orator, therefore in council with the govern- 
ment, or otherwise, he always had a speaker. He was no trav- 
eler, although he made a trip or two to see his Great Father at 
Washington, President Polk, who, as a token of friendship, gave 
We-no-shee-kah a medal; struck on the reverse side were two 
hands clasped, an Indian's in that of a white man's [regarding 
this medal see statement by Little Winneshiek]. Chief We-no- 
shee-kah was a great father as well as a head chief. He had four 
wives, who, with himself and family, lived in one lodge. His 
principal home was about seven miles west of the village of 
Houston, on the Root river, Houston county, Minnesota; here 
he lived, during the winter, in a dirt wigwam." Fulton states* : 
"He had four wives, one of whom was the reputed daughter of 
Colonel Morgan, a former officer in the United States army;" 
there is no further authentic mention which corroborates this 
statement by Fulton. 

That Winneshiek also had a camp on the Upper Iowa river 
is evident, as Antoine Grignon says, "While he [Winneshiek] 
was camped on the Iowa river my brother Paul and one James 
Reed visited his band to find out about some cattle the young 
Winnebagoes had stolen from the Sioux. They were given in 
compensation an equal amount of cattle, or a number cor- 
responding to the number that had been stolen, and Winneshiek 
warned his band not to molest the cattle as they were being 
driven out, as the young men were making preparations to 
stampede the herd by waving red blankets in front of them." 

P. V. Lawson, a Wisconsin historian, saysf : "The Indians 
in a drunken pow-wow at Prairie du Chien had killed his 

* " Red Men of Iowa," pg. 158. 

t Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 156; taken from Wiscon- 
sin Historical Collections 9, 287. 



brother. Word of this tragedy being sent to him, he coolly 
loaded his pistol, and with it concealed beneath his blanket, 
went to the place where his brother lay. He had the murderer 
brought beside his victim and then suddenly shot him dead;" 
there is no further mention made of this incident. It is stated,t 
however, that Winneshiek was in 1829 head chief of the Winne- 
bago village at La Crosse. 

He was on the British side in 1812-15, and in 1832 refused to 
assist the Americans against the Sauks. When invited by the 
whites to join them, the matter was discussed with the chiefs and 
braves. "Win-o-she-kaw was opposed to the measure, and de- 
clined having anything to do with it. He said the Sauks had 
twice that season presented the red wampum to the Winne- 
bagoes at Portage, and that they had as often washed it white 
and handed it back to them ; further, that he did not like that red 
thing; that he was afraid of it. Waudgh-ha-ta-kau [evidently 
the One-eyed Decorah] took the wampum, and said that he with 
all the young men of the village would go; that they were 
anxious to engage in the expedition and would be ready to ac- 
company us on our return."* A short while after this it was 
found that Winneshiek and Wau-mar-nar-sar had gone up the 
river with part of the band to hunt and dry meat. 

His mother was a sister of Wabokieshiek (White Cloud), 
the half-Sauk, half-Winnebago Prophet, who assisted Black 
Hawk. Little Winneshiek says, "For this relationship he fought 
in a number of battles under Black Hawk in the war of 1832." 
Thomas Clay, an aged Winnebago, heard Winneshiek tell this 
from time to time at death-wakes, where the brave men, or war- 
riors, were supposed to tell the truth. Clay's statement t is as 
follows : 

t Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 156: taken from Wiscon- 
sin Historical Collection 8, 287. 

* Wisconsin Historical Collections, 2, 267, 256. 
t As given by Mr. Oliver Lamere. 



"Winneshiek was a nephew of a Sauk and Fox Indian called 
White Cloud [Wabokieshiek], that is why Winneshiek was an 
aid to the Sauk and Fox Indians during- Black Hawk's war. 
Winneshiek was taking, or guiding, the Fox Indians into the 
Winnebago country, or to the village, and as they were crossing 
the Mississippi river somewhere near where Prairie du Chien 
now stands, a steamboat came up the river and anchored in the 
middle of the stream. Then some one called out from the boat 
and asked if Black Hawk was there among them. 'Yes/ was 
the answer from the Indians. 'Will he surrender or not?' was 
the next question from the boat. Then Winneshiek spoke up, 
and said : 'Uncles (meaning the Fox Indians, as that was what 
he always called them), tie a white cloth to a pole and I will 
go and surrender.' So they made a white flag for him, but as he 
was about to get into the stream to swim to the boat, the Fox 
people said : 'Perhaps after all you had better not go,' and saying 
thus, they held him ; and the soldiers in the boat could see that 
he was being held. Then Winneshiek said : 'Uncles, I meant to 
do this that you might live, but the result shall be your fault.' 
Just then the question came again from the boat, 'Will you sur- 
render?' The answer from the Indians was 'No! we will not 
surrender,' and no sooner was it said than the soldiers fired upon 
them, and even at the first volley many of the Indians were 
killed. Then Winneshiek said : 'Uncles, thus far only, am I 
able to be with you, as I shall leave you here ;' and saying thus, 
he and his real uncles went up the bank of the river and there 
watched the fight. When night came upon them, he took his 
Fox uncles back to the Wmnebago village with him. When 
they arrived at the village, Winneshiek's mother met him, cry- 
ing : "Oh ! my son, because you have aided Black Hawk in the 
war, they have taken your father to the fort as a prisoner.' 
When the soldiers learned that Winneshiek was back at his own 
village they came after him and released his father. Winneshiek 



was questioned very severely, but he was angered instead of 
frightened, and he would not even speak, and for four days he 
would not eat the food that was given him. Then one of the 
officers said to his fellow officers: 'You must be very severe in 
questioning Winneshiek. I will question him myself, to-day.' 
So the officer went to him and as he entered he called Winne- 
shiek by name, greeting him and shaking hands with him, he 
said : 'Winneshiek, I understand that some officers have ques- 
tioned you, but that you were angered and would not even speak 
to them, and I told them that they must have acted very un- 
gentlemanly towards you to cause you to act as you did.' Win- 
neshiek said : 'Yes, that is the way they have acted.' 'That is 
what I thought,' said the officer, and continued. 'Winneshiek, 
I am going to talk with you with good words/ and Winneshiek 
assented; so the officer said: 'Winneshiek, as you have been 
spoken to roughly, which caused you to not eat for four days, 
and as I am going to speak to you with good words, therefore 
I desire that you should eat before we talk and I will have 
cooked for you a very nice dog that I own myself, and at noon, 
after you have had your noon meal, then we shall talk.' Then 
the officer got some Indians that were about the fort to cook the 
dog for him in the way they usually cook them for themselves. 
So when it was thus served to Winneshiek and he had partaken 
of it, then he and the officer talked. The officer was very much 
pleased that Winneshiek talked with him in a good spirit. Then 
he said : 'Winneshiek, I am going to ask you a question and I 
would like to have you tell me the truth;' Winneshiek assented. 
The officer asked : 'Were you with the Foxes in the war ?' Win- 
neshiek said : 'Yes/ and the officer asked again : 'Did you take 
part ?' Winneshiek said : 'As you have asked me for the truth, 
I will tell it to you, yes, I took part/ Then the officer said : 
'Winneshiek, I thank you because I asked you for the truth and 
you gave it to me/ Then the officer did not question him any- 



more, but left. Winneshiek was kept in prison one year for 
being an aid to Black Hawk." 

Kingsley says : "We-no-shee-kah and his band after being 
moved about from one reservation to another were finally re- 
moved from Blue Earth, Minnesota, to Usher's Landing, or 
Fort Thompson, S. D. Here a part of the band starved to death 
and others died of exposure. He took the remnant of his band 
and started down the Missouri river in canoes, in hopes of going 
to St. Louis, and hence up the Mississippi to his native haunts in 
Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota; but the old chief got as far 
down as St. Joseuh, Mo., and there winter overtook him and his 
little band. The old chief took sick and died very suddenly. '' 
At this time the old chief evidently was on the Kansas side of 
the Missouri, as Mr. Lamere says : "He died in Kansas, or just 
across the southern line of Nebraska among the Iowa Indians/' 
One wife and the family came through the next summer. Little 
Winneshiek, a son of the old chief, says : "My father traveled 
extensively in the interest of the tribe, he with other chiefs were 
in Washington on two occasions for the purpose of ceding large 
areas of land at each time to the Federal Government ;" he fur- 
ther says: "Your county was named in honor of my father. 
Chief Winneshiek, who was considered the head of the Winne- 
bago tribe at the time they were occupying the Turkey river dis- 
trict in Iowa. Ours was the family to which Geo. Kingsley re- 
ferred to as moving to Wisconsin after my father's death." 

No one knows who gave the county its name ; this, like cer- 
tain other things concerning the earliest history of the county, 
has apparently never been recorded. At an old settlers' meeting 
held in Decorah, July 4, 1876, Mr. A. K. Bailey delivered an 
address in which it was strongly intimated that this might have 
been the work of Hon. Eliphalet Price. Alexander accepted this 
as good enough history and gives it as such in his history of the 
county. However, Mr. A. K. Bailey corrects this by a later 



article* in which he states : "The very recent discovery that the 
county was named legally [February 27, 1847], and its boun- 
daries described, more than four years before the organizing act 
fi85i] was passed (which has until now [1903] been considered 
as the beginning of county existence), makes this credit to Mr. 
Price improbable." 

Young Winneshiek, or Winneshiek the Younger, so-called in 
history, was a younger brother of old chief Winneshiek, or Com- 
ing Thunder. It is statedt that he was a son of the old chief, but 
this is an error and does not refer to his son Little Winneshiek 
who says, "Young Winneshiek was named Ah-hoo-sheeb-gah, 
or Short Wing, by his fellow tribesmen; he was a younger 
brother of my father and did not participate in the Sauk and 
Fox war [1832]." It is said! that during the so-called Winne- 
bago war, in 1827, Young Winneshiek was held as a hostage by 
Colonel Dodge for the good behavior of the tribe. This state- 
ment is made by several historians! in which connection they 
also mention him as taking part in the Black Hawk war, 1832; 
Mr. Clay's narrative refers to chief Winneshiek, an older brother 
of Young Winneshiek. Little Winneshiek's statement (as given 
above) confirms Mr. Clay's narration. It is stated in Alexander's 
history that Winneshiek was a noted orator. Obviously, this 
refers to Young Winneshiek, for in the Report of the Indian 
agent for 1840+, there is a speech made by Young Winneshiek, 
in which he refers to himself as "a boy," protesting against the 
removal to Iowa. Kingsley testifies that old chief Winneshiek 
(Coming Thunder) was "no orator." 

From a paper prepared by A. K. Bailey, for deposit in the corner 
stone of the new Court House, and republished in the " Illustrated His- 
torical Atlas of Winneshiek County," Sec. II, pg. 3. 

f Wisconsin Historical Collections, 2, 331. 

II Wisconsin Historical Collections, 2, 331. 

Fulton, Gue, and Sabin; the latter two, it seems, have taken their 
accounts from Fulton. They were probably under wrong impressions in 
reference to "Young Winneshiek" as their statements (according to his- 
torical data) seem to apply to more than one person. 

J Wisconsin Historical collections. 



Antoine Grignon says, "Young Winneshiek was a bright 
young man. He died rather young, at Black River Falls, Wis." 
When the Winnebagoes were being removed from Blue Earth, 
the chiefs Decorah and Winneshiek (evidently One-eyed Dcorah 
and Young Winnshiek) fled with their families and other mem- 
bers of the tribe to Wisconsin. Young Winneshiek had a village 
on the Black River and died there in May, 1887. 

No-gin-kah (meaning, Striking Tree and Younger Winne- 
shiek) is the youngest son of Chief Winneshiek, or Coming 
Thunder. He is seventy years old and is still living in Wiscon- 
sin. He is more commonly known as Little Winneshiek. No- 
gin-kah says, "John Winneshiek and I are the only sons of Chief 
Winneshiek living and his other descendants produced by our 
deceased brothers and sisters diverge into a very large family." 
He further states that, "The medals issued to Winnebago chiefs 
by the United States Government are lost, the one described by 
Geo. W. Kingsley was lost by one of my elder brothers. I have 
only one medal in my possession, on which is engraved King 
George the 3d and Latin inscriptions [this medal, (with the ex- 
ception of a slight variation in size) conforms to a description of 
the one issued by the British military authorities in 1778]." 

John Winneshiek's Indian name is Ko-sho-gi-way-ka, mean- 
ing "One that goes low;" he is seventy-eight years old. 

Old chief Winneshiek's Indian name is given by some his- 
torians* as Wa-kun-cha-koo-kah, but this is evidently an error. 
Wa-kun-cha-koo-kaht is the Indian name of chief Yellow Thun- 
der, who migrated with his tribe to Iowa. Yellow Thunder did 
not remain long at the Turkey river, for within a year he and his 
wife (known in history as "the Washington woman")* returned 
to Wisconsin ; here he entered a tract of forty acres as a home- 

* Fulton, "Red Men of Iowa:" Gue, "History of Iowa," Vol. 1; 
Sabin, " The Making of Iowa." 

f Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, pt. 2, pg. 996. 
I "Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pjf. 160. 




NO-GIN-KAH (Striking Tree or Little Winneshiek) 



stead on the west side of the Wisconsin river. He died in Feb- 
ruary, 1874. Yellow Thunder was greatly respected by his peo- 
ple, and was an able counsellor in their public affairs. 

Other Winnebago chiefs known to have been in the county 
were Whirling Thunder (Wau-kaun-ween-kaw), Little Hill (Sho- 
gee-nik-ka) who, at Long Prairie, became head spokesman for 
the chiefs; Big Bear, and Kayrah-mau-nee, a son of Carry- 
maunee (or Nawkaw). 



MISSION SCHOOL AND TRADING POST 



By the treaty of September 15, 1832, it was stipulated that 
the government should annually, beginning in September, 1833, 
and continuing for twenty-seven years, give the Winnebagoes 
$10,000 in specie, and establish a school among them, at or near 
Prairie du Chien, with a farm and garden, and provide other 
facilities, not to exceed in cost $3,000 a year, for the education of 
their children, and continue the same for twenty-seven succes- 
sive years. Six agriculturists, twelve yoke of oxen and as many 
plows, and other farming tools were to be supplied by the gov- 
ernment. The buildings were erected in 1833, on the Yellow 
river, Allamakee county, Iowa, and President Jackson appointed 
Rev. David Lowry, a Presbyterian minister, to assume charge. 
The mission school was removed in 1840, from the Yellow river 
to a point on the Turkey river, in Winneshiek county, about 
four miles southeast of the fort buildings. 

The erection of the mission was superintended by Rev. 
Lowry. There were about twenty buildings at the mission. One 
was a large school house, another a small church, while the rest 
were dwellings. Early Catholic pioneers, who settled near the 
Turkey river (1849), purchased these buildings. The small 
church was used as a chapel, hence the name Old Mission. In 
1853 it was destroyed by fire. 

There was also a mission one mile east of the fort, on the 
Turkey river, established by Catholic missionaries. Here there 
were a number of graves, and at the head of each was a cross. 
It is unknown whether any of the graves were those of converted 



Indians or not. The buildings belonging to this mission were 
burned down by a prairie fire in the early fifties. 

Alexander states * that, "Rev. Lowry's assistant was one by 
the name of Col. Thomas. To him was turned over the work of 
instructing the Indians in agricultural pursuits. The first year, 
under Col. Thomas' supervision, a farm of 300 acres was opened. 
However, little work could be got out of them, and the crops 
planted began to show neglect." There was an abundance of 
game in the country round about, and therefore the temptation 
for the Indian to roam and hunt was very strong. As a result he 
became negligent about tilling the soil. In 1843 Col. Thomas, 
under governmental instructions, built the first grist mill in 
Winneshiek county. The mission and farm was continued until 
the reservation was sold to the government. Lowry finally re- 
signed to take charge of a mission in Minnesota and, in 1846, 
Mr. Fletcher was appointed agent for the Winnebagoes by 
President Polk, and served in that capacity for eleven years. 
During that time he resided at Fort Atkinson, Iowa, Long 
Prairie, Minn., and Blue Earth, Minn. Under the careful man- 
agement of Mr. Fletcher the Winnebagoes attained to consider- 
able proficiency in agriculture, and otherwise improved their 
condition. 

During his service as Indian agent Mr. Fletcher was accom- 
panied by his wife, who engaged earnestly in the work of teach- 
ing the Indians. Their eldest son, Frank Fletcher, acquired such 
command of the language of the Indians that he became his 
father's interpreter. General Fletcher, while serving as agent, 
contributed through the publications of Mr. Schoolcraft a vast 
amount of information concerning the religion, traditions, and 
customs of the Winnebagoes while at the Turkey river. In 1858 
Mr. Fletcher returned to Iowa, where he died April 6, 1872, on 
his farm near Muscatine, sixty-six years old. 

* In his History of Winneshiek and Allaraakee Counties. 



When the crop, planted under Col. Thomas' supervision, 
began to show neglect, a force of garrison men were detailed to 
cultivate it, and were paid for their labor out of the Indian annu- 
ity. Hon. A. Jacobson states* : "Ole Halvorsen Valle, un- 
doubtedly the first Norwegian to visit the county, was engaged 
in the service of the government as teamster, hauling provisions 
from Fort Crawford, Wis., to Fort Atkinson and the Old Mis- 
sion ; he was also employed in breaking up pieces of bottom land 
on the Upper Iowa river. One of the largest fields thus pre- 
pared for the Indians to plant their corn was situated just below 
the outlet of Trout Run." Mr. Goddard says, "An Indian chief 
had a farm about one-half mile southwest of Spillville, and a 
considerable part of the ground was broken up." 

An Indian trading post was established two miles southwest 
of the fort by a Mr. Olmstead and one Joseph Hewitt. It seems 
that they had a permit from the government to trade with the 
Indians. The buildings, all one story high, were constructed of 
logs. There were five in number, two large dwelling houses, one 
large store, one storage house, and a blacksmith shop. Capt. 
Joseph Hewitt's principal occupation was hunting, trapping, and 
fishing. In 1851 he left the country and located at Clear Lake, 
la., where he experienced no little trouble with the Sioux In- 
dians. In 1849 Josiah Goddard bought the old Indian trading 
post from Olmstead, and in 1850 moved his family on to the 
land. Three or four acres of this land had been broken up by 
the Indians. 



In his article " Reminiscences of Pioneer Norwegians," published 
In the Historical Atlas of Wlnneshlek County, 1905. Sec. II, p. 11. 



FORT ATKINSON 



Now, the boys in blue, you bet, 
Earn whatever praise they get. 

Joseph Mills Hanson, "Frontier Ballads." 



In 1840 the Winnebago Indians were removed to their new 
home on the Neutral Ground. In order to protect them from 
the incursions of their neighbors, among whom were the Sauk 
and Fox tribes, as well as from intrusions of the whites, and in 
turn to prevent them from trespassing beyond the limits of the 
reservation, soldiers were stationed among them. A detachment 
of the 5th Infantry (Company F) under command of Captain 
Isaac Lynde left Fort Crawford, with a complement of eighty- 
two officers and enlisted men, and went into camp, May 31, 1840, 
in the neighborhood of Spring creek (now known as Goddard's 
creek) on the Turkey river. The camp was named "Camp At- 
kinson" in honor of Brigadier General Henry Atkinson, U. S. 
Army, the Department Commander who was so prominent in 
military operations in the upper Mississippi valley. Barracks 
and quarters sufficient to accommodate one company were 
erected, and in March, 1841, the Secretary of War ordered that 
the station be known as Fort Atkinson. 

Rumors of the warlike attitude of a portion of the Sauk and 
Fox Indians, who, it was believed, intended sending out a party 
against the peaceable Winnebagoes, caused Governor Dodge of 
Wisconsin, in a letter dated January 23, 1841, and directed to the 
Commissioner of Indian affairs, to urge strongly that, in addi- 
tion to the garrison there at that time, a mounted force be sta- 



tioned at Fort Atkinson. The following is an extract from 
Governor Dodge's letter : 

"In compliance with the instructions of your Department 
the Agency and School have been removed to the new site on 
Turkey river with about 700 of the Indians of the Winnebago 
Nation. These Indians, it is confidently expected, will not re- 
turn, unless another blow should be struck by the Sauks and 
Foxes. Such an event may not be looked for this winter, but it 
is the opinion of Mr. Lowry that it may certainly be calculated 
upon in the ensuing spring unless a mounted force should be 
stationed at Camp Atkinson. 

"Information was received by Mr. Lowry through Governor 
Lucas, obtained from a portion of the Sauks and Foxes not un- 
friendly to the Winnebagoes, that a war party was to have set 
out against the latter in November last. A very extraordinary 
snow storm is believed to have prevented this attack. The war 
party is now on Red Cedar (fifty miles west of Camp Atkinson) : 
a large body of Sioux are also in that vicinity, and scouts of the 
former have been fired at by the latter but as yet no blood has 
been shed. The difficulty of keeping the Winnebagoes at their 
new homes, under these circumstances, and without an adequate 
force for their protection, must be readily seen." 

This letter was referred to the War Department, where it 
was in turn referred to General Atkinson with instructions to use 
every effort to prevent any collision between the Indians. Gen- 
eral Atkinson responded to these instructions March I, 1841, 
as follows : 

"Sir : I have the honor to report, that I have received your 
letter of instructions of the I5th ultimo, accompanied by an ex- 
tract of a letter from Governor Dodge of the 23d of January, in 
reference to establishing a mounted force at Fort Atkinson for 
the protection of the Winnebago Indians. It is impossible to 
station a mounted force at that point before the middle of May, 
as there are no barracks, quarters or stables for their accommo- 



dation, nor forage for their horses. I will, however, order the 
troop at Fort Crawford to make excursions through the country 
of Turkey and Cedar Rivers, till the season opens to enable it to 
go under tents, at which time the grass will be grown suffi- 
ciently to subsist the horses. 

"No time should be lost by the Quartermaster's Depart- 
ment in proceeding to erect quarters, barracks, and stables for 
the troop at the post on Turkey River, or they will not be ready 
for their accommodation by the coming of the next winter. I 
request, therefore, that orders to that effect may be given with- 
out delay. 

"With great respect, Sir, your most obedient servant, 
(Signed.) H. ATKINSON, 

Brigadier General U. S. Army. 
Brigadier General Jones, 
Adjutant General U. S. Army, Washington." 

On the 24th of the following June, Company B of the ist 
Dragoons arrived at the fort and took up their station, and from 
that time until 1847 the fort was a two-company post. Septem- 
ber nth Captain Lynde's company was relieved by Company K 
of the ist Infantry, Captain J. J. Abercrombie. 

In the year following, at various times, on the requisition 
of Governor Chambers of Iowa Territory, detachments and 
patrols were sent out from this fort to remove squatters and 
other intruders from the lands of the Sauk and Fox Indians and 
to prevent their return. August 7th Company I, ist Dragoons, 
under Command of Captain James Allen, arriving at the fort, 
whence they proceeded to the Sauk and Fox Agency, where 
they established Fort Sanford. From this time until its abandon- 
ment Fort Atkinson was successively garrisoned by the follow- 
ing organizations : 

Company B, ist Infantry, Captain Sidney Burbank; Com- 
pany A, ist Infantry, Captain Osborne Cross; Company E, ist 
Infantry, Captain A. S. Miller; Company A, ist Iowa Volunteer 



Infantry, Captain James M. Morgan; Company A, ist Iowa 
Volunteer Dragoons, Captain John Parker; a detachment of 
Wisconsin Volunteers, Dodge Guards, under command of Lieu- 
tenant Benjamin Fox; (here was an interim of several months 
during which the Fort was not garrisoned ;) and from September 
25, 1848, until the time of its abandonment, Company C, 6th In- 
fantry, Captairi F. L. Alexander.* 

The fort was situated in the northwestern part of Washing- 
ton township (on the old military road constructed from Fort 
Snelling to Fort Gibson) and stood on a rock-ribbed hill over- 
looking the site of the town which now bears its name. This hill 
is about eighty-four feet above the Turkey river. The fort build- 
ings were two stories high, twenty feet to the eaves. Each build- 
ing had an upper porch along its entire length, the one on the 
officers' quarters being screened in with the old fashioned mov- 
able wooden blinds. The buildings occupied an acre of ground. 
The stables, about 40 feet wide and about 300 feet long, extended 
north and south and were about 20 rods east of the street. The 
bakery, and the blacksmith shop and carpenter shops were north 
of the fort on the north side of the street. 

The main barracks consisted of the commissioned officers' 
quarters, built of stone, the non-commissioned officers' quarters, 
built of logs hewn fiat, one soldiers' quarters (including hospital 
rooms), built of stone, and another soldiers' quarters (including 
church and school rooms), built of flat hewn logs. The soldiers' 
quarters were 250 feet long. These four main buildings enclosed 
a parade- and drill-ground (with a flag-staff at one end), and in 
turn were enclosed by a stockade twelve feet high and made out 
of logs hewn flat and set on end in a narrow trench. The top 
of the stockade consisted of spikes driven into the sharpened 
ends of the logs. Port holes were cut at about every four feet. 

* War Department Records of Fort Atkinson in " Annals of Iowa," 
July, 1900, Vol. IV, No. 6. 



In two corners of the stockade were located cannon-houses ; 
and in the other two corners, the Quartermasters' store house 
(adjoined by the sutler's store) and the magazine, or powder- 
house. The guard-house was near the sutler's store, and a senti- 
nel's beat was constructed near the powder-house. The plat- 
form of the sentinel's beat was about three feet below the top 
of one side of the stockade and extended nearly its whole length. 
At one end, by the magazine house, was constructed a small 
shelter for the protection of the sentinel during inclement 
weather. The outer walls of the Quartermaster's store extended 
somewhat outside the stockade. 

Alexander states* : "The material of which it was built was 
prepared at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, Wis., and the cost 
of making a wagon-road, the same ever since known as the Old 
Military road, and transporting the material to its destination, 
brought the cost of building the fort to $93,000." However, all 
the material was not prepared at Fort Crawford, as Mr. Goddard 
says, "The government had a sawmill at Old Mission, where all 
the hardwood used in the fort was cut. The stone used was 
quarried in the immediate vicinity of the fort. The pine lumber 
and other material was brought from Fort Crawford." 

Alexander says :t "The first blacksmith in Winneshiek 
county was Harmon Snyder. He came from Prairie du Chien 
with the force (of about 50 mechanics) detailed to build the fort, 
and was employed, chiefly, in work for the garrison. At the 
same time he did a great deal of work for the Indians. They 
would stand around and watch him while at his work, with 
wonder and admiration." 

Antoine Grignon, who aided in the removal of the Winne- 
bagoes in 1848, says, "Fort Atkinson was quite a lively place 
when I was there ; there was a company of cavalry there at that 

In his history of the county, 
t Same reference as above. 



time." Concerning the Indian agency which was established in 
connection with the fort, Mr. Kingsley relates that, "The Winne- 
bagoes were given food, clothing, gold, and silver. In money 
they received $46.00 per head, twice a year. The head of the 
family represented his family by the number of sticks in his hand, 
and the annuity was disbursed to him accordingly. I have 
heard my mother say that she was a young girl, about fourteen 
years old, the time of the Turkey river reservation days; her 
father, being a sub-chief, drew a portion of the supplies; these 
were tied up in a buffalo robe and put on a pony that she rode. 
The cash amounted to between $1,000 and $2,000." 

February 24, 1849, tne P ost was finally abandoned. It was 
turned over to the Secretary of the Interior for disposition Janu- 
ary 10, 1851. At the present time all that is still standing of the 
fort is the cannon-house of the southwest corner. 

"Orders No. 9. 

Headquarters 6th Military Department. 
St. Louis, Missouri, February loth, 1849. 
In pursuance of General Orders No. 3, of the 23d ultimo, 
for the abandonment of Fort Atkinson, the Company of the 6th 
Infantry stationed there will be withdrawn to Fort Crawford, 
and will form a part of the garrison of that post. 

The public stores at Fort Atkinson will be removed or sold, 
as may be found expedient under the circumstances. 
By order Bvt. Major General Twiggs : 

D. C. BUELL, 
Asst. Adjt. Gen. 

Although the military appearance was no longer kept up, 
the fort was not entirely abandoned as a post. A discharged 
soldier of the regular army, named Alexander Faulkner, who 
held the rank of first sergeant, was appointed by the government 
to look after it. Josiah Goddard, who, with his family, moved 
from Wisconsin to this section in 1849, spent the winter of 1849- 



5O in the old fort when it was in charge of Mr. Faulkner. Soon 
after, Faulkner was relieved by Geo. Cooney, whom Alexander 
says*, "was a well-known citizen of the county, who lived in the 
vicinity of the old fort." The fort became useless as govern- 
ment property, and was sold at public auction to one J. M. 
Flowers for $3,521. The reservation is described as containing 
1,920 acres. This land was finally disposed of under the pro- 
visions of the acts of Congress of July 30, 1856, and June 7, 
1860. 

Of the officers who served at this post, six, namely : Cap-- 
tain John J. Abercrombie and Lieutenants Schuyler Hamilton, 
John H. King, and Joseph B. Plummer, of the ist Infantry, and 
Captain Edwin V. Sumner and Lieutenant Alfred Pleasanton, of 
the ist Dragoons, attained to the rank of general officers in the 
U. S. Army in the Civil War. 

Assistant Surgeon William S. King was retired as an Assist- 
ant Surgeon General. Captain Osborne Cross of the ist In- 
fantry was transferred to the Quartermaster's Department and 
became Assistant Quartermaster General with the rank of Col- 
onel. Captain Sidney Burbank of the ist Infantry commanded 
his regiment, 2d U. S. Infantry, during the Civil War and was 
breveted for gallantry. 

Lieutenants Simon B. Buckner and Henry Heth of the 6th 
Infantry, and Abraham Buford and Alexander W. Reynolds of 
the ist, resigned their commissions at the outbreak of the Civil 
War and became general officers in the Confederate service. 
Assistant Surgeon Charles H. Smith served in the medical de- 
partment of the Confederate army. A. R. Young, father of 
Frank Young of Decorah, was a soldier at Fort Atkinson, and 
left with other troops for Mexico, but returned soon after the 
country was opened to settlers. 

* In his history of the county. 



The first death of a white man in Winneshiek county was 
that of a government teamster named Howard, frozen to death 
October 4, 1840, near Castalia, while driving from Fort Craw- 
ford to Fort Atkinson. He was buried at the latter place. The 
first white child born in the county was Miss Mary Jane Tapper, 
born at the fort January 16, 1841. 





October 13, 1846, the Winnebagoes ceded "all claim to 
land," and especially their rights on the Neutral Ground, and 
were given a tract of land selected by the chiefs at Long Prairie, 
Minn. The Indians were not satisfied with the location, and 
most of them remained scattered throughout the country. 

Mr. Henry M. Rice secured the contract to remove these to 
Minnesota, and employed Moses Paquette, Antoine Grignon, 
and others to assist him. Antoine Grignon, who is now eighty- 
four years old and a resident of Wisconsin, says, "I went to 
school four years with Moses Paquette; he was a Winnebago 
mixed blood. I have no Indian name, but am part Sioux and 
Winnebago. I helped locate camps for H. M. Rice, along the 
river, and we gathered the Indians together in La Crosse, took 
them by steamboat to St. Paul, then overland by wagon to Long 
Prairie, Minn. I remained at Long Prairie until 1854. They 
disliked very much to leave Iowa. They were removed in 
wagons, being guarded by dragoons from Fort Atkinson." 

The names of the twenty-four Indian signers of the Treaty 
of Washington, negotiated with the Winnebago Indians October 
13, 1846, are as follows : 

Hoong-ho-no-kaw. 

Is-jaw-go-bo-kaw. 

Co-no-ha-ta-kaw. 

Naw-hoo-skaw-kaw. 

Shoong-skaw-kaw. 



Kooz-a-ray-kaw. 

Waw-ma-noo-ka-kaw. 

Ha-naw-hoong-per-kaw. 

Waw-roo-jaw-hee-kaw. 

Baptist-Lasalica. 

Waw-kon-chaw-per-kaw. 

Kaw-how-ah-kaw. 

Hakh-ee-nee-kaw. 

Waw-kon-chaw-ho-no-kaw. 

Maw-hee-ko-shay-naw-zhec-kaw. 

Wo-gie-qua-kaw. 

Waw-kon-chaw-she-shick-kaw . 

Chas-chun-kaw. 

Naw-hey-kee-kaw. 

Ah-hoo-zheb-kaw. 

Maw-nee-ho-no-nic. 

Maw-ho-kee-wee-kaw. 

Sho-go-nee-kaw. 

Watch-ha-ta-kaw, (by Henry M. Rice, his delegate.) 

Mr. Lamere has translated most of the above names; the 
translations are as follows: Hoong-ho-no-kaw, or Little Chief 
(also called Little Priest) ; he was a member of the Wolf clan. 

Co-no-ha-ta-kaw ; "Co-no" is the name of all the first born 
male children of the Winnebagoes (the word "co-no" does not 
mean first-born, but is the name of the first born) ; "ha-ta" means 
"big." As there were usually two or three families in a lodge 
and more than one "co-no," they usually called the oWer one 
"co-no-ha-ta-kaw," meaning, "older, or big-first-born." 

Maw-hoo-skaw-kaw, or White Sturgeon ; this is a Fish clan 
name. 

Shoong-skaw-kaw, or White Dog; a member of the Wolf 
clan. 



Koez-a-ray-kaw, or the Created; a member of the Bear 
clan. 

Waw-ma-noo-ka-kaw, or the Stealer (Thief) ; this is a self- 
taken name, a right the warriors had, especially, when they had 
accomplished anything of importance in battle. This particular 
name signifies that he overcomes his enemies so easily that it is 
like stealing them. 

Ha-naw-hoong-per-kaw ; "Ha-naw" is the name of the 
second born male child in a family ; "hoong-per" signifies "good 
chief," thus the meaning would be "the second born good chief ;" 
his English name was "White-horse" and he was a member of 
the Wolf clan. 

Wo-gie-qua-kaw, or "Strikes them as he comes." This is 
a Buffalo clan name, and is taken from the actions of a bull 
buffalo running a herd, when he seems to lead or drive them by 
butting, or striking them about. 

Wau-kon-chaw-she-shick-kaw, or Bad Thunder (a Thunder 
clan name). 

Chas-chun-kaw, or the Wave (a Fish clan name.) 

Naw-hey-kee-kaw, or "He who makes trees dead ;" a Thun- 
der clan name taken from the action of the lightning when it 
strikes trees, so that they dry up and die. 

Ah-hoo-zheb-kaw, or Short Wing (Young Winneshiek). 

Waw-roo-jaw-hee-kaw, or "Thunders on them" (Thunder 
clan name). 

Waw-kon-chaw-per-kaw, or the Good Thunder (Thunder 
clan name.) 

Waw-kon-chaw-ho-no-kaw, or the Little Thunder (Thun- 
der clan name). 

Maw-hee-koo-shay-naw-zhee-kaw, or Little Decorah (One 
who Stands and Reaches the Skies). 

Maw-nee-ho-no-nic, or Little Walker (Eagh clan name). 



Maw-ho-kee-wee-kaw, or "He who goes along in the sky ;" 
the word "kaw" on the end of every name means "he" or "the." 

Sho-go-nee-kaw, or Little Hill. 

Watch-ha-ta-kaw (undoubtedly One-eyed Decorah). 

About 1300 were removed to Minnesota at this time, leav- 
ing, it was estimated, about 400 still remaining in Iowa and Wis- 
consin. Others were removed in 1850. 

"A place of notoriety that existed in the early history of 
Winneshiek county was a spot called 'Grab-all/ This place 
was a high bench of timber land, half way between the Iowa 
trail and Postville. It was given this name because the Gov- 
ernment stationed a sergeant's guard there to 'grab all' the 
Indians passing that way, for removal."* 

It is easily understood why the Winnebagoes, when later 
removed to other places, returned in little bands, quite fre- 
quently, to visit the scenes they loved so well; they persisted 
in this until civilization shut them out forever. The Winne- 
bagoes had many favorite camping sites along the rivers of the 
county. Mr. Lamere says that the Winnebago Indian name 
for Iowa river, with reference to the Upper Iowa, is "Wax- 
hoche-ni-la," meaning Iowa river, also called "Wax-hoche-ni- 
sha-nuk-la." The Winnebago Indian name for the Turkey river 
is "Zee-zee-ke-ni-la," meaning Turkey river, also called "Zee- 
zee-ke-ni-sha-nuk-la." James Smith, a Winnebago, states.t "a 
river south of Lansing, la., is called Yellow Hair river* by the 
Indians; the Winnebago name for this river is 'Na-jew-zee-ni- 
sha-nuk-laV 



* Alexander's " History of Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties." 
f A statement made to Mr. Oliver Lamere. 

t Evidently the Yellow river, which has its source in Winneshiek 
county. 



REMINISCENCES 



When the first homeseekers came to Winneshiek county the 
remains of several Winnebago Indian villages were still in exist- 
ence. Numerous Indian trails were in evidence in nearly all 
parts of the county, many of which led to the site of the present 
city of Decorah. 

In " Reminiscences of Springfield Township f " Hon. A. 
Jacobson states: "The Indians who had inhabited this portion 
of the country where we settled were removed by government 
troops two years previous to our arrival. They had evidently 
intended to return at some future time as they had made large 
cellar-like holes in the ground in which were deposited all kinds 
of goods covered with the bark of trees. Such things as corn, 
feathers, axes, and kettles were in good preservation when ex- 
humed by the new settlers. 

"Quite large parties of Indians traversed the country, but 
they had their homes in the territory of Minnesota and did not 
molest us in the least. There were no settlements northwest of 
us the first year, hence being on the frontier we often felt un- 
easy, having heard that some traders sold them whiskey. 

"Indian trails, well marked, crossed the country in various 
directions, and with little deviation continued to be the roads of 
early settlers, until the fencing in of the fields pushed the roads 
into the worst places." 

Alonzo Bradish, who came to Decorah in 1852, says* : 
"One of their trails followed the east bend of Pleasant Hill and 

t Sec. II, pg. 11, Atlas of Winneshiek County, 1905. 
In a personal interview with him. 



left off at a point about where the Catholic church now stands 
on East Broadway. This trail was well marked by frequent 
travel, and in places there were considerable depressions below 
the surface, caused, to a certain extent, by the dragging of tipi 
poles fastened to the backs of horses [travois]. 

"In the early days travelers had to ford the stream where 
the Twin Bridges now span the Upper Iowa. The road leading 
from here up through the valley, to the district now called Clay 
Hill, was known as the St. Paul stage road, and the valley was 
called Cruson's Hollow. This route was very frequently traveled 
by the Indians. A favorite camping place of the Indians, when 
traveling through, was on the ground now known as the Court 
House Square. 

"They always carried a blanket, and wore leggings that 
reached up over the thigh, and a clout. Many carried hatchets, 
of which the most were made of iron. The young Indian boys 
were expert marksmen with the bow and arrow, hitting pennies 
and nickels at fifty to sixty feet distance. 

"I had opened a hardware and tin shop, and here the In- 
dians occasionally came to have their guns repaired. These 
guns were the only kind used then and were known as flintlocks, 
the ammunition being big lead balls. The Indians were supplied 
with them by the government. 

"A young Indian and his squaw were camped at a spot 
about where the stockyards are now located at the east end of 
Water street. The river at this time was very low and he busied 
himself in making a dugout canoe from the trunk of a large 
cottonwood which he had felled. When the high water came 
they put the boat in the stream and getting in were soon on 
their way down stream, headed for Lansing at the mouth of the 
Upper Iowa, where a part of the tribe were encamped." 

Philip Husted, an old settler, relates * that, "Quite often 

In a personal interview with him. 



parties of Winnebago Indians would travel through the country ; 
one of their favorite camping places was on the Yellow river 
near Frankville. They would sell their beadwork, and were 
very pleasant and peaceable with the whites." 

A number of years ago Mr. E. C. Bailey met two 
Indians at the Methodist church corner, on upper Broadway. 
One was a very old Indian, and the other middle-aged. Mr. 
Bailey (who was then about twenty years old) was asked if he 
knew where a Mr. E. Anderson lived. One of them opened 
a neat note book in which was written, "These Indians are good 
Winnebago Indians, and they are to be trusted." 

(Signed.) E. ANDERSON, 

Sheriff of Winneshiek county. 

It is not definitely known what year Mr. Anderson was 
sheriff, but his statement is only another example of the confi- 
dence early settlers placed with the Winnebagoes. 

Although Iowa was in a manner always neutral ground and 
escaped many of the worst results of the encounters between 
the whites and the Indians, the early settlers of Winneshiek 
county had their Indian scare, and they had good reason to be- 
come alarmed. What led to this was the Indian uprising and 
Sioux massacre in Minnesota in June, 1862. 

They had swept Minnesota with bullet and brand 
Till her borders lay waste as a desert of sand. 
When we in Dakota awakened to find 
That the red flood had risen and left us behind. 
Then we rallied to fight them, Sioux, Sissetons, all 
Who had ravaged unchecked to the gates of Saint Paul. 
Joseph Mills Hanson, "Frontier Ballads." 

At this time the Winnebagoes were at Blue Earth in south- 
ern Minnesota. Although they took no part in the Sioux mas- 
sacre, and even though they offered the government their serv- 
ices in punishing the Sioux, the inhabitants of Minnesota de- 



manded their removal. They were hastily removed to South 
Dakota, where they suffered many hardships. 

This Indian scare was general throughout the county and 
was an occurrence well remembered by the old settlers. A con- 
tributor to The Decor ah Journal, 1882, states : "As I write the 
word 'Indians/ my memory takes me back to the early days of 
my childhood in Decorah. Again I see a rider on a foaming 
steed dash along Broadway, as I did twenty or more years ago, 
shouting at the top of his voice, 'The Indians are coming!' 
Again I see the street thronged with blanched faced men and 
trembling women, running to and fro in wild excitement and 
gazing with anxious faces off into the west * * * . Again 
I hear the whispered consultation of the men as to the best 
means of protecting their loved ones. Again I feel my hand 
clasped in that of my sainted mother as I toddle along at her 
side, down Mill street hill, across the old red bridge, and over 
to West Decorah a place of imagined safety. It was a false 
alarm, and probably faded from the memory of many of our 
readers, and remembered by others only as the dim recollection 
of a half forgotten dream." 

At Decorah, men, women, and children gathered on the 
Court House Square, and prepared to withstand a siege. 
Settlers left their homes and gathered in Decorah as a place of 
refuge, many of them camping on the flat now known as Park 
Addition. Men armed themselves with any kind of weapon that 
lay handy, and determined to defend their families and homes, 
but were greatly relieved when the threatened attack proved to 
be only a rumor. 

J. C. Fredenburg, of Canoe township, says*, "I remember 
the Indian scare. Some one came to our house one night about 
twelve o'clock and told father the Indians were coming and that 
they were about twenty miles away, killing people and burning 

Sec. II, pg. 14, Atlas of Winneshiek County. 



all the houses. Father and mother talked it over and father said, 
'I will go to Burr Oak and see what is to be done/ He left 
mother and me at home, and when he arrived at Burr Oak 
nearly all the people were there for several miles around, some 
with their teams and families. They held a council and decided 
that all should meet there and build a fort for their protection, 
but no Indians came, so the people settled down again. It was 
some time, however, before all fear had vanished." 

Other similar accounts might be given, but the preceding 
narratives describe the conditions as they existed, during this 
scare, throughout the county. 

There is no evidence to show that any Indian murders took 
place within the boundaries of our county. There were, how- 
ever, several such murders committed in the near neighborhood : 
that of the Gardner family, in Fayette county; of Riley, near 
Monona; and of Herchy, near the mouth of the Volga. The 
contaminating influence of the bootlegger was the direct cause 
of these murderous deeds. "Firewater" was the curse of the 
Indian, as it has since been to many a white man. 

Taft Jones and Graham Thorn were two bootleggers who 
infested the neighborhood of the Winnebago reservation. The 
government did not allow such characters to come on the reser- 
vation, so they came as near to its boundaries as they dared 
and established so-called trading-posts in the vicinity of Monona, 
giving them the names of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Indians 
used to frequent these places and always got badly cheated. 
Alexander gives* the following account: 

An old Indian visited Taft Jones' den, at Sodom, and traded 
in all his worldly effects for whiskey, he even sold the blanket 
from his shoulders. Becoming intoxicated, he was turned out 
of doors, and on his way to his lodge died from exposure and 
cold. The next morning his son, a youth of about twenty sum- 
* In his history of the county. 



mers, found the dead body of his father out in the snow, naked 
and frozen. His revengeful feelings were aroused, and going 
to the whiskey den at Gomorrah, he shot the first man he saw 
through the window. Unfortunately it happened to be an in- 
offensive man named Riley. A detachment of troops under 
command of Lieutenant David S. Wilson was sent out to cap- 
ture the Indian who committed the murder. He was appre- 
hended, taken to Fort Atkinson, and confined in the guard- 
house; but by the connivance of a sympathizing white man he 
escaped and was never recaptured. Jones lived a short time 
after this occurrence and died from chronic alcoholism." 

Thus an attempt has been made to give in brief outline the 
Indian history of Winneshiek county. The writer soon discov- 
ered, after taking up the study of the subject, that nowhere was 
accurate information in concise form to be had in regard to the 
aboriginal inhabitants of the county; their occupation of the 
county seems to have been an obscure period in their history. 
The writer has regarded it as well worth while to gather the 
data here presented, and has had in view that this article should 
faithfully preserve the early scenes of our predecessors in the 
county. 

The river, whose peaceful waters reflected the light of their 
campfires, now furnishes the power that lights the modern struc- 
tures of the white men, by which their wigwams have been sup- 
planted. But the memory of the red men will never perish from 
the minds of those who have succeeded them. The names of 
Winneshiek and Decorah, that are attached to our county and 
county seat, will be an enduring monument to their former 
occupation of the soil. 

Here still a lofty rock remains, 

On which the curious eye may trace 

(Now wasted half by wearing rains) 
The fancies of a ruder race. 



Here still an aged elm aspire*. 

Beneath whose far projecting shade 
(And which the shepherd still admires) 

The children of the forest played. 

There oft a restless Indian queen 

(Pale Sheba with her braid and hair), 

And many a barbarous form is seen 

To chide the man that lingers there. 

By moonlight moons, o'er moistening dews, 

In habit for the chase arrayed, 
The hunter still the deer pursues, 

The hunter and the deer a shade! 

And long shall timorous Fancy see 

The painted chief, and pointed spear, 
And Reason's self shall bow the knee 
To shadows and delusions here. 
dosing stanzas of Philip Freneau's "The Indian Burying-ground." 



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