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Full text of "History of the Spirit Lake massacre and captivity of Miss Abbie Gardner"

MRS. ABBIE GARDNER-SHARP 



HISTORY 



SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE 



AND CAPTIVITY OF 



MISS ABBIE GARDNER, 



BY MRS. ABBIE GARDNER-SHARP, 
OKOBOJI, IOWA. 



ALL RIGHTS SECURED. 



EDITION -RKVISEJEK 



DBS M DIMES: 
Iowa Printing Co. 



Entered according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1894, 

BY ABBIE GARDNER-SHARP, 
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C. 



PREFACE. 



IT was with a great degree of embarrassment that I as 
sented to the various invitations extended to me, to place 
upon record the recollections of my youth, and group the 
incidents for a history of that tragic event, generally 
known as the "Spirit Lake Massacre," which so far had 
gone unwritten, and, no progress made in that direction. 

Believing that a local history of this lovely lake region 
is demanded, on account of its becoming the favorite sum 
mer resort in the great northwest; and because the awful 
events of the massacre transpired here, I have, amid phys 
ical ills which have disqualified me for the active pur 
suits of life, devoted two years of painful labor to indict 
ing the bitter reminiscences, and gathering the facts, 
dates, and events recorded in this volume. 

In doing so I hope to benefit myself, pay a lasting trib 
ute to the memory of those whose lives were consecrated 
to civilization, and save from oblivion the historical mat 
ter within these pages. 

Being fully conscious of my inability to execute, to the 
satisfaction of the public, a task so responsible, I would 
have been glad, for the sake of history, to impart my 
knowledge of the bloody drama to one whose gifted pen 



228828 



IV PREFACE. 

would have been more worthy of the subject; but, by sad 
misfortune which has followed my captivity the duty 
has fallen upon me. 

Thus, I have undertaken the task, relying confidently 
upon the generous reader for a justification of the mo 
tives by which I was actuated ; relying upon the maxim 
that "truth is mighty, and will prevail, 1 without the glit 
ter of rhetoric. 

Errors, in some particulars may be found; but, in view 
of the pains and labor taken to guard against them, it is 
believed they are few and unimportant. 

The articles found within, which are not original, are 
credited to their respective authors, most of whom were 
active participators in the transactions of which they 
write. 

I am greatly indebted to friends, who have kindly aided 
me, and furnished me every facility in their power, by 
which the history should lack nothing of completeness. 
Without the assistance of the persons referred to, this 
book would not, at this time, be presented to the public. 

I now commit my work to the public, trusting the labor 
expended upon it will not be lost. 

ABBIE GARDNER-SHARP. 
May 12, 1885. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I.-ROWLAND GARDNER. 

His Birth-Youth-Search for New Home-Marriage- 
Fami y-Removal to Greenwood, New York-Re- 



CHAPTER II.-CLEAR LAKE. 

Clear Lake To-day-Clear Lake in 1851-First School in 
Cerro Gordo County-The Sioux Indians kill a Win- 
nebago-Befriending the Winnebagoes-The Appear 
ance of Five Hundred Sioux WarriSrs Flag of Truce 
Search for Winnebagoes ............. ...... 17-23 

CHAPTER IU.-GRINDSTONE WAR. 

Indians encamp near the Lake-Begging Expedition- 
Killing Mr. Dickerson s Rooster- Breaking the Grind 
stone-Mr Dickerson knocks the Indian do wn-Caus- 
mg Trouble-Mrs. Dickerson pacifies the Indian- 
Tvventy-five Men march out against F. VA TTnn.i Li 



ERRATA. 



On page 193; In thirteenth line "C. P. Flandrau" should be "C. E. 

Flandrau." 

On p:ige 310: In fifth line read "house" instead of "horse." 

On page 322: Sixth line from bottom omit the word "in." 

On page 323: In eighteenth and nineteenth lines read " realization" 

instead of "civilization." 

On page 328: In ninth line read "Granite Palls" instead of "Grand 

Palls." 

On page 329: Sixth line from bottom the word "it" should be "in." 
On page 331: In second line the word "an" should be "no." 



IV PREFACJfi. 

would have been more worthy of the subject; but, by sad 
misfortune which has followed my captivity the duty 
has fallen upon me. 

Thus, I have undertaken the task, relying confidently 
upon the generous reader for a justification of the mo 
tives by which I was actuated ; relying upon the maxim 
that "truth is mighty, and will prevail," without the glit 
ter of rhetoric. 

Errors, in some particulars may be found; but, in view 
of the pains and labor taken to guard against them, it is 
believed they are few and unimportant. 

The articles found within, which are not original, are 
credited to their respective authors, most of whom were 
active participators in the transactions of which they 
write. 

I am greatly indebted to friends, who have kindly aided 

mp and fnrnishprl mp p.vprv far>ilif-v in tVipir rvr>rav 1-iw 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. ROWLAND GARDNER. 

His Birth Youth Search for New Home Marriage- 
Family Removal to Greenwood, New York Re 
moval to Rexville in 1850 Marriage of his Daughter 
Journey to the "Far West" Lost Crossed the 
Mississippi at Rock Island Wintered at Shell Rock, 
Iowa On to Clear Lake 7-16 

CHAPTER H.-CLEAR LAKE. 

Clear Lake To-day Clear Lake in 1851 First School in 
Cerro Gordo County The Sioux Indians kill a Win- 
nebago Befriending the Winnebagoes The Appear 
ance of Five Hundred Sioux Warriors Flag of Truce 
Search for Winnebagoes 17-23 

CHAPTER III. GRINDSTONE W T AR. 

Indians encamp near the Lake Begging Expedition 
Killing Mr. Dickerson s Rooster Breaking the Grind 
stone Mr. Dickerson knocks the Indian down Caus 
ing Trouble Mrs. Dickerson pacifies the Indian 
Twenty-five Men march out against Five Hundred 
Indians Indians raise Flag of Truce Treaty Re 
ports of more Indians coming Frighten Settlers 
They desert their Homes Return 24-34 

CHAPTER IV. ON TO OKOBOJI. 

Another Move Into Dickinson County No Settlements 
West of Algona Occasionally encountered Red Skins 
Herds of Elk and Deer seen July 16th Journey 
ended at Okoboji Lakes Description of the Lakes- 
Feelings of Home and Peace 35-41 

CHAPTER V. DICKINSON COUNTY SETTLEMENT AND 
ADJACENT SETTLEMENTS. 

Report of Fire-arms heard New Neighbors Still more 
Neighbors Finally forty Persons comprise the Set 
tlementNo Settlement West Nearest Northeast on 
Minnesota river A few Families in Palo Alto and 



2 CONTENTS. 

Emmet counties Also in Clay and Woodbury A few 
Families settle eighteen Miles north Eliza Gardner 
goes to Springfield Luce goes for Supplies Spring 
approaching 42-52 

CHAPTER VI. INK-PA-DU-TA AND HIS BAND. 

Extract from Judge Flandr ,au s Papers Description of 
Inkpaduta s Band Testimony collected by Major 
Prichette Names of Band at Time of Massacre 
Inkpaduta s Appearance His Family Number of 
Dakotas These fed by Government 53-58 

CHAPTER VII. CIRCUMSTANCES THAT LED TO THE 
MASSACRE. 

First trouble at Smithland Indians interrupted in Chase 
Indian bitten by a Dog Indian kills Dog Settler 
beats Indian Settlers whip Squaws, who steal Corn 
and Hay Whites take Indians Guns Indians com 
mence Depredations Uob, steal, and kill Stock, up 
the Sioux Abuse the Settlers 59-62 

CHAPTER VIII. THE MASSACRE. 

On the eighth of Mnrch Indians reach Okoboji Feign 
Friendship Then act Insolent Luce and Clark go to 
warn Settlers Indians shoot Mr. Gardner Murder 
his Wife, Son, and Daughter Beat Children s Brains 
out with Stove-Wood Take Abbie Captive General 
Destruction of Everything Abbie is dragged away 
to Camp She leaves her loved ones mangled, dead, 
and dying They plunge into the Blackness of Night 
and Forest 63-71 

CHAPTER IX. THE MASSACRE CONTINUED. 

Mr. Mattock s Cabin in Flames Two Victims inside 
On the Ground dead Bodies of Dr. Harriott, Mr. 
Snyder, Mr. Mattock, and others Carl Granger dead 
by his Cabin Luce and Clark found dead by Lake- 
First Night in Indian Camp War-dance Next 
Morning, Mr. and Mrs. Howe, Son, and Daughter 
MurderedFour Murdered at Noble s Cabin Mrs. 
Noble and Mrs. Thatcher Captives Mr. Marble Shot 
Mrs. Marble taken Captive 72-84 

CHAPTER X. DISCOVERY OF THE MASSACRE. 

Mr. Markham returns Home Finds Death and Ruin 
Runs upon Indian Camp Just escapes Spends 



CONTENTS. 3 

Night in Forest with Frozen Limbs Frozen and 
famished he goes to Springfield Carries News of 
Massacre Eliza Gardner learns of her Father s 
Family She is overwhelmed She fears her Sister is 
a Captive 85-90 

CHAPTER XI. ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 

The Indians move Westward Camp at Heron Lake 
Warriors march for Springfield Springfield People 
fortify Indians beguile them out Kill Willie 
Thomas, and wound others They rush in and barri 
cade doors, etc. They Fire at Indians through Port 
holes Drive Indians oft: Indians go to Stewart s 
Kill him, Wife, and two Children Johnny Stewart 
hides and escapes Indians go to Wood s store and 
kill the Woods Brothers People Flee Reach 
Granger s Cabin, fifteen Miles distant on the Des 
Moines Men with frozen Limbs are deserted Refu 
gees meet Volunteers Wounds are dressed Other 
Comforts received They finally reach Fort 
Dodge 91-113 

CHAPTER XII. OFFICIAL ACCOUNT OF THE MASSACRE. 

Settlers call for Help to check Indian outrages Three 
companies of Volunteers goto the Rescue Hardships 
endured by Volunteers They meet Settlers fleeing 
from Indians Three wounded The Surgeon of the 
Expedition dresses wounds of Victims Fifty Regu 
lars at Springfield Woods, and Gaboo, (half-breed) 
warn Indians of approaching Troops United States 
Officers from Fort Ridgley censured Twenty-five 
men detailed to inter dead Two of the number frozen 
to Death Gov. Grimes message 1 14-123 

CHAPTER XIII. BURIAL OF THE DEAD. 

Reports of the Massacre reach Fort Dodge Reports con 
firmed Great Excitement Three Companies of Vol 
unteers organized Their Mission to bury the Dead 
and Punish Indians They meet Refugees from 
Springfield They hear of Troops From Fort Ridgley 
being at Springfield Twenty-live Men are detailed to 
bury Dead They complete the Task Memorial of 
Isaac H, Harriott Two of their Number are frozen 
to Death Fourteen badly frozen 124-132 



4 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XIV. SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 

Leaves Webster City Arrival at Port Dodge Citizens 
organize under Major W. Williams Names of Com 
panies, Officers and Privates Leaves Fort Dodge- 
Cooking by camp-fire Forced march through the 
deep snow Heroic conduct of Major Williams 
Capt.Duncombe s sufferings Some of the Volunteers 
desert and go home Meet Settlers fleeing from scenes 
of Bloodshed Arrival at Granger s Cabin Unwel 
come news concerning United States Troops Detail 
twenty-five men to bury Dead Terrible Scenes at the 
Cabins of the murdered Settlers Crossing Cylinder 
Creek Capt. C. 1). Richard s noble Efforts in behalf 
of the suffering Men Sufferings of the detail Party 
Two Men lost Tribute to the memory of Captain 
Johnson 133-147 

CHAPTER XV. RETURN OF WARRIORS. 

Warriors return from Field of Battle Bring Twelve 
Horses loaded with plunder Their Account of the 
seige Broke Camp Captives Burdens Mrs. Marblo 
slaps Papoose Terrible condition of Mrs. Thatcher- 
Provisions give out Eat decayed Fish Cook Ani 
mals not dressed The Women prepare Wood, etc. 
Male Indians do not labor Etiquette of Inkpaduta s 
party 148-15G 

CHAPTER XVI. THE INDIANS PURSUED. 

United States Soldiers arrive from Fort Ridgley They 
pursue Indians They reach at 3 p. M. Place left by 
Indians in the Morning They are discovered by In 
dians Great Excitement Among Indians Indians 
prepare to fight Threaten to kill Captives Soldiers 
are deceived by Guides Turn back Indians flee 
Two Days and Nights March Maj. Flandr au s 
Statement. 157-16G 

CHAPTER XVII. SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. 

We still journey West Enduring Exposure and Starva 
tion Wading Streams Waist-deep Journey through 
Pipestone Quarry Legend of the Sioux Reach the 
Big Sioux after six Weeks March Young Indian 
pushes Mrs. Thatcher into the Sioux She swims to 



CONTENTS. 5 

Shore Is pushed Back Finally Shot Indians think 
Mrs. Thatcher s Spirit is troubling them They take 
flight 167-179 

CHAPTER XVIII. RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 

Frequently meet roving Bands of Indians Visited by 
two Brothers May Cth They buy Mrs. Marble She 
bids Farewell Follows Indians off Twenty -eight 
Years finding her Mrs. Marble s Letter lion. C. E. 
Flandr au s Report of Mrs. Marble s Rescue 
The Ransom First Bond Ever issued by Minne 
sota .180-198 

CHAPTER XIX. SUPERSTITIONS AND MANNERS OF 
THE DAKOTAS. 

Beyond the Big Sioux in Dakota Living on Roots Wild 
Animals eaten without Salt Skunk-hunt Ponies 
and Dogs overloaded Sick Papoose Divinations Per 
formed Papoose dies Burial in a Tree Home 
Training Religious Beliefs Believe in Great Spirit 
Immortality of the Soul Their Sacrifices, Oblations, 
etc. The supposed Origin of the Dakotas 199-215 

CHAPTER XX DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 

Meet a Party of Yanktons Captives sold to Yanktons 
Continue with Inkpaduta Mrs. Noble refuses to obey 
Son of Inkpaduta He drags her from Tent and kills 
her Scalps her Ties her Hair to Stick Terror of 
remaining Captive Spring had Come The bound 
less Prairie Buffalo, Antelope, and Fowl for Game 
Cross Great Battle-Field Bones and Skulls found 
Great Scaffolds for Burial-places 216-228 

CHAPTRR XXL ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 

James River reached Encampment of Yanktons Their 
uncivilized State The Captive an Object of great 
Curiosity Despair settled upon Captive Plans of 
Major Flandreauand Governor Medary Arrival of 
rescuing Party Indian Council Price of Ransom 
Dog-feast Last Night in Indian Camp 229-242 

CHAPTER XXIL RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 

Leave Inkpaduta s Band Novel Boat Indian Escort- 
Team and Wagon produced Travel East Reach 



D CONTENTS. 

Half-breed Trading-post Receive Kindness Ob 
tain White Woman s Dress Reach Yellow Med 
icine Agency Outbreak feared from Sioux Trouble 
Quieted War-cap Presented Proceed down Minne 
sota River 243-255 

CHAPTER XXIII. DELIVERED OVER TO THE 
GOVERNOR. 

Journey resumed Redwood Fort Ridgley St. Paul 
Great Excitement Kindness of the People Delivered 
over to the Governor Speeches of Indians Gover 
nor s Reply Free once More $500 Donated Dis 
cover Sister s Whereabouts Onto Dubuque Thence 
to Ft. Dodge To Hampton Meeting with Sister, and 
Relatives of Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher Extracts 
from Col. Lee s account 256-273 

CHAPTER XXIV. SINCE THE CAPTIVITY. 

Marriage Visit Spirit Lake Names of Early Settlers 
Indian Excitement Become Resident of Bremer and 
Butler Counties, Iowa Birth of Son Move to Mis 
souri Lose Household Effects by Fire Remove to 
Kansas Back to Iowa Birth of second Son 
Another Fire Visit the Scenes of Childhood Loss of 
Health Birth and Deatli of third Child Visit St. 
Paul 274-282 

CHAPTER XXV. RETRIBUTION. 

Inkpaduta on Yellow Medicine Expedition fitted up to 
find and punish him Reach the Camp Roaring 
Cloud runs He is shot and Killed His Squaw taken 
Captive Expedition of Indians sent after the others 
Three killed and three taken Captive Trouble 
about Payment Matter dropped Little Crow s 
Treachery Minnesota Massacre Eight Hundred 
Whites Murdered 283-209 

CHAPTER XXVI .--VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 

Third Journey to Spirit Lake Mode of Conveyance The 
Wonderful Change Spirit and Okoboji Lakes as a 
Summer Resort Hotel Orleans Visit the House 
where Captured by Indians, and other Scenes of the 
Massacre Sad Memories Memorial Mound Seated 
by Window in old Home 300-308 



The Spirit Lake Massacre, 



CHAPTER I. 



ROWLAND GARDNER. 

His Birth Youth Search for New Home Marriage- 
Family Removal to Greenwood, New York Re 
moval to Rexville in 1850 Marriage of his Daughter 
Journey to the "Far West" Lost Crossed the Mis 
sissippi at Rock Island Wintered at Shell Rock, 
Iowa On to Clear Lake. 



OWLAND GARDNER was born in the 
year 1815, in New Haven, Connecti- 
On the bank of a rapid stream 




ft\ 

vi N near by, stood a factory for the man 
ufacture of combs. Employed there, he 
spent several years of his youth. Tiring of 
the daily routine of factory life, he started 
in quest of a new home: and in early man 
hood located in the beautiful and fertile 
plateau lying between the smiling waters of 



8 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the a Twin Lakes," Seneca and Cayuga, in 
Seneca county, in the grand old state of New 
York. With all its fine mountain scenery, 
and sparkling rivulets, the state contains few 
more romantic spots than this one at "Twin 
Lakes." 

At this place, on the 22d day of March, 
1836, he was united in marriage with Frances 
M. Smith, of a devoted Christian family. 
As time passed, their home was made happy 
by the advent of four children, Mary M., 
Eliza M., Abigail, and Eowland, youngest 
child and only son. 

Abigail, youngest girl and writer of this 
history, was born in 1843. While yet a child 
and earlier than I can remember, we moved 
to Greenwood, Steuben county, in western 
New York. Here strolling with my sisters, 
by Canisteo s rippling waters, climbing the 
rugged slope of the towering hills, or listen 
ing to the buzz of the great saw in fathers 
saw mill, in sportive joy I whiled away some 
of the pleasantest hours of my life; and it 
is with fond recollection that I wander back 
in memory to those delightful scenes of 
childhood, to joys which were so complete 
in the happy days at Greenwood. 



ROWLAND GARDNER. 9 

My first school days, too, were passed at 
that place, and pleasant memories are awak 
ened by thoughts of my teachers, Lydia 
Davis and Sarah Starr. My parents were 
members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
and consistent Christians. During their stay 
in New York they enjoyed church privileges, 
which they were deprived of ever after, in 
life. Father was also a strict temperance 
man, never using either spirituous liquors 
or tobacco in any form, and it was his con 
stant endeavor to instill into the minds of 
his children principles of temperance and 
virtue. In the year 1850, he purchased a 
saw mill in the village of Rexville, a few 
miles from Greenwood, and again the family 
were called upon to pass through the vicis 
situdes of establishing another home. 

Oh, that he might have been content with 
a well earned promise of success! Instead 
of being laid low in an unknown grave in 
the western wilderness, he might have 
amassed a fortune, and had a long and 
happy life, in a peaceful, quiet home. The 
war-whoop of the Indian would never have 
echoed through his dwelling; the tomahawk 
and scalping-knife never would have horri- 



10 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

fied his children; nor his family have been 
brought to an untimely end. And the writer 
of these pages would never have been called 
upon to record such sad events. 

But, like many others, my father was con 
fident that greater success awaited him. His 
ambition was like that of thousands of oth 
ers, who seem to think that because it is best 
for some to go west, it is best for each one 
to go farthest west of all. Thus the race is 
kept up. We chase the setting sun; and, 
like the boy in pursuit of the rainbow, we 
hope to find the pot of gold just beyond. 

While the family resided at Rexville, the 
eldest daughter, Mary, was married to Mr. 
Harvey Luce, of Huron county, Ohio. With 
out dwelling upon this to us very interesting 
event, the counsels of parents, and congratu 
lations of friends, we will briefly say: that 
she (whom we will in future call Mrs. Luce) 
bade adieu to her girlhood home: to parents, 
sisters, and brother, and departed with her 
husband, to enter upon new scenes and 
associations in Ohio. 

In the summer of 1853, two years later, 
father and mother, with their three remain 
ing children, bade farewell forever to rela- 



ROWLAND GARDNER. 11 

tives and neighbors; to the pine-clad hills of 
New York; to the rushing of the waterfall; 
with all the familiar associations clustering 
about them; all to be exchanged for the 
broad, rich prairies of the " far west," and 
the exciting, adventurous life of the pioneer. 
The journey was performed in the old fash 
ioned way, with horses and wagons. During 
the journey the nights were spent at hotels, 
or "inns," as they were then more com 
monly called. 

Jolly times we children had ! every day 
bringing its store of novelties, as our course 
led us through villages; by fields of waving 
grain or grassy meadows; over beautiful 
streams, and through shady woodlands. But, 
best of all, we were going to see sister Mary, 
and (for the first time) her prattling little 
"blue-eyed baby boy." At Norwalk, Ohio, 
we were joined by Mr. and Mrs. Luce, and 
continued our journey to the northwestern 
part of the state, where father took a con 
tract of grading on the "Lake Shore and 
Michigan Southern Railroad." This was fol 
lowed into Indiana, where new contracts 
were made, rendering a handsome profit. 

During our short sojourn in these two 



12 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

localities, sister Eliza and myself continued 
our studies in school. Realizing the worth 
of a thorough education, it was father s pur 
pose to give us every advantage he could. 
My school days, however, were over when I 
was less than fourteen years of age; ended by 
circumstances which will be only too evident 
as the reader progresses. 

Father was an energetic, wide-awake man 
a true type of the pioneer and when he 
left the state of New York it was his settled 
intention to go west of the Mississippi, and 
make his home on the far-famed prairies of 
Iowa. Accordingly in the fall of 1854, our 
family, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Luce 
and one child, turned our backs upon civil 
ization, its comforts and refinements, to 
take up again the line of march. Our route 
led through the northern part of Illinois. 
At the city of Joliet we made a short halt. 
Here a little incident occurred which gave 
me a foretaste of some of the anguish that 
awaited me. Having ascertained the road 
which we should take, father gave the proper 
instructions to mother (who was driving our 
team), telling her to drive on; that he would 
buy some bread for supper, and soon over- 



ROWLAND GARDNER. 13 

take us. Ifc was just dusk as we drove out 
side the city limits, expecting every minute 
to be rejoined by the head of our party. But 
we had taken the wrong street, and of course 
no father appeared. Mr. Luce went back to 
the city in search of him, but returned alone. 
Mother sought no shelter that night but the 
cover of the wagon, and there kept a light 
burning until daylight. In sleepless sus 
pense she passed the lonely night, fearing 
that some calamity had befallen him. After 
crying awhile, brother and I, childlike, 
drowned our trouble in sleep until morning. 

Father having taken the right road, of 
course, could get no trace of us, as the emi 
grants had been seen by no one. At length, 
being convinced that we had strayed, he 
sought shelter in a farm-house, where he 
passed a sleepless night. Early next morn 
ing he started out in search of the lost emi 
grants. At the same time Mr. Luce, with 
several other men, went on horseback after 
the lost man. In a few hours the lost were 
found, and we resumed our journey. 

We crossed the "Father of waters" at 
Rock Island, entered the state of Iowa at 
Davenport, and continued our journey to the 



14 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

northwest. The wide-spreading prairies were 
indeed a grand sight to those who had lived 
only among the thickly wooded hills of the 
eastern states. As we advanced, the settle 
ments became more scattered; the villages 
smaller, and more remote from each other. 
Some days passed without even a sight of a 
town. Then for the first time I began to 
realize whither we were going; and that if 
the journey continued a few days longer we 
should indeed find the great wild country 
for which we were headed. 

Crossing the Cedar river at Janesville, we 
followed the valley of the Shell Rock until 
we came to the village bearing its name. 
We were only one hundred miles west of the 
Mississippi, but the chilly winds of October 
warned us of the approach of winter, and it 
was decided to remain at Shell Rock until 
spring, or until the selection of lands on 
which to settle. 

At present writing this is a thrifty town 
of over one thousand inhabitants: but when 
we entered the place there were no churches, 
no school-houses, not even a store; the set 
tlers being compelled to go to Janesville for 
supplies. The settlement was then all on 



ROWLAND GARDNER. 15 

the east side of the river. Some members 
of the families with whom we became ac 
quainted that winter are still residents there. 
Among them may be mentioned Hiram Ross 
and J. L. Stewart. 

As there were no churches, religious serv 
ices were held in the private houses. The 
winter passed pleasantly, and in early spring 
father started on a prospecting tour. When 
he returned we were again called upon to 
part with our acquaintances and go out into 
the unknown. 

In all these different homes my sister Eliza 
and myself though only a child had made 
many friends among our schoolmates from 
whom we regretted to part. The oft re 
peated "good byes," and promises u never 
to forget each other," still linger in my 
memory, and it is with feelings of tender 
ness that I make mention of my childhood 
friends. As the autumn leaves, when once 
broken from the parent stem, are whirled 
away by every breeze, so father found it easy, 
when once he had begun to move, to pull 
up stakes again and seek his fortune still 
further west. Thus in March, 1855, we were 
again on the move. Our course still led up 



16 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



the Shell Rock valley to where the town of 
Nora Springs now stands, thence west to 
Mason City, which consisted of one store and 
two or three other buildings; from here to 
Clear Lake ten miles distant the place of 
our destination. 

My father was an ardent lover of nature, 
especially enjoying that indescribable charm 
w T hich water lends to a landscape; so we 
were not surprised at his selection of a farm 
in the vicinity of such attractions as those 
at Clear Lake. 



CLEAR LAKE. 17 



CHAPTER II. 



CLEAR LAKE. 

Clear Lake To-day Clear Lake in 1851 First School in 
Cerro Gordo County The Sioux Indians kill a Win- 
nebago Befriending the Winnebagoas The Appear 
ance of Five Hundred Sioux Warriors Flag of Truce 
Search for Winnebagoes. 

|LEAR LAKE to-day is one of the pop 
ular summer resorts of the northwest. 
Thousands of people gather here 
every summer- Aside from the attrac 
tions which nature offers to pleasure 
seekers, the Methodist conferences of 
northern Iowa have here established perma 
nent camp-meeting grounds. They secure 
the best talent of the country to conduct 
religious services, and also offer superior ad 
vantages to lovers of music, temperance, etc. 
In July, 1851 four years before our com 
ing there Joseph Hewitt and James Dick- 




18 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

erson, with their families, made the first 
settlement at the lake. These two families 
enjoyed the wild romance of a home at Clear 
Lake two years before they were joined by 
other settlers. 

You, my reader, who live in city or town, 
enjoying your churches, schools, railroads, 
telephones, and all the conveniences of mod 
ern civilization, unless you have been a 
pioneer, little know what it is to live as these 
good people did, sixty-five miles from their 
nearest neighbor. 

For the benefit of any who may want to 
know the locality of our home at Clear Lake, 
I will say, the farm is now traversed by the 
Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, and 
owned by Mr. Elon Tuttle. A nicer place is 
hard to find in Cerro Gordo county. During 
the time we resided at the lake my sister Eliza 
was engaged in teaching school in one of the 
two rooms of Mr. Hewitt s log house. The 
average attendance was seventeen; for which 
she received one dollar per month for each 
pupil, and board. This was the first school 
ever taught in that county. The distance 
being too great for me to attend, as well as 
for a son of Mr. Dickerson, he and father 



CLEAR LAKE. 19 

engaged Mrs. Styles to instruct us. We pur 
sued our studies in her home; while she at 
tended to her household duties, stopping to 
hear us recite. Interesting and lively recita 
tions they were; and many merry hours we 
passed in childish sport, upon the premises 
of Mr. Styles. 

Messrs. Hewitt and Dickerson had experi 
enced some trouble with the Sioux Indians; 
which was brought about by the vicious 
Sioux killing a young Winnebago. Not con 
tent with killing him, they severed his head 
from his body and carried it to their camp. 

Before locating at Clear Lake, Mr. Hewitt 
had (at one time) been a trader with the 
Winnebagoes in the northeast part of the 
state. Upon learning that their old friend 
Hewitt was at the lake several families of 
them came and pitched their teepes around 
his house. Ever on friendly terms, they 
came and went without giving the least 
trouble to the settlers. 

The Sioux on the contrary were alwa} r s 
a terror to the whites. They were cunning, 
treacherous, and bloodthirsty, and the most 
dreaded tribe in the west. Roving bands of 
this hostile tribe occasionally made their 



20 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

appearance at the lake feigning at first to be 
friendly with both the whites and Winneba- 
goes, frequently smoking the pipe of peace 
with the latter. To-shan-e-ga, one of the 
Winnebagoes, however, expressed to the set 
tlers his suspicions of the evil intentions of 
the Sioux. As the sequel will prove, his sus 
picion was well founded; for it was not long 
until a couple of Sioux secreted themselves 
in a thicket of willows, by the roadside, and 
shot a Winnebago boy about sixteen years 
old, while he was out hunting for Mr. Hew 
itt s cows. Being only few in number the 
Winnebagoes became greatly alarmed at 
this evidence of hostility, and immediately 
sought the residence of their friend, Mr. Hew 
itt, and begged of him to help them out of 
the country; as they feared the enemy would 
return in greater numbers on the following 
day and murder them all. Accordingly, 
they were loaded into a covered wagon, and 
(with Mr. Hewitt s hired man for driver) 
were conveyed beyond the reach of their 
enemy; and so returned to their own hunting 
ground in safety. 

At this time Mr. Dickerson lived on the 
prairie about one mile east of the lake. A 



CLEAR LAKE. 21 

few days after the occurrence above related, 
the men perceived approaching, over the 
prairie, within a quarter of a mile of the 
house, some five hundred Sioux warriors, all 
armed with rifles. As these cruel savages 
marched toward the house, their guns glis 
tening in the noon-day sun, it made our brave 
frontiersmen feel how utterly they were at 
their mercy, had they chosen to take advan 
tage of them. 

Mr. Hewitt fastened a white cloth to a 
pole, and went forward with the "flag of 
truce" to meet them, determined, if possible, 
to learn their intentions, and avert trouble. 
The Indians halted a short distance from tho 
house, and the chief advanced to meet him. 
It was learned that they intended to kill the 
Winnebagoes, and believing that they were 
concealed about the premises of the whites, 
they had come to search them out. Mr. 
Hewitt told them the Winnebagoes had left 
the country. But the wily Sioux believed 
this merely a trick to deceive them, and 
would not give up their intention to search 
the house. To satisfy them Mr. Hewitt told 
them, if they would leave their guns on the 
prairie, where they were, he and Mr. Dicker- 



22 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

son would carry all their weapons out of the 
house, and they might make the search. To 
this the chief agreed, and nineteen warriors 
were detailed for this purpose- They looked 
in every nook and corner, from the flour 
barrel to the attic, before being convinced 
that the Winnebagoes had escaped. Finally, 
being satisfied, they filed out of the house, 
and as they collected in the yard each war 
rior drew from under his blanket a loaded 
revolver; waving them in the air, they gave 
the settlers to understand that had they 
found their prey they too would have shared 
death at the hands of a relentless foe. 

By a treaty between the government and 
the Indians, some time previous, this part of 
the country was declared neutral ground. 
It is readily seen how little respect this lat 
ter party had for the treaty; having first mur 
dered an inoffensive boy, returned in force 
to kill the remainder of the band, that had 
not even resented the outrage, as well as 
any whites who might be found befriending 
them- The band soon returned to their own 
hunting ground, greatly to the relief of the 
two families. To this and other adventures 
with the Indians when related to our tarn- 



CLEAR LAKE. 23 

ily by those who participated in them I 
listened with thrilling interest. Having 
never yet seen any of the frightful beings, I 
began in imagination to picture them, and 
dread their appearance, as they were now 
likely to be seen any day. I could think of 
nothing so dreadful as the war-painted faces 
of the red-skins. 

I had listened to the stories of their cruel 
deeds, when seated by mother s side, in our 
far away home in New York. Now, living 
in an Indian region, I felt that all I had ever 
imagined might become real. 



24 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER III. 



GRINDSTONE WAR. 

Indians encamp near the Lake Begging Expedition 
Killing Mr. Dickerson s Rooster Breaking the Grind 
stone Mr. Dickerson knocks the Indian down 
Causing Trouble Mrs. Dickerson pacifies the In 
dian Twenty-five Men march out against Five 
Hundred Indians Indians raise Flag of Truce- 
Treaty Reports of more Indians coming Frighten 
Settlers Thev desert thsir Homes Return. 



E had resided at Clear Lake several 
months before an Indian made his 
appearance. In the month of June 
a large number of them came and en 
camped about seven miles north of the 
lake on Lime creek. As is their custom, 
when in the vicinity of the whites, a lot of 
them went through the settlement on a beg 
ging expedition. It is impossible to express 
my abhorrence for those repulsive and fero- 




GRINDSTONE WAR. 25 

cious looking beings, as they entered our 
house and began at once to ask for something 
to eat; nor did they ask for victuals alone, 
but whatever they thought serviceable, or 
what pleased their fancy, they persistently 
demanded, all the while jabbering their In 
dian jargon. To get rid of them as soon as 
possible they were fed bountifully, and what 
they asked for was given them, if it could 
be spared. 

While they were ransacking the house and 
premises of Mr. Dickerson that clay an inci 
dent occurred that created a great excite 
ment among the settlers, and finds a place 
in the annals of that time under the title of 
the "Grindstone War." It led to the aban 
donment, for a time, of nearly all that por 
tion of the frontier, and spread alarm far 
into the settlements. 

The liberal treatment they received did 
not satisfy them. A handsome rooster that 
was strutting about at the head of Mr. Dick- 
erson s thrifty flock of fowls attracted the 
attention of an impertinent young redskin, 
who commenced chasing it about the yard, 
while his brawny comrades encouraged hirr 
with shouts of laughter. Mr. Dickerson 



26 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

called to him to desist, and plainly showed 
his disapprobation. The Indian, however, 
killed the chicken, and in the chase knocked 
over the grindstone, breaking it in pieces. 
He then seized the largest piece and started 
off with it. 

By this time Mr. Dickerson was following 
him with a club, but at the entreaties of his 
wife and Mrs. Marcus Tuttle he threw down 
the weapon, fearing that the Indians might 
become exasperated and kill them all on the 
spot. He, however, jerked the grindstone 
away, and sent the Indian sprawling on the 
ground. The latter jumped up, grabbed 
his gun, cocked it, and threatened to shoot, 
whereupon Mr. Dickerson seized a piece of 
the stone and knocked him down, where lie- 
lay several minutes. The Indians then de 
manded that Mr. Dickerson pay the wounded 
Indian one hundred dollars, or give him a 
horse. Mr. Dickerson refused to do either. 
His wife, fearing the consequences, begged 
him to comply with their demands. As he 
offered no reconciliation, Mrs. Dickerson 
gave them what money she had in the house 
(five or six dollars), some bed quilts, and sev 
eral other articles of less value. This paci- 



GRINDSTONE WAR. 27 

fied the injured Indian, and they all left the 
premises without further trouble. 

The news of this little incident soon spread 
over the entire settlement. The whites ap 
prehended that danger was in store for them; 
that the Indians would send for re-enforce 
ments, and come upon them and massacre 
the whole settlement. They were well aware 
of the treachery and craftiness of the Sioux. 
The next morning all the men around the 
lake, with a number from Mason City, 
assembled and organized under the leader 
ship of John Long, of Mason City. The 
little band of about twenty-five men, well 
armed and mounted, started out resolved to 
clear the country of the troublesome in 
vaders. All the men being now away from 
home the terrible situation in which the 
families were placed can only be imagined. 
In soino cases several women gathered in the 
house of ono of iho number, hoping thus for 
greater safety, whilo others barricaded the 
doors of their cabins, and waited there alone 
the result of the anticipated conflict. Still 
others left their houses and sought safety by 
hiding in the tall grass. All expected, every 
moment, to hear the sounds of the battle r 



".28 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

where father and son would join in the deadly 
conflict, and probably fall victims to the sure 
.aim of the Indian s rifle. The result being 
uncertain, the suspense was terrible. Min 
utes seemed like hours and hours like days to 
those helpless women and children, while 
that little band of brave men were risking 
their lives for the peace and safety of those 
dependent upon them. 

My mother, whose fears were almost be 
yond her control, suggested that we leave 
our cabin and hide in the tall thick grass 
that grew along the creek, just back of the 
barn, hoping the Indians if victorious 
would not look for us there. We all knew 
that if the Indians were the victors we would 
have to share the fate of our defenders. 

Mrs. Luce had more courage than mother, 
or else felt more confidence in the power of 
our little army, for she maintained that it 
would 1)0 of no use to run, and she proposed 
to stand her ground, at least until after din 
ner, for if she was to bo killed she did not 
want to die hungry. 

But how fared the little company of im 
provised soldiers as they marched toward 
camp of the Sioux ? Coming in sight of 



GRINDSTONE WAR 20 

the camp they soon perceived that the sav 
ages were aw r are of their approach, as they 
were in great commotion, and soon formed 
themselves into line of battle. 

In honor to the little band of white men 
it must be said not one of them faltered. 
Although the enemy outnumbered them 
greafcly, they pressed gallantly forward, de 
termined to repel the insolent invaders, or 
die in the attempt. 

The Indians awaited the onset until they 
were almost within gun-shot, when the chief 
advanced with a flag of truce in one hand 
and a great pipe in the other. He stopped 
a short distance from the whites (who also 
halted), and set his flagstaff in the ground, 
indicating that he desired a parley. Captain 
Long advanced. The chief told him that his 
people did not want any trouble with the 
white settlers. 

To this the captain replied that the set 
tlers had always fed them, and treated them 
kindly, although the Indians had frequently 
been guilty of bad conduct toward them, and 
now they were determined to endure their 
insolence no longer. He then demanded that 
the money and articles given by Mrs. Dick- 



30 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

erson to the Indian who had caused the 
trouble should be refunded, and that the 
band should forthwith leave that part of the 
country. The money and other articles were 
brought out, and the other stipulations agreed 
to. The old chief then desired that the pipe 
of peace should be smoked between himself 
and the whole company of soldiers. The 
pipe being lighted the chief shook hands 
with the captain and handed him the pipe. 
He took a single whiff and returned it to the 
chief, who also took a single whiff. This 
ceremony was repeated until all the men 
had shaken hands and smoked with the old 
Indian. This ended the ceremony of a treaty 
of peace, and the chief promised to lead his 
warriors away before the setting of another 
sun. 

The settlers manifested their confidence 
by returning to their homes, where they 
were gladly hailed by the women and chil 
dren, who had for hours been suffering the 
keenest pangs of suspense. 

The next morning early a man went out 
to see if the Indians had left their camp. 
Not one was to be seen. Such was the be 
ginning and happy ending of the once 



GRINDSTONE WAR. 31 

famous " Grindstone War," without shed 
ding of other blood than that of James Dick- 
erson s old rooster, whose lustrous feathers 
and lordly strut were the innocent cause of 
the outbreak. From that day to this the 
Sioux have never crossed the boundary of 
Cerro Gordo county. 

But the treaty so unexpectedly made did 
not allay the fears of the settlers. They 
could not repose confidence in the promises 
of the Sioux, whom they knew to be utterly 
regardless of the rights of the white man. It 
was believed the Indians had only gone to 
gain numbers, or to wait till the settlers 
were off their guard, when they would return 
and massacre them all. Hence for several 
days a watch was kept constantly, but as no 
Sioux appeared the conviction that danger 
no longer existed gradually gained ground 
until a feeling of safety was fast possessing 
the public mind when another alarm was 
given. 

Rumors came that fully five thousand 
Sioux warriors were encamped only a few 
miles distant; that they were preparing for 
an attack on the settlement in overwhelming 
numbers. A panic seized the settlers. It 



32 THR SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE- 

was decided that the best and safest way was 
for all to leave the country, taking along 
such articles as they could carry in their 
wagons, and remain away until the savages 
had dispersed. 

When the time came for our family to go 
I remembered an old hen, with a brood of 
young chickens, which I wished very much 
to take with me, as I feared they would be 
killed by the Indians or die of starvation. 
But no room for them could be found in the 
wagon, so I ran out just before we started to 
take a farewell look, and lingered to pound 
for them some extra ears of corn, as they were 
too small to eat whole kernels, and there 
being no mills within seventy miles the corn 
had to be cracked for them. With tearful 
eyes I parted from my chickens and took my 
place in the wagon, terrified with thoughts 
of the vicious Sioux, who were the cause of 
so much trouble. During the journey the 
company was constantly annoyed by reports 
that the Indians were coming in by thousands, 
throwing up intrenchments, and giving abun 
dant evidence that they meant to extermin 
ate the settlers and gain possession of the 
country. These reports the more readily 



GRINDSTONE WAR. 33 

gained currency because of the fact that the 
Indians while in the vicinity constructed 
rifle pits, that were distinctly visible many 
years afterward. 

When a location was reached, too distant 
for immediate danger, a halt was made. 
This was near what is now called Nora 
Springs, on the Shell Rock river. Here a 
suitable site for a camp was selected, where 
the entire company remained three weeks, 
in intense fear and excitement, kept up by 
continual reports of the presence and threat 
ening attitude of the Sioux. A vigilant 
watch was kept day and night, as no one 
knew what hour the dreaded foe might come 
upon us. 

But as no Indians had been seen on the 
journey, nor after we reached this place, 
confidence in the reports began to wane, and 
it was thought best to send out scouts to 
ascertain the truth. Accordingly Mr. Dick- 
erson and father started for the lake, keep 
ing ever on the alert for the wily foe, lest 
they should be killed or captured. Their 
return was awaited with no little concern 
and anxiety. When they arrived, however, 

they brought the cheering news that they 
3 



34 



THE SPIKIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



had not encountered a single Indian, and 
had been most happily surprised to find their 
homes just as they had left them. Indeed 
there was nothing to indicate that the sav 
ages had been there. 

The camp on the Shell Rock was immedi 
ately deserted, and the settlers returned to 
the homes they had so hastily abandoned. 
We reached our own place about dark. The 
first thing I did was to run to the barn to see 
my pets. The old hen was gone, but the 
chickens which in three weeks had grown 
nearly out of my knowledge were all nestled 
together in their accustomed corner. 



ON TO OKOEOJI. 35 



CHAPTER IV. 



ON TO OKOBOJI. 

Another Move Into Dickinson County No Settlements 
West of Algona Occasionally encountered Red Skins 
Herds of Elk and Deer seen July 16th Journey 
ended at Okoboji Lakes Description of the Lakes 
Feelings of Home and Peace. 

f 

HE next season my father sold his 

house and land. Not yet having 
found the object of his wishes, 
another move was made to Dickinson 
county, in the Northwestern part of the 
state. The sum derived from the sale 
of the property at Clear Lake enabled father 
to purchase several yoke of oxen, a number 
of cows, and quite a herd of young cattle ; 
still reserving enough means to provide for 
the family until new land could be located 
and crops raised. 




36 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Bidding adieu to the dear friends at Clear 
Lake, with whom we had shared so many 
privations, hardships, and dangers during 
the sixteen months we had tarried there, we 
again took up our line of march, in company 
with Harvey Luce and family, now consist 
ing of himself, wife, and two children Al 
bert, aged four years, and Amanda, one year. 
Our journey extended this time into the 
beautiful region of Spirit and Okoboji Lakes. 
About this time, this place began to be 
viewed as the "promised land" of the adven 
turous pioneer ; although there were yet no 
settlers in the county. 

On the route taken, no traces of civiliza 
tion were discernible west of Algona in Kos- 
suth county. The Des Moines river was un- 
bridged, and the sloughs being filled with 
water were frequently impassable. On the 
way we frequently encountered the "red 
skins" by day, and were entertained at 
night by the howling of wolves. Still we 
went forward unhesitatingly in our lonely 
journey ; driving the slow-footed oxen and 
wagons, loaded with household goods, agri 
cultural implements, and provisions, making 
our own road over many rniles of desolate 



ON TO OKOBOJI. 37 

prairie. The traveler of to-day, with the 
easy and rapid mode of transit through 
the cultivated fields of Iowa, can scarcely 
have a just conception of the tediousness 
and hardships experienced by the early im 
migrants, as they plodded along day by day 
and slept at night by a camp-fire. Still the 
journey through this wild, romantic country 
to one whose eyes were open to receive 
it brought much that was enjoyable. 
There were many things to break the mo 
notony of the journey ; things not only cal 
culated to awaken the mind of a child ; but 
worthy the attention of the scientist and the 
sage. The far stretching prairie, clothed in 
its mantle of green, luxuriant grass, studded 
here and there with the golden stars of the 
resin-weed, and a thousand flowering plants 
of a humbler growth but no less brilliant 
hues, presented to the eye a scene of en 
chanting beauty, beside which the things 
of man s devising fade like stars before the 
morning sun. Nor were prairies the only 
attraction. Here and there a babbling 
brook and sparkling river came together, 
eager to join hands and be away to the sea ; 
and along their banks were shady groves of 



38 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

maple, oak, and elm, festooned with wild 
grape, woodbine, bitter-sweet, and ivy, in 
most fantastic forms and prodigality. Herds 
of elk and deer, in all the grace of their na 
tive freedom, fed on the nutritious grasses, 
and sought shelter in groves. Every variety 
of wild fowl in flocks which no man could 
number filled the air and nested on the 
ground. In fact every spot teemed with life 
and beauty. All this filled our hearts with 
that peaceful joy which nature gives. 

July 16, 1856, the heavy emigrant wagons, 
after a journey of one hundred and ten 
miles, brought their passengers to the shores 
of the Okoboji Lakes. Seldom, before this, 
had the numerous beauties of these lovely 
lakes greeted the eye of a white man. Their 
waters had slept for centuries unknown to 
the turmoils of civilization, disturbed only 
by their finny inhabitants, liocks of wild 
fowl, or the rippling oars of the Indian s 
canoe. Schools of perch, bass, pike, pickerel, 
and many other fish, common to this region, 
had long gamboled below their transparent 
surface without fear of the white man ; 
while the swan, proudly curving her grace 
ful neck, floated her snowy bosom above 



ON TO OKOBOJI. 39 

them exulting in a realm where she reigned 
sole monarch. 

Dickinson county was named in honor of 
Daniel S. Dickinson, at that time a senator 
of the United States from the State of New 
York. It contains a beautiful chain of lakes 
covering about ten thousand acres, besides 
smaller sheets of water, twenty-five in num 
ber, scattered over its surface, most of them 
being perfect gems of beauty. The largest 
of these is Spirit Lake, the Indian name be 
ing "Minne- Waukon, " signifying, spirit 
water. Its shape is oblong ; its greatest 
length or width is four miles. One is en 
abled to see the whole lake at one glance, 
from any point along the line of bluffs that 
border the western shore. Its sloping grav 
elly beach, its picturesque hills and shady 
groves extending west, and its wide rolling 
prairies on the east, give a variety and 
beauty of scenery, of which the eye is never 
weary. Tradition says the Indians regarded 
this lake with a superstitious awe ; they be 
lieved its waters were haunted by spirits, 
and that no Dakota ever ventured to cross 
it in his canos. 

The Okoboii Lakes retain the Indian name, 



40 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

which signifies " a place of rest." East Oko- 
boji commences at the foot of Spirit Lake, 
from which it is separated by a narrow isth 
mus, and runs southeasterly a distance of 
about six miles. It has the general ap 
pearance of a wide, gently flowing, and 
peaceful river, more than that of a lake. Its 
level is about four feet lower than that of 
Spirit Lake. These two lakes, East and 
West Okoboji, when taken in connection 
with Spirit Lake, afford opportunity for sev 
enty-five miles of navigation. West Okoboji 
is the most beautiful lake in the Northwest. 
It is said by many to be the most beautiful 
of all the lakes in the United States ; others 
have said that it possesses similar attributes 
of loveliness to those found in Zurich and 
Lucerne of Switzerland. Its waters have 
been sounded to a depth of two hundred and 
fifty feet. They are so clear and transpar 
ent that objects are distinguishable to a 
depth of fifty feet. It has numerous capes, 
bays, and promontories. Along its shores 
are precipitous banks and abrupt head 
lands ; while its sloping, gravelly beaches 
cannot be surpassed for loveliness. Along 
these graceful curves, sailboats and steamers 



ON TO OKOBOJI. 41 

now bear thousands of enchanted tourists 
every season. 

Such were the charming scenery and de 
lightful surroundings amidst which my 
father established his last earthly home. 
Truly its loveliness was enough to reward 
him for all his previous toils and changes ; 
and he felt that here, at last, he might set 
tle, and spend the evening of his days in 
quiet. The feelings of his heart, at this 
time, are beautifully expressed by the poet : 

" In all my wanderings, around this world of care, 
In all my griefs and God has given me my share 
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown ; 
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down ; 
To husband out life s taper at the close, 
And keep the flame from wasting by repose. 
I still had hopes for pride attends us still- 
Around my fire, an evening group to draw, 
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw ; 
And as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue, 
Pants to the place from whence she flew, 
I still had hopes, my long vexations past, 
Here to remain, and die at home at last." 



42 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER V. 



DICKINSON COUNTY SETTLEMENT AND AD- 
JACENT SETTLEMENTS. 

Report of Fire-arms heard New Neighbors Still more 
Neighbors Finally forty Persons comprise the Set 
tlementNo Settlement West Nearest Northeast on 
Minnesota River A few Families in Palo Alto and 
Emmet Counties Also in Clay and Woodbury-A few 
Families settle eighteen Miles North Eliza Gardner 
goes to Springfield Luce goes for Supplies Spring 
approaching. 

OON after we arrived at the lakes, 
we heard the report of fire-arms in 
the groves around us ; but whether 
it came from the rifle of the white 
man, or the red man, we knew not; but 
to our delight a company of whites was 
found encamped near the strait on the north 
side of West Okoboji. The party consisted 
of four men, namely, Wm. Granger, Carl 




DICKINSON COUNTY SETTLEMENT. 43 

Granger, Bertell A. Snyder, and Dr. I. H. 
Harriott. They were all, except Wm. 
Granger, young men without families, and 
his family was not with him. 

They came from Red Wing, Minn., to seek 
for themselves homes in this " forest prime 
val." They were now engaged in the pleas 
ing sports of hunting and fishing ; enjoying 
the wild, romantic charms which nature had 
here lavished in such profusion. They were 
the first white men to paddle a canoe over 
the deep blue waters of the Okobojis. 

After my father and Mr. Luce had spent 
two or three days prospecting, they decided 
to locate on the south side of West Okoboji. 
Accordingly on this site our tents, which 
sheltered the families till one log house was 
erected, were pitched. This house stood 
(and still stands) a few rods from the lake, 
on a rise of ground, covered by a dense grove 
of oaks. It fronted southward, and looked 
out upon a wide stretch of rolling prairie. 

As July was too late for planting crops, 
little could be done before the approach of 
winter, except breaking some prairie for 
crops the next spring, making hay, and pro 
viding shelter for the cattle. E~ot able yet 



44 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

to supply themselves with anything from 
their new land, they were dependent upon 
Fort Dodge, eighty miles southeast, for all 
their provisions. 

As soon as time would permit, Mr. Luce 
began another log cabin, for himself and 
family, near by, on an adjoining piece of 
land, east of father s; but being unable to 
finish his house before the approach of win 
ter, the first dwelling ever erected in Dick 
inson county my father s was the abode ot 
both families during the winter. Father, 
mother, sister Eliza, (aged sixteen,) myself, 
(aged thirteen,) brother Rowland, (aged six,) 
and Mr. and Mrs. Luce, with their two chil 
dren, comprised the inmates of that sturdy 
cottage. 

Not long were we thus alone, in this new 
found " Eldorado." Knowledge of its rich 
lands, luxuriant groves, abundant game and 
fish, its beautiful scenery and healthful cli 
mate, soon reached many who had a love for 
adventure ; so that by the first of Novembei 
six families were snugly housed in log cab 
ins, within six miles of us ; besides several 
single men in the settlement. 

Dr. Harriott, Bert Snyder, and the two 



DICKINSON COUNTY SETTLEMENT. 45 

Granger brothers erected a cabin on the 
peninsula between the two Okobojis, north 
of the strait, now known as " Smith s Point." 
The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Pt. R. 
now passes directly over the ground where 
their cabin stood. James Mattock, with 
wife and five children, came from Delaware 
county, and established a home, south of the 
strait, nearly opposite the Granger cabin. 
These two dwellings stood in close proxim 
ity to each other. There was also with Mr. 
Mattock a man by the name of Robert 
Mathieson, who had taken a homestead on 
the west shore of Okoboji Lake. His wife 
and four children remained in Delaware 
county, expecting to come in the spring. 

Joel Howe s family consisted of himself, 
wife, and six children ; besides four married 
children who w r ere not at this time members 
of his household, and only one, Mrs. Nobles, 
was in the settlement. He settled on the 
east side of East Okoboji, at the south side 
of the grove, near the present residence of 
Peter Ladue. The names and ages of their 
children were as follows -: Jonathan, aged 
twenty-three, Sardis, eighteen, Alfred, fifteen, 



46 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Jacob, thirteen, Philetus, eleven, and Levi, 
nine. Alvin Noble, son-in-law of Joel Howe, 
with his wife and one child, some two years 
old, and Joseph M. Thatcher, with wife and 
one child, seven months old, came with the 
family of Mr. Howe, from Hampton, Frank- 
lyn county. They were formerly from How 
ard county, Indiana. These two families also 
settled on the east side of East Okoboji, 
erecting one log cabin, which was occupied 
by both families. Their cabin was at the 
north end of the grove, about one mile from 
the home of Mr. Howe. This cabin is still 
standing upon the farm of Mr. H. D. Arthur, 
a few rods north of his house. 

There was also, residing for the winter 
with Messrs Noble and Thatcher, a man by 
the name of Morris Markham, who also came 
from Hampton, and originally from Howard 
county, Indiana. 

Mr. Marble and wife, who came from Linn 
county, were the first and at this time the 
only settlers on Spirit Lake. Their loca 
tion was on the west shore of the lake, about 
four miles from the present town of Spirit 
Lake, in the south edge of what has since 
been known as Marble Grove. 



DICKINSON COUNTY SETTLEMENT. 47 

Thus forty persons men, women, and 
children were dispersed among the pictur 
esque groves, bluffs, and lakes of Dickinson 
county, where the chief scenes of this narra 
tive transpired. As we dwell on the events 
connected with the first settlement of this 
county, we are impressed with the heroic 
courage of those early pioneers, who turned 
their backs upon civilization and its com 
forts, and placed so many miles between 
themselves and the settled portion of the 
state for the sake of a home in the romantic 
region of these beautiful lakes; for, let it be 
remembered, there were at this time, no set 
tlements west of these ; and the nearest on 
the northeast were on the Minnesota and 
Watonwan rivers. A few families that year 
(1856) settled on the west branch of the Des 
Moines, in Palo Alto and Emmet counties. 

On the Little Sioux, which has its source 
in Minnesota, flowing south westwardly to 
the Missouri river, passing some five or six 
miles west of Spirit Lake, was the settle 
ment of Smithland in Woodbury county. 
At what is now called Correctionville, about 
twenty miles farther up the stream, a few 
families had also settled. In Clay county, 



48 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

about forty miles south of the lakes, some 
six or eight families had located being the 
last in that direction in the state. In the 
same year ( 1856 ) six or seven families lo 
cated eighteen miles north of the lakes, on 
the head waters of the Des Moines, in Jack 
son county, Minnesota, where a town was 
laid out and called Springfield (now Jackson). 

These were the nearest neighbors to 
the Dickinson county settlers. Among 
the principal parties in the Springfield set 
tlement were three brothers William, 
Charles, and George Wood, of Mankato, Min 
nesota, who laid out the town and opened a 
store. All these settlements were on the 
extreme frontier, and absolutely unprotected 
and defenseless ; but the fact that in the 
spring of 1855 the Indians had generally 
withdrawn from the Upper Des Moines and 
the lakes in Dickinson county, had encour 
aged the hope that all danger from them 
had passed. 

On one occasion, while on a trip to Fort 
Dodge, father fell in with a Dr. Strong, and 
prevailed upon him to visit the lakes with a 
view to settlement ; but after stopping with 
us a few days he decided to locate at Spring- 



DICKINSON COUNTY SETTLEMENT. 49 

field. His family consisted of himself, wife, 
and one child (two years old). His wife be 
ing in delicate health, and he necessarily 
being away much of the time from home, 
she persuaded my sister Eliza, to whom she 
became attached, to accompany them. This 
was in the month of October, and owing to a 
heavy fall of snow, on the first of December, 
followed by others in quick succession, until 
the snow on the level was four or five feet 
deep, and in the drifts sometimes fifteen 01 
twenty, traveling was impossible. Eliza 
was thus unable to return, and so escaped 
the fate of the rest of the family. 

The winter of 1856-7 was one ever to be 
remembered by the people of Iowa and Min 
nesota for its bitter cold weather, deep 
snow, and violenb storms, rendering commu 
nication between the different settlements 
almost impossible. Of course the settlers 
were illy prepared for any winter, and much 
less for such a one as this; for it must be 
remembered there was no lumber to be had 
within a hundred miles, and all the provi 
sions, of every kind, except what might be 
captured from the lakes and groves, had to 
be brought a like distance. Some cabins 
4 



50 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

were yet without floors; the doors were 
made of puncheons, hung on wooden hinges, 
and fastened with wooden latches. Our 
floor was made comfortable by leveling off 
the ground and covering it with prairie hay, 
over which a rag carpet was spread, which 
had been brought all the way from the 
state of New York. 

With inexpressible sadness I now recall 
some of the scenes and events that trans 
pired in that humble but happy home ; 
when, from some good book, Mrs. Luce read 
aloud to the family, or, perhaps, father was 
solving a problem for me in arithmetic, 
while my little brother was seated at the ta 
ble, trying to form letters from a copy writ 
ten by sister Eliza ; and mother in her rock 
ing-chair was crocheting, or, perhaps, 
fashioning a garment into shape for some 
member of the household. Little did I 
dream that all the bright prospects of my 
youth would so soon be nipped in the bud 
blasted as by an untimely frost, and our 
quiet home become the scene of one of the 
most cruel, barbarous massacres ever re 
corded on the bloody pages of history. 

In February, Mr. Luce and Mr. Thatcher 



DICKINSON COUNTY SETTLEMENT. 51 

started, with an ox-team and sled, to obtain 
provisions for their families. In spite of 
snow-banks, sometimes fifteen and twenty 
feet deep; in spite of wind and cold; they 
reached Hampton, Shell Eock, Cedar Falls, 
and Waterloo. They secured as large a sup 
ply as they thought possible to convey, with 
their weary oxen, over the untrodden drifts; 
and succeeded in making their way back as 
far as Shippey s cabin, in Palo Alto county, 
about ten miles below Ernmetsburg, on the 
Des Moines river. Here it was decided 
that Mr. Thatcher should remain to recruit 
the oxen, while Mr. Luce proceeded home, 
accompanied by three young men, who were 
making their first visit to the lakes Jona 
than Howe and Enoch Ryan, (son and son- 
in-law of Joel Howe,) of Hampton, and one 
of the name of Clark, from Waterloo. Little 
did they imagine that they were going to 
meet such a cruel death. By this delay of 
Mr. Thatcher he escaped the terrible fate of 
the doomed colony at the lakes. 

It was now drawing toward the close of a 
long, cold, and dreary winter. These brave 
pioneers were looking hopefully forward to 
the time when they should go forth to the 



52 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



pleasant task of cultivating their farms and 
improving their homes ; for as yet no In 
dians had appeared, and no reports of their 
coming had reached them to awaken suspi 
cion or disturb their repose. 




INK-PA-DU-TA AND HIS BAND. 53 



CHAPTER VI. 



INK-PA-DU-TA AND HIS BAND. 

Extract from Judge Flandr .au s Papers Description of 
Inkpaduta s Band Testimony collected by Major 
Prichette -Names of Band at Time of Massacre 
Inkpaduta s Appearance His Family Number of 
Dakotas These fed by Government. 

N order to understand the events 
recorded in these pages, it is neces 
sary to have some knowledge of 
Inkpaduta, the chief, under whose 
leadership was perpetrated the bloody 
massacre of March, 1857. 
In giving this, I have drawn freely from 
the authentic documents prepared by Charles 
E. Flandreau, then U. S. Indian agent for 
the Sioux, and Major Prichette, special gov 
ernment agent. In an exhaustive paper 
read by Judge Flandreau before the Minne- 




54 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

sota State Historical Society, in December, 
1879, he gave the following account of Ink- 
paduta : 

" Prior to 1842, the Sac and Fox tribes of Indians occu 
pied the country which is now the State of Iowa. On the 
llth of October, 1842, these Indians made a treaty with the 
United States government, by which they sold the land 
west of the Mississippi river to which they had claim or 
title, or in which they had any interest whatever ; reserv 
ing the right of occupancy, for three years from the date 
of the treaty, to ail that part of the lands ceded which lay 
west of a line running due north and south from the 
Painted or Red Rocks, on the White Breast Fork of the 
Des Moines river, which rocks were situated eight miles 
from the junction of the White Breast with the Des 
Moines. 

" The country north of Iowa, and west of the Missis 
sippi river, as far as the Little Rapids on the Minnesota 
river, was occupied by the Medewakanton and Wakpekuti 
bands of Sioux Indians. These latter Indians were at 
war with the Sacs and Foxes. The Wakpekuti band was 
under the leadership of two principal chiefs, named Wam 
disapa and Tasagi. The lawless and predatory habits of 
Wamdisapa and his band prolonged the war with the Sacs 
and Foxes ; and to a great extent created difficulties be 
tween the band of Wamdisapa and the rest of the Wakpe 
kuti, which troubles gradually separated his band from 
them. Wamdisapa and his people moved to the west, to 
ward the Missouri, and occupied the land about the 
Vermillion river. So thoroughly was he separated from 
the rest of the Wakpekutis that when the last named 
Indians together with the Medewakantons made their 
treaty at Mendota, in 1851, by which they ceded the 
lands in Minnesota owned by them, the remnant of Wam- 
disapa s people were not regarded as being part of the 
Wakpekutis at all, and took no part in the treaty. 



INK-PA-DU-TA AND HIS BAND. 55 

" By 1857, all that remained of Wamdisapa s band was 
under the chieftainship of Inkpaduta, or Scarlet Point, 
sometimes called Red End. In August, 1856, 1 received 
the appointment of United States Indian agent for the 
Sioux of the Mississippi. The agencies of these Indians 
were on the Minnesota river at Redwood, and on the Yel 
low Medicine river, a few miles from its mouth. Having 
been on the frontier for some time previous to such ap 
pointment, I had become quite familiar with the Sioux, 
and knew, in a general way, of Inkpaduta and his band, 
its habits and whereabouts. They ranged the country far 
and wide, and were considered a bad lot of vagabonds. 
In 1856 they came to the payment and demanded a share 
of the money of the Wakpekuti baud, and made a great 
deal of trouble, but were forced to return to their haunts, 
on the Big Sioux and adjoining country." 

According to the most authentic testi 
mony collected by Major Prichette, Inkpa 
duta came to the Sioux Agency in the fall 
of 1855 and received annuities for eleven 
persons, although he was not identified with 
any band. 

He had killed the chief of the Wakpekuti 
band, Tasagi, with several of his relatives, 
and was declared an outlaw by the band; 
but was permitted to receive payment with 
them, from fear, they said, of revenge in case 
it was denied. 

He supported himself by hunting and 
plunder ; leading a wandering, marauding 
life, the number of his followers varying 



50 THR SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE- 

from time to time from fifty to one hundred 
and fifty ; as individuals of similar charac 
ter, from different bands of Sioux, joined or 
deserted him. 

I give below, as far as I know, the names 
of this band at the time of the Spirit Lake 
massacre : 

Ink-pa-du-ta,, or Scarlet Point. 

Mak-pe-a-ho-to-man, or Roaring Cloud, and 

Mak-pi-op-e-ta, or Fire Cloud, twins. 

Taw-a-che-ha-wa-kan, or His Mysterious 
Father. 

Ba-ha-ta, or Old Man. 

Ke-cho-mon, or Putting on as he walks. 

Ka-ha-dat, or Ratling (son-in-law of Ink- 
paduta). 

Fe-to-a-ton-ka, or Big Face. 

Ta-te-li-da-shink-sha-man-i, or One who 
makes a crooked wind as he walks. 

Ta-chan-che-ga-ho-ta, or His Great Gun. 

Hu-san, or One Leg. 

As I remember Inkpaduta, he was proba 
bly fifty or sixty years of age, about six feefc 
in height, and strongly built. He was 
deeply pitted by small pox, giving him a 
revolting appearance, and distinguishing him 
from the rest of the band. His family con- 



INK-PA-DU-TA AND HIS BAND. 57 

sisted of himself and squaw, four sons, and 
one daughter. His natural enmity to the 
white man; his desperately bold and re 
vengeful disposition ; his hatred of his ene 
mies, even of his own race ; his matchless 
success on the war-path, won for him honor 
from his people, distinguished him as a hero, 
and made him a leader of his race. 

By the whites especially those who have 
escaped the scenes of his brutal carnage, to 
wear, within, the garb of deepest mourn 
ing, from the severing of social, parental, 
and filial ties Inkpaduta will ever be re 
membered as a savage monster in human 
shape, fitted only for the darkest corner in 
Hades. 

From the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers 
on the rock-bound coast of New England, in 
1620, until the present day, the native red 
men have at different times given sad and 
fearful evidences of their protestation 
against civilization s irresistible march 
across the American continent, but no other 
tribe of aborigines has ever exhibited more 
savage ferocity or so appalled and sickened 
the soul of humanity by wholesale slaught 
ering of the white race as has the Sioux 



53 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

The Sioux are said to have had their name 
bestowed upon them by the French, but they 
ignore the title and answer only to the name 
of Dakotas. They number about 25,000 and 
are known as : Tetons, Sissetons, Yanktons, 
Yanktonais, Wapetons, Wakpekutis, etc. 
These tribes are subdivided into bands; each 
band having its own chief. 

These Indians are widely diffused over a 
vast region of country west of the Missouri, 
clear up to the base of the Rocky Mountains, 
and possess immense tracts of good agricul 
tural land in Dakota, sufficient in extent to 
allow eighty acres to each member, of the 
band, who is willing to adopt the pursuit of 
agriculture, which has loog been neglected 
by this race. The Sioux are now all fed and 
cared for at an enormous expense by the 
government. 



PRECEDING THE MASSACRE. 59 



CHAPTER VII. 



CIRCUMSTANCES THAT LED TO THE MASSACRE. 

First Trouble at Southland Indians interrupted in 
Chase Indian bitten by a DogIndian kills Dog- 
Settler beats Indian Settlers whip Squaws, who 
steal Corn and Hay Whites take Indians Guns- 
Indians commence Depredations Rob, steal and kill 
stock, up the Sioux Abuse the Settlers. 

N" the autumn of 1856, Inkpaduta s 
band went down to the ]ower valley 
of the Little Sioux, where the first 
trouble with the whites began, in the 
vicinity of Smithland. Several aggres 
sions by the Indians and violent re 
pulses by the whites are given, as preceding 
the incidents, generally accepted by both 
Indians and whites, as the immediate cause 
of the fatal catastrophe. 

It seems, that one day, while the Indians 
were in pursuit of elk, they had some diffi- 




GO THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

culty with the settlers. The Indians claimed 
that the whites intercepted the chase. There 
is also a report that an Indian was bitten by 
a dog belonging to one of the settlers; that 
the Indian killed the dog; and that the man 
gave the Indian a severe beating. It is also 
said that the settlers whipped off a company 
of squaws, who were carrying off their hay and 
corn. The Indians becoming more and more 
insolent, the settlers, in self-protection, went 
to the camp and disarmed them, intending 
to return their guns the next day and escort 
them out of the country; but the next morn 
ing not a "red skin" was to be seen, they 
had folded their tents, "like the Arabs, and 
as silently stolen away. They went up the 
Little Sioux; their hearts filled with re 
venge, and committed depredations as they 
went. At first they pretended to be friendly, 
but soon commenced depredations, forcibly 
taking guns, ammunition, provisions, and 
whatever they wanted. They also amused 
themselves by discharging their guns through 
articles of furniture; ripping open feather 
beds and scattering their contents through 
the yards. The farther they proceeded, the 
fewer and more defenseless the settlers were; 



PRECEDING THE MASSACRE. 61 

and the bolder and more insolent the Indians 
became. After remaining a few days in 
Cherokee county, where they busied them 
selves with wantonly shooting cattle, hogs, 
and fowls, and destroying property generally; 
sometimes severely beating those who re 
sisted, they proceeded up the Little Sioux, to 
the little settlement in Clay county, now 
called Peterson. Here they tarried two or 
three days, committing acts of atrocity as 
usual. At the house of A. S. Mead (Mr. Mead 
being away) they not only killed his cattle and 
destroyed his property, but knocked down 
his wife and carried off to their camp his 
daughter Hattie (seventeen years old); and 
started away with a younger sister, Emma, 
(ten years old), but she resisted so hard and 
cried so loud that an Indian picked up a 
stick and whipped her all the way back to 
the house and left her. At the same house 
they knocked down Mr. E. Taylor, kicked 
his boy into the fireplace burning him so 
badly that he still carries the scar on his leg 
and took his wife off to their camp; but as yet 
they had committed no murder. After one 
night s experience in an Indian camp, Mrs. 
Taylor and Hattie Mead were permitted to 



62 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

return home. These blood-thirsty Indians, 
thus exasperated, and, naturally burning 
with hatred and revenge, still continued 
their tortuous journey, and by the evening of 
the seventh of March reached the vicinity 
of Okoboji Lakes. The settlers here had no 
knowledge of what had transpired down the 
valley. Nor through the long hours of that 
night when wrapped in peaceful repose, did 
the winds that soughed through the tops of 
the naked trees, and whistled around the 
corners of their cabins tell them; neither 
did they dream of the foul conspiracy that 
was brewing. 



THE MASSACRE. 63 



CHAPTER VIII. 



THE MASSACRE. 

On the 8th of March Indians reach Okoboji Feign 
Friendship Then act Insolent Luce and Clark go 
to warn Settlers Indians shoot Mr. Gardner Mur 
der his Wife, Son, and Daughter Beat Children s 
Brains out with Stove- Wood Take Abbie Captive- 
General Destruction of Everything Abbie is dragged 
away to Camp She leaves her loved ones mangled 
dead, and dying They plunge into the Blackness of 
Night and Forest. 

" Ob, bloodiest picture in the book of Time ; 
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime." 

will be remembered that Mr. Luce 
reached home, from his trip to Wat 
erloo, on the evening of March 6th. 
Now that he was with his family, my 
father at once began preparations for a 
needed trip to Ft. Dodge, also for pro 
visions. These preparations were completed 
by the evening of the 7th, and on the morn- 




64 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ing of the 8th we arose earlier than usual, 
in order that father might have an early 
start, so as to make as much progress as 
practicable the first day, and gain, if possi 
ble, the cabin of some friqndly settler for the 
night. But, alas ! how little we know what 
lies before us. We know not what an hour, 
much less a day, may bring forth. 

The sun never shed brighter beams of 
light than on that ill-fated morning. 
Spring, that had already come, in theory, 
seemed now to have come in reality. The 
winter of our discontent seemed indeed to 
have passed away. As we were about to 
surround the table for breakfast, a solitary 
Indian entered the house, wearing the guise 
of friendship and claiming the sacred prero 
gative of hospitality. A place was promptly 
prepared for him at the table, and he par 
took of the frugal meal with the family. 
This one was soon followed by others, until 
Inkpaduta and his fourteen warriors, with 
their squaws and papooses, had entered the 
house. They dissembled friendship, and the 
scanty store of the household was freely di 
vided among them, until each seemed satis 
fied. They, then, became suddenly sullen, 



THE MASSACRE. G5 

insolent, and overbearing, demanding ammu 
nition and numerous other things- When 
father was giving one of them a few gun- 
caps, he snatched the whole box from his 
hand. At the same time another as if by 
agreement tried to get a powder-horn 
hanging against the wall; but was pre 
vented by Mr. Luce, who now suspected that 
their intention was to get the ammunition, 
that we might not be able to defend our 
selves. The Indian then drew up his gun y 
and would have shot Mr. Luce, had the lat 
ter not promptly seized the gun pointed at 
his head. About this time (9 o clock, A. M.,) 
Dr. Harriott and Mr. Snyder called, knowing 
of father s intended trip to Ft. Dodge, and 
wishing to send letters to be mailed. 
Father told them, at once, that he could not 
go and leave his family, as he feared the In 
dians were on the war-path, and thought the 
situation serious. He also told them that 
the other settlers ought to be notified of the 
danger, and immediate arrangements made 
for defense. Our house, being the largest 
and strongest in the colony, his plan was to 
have the other settlers gather there. But 
Dr. Harriott and Mr. Snyder thought it was 



66 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

only a pet of the Indians and would soon 
pass away; so they did some trading with 
them, and returned to their own cabin, tak 
ing no precautions, whatever, for safety. 
The Indians prowled around with every 
manifestation of arrogance and insolence, 
until noon, when they went off toward Mr. 
Mattock s. They drove our cattle before 
them, and shot them on the way. 

This was the first time the house had been 
clear of Indians since they first entered, in 
the morning. A consultation was then held, 
as to what should be done. It was the de 
sire to notify the other settlers; but if any 
went to do this it would weaken the force 
at home; and the Indians were liable to re 
turn at any moment; besides, from the di 
rection taken by the Indians, it was almost 
impossible to reach the other cabins without 
being discovered by the (now known to be) 
malignant foe. However, philanthropic 
considerations prevailed; and it was finally 
decided that Mr. Luce and Mr. Clark should 
go to warn the others of the impending dan 
ger, while father should remain at home, to 
defend, as well as possible, the family, in 
any emergency. 



THE MASSACRE. 67 

According to this arrangement they 
started out about 2 p. M., never to return. 
My sister, remembering the attempt of the 
Indians to take the life of her husband in 
the morning, twined her arms around his 
neck, and weeping said: "0, Harvey ! lam 
afraid you will never come back to me ! the 
Indians will kill you if they don t any one 
else." This was, indeed, their last parting. 
About three o clock we heard the report of 
guns, in rapid succession, from the house of 
Mr. Mattock. We were, then, no longer in 
doubt as to the awful reality that was hang 
ing over us. Two long hours we passed in 
this fearful anxiety and suspense, waiting 
and watching, with conflcting hopes and 
fears, for Mr. Luce and Mr. Clark to return. 
At length, just as the sun was sinking, be 
hind the western horizon, shedding its bril 
liant rays over the snowy landscape, father, 
whose anxiety would no longer allow him to 
remain within doors, went out to reconnoi- 
ter. He, however, hastily returned, saying: 
"Nine Indians are coming, now only a short 
distance from the house, and we are all 
doomed to die." His first thought was to 
barricade the door and fight till the last, say- 



OS THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ing: u While they are killing all of us, I will 
kill a few of them, with the two loaded guns 
still left in the house." But to this mother 
protested, having not yet lost all faith in the 
savage monsters, and still hoping they 
would appreciate our kindness and spare our 
lives, she said: "If we have to die, let us die 
innocent of shedding blood." 

Alas, for the faith placed in these inhuman 
monsters! They entered the house and de 
manded more flour; and, as father turned to 
get them what remained of our scanty store, 
they shot him through the heart; he fell 
upon his right side and died without a strug 
gle. When first the Indian raised his gun 
to fire, mother or Mrs. Luce seized the gun 
and drew it down; but the other Indians in 
stantly turned upon them, seized them by 
their arms, and beat them over the head 
with the butts of their guns; then dragged 
them out of doors, and killed them in the 
most cruel and shocking manner. 

They then began an indiscriminate de 
struction of everything in the house; break 
ing open trunks and taking out clothing, 
cutting open feather-beds, and scattering 
the feathers everywhere. When the Indians 



THE MASSACRE. 69 

entered the house, and during these awful 
scenes, I was seated in a chair, holding my 
sister s baby in my arms; her little boy on 
one side, and my little brother on the other, 
clinging to me in terror. They next seized 
the children; tearing them from me one by 
one, while they reached their little arms to 
me, crying piteously for protection that I 
was powerless to give. Heedless of their 
cries, they dragged them out of doors, and 
beat them to death with sticks of stove- 
wood. 

All this time I was both speechless and 
tearless; but, now left alone, I begged them 
to kill me. It seemed as though I could not 
wait for them to finish their work of death. 
One of them approached, and roughly seiz 
ing me by the arm said something I could 
not understand, but I well knew^, from their 
actions, that I was to be a captive. All the 
terrible tortures and indignities I had ever 
read or heard of being inflicted upon their 
captives now arose in horrid vividness before 
me. 

After ransacking the house, and taking 
whatever they thought might be serviceable, 
such as provisions, bedding, nrn:s. and ammu- 



70 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

nition; and after the bloody scalping knife 
had done its terrible work; I was dragged 
from the never-to-be-forgotten scene. No 
language can ever suggest, much less ade 
quately portray, my feelings as I passed that 
door. 

With a naturally sensitive nature, ten 
derly and affectionately reared, shuddering 
at the very thought of cruelty, you can, my 
dear reader, imagine, but only imagine, the 
agony I endured, when so suddenly plunged 
into scenes from which no element of the 
terrible or revolting seemed wanting. Be 
hind me I left my heroic father, murdered 
in a cowardly manner, in the very act of ex 
treme hospitality; shot down at my feet, 
and I had not the privilege of impressing 
one farewell kiss upon his lips, yet warm 
with life and affection. Just outside the 
door lay the three children so dear to me 
bruised, mangled, and bleeding; while their 
moans and groans pierced my ears, and 
called in vain for one loving caress which I 
was prevented from giving them. A little 
farther on lay my Christ-like mother, who 
till the very last had pleaded the cause of 
her brutish murderers, literally weltering in 



THE MASSACRE. 71 

her own blood. Still farther on, at the 
southwest corner of the house, in a similar 
condition, lay my eldest sister, Mrs. Luce, 
who had been so intimately associated with 
me from earliest recollections. Amid these 
scenes of unutterable horror, I took my 
farewell look upon father, mother, sister, 
and brother, and my sister s little ones. 

Filled with loathing for these wretches 
whose hands were still wet with the blood of 
those dearest to me, and at one of whose belts 
still hung the dripping scalp of my mother; 
with even the much coveted boon of death 
denied me, we plunged into the gloom of the 
forest and the coming night; but neither the 
gloom of the forest, nor the blackness of the 
night, nor both combined, could begin to 
symbolize the darkness of my terror-stricken 
heart. 



72 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER IX. 



THE MASSACRE CONTINUED. 

Mr. Mattock s Cabin in Flames Two Victims inside 
On the Ground dead Bodies of Dr. Harriott, Mr. 
Snyder, Mr. Mattock, and others Carl Granger dead 
by his Cabin Luce and Clark found dead by Lake- 
First Night in Indian Camp War-DanceNext 
Morning, Mr. and Mrs. Howe, Son, and Daughter 
Murdered Four Murdered at Noble s Cabin Mrs. 
Noble and Mrs. Thatcher Captives Mr. Marble Shot 
Mrs. Marble taken Captive. 

" Man s inhumanity to man 
Makes countless millions mourn." 

ERRIBLE as were the scenes through 
which I had just passed, others, if 
possible even yet more horrible, 
awaited me. A tramp of about one 
mile brought me to the camp of my cap 
tors, which was the homo of Mr. Mattock. 
Here the sights and sounds that met the eye 
and ear were truly appalling. The forest 




THE MASSACRE. 78 

was lighted by the camp-fires, and also by 
the burning of the cabins; and the air was 
rent with the unearthly war-whoop of the 
savages, and the shrieks and groans of two 
helpless victims, confined in the burning 
cabin, suffering all the agonies of a fiery 
death. Scattered upon the ground was a 
number of bodies, among which I recognized 
that of Dr. Harriott, rifle still in hand; as 
well as the bodies of Mr. Mattock, Mr. Sny- 
der, and others, with rifles near them, some 
broken. All gave evidence that an attempt 
at resistance had been made, but too late. 

Dr. Harriott and Mr. Snyder, it seemed, 
had come across the strait from their home, 
to assist their neighbors. In all this affray 
not one Indian was killed, and only one 
wounded; but this one quite badly, and by 
Dr. Harriott, as the Indians told me. Here 
had perished five men, two women, and four 
children; and the bodies, save the two in the 
burning cabin, lay about the camp, their 
ghastly features clearly revealed by the light 
of the burning building; presenting a fright 
ful scene beyond the power of my feeble pen 
to describe. Carl Granger s remains lay be 
side the Granger cabin. He had been first 



74 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

shot, and then his head chopped off above 
his mouth and ears, supposed to have been 
done with a broad-ax, found on the prem 
ises. Win. Granger escaped the fate of his 
brother, being at home, at Red Wing, with 
his family. 

Messrs. Clark and Luce were killed near 
the outlet on the southern shore of East 
Okoboji, a mile or more from father s cabin. 
It is probable that they had despaired of 
reaching the Mattock and Granger cabins, 
and had attempted to go around the south 
ern end of East Okoboji, and so reach the 
cabins of Howe and Thatcher; but were 
overtaken and shot on the way. The body 
of Mr. Clark was identified by a memoran 
dum book, found in his pocket by those who- 
discovered the remains, some time in June. 
Thus the day s slaughter summed up a total 
of twenty human lives. 

The ravenous appetites of the savages had 
been satisfied by my father s generosity, 
and my mother s and sister s incessant cook 
ing and serving. Their thirst for blood 
must have been well-nigh quenched- All 
this must be celebrated by the war-dance 
that hideous revelry that seemes to have 



THE MASSACRE. 75^ 

been borrowed from the lowest depth of 
Tartarus. Near the ghastly corpses, and 
over the blood-stained snow; with blackened 
laces, and fierce and uncouth gestures; and 
with wild screams and yells, they circled 
round and. round, keeping time to the dull 
est, dreariest, sound of drum and rattle, until 
complete exhaustion compelled them to de 
sist. 

None but those who have had a personal 
experience with Indian warfare can form a 
just conception of the terror which their 
war-dance is calculated to inspire. Amid, 
such fearful scenes, I spent that long, long,: 
sleepless night the first of my captivity,, 
and the thoughts that fired my brain, and 
oppressed my heart, can never be imagined, 
except by those who have suffered like 
pangs, and had them burned into their souls 
by a like experience. 

One clay s carnage only sharpened the sav 
ages thirst for blood. Accordingly, at an 
early hour the next morning, the braves(?), 
having smeared their faces with black, 
(which, with the Sioux, means war,) started 
again on their work of slaughter. The four 
remaining families were busy with their do- 



/O THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

mestic cares, not dreaming of aught amiss, 
while these terrible scenes were being en 
acted at their very doors. 

The Indians had gone but a short distance 
on East Okoboji, when they met Mr. 
Howe, who was on his way to father s to 
borrow some flour. Him they shot, and 
severed his head from his body, the skull be 
ing found, some two years later, on the 
southern shore of the lake by a man named 
Ring. Thence they proceeded to the house 
of Mr. Howe, where they found his wife, his 
son Jonathan, his daughter Sardis, a young 
lady, and four younger children. They left 
only lifeless bodies, here, to tell the story of 
their bloody work. From here they went 
to the cabin of Noble and Thatcher, where 
were- two men and two women Mr. and Mrs. 
Noble, Mr. Ryan, and Mrs. Thatcher, besides 
two children. With their usual cowardice 
and hypocrisy, the Indians feigned friendship 
until they had secured every advantage, 
so their own heads would be in no danger. 
Then, by concert of action, the two men 
were simultaneously shot. Ryan fell dead 
instantly. Mr. Noble cried, "0, I am 
killed!" After the fatal bullet struck him, 



THE MASSACRE. 77 

ho walked to the door, though bleeding 
freel} r , and then fell dead. They next seized 
the children by the feet, dragging them from 
their mothers arms out of doors, and dashed 
their brains out against an oak tree which 
stood near the house. They then plundered 
the house, appropriating to themselves what 
ever they wanted. After slaughtering the 
cattle, hogs, and poultry, they took the two 
women Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher- 
captives, and started back to their camp. 
On their way they again stopped at the house 
of Mr. Howe. Here a terrible spectacle met 
the gaze of the captives. Mrs. Noble found 
her mother lying dead under the bed, where 
she had doubtless crawled after being left 
by her brutal murderers. Her head was ter 
ribly beaten, probably with a flatiron, as 
one lay near by bearing traces of the mur 
derous work. The eyes were protruding 
from the sockets, and as Mrs. Noble described 
them " looked like balls of lire." Her 
brother Jacob, some thirteen years old, who 
had been left for dead or dying, was found 
sitting up out in the yard, and conscious, al 
though unable to speak. To her questions 
he responded only with a nod or a shake of 



73 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the head. She told him, if the Indians did 
not come to him and finish the murder, to 
crawl into the house and get into one of the 
beds, as perhaps help would come and he 
might be saved; but the savages made sure 
of their work before they left, killing him 
before her eyes. The rest of the family lay 
scattered about the house and yard, all more 
or less mutilated. While Mrs. Noble was 
taking note of these things, the Indians were 
busy with their work of plunder and de 
struction-after which, with captives and 
booty, they returned to their camp. 

Immediately upon their arrival, I was 
taken to the tent where were my two com 
panions in captivity; and we" were per 
mitted, for the space of half or three-quar 
ters of an hour, to recount our losses, and 
the terrible scenes through which we had 
just passed. Then each one was taken to a 
separate lodge, and by signs and gestures 
told to braid our hair, and paint our faces, 
after the fashion of squaws. 

The terrible calamity that had fallen upon 
me seemed more than I could bear, and as I 
now look back upon it I wonder that I sur 
vived; wonder that either body or mind, or 



THE MASSACRE. 79 

both, did not give way. In the impressive 
language of Longfellow: 

" The burden laid upon me, 
Seemed greater than I could bear." 

Snatched from the society of loving 
friends and the tender care of affectionate 
parents; and plunged into hopeless, helpless 
servitude to these inhuman, fiendish mon 
sters, whom I had seen brutally murder 
those so dear to me, and whom I consquently 
could only abhor, Oh! how I longed for 
death; and whenever they thought to tor 
ture me by threatening to take my life, I 
would merely bow my head. My tearless 
acquiescence and willingness to die seemed 
to fill them with wonder, and even admira 
tion, as they thought it a sign of great brav 
ery, a quality they highly appreciate but 
which they did not suppose the white 
woman to possess. Soon after my capture, 
one of the warriors, who was sitting by me 
one day in the tent, thinking to test my 
courage or to be amused at my fears, took 
his revolver from his belt and began loading 
it, while he gave me to understand that he 
would kill me as soon as it was loaded. I 
merely bowed my head to signify that I was 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ready. When the revolver was all loaded 
he drew back the hammer and pointed it 
close to my head, but again I quietly bowed 
my head expecting he would do as he said; 
but instead of that he lowered the weapon, 
and looked at me as though astonished, and 
then laughed at me uproariously. So 
amused was he, indeed, that when others 
came into the teepe he would tell them the 
story, by signs and gesture, of how I had 
acted. Nor did it stop here, but for days 
after I could see that it was a favorite topic 
of conversation among them, and never 
again, except once by a squaw, was a weapon 
drawn upon me while I was a captive. 

So utterly ignorant were these savages of 
all the arts of civilized life, that they were 
at a loss to know what to do with all the 
plunder that curiosity or cupidity had 
prompted them to take. Among the spoils 
were quantities of soda and cream of tartar. 
They interrogated me as to their use; and 
when I told them we used it in making 
bread they wished me to make some, using 
these articles. They seemed greatly sur 
prised and pleased when they saw the bread 
"grow" during the process of baking. 



THE MASSACRE. 81 

Doubtless had I been older and more wily, 
I could have made them believe I was a 
"big medicine," and had power to work 
miracles; so might have gotten from them 
any favors I might have desired; but I was 
so completely overwhelmed and subdued 
with grief that I had no thought or heart for 
such tricks. So interested were they about 
the bread growing/ 7 that when others came 
into the teepe those who had witnessed the 
wonderful phenomenon described it with the 
grotesque gesticulations peculiar to their 
race. Although pleased with the "grow 
ing," they were too suspicious of being pois 
oned to eat any themselves until I had eaten 
of it. Finding that I was willing to eat it, 
they greedily devoured it, without waiting 
to see what its effect on me might be. 

On the morning of the 10th they broke 
camp, and crossed West Okoboji on the ice. 
Traveling to the westward a distance of 
three miles, they went into camp on the 
Madison claim. They had brought horses 
and sleds which they had taken from the 
settlers along the Little Sioux; also what 
they had found at the lakes- Tn this firsjt 
movement after my capture, I was detailed 



82 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

to drive one of the teams; but it was the last 
time I had the privilege of riding until I was 
delivered into the hands of my rescuers. 

The next day, at an early hour they tore 
down their tents and loaded their horses, 
squaws, dogs, and captives, and moved north 
westwardly to Marble s Grove, on the west 
side of Spirit Lake. The Indians seemed to 
have been ignorant of the fact that there 
were an}^ more whites in the neighborhood 
until the 13th, when they no doubt acci 
dentally discovered the cabin of Mr. Marble- 
He was not aware of their presence, and 
knew nothing of the massacre- Conse 
quently he and his family were taken en 
tirely by surprise when the Indians made 
their appearance. 

Feigning friendship, they readily gained 
admission to the house; when, as usual, they 
asked for food. After satisfying their hun 
ger, they bantered him to trade rifles. After 
the trade was made, they proposed to shoot 
at a mark. A board was set up, and after 
firing several shots it was knocked down. 
Mr. Marble s gun being empty, they re 
quested him to set it up. As soon as his 
back was turned, they shot him through the 



THE MASSACRE. 83 

back, and he fell dead in his tracks. Mrs- 
Marble was sitting at the window, with pal. 
pitating heart, watching their actions; and 
as soon as she saw her husband start to 
replace the board, as if by instinct, she 
divined their murderous intentions. Seeing 
him fall, she rushed for the door, and would 
have fled for her life; but was quickly over 
taken and conveyed to the camp. Thus, 
another unfortunate victim was added to 
our little band of helpless captives We 
were all brought together in the same teepe; 
for what savage purpose we were at loss to 
know; unless it was that we might commu 
nicate to each other all their deeds of blood 
and plunder; for of these they were exceed 
ingly proud, never losing an opportunity to 
recount them and glory in them. They 
carried away what they wanted from Mr. 
Marble s place, and destroyed what they 
could. 

Mr. Marble was, probably, a stone-cutter 
by trade, as his implements were found in a 
hollow tree, near the house, by one of the 
early settlers. At night, this bloody day s 
work was celebrated by the " war-dance." 
Before leaving Marble s Grove, the Indians 



84 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

peeled the bark from a large tree, and on 
the white surface, with black paint, pictured, 
in hieroglyphical signs, the work they had 
done in Dickinson county. The number of 
persons killed were represented so as to in 
dicate the position in which they were left. 
Men were represented as pierced by arrows, 
etc. Mattock s cabin was pictured with 
flames and smoke issuing from the roof; 
but whether by signs known to savage art 
they indicated that two helpless victims 
perished in the flames, I know not. This 
picture history was visible years afterward, 
and was familiar to the early settlers. 

Thus, it will be seen that Mr. Marble was 
the only person killed on Spirit Lake. Not 
withstanding this tragic event has always 
been called, "the Spirit Lake massacre," from 
the fact that at this time the whole lake re 
gion was merely known abroad as Spirit- 
Lake. 



DISCOVERY OF THE MASSACRE. 85 



CHAPTER X. 



DISCOVERY OF THE MASSACRE. 

Mr. Markham returns Home Finds Death and Ruin 
Runs upon Indian Camp Just escapes Spends 
Night in Forest with Frozen Limbs- Frozen and 
famished he goes to Springfield Carries News of 
Massacre Eliza Gardner learns of her Father s 
Family She is overwhelmed She fears her Sister is 
a Captive. 




massacre was first discovered by 
Mr. Markham. A yoke of oxen of 
his had strayed away in the fall, and 
he had failed to get any knowledge of 
their whereabouts until the return of 
Mr. Luce, which, the reader will remem 
ber, occurred on the 6th of March. On the 
morning of the 7th, Mr. Markham started for 
the Des Moines river in search of the cattle; 
and returned to my father s house about 
eleven o clock on the evening of the 9th, cold, 



86 -JCME SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

hungry, and exhausted, expecting a hospitable 
welcome to a happy home. He was sur 
prised, indeed, to find the house dark and 
silent; and upon looking about he saw the 
dead bodies of my mother and sister, lying 
in the yard. Being satisfied that it was the 
work of the Indians, he carefully withdrew 
in the direction of Mr- Mattock s. As the 
timber and underbrush were quite thick, he 
found himself almost in the midst of the In 
dians camp before he was aware of it so 
near, in fact, that he could hear their voices 
inside the teepes. He attracted the atten 
tion of the Indians dogs, so that they began 
barking. He succeeded, however in retrac 
ing his steps, without being noticed by the 
Indians, who at this late hour were all in 
side their lodges. Mr. Markham next 
wended his way to the house of Mr. Howe, 
where a like desolation awaited him. Sadly, 
wearily, he pushed on to the cabin of Noble 
and i hatcher, which was also his own home; 
but, oh, what a home! and what a recep 
tion! The cold, lifeless bodies of his friends 
was all that remained to welcome him. 

Since morning, he had traveled some 
thirty miles over the trackless prairie and 



DISCOVERY OF THE MASSACRE. 87 

through the drifted snow, without rest or 
refreshment; but so shocked was he by the 
scenes in the houses, that he preferred to 
spend the remainder of the night in the for 
est; so, gathering up a few pieces of broken 
furniture with which to kindle a fire, he 
withdrew to a deep ravine, a short distance 
from the house. Here, of course, it was im 
possible to lie down; so he was compelled to 
stand upon his already frozen and still freez 
ing feet, and await the dawn. 

The morning light only revealed, more 
distinctly, the terrible desolation which had 
been wrought during his absence- Suppos 
ing that Mr. Marble and family had shared 
the fate of the others, and consequently 
there were no whites nearer than Spring 
field (now Jackson), eighteen miles or more 
to the northward, famished and frozen as he 
was, he struggled on, and carried to my sis 
ter, and others there the terrible message. 

The news fell with a crushing weight upon 
my sister, who now supposed she was the 
only one left of our family; not knowing 
yet that I was a captive. At first, only some 
general information of the massacre was 
told her; but finding that suspense and un- 



88 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

certainty were worse for her than the facts, 
especially as her suspicions were aroused by 
conversation she overheard, they told her 
plainly the terrible truth. To have heard 
of the sudden death of one member of the 
family, while she was absent, would have 
been sorrow indeed; but it was overwhelm 
ing to find that not one of her father s fam 
ily was left, all having been swept away by 
one fell stroke of merciless savagery. Her 
situation was, indeed, one of indescribable 
affliction. No kind father to welcome her 
home! No affectionate mother could ever 
again soothe her sorrow, or kiss away her 
tears! Never again could she gather, with 
her loving sisters and dear little brother, in 
that once so happy family circle dearest 
spot on earth to her! So suddenly and unex 
pectedly came the terrible news to her that 
it seemed wonderful that her reason was not 
dethroned. Her grief was greatly aug 
mented by fearing that the Indians had 
taken me away; for she remembercl that 
they wanted to trade some ponies for me, on 
one occasion, at Clear Lake. In her lamen 
tations, she was frequently heard to say; 
"Oh! if I could only know where Abbie is 



DISCOVERY OF THE MASSACRE. 89 

or what has been her fate, I could be more 
contented." 

Upon hearing of the outbreak at the lakes, 
several families about Springtield assembled 
at the house of a Mr. Thomas for mutual 
defense, arid immediately sent two men 
Henry Tretts and Mr. Chiffen with a peti 
tion to Fort Ridgely, to ask that the United 
States troops be sent to their rescue. 
Among the settlars of Springfield there were 
two men named respectively Smith and 
Henderson, who, at this time, had their 
limbs frozen so badly that they had to be 
amputated, Henderson losing both legs and 
Smith one- 

Several other persons awaited with them 
their fate, in the cabin of Mr. Wheeler. 
Wm. and George Wood being influenced 
by the apparently friendly character of the 
Indians, with whom they had been trading 
for several months, as the} r had also with 
Inkpaduta s band, when on their way down 
the Little Sioux- -could not believe the start 
ling reports; or that there was really dan 
ger; so they remained in their store and lost 
their lives. George seemed to have had his 
doubts as to the safety of remaining at their 



90 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE 

posts; but was overpersuaded by his brother 
William. So positive was he that there was 
no danger, that against the remonstrance of 
the settlers, only a few days before the attack, 
he sold the Indians ammunition; receiving 
in payment money, which no doubt had 
been taken from the murdered citizens at 
the lakes. 

In the fall of 1856, a small party of Sioux 
Indians came and pitched their tencs in the 
neighborhood of Springfield. There was 
also a large band, under the chieftainship of 
Ishtahabah, or Sleepy-eye, encamped at Big 
Island Grove, on the same river. These In 
dians frequently visited the homes and busi 
ness houses of the whites during the winter 
always appearing on friendly terms; but 
the sound of the war-whoop called out all 
the savage instinct of the race, and they 
joined Inkpacjuta, and were recognized as 
being, among thg mt)t zeal&tis m the attack. 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 91 



CHAPTER XL 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 

The Indians move Westward Camp at Heron Lake 
Warriors March for Springfield Springfield People 
fortify Indians beguile them out Kill Willie 
Thomas, and wound othersThey rush in and barri 
cade doors, etc. They Fire at Indians through Port 
holesDrive Indians off Indians, go to Stewart s 
Kill him, Wife, and two Children Johnny Stewart 
hides and escapes Indians go to Wood s store and 
kill the Woods Brothers People Flee Reach- 
Granger s Cabin, fifteen miles distant, on the Des 
Moines Men with frozen Limbs are deserted Refu 
gees meet Volunteers Wounds are dressed Other 
Comforts received They finally reach Fort Dodge. 



HILE the events, just related, were 
transpiring, Inkpaduta s band, with 
booty and captives, were moving 
in a northwesterly direction, camping 
in the groves along the streams, and by 
small lakes; never stopping two nights at 
one place; feasting upon the provisions 




92 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

taken from their hapless victims; and hunt 
ing for human game, in any defenseless set 
tler, or unwary traveler, who might be in 
the region. They were also negotiating 
with the Indians on the Des Moines river for 
an attack on Springfield. 

On the 20th of March, two strange and 
suspicious looking Indians visited Wood s 
store and purchased a keg of powder, some 
shot, lead, baskets, beads, and other trink 
ets. Each of them had a double-barreled 
gun, a tomahawk,and a knife; and one, a 
very tall Indian, was painted black so said 
one who saw them. They appeared sullen 
and not inclined to talk much, but said there 
were twenty lodges of them, all of whom 
would be at Springfield in ten days. Soon af 
terward, Black Buffalo, one of the Springfield 
Indians, said to the whites that the Indians 
who were at the store told his squaw that 
they had killed all the people at Spirit Lake. 
Just before the attack was made, the nom 
inally friendly Indians suddenly, between 
two days, decamped for parts unknown, 
which looked suspicious. They told the 
whites, however, that Inkpaduta s band had 
started for the Big Sioux, and that there was 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 93 

no danger from them. This shows how 
much an Indian can be trusted. 

When we encamped at Heron Lake, fifteen 
miles from Springfield, on the 26th of March, 
the warriors painted themselves in their 
most fierce and hideous fashion, and rifle in 
hand and scalping knife in belt, again sal 
lied forth on the war-path, leaving us cap 
tives in charge of one of the warriors and 
the squaws. Before leaving they took 
special pains to communicate to us by signs 
and gesture, and their jargon, the terrible 
work they meant to do. Knowing, as 1 did, 
that my sister was among their intended 
victims, and thinking that she would either 
be killed, or share with me what I felt to be 
a worse fate- -that of a captive the anxiety 
I felt for her, and the rest of the people at 
Springfield, baffles description; but I could 
only await in suspense for their return. 

From the time of the arrival of Mr. Mark- 
ham, at Springfield, the people who gathered 
at the house of Mr. Thomas were living in 
hourly expectation of an attack. Twenty- 
one persons were packed in the rooms of 
this double-log house scarcely daring to 
venture outside the door, day or night. The 



94 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

fear and excitement that reigned within 
may be imagined from the fact that one of 
the inmates (Mrs. Stewart) broke down 
completely, becoming insane. She had to 
be removed to her .own home; her husband 
and three small children accompanying her. 

As seventeen days had then passed, and 
no attack had been made; and as the sol 
diers from Fort Ridgely were daily expected; 
the people became inspired with the thought 
that there was no longer any danger. Ac 
cordingly they began to venture out. 

The supply of fuel for the little tempo 
rary fort became exhausted, and must be 
replenished; hence, on Thursday morning, 
March 28, every man in the house turned 
out to chop and haul wood, continuing the 
work till afternoon, when they came in for 
dinner. For once, at least, Providence fa 
vored the whites. Had the attack been made, 
even an hour earlier, w T hile the men were 
out, the result must have been far more dis 
astrous; and probably not a single person 
would have escaped. 

About half past two or three o clock, the 
eight-year old boy of Mr. Thomas, who was 
out playing in the yard, gave the alarm, by 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 95 

.saying that Henry was coming- All the 
people, except Mrs. Church and Mrs. Thomas, 
were in the room on the north side of the 
house, the door of which opened toward the 
timber. As they were hourly expecting the 
return of the two men who had been sent to 
Fort Ridgely; and as they could not see any 
one coming from this direction without go 
ing out of doors, the} 7 all rushed out expect 
ing to see Henry Tretts and Mr. Chiffen com 
ing with the soldiers. But no such good 
news awaited them! Some one who was 
ahead of the rest saw an Indian dressed in 
citizens clothing. Carver exclaimed, "Yes, 
it s Henry!" But the next instant a number 
of guns cracked, and a volley of shot came 
from the rifles of the Indians, who were hid 
behind the trees, and the stable a few rods 
distant, and went whizzing among them. 
The noble red man" (?) had used stratagem 
to draw the whites from the house, that 
they might shoot them down, when they 
were unarmed and unawares. The ruse 
well nigh proved successful. Little Willie 
Thomas, who had so innocently decoyed the 
people from the house, fell mortally wounded 
in the head. Three others two men and 



^6 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

one woman were seriously though not 
fatally wounded. They all fled precipitately 
into the house, not even the wounded being, 
aware that they were hurt 

Mr. Thomas was shot through the wrist, 
which eventually caused the amputation of 
his arm; David Carver through the inside of 
his left arm, the ball entering his side from 
which it was never extracted; Miss Drusilla 
Swanger through the right shoulder, the ball 
striking the bone and coming out in front; 
and she had other slight flesh wounds. 

It will be seen that the Indians had com 
pletely surprised and confused the settlers; 
but every man and woman knew full well 
that to be taken was certain death to 
all within the little fort, by the most horri 
ble tortures that savages could devise; and 
each one was promptly at his post. There 
were only three men left unhurt; Jereb 
Palmer (now residing near the scene of the 
conflict), Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Markham. 
Having a number of guns already loaded, 
Markhana and Bradshaw seized them, and 
commenced firing in rapid succession, 
through the only port-hole there was on that 
side of the cabin. Mr. Palmer, assisted by 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 97 

Mrs. Thomas, promptly proceeded to barri 
cade the doors and windows and make port 
holes by taking out pieces of chinking from 
between the logs. Mr- Carver, in the excite 
ment, did not realize that he was wounded 
until he raised his gun to shoot, when he 
found that he had no control of his left arm. 
He was also seriously wounded in the left 
side. 

The house being situated in the edge of a 
grove, the trees, together with the stable 
and underbrush, furnished abundant cover 
for the assailants, who kept up a constant 
firing upon every apparently vulnerable 
point. The besieged had to take up a por 
tion of the puncheon floor to put against 
the door to protect themselves from the 
shower of bullets that found their way in. 
The fire was briskly returned by the three 
men, assisted by my sister and Miss Swan- 
ger, who rendered efficient service during 
the siege by casting bullets. Mrs. Louisa 
Church not only assisted by loading guns, 
but she actually fought as bravely as the 
men, shooting, through a port-hole, at an 
Indian who ventured out a little from his 
hiding place behind a tree. When she fired, 



93 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the Indian was seen to fall by others besides 
herself; bat whether he was killed, or even 
wounded, no one ever knew for certain. If 
he was hurt, he was undoubtedly one of the 
Springfield Indians, as all of Inkpaduta s 
band returned safe to their camp. While 
some of the women were thus engaged, 
one, who had less courage than they, declared 
that she could not use fire-arms, but could 
pray. So in earnest supplication she 
implored help of Him who is able to save or 
to destroy both soul and body. 

When the Indians fired on the whites, and 
the rush was made into the house, it was not 
noticed that Willie Thomas was missing. 
But when it was ascertained by his mother 
that his body lay outside the door, writhing 
in agony from the fatal bullet of the savage 
what wonder if, almost crazed with wrath, 

" Then flashed the living lightning from her eye, 
And screams of horror rent the affrighted skies; 
Not louder shrieks to pitying Heaven are cast 
When husband or dear infant breathe their last." 

She was deprived of the consolation of going 
out to smooths his brow and give one lov 
ing caress; or of having his body brought 
into the house, as it would have been certain 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 99 

death to venture out to get it. Her hus 
band was also seriously wounded, and was 
bleeding profusely, while the awful work of 
death was going on without. How deep and 
manifold was the anguish endured by this 
poor woman. 

The assault was vigorously kept up, and 
as vigorously resisted, till nearly sunset, 
when the Indians became weary of firing at 
blank walls, and being ignorant of the num 
ber of the inmates had not the courage to 
charge on the works; and doubtless, also, 
impatient to engage in the work of plunder 
ing the vacated dwellings, abandoned the 
attack. Soon after the firing was discontin 
ued, it was noticed that the Indians were 
throwing clubs at the horses, which were 
running loose around the stable, so as to 
drive them beyond gunshot of the house, in 
order to catch them and take them away 
without endangering their own lives. 

All that day the work of death and plunder 
went on. At the house of Mr. Stewart and 
at the storehouse of Wood brothers the at 
tacks were more successful than upon the 
residence of Mr. Thomas. The confidence 
of William. Wood in the friendship of the 



100 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Indians proved altogether a delusion. They 
did not spare him any more than the rest. 
He was one of the first who fell. His 
charred and blackened remains subsequently 
found told the sad story of his awful death. It 
appears that after he was killed, or at least 
disabled, the Indians heaped brush upon 
his body, and set fire to it. His brother 
George had evidently attempted to escape, 
but was overtaken by the Indians in the 
woods, shot down, and brush also was found 
piled upon his body. An Indian well known 
to the settlers, who had always professed 
to be friendly, went to the house of Mr. 
Stewart, and pretended to want to buy a 
hog. Mr. Stewart started to go with him to 
the pen, when concealed Indians fired on 
him, killing him instantly. His poor wife 
was the next victim to their vengeance. 
With screams of fright she ran out of the 
house, and was brutally murdered while 
stooping over the body of her dying hus 
band with her babe clasped in her arms. 
The two remaining children ran out of 
doors, but while the Indians were killing 
Mrs. Stewart and the two younger children, 
Johnnie, the eldest, who was about eight 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 101 

years old, fled in fear and terror from the 
scene, and hid behind a log, where he re" 
inained concealed until the Indians left. At 
length he cautiously ventured from his hid 
ing place, and made his way to the cabin of 
Mr. Wheeler. On reaching there he heard 
voices within, and in his frightened condi 
tion he supposed the people were killed, and 
the bouse was filled with Indians. He then 
started off through the woods toward the 
cabin of Mr. Thomas, where the murderous 
Sioux had just been. In doing so, he was in 
great danger from the Indians, and also 
from the whites, who, when they first dis 
covered him approaching, mistook him for 
an Indian, in citizens apparel, creeping 
along the ground. It being too dark for 
those inside to tell friend from foe at a dis 
tance, the men seized their guns, and in 
breathless silence waited to shoot him, as 
soon as he came within gunshot. But as he 
advanced the fact was discovered that it was 
no other than little Johnnie Stewart, which 
sent a thrill of pleasure to every heart. 
This account was gathered from the testi 
mony of the little boy himself. The seem 
ingly miraculous escape of this child from 
the keen-eyed savages, by whose hands he 



102 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

was doomed to a life of cheerless orphanage 
is indeed a won.ier to all who hear of it. 
Subsequently he fell into the hands of Maj. 
Williams, whose kind and generous heart 
was touched with sympathy for the little 
orphan. He took him to his own home in 
Fort Dodge, where he resided for a number 
of years, and where I saw him upon my 
return from captivity. 

Shortly after the firing ceased, a man by 
the name of Shiegley was seen going by the 
Thomas house, on his way to the cabin of 
Mr. Wheeler, where his little boy was stay 
ing. They called to him through the port 
holes, and he came to the house and was 
taken in. The Indians had not been to his 
oabiit; consequently he had no knowledge of 
the attack. But he had heard the reports 
of guns about ten o clock, in the direction of 
Wood s store. The fact that Mr. Shiegley 
and the Stewart boy had succeeded in enter 
ing the house without being molested 
encouraged the belief that the Indians had 
left the place. 

THE FLIGHT. 

A consultation was then held, to decide 
what was the best course to take. From what 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 103 

had been ascertained, those at the Thomas 
cabin inferred that they were the only whites 
left in the settlement; and that their case 
was well-nigh hopeless, and began to canvass 
the subject of flight. But whither should 
they go, or how? The chances of escape 
were sadly against them, even if they made 
the attempt. It was a long distance to any 
point where they would be secure; the snow 
was still deep; the weather intensly cold; 
and the Indians had taken all the horses. 
Some of them were in favor of remaining 
until help came, inside the sturdy walls of the 
old cabin, which had protected them so faith 
fully. Even though they remained, it was 
uncertain whether relief would ever come. 
They had no assurance that the messengers 
sent to Fort Ridgely had succeded in reach 
ing their destination; or whether their state 
ment would be believed, and soldiers sent, if 
they had reached there. Moreover they did 
not know that the news of the outbreak 
had been carried to Fort Dodge; so did not 
expect help from there. Their greatest fear 
was, that the Indians would creep upon them, 
under cover of night, and set fire to the 
building; and that an escape from such an 
attack would be impossible. 



104 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

About 9 o clock, everything being quiet 
without even the dogs, which seemed to 
comprehend the terrible calamity, having 
ceased barking it was decided to leave the 
place. Anything but death at the hands of 
the merciless savages, even to perish on the 
open prairie,, seemed preferable. 

From what they knew of the character of 
the enemy, they had reason to suspect their 
silence was only a scheme to draw them 
out. Naturally, no one wished to be the 
first to venture outside the door, where little 
Willie s body lay cold in death, a sad reminder 
of the consequences of a former venture. 
But some one must be the first. So with 
true heroic courage, characteristic of the 
man, Mr. Markham volunteered to go to the 
stable, where the murderous Sioux had so 
lately been, and where they were perhaps 
secreted, and hitch the oxen to the sled and 
bring them to the door, while the others 
made hasty preparations for flight. So 
alone in the darkness he sallied forth, over 
the blood-stained snow, carrying his gun to 
fire as a signal, should he find the enemy 
there, groped his way through the stable, 
silently brought out the patient oxen, put on 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD 105 

the yoke, hitched them to the sled, and 
drove up to the door. There were still left 
seventeen persons, men, women and chil 
dren, three of them wounded, and all the 
conveyance they had was this one ox-sled. 
Hastily, but quietly, putting in the two 
wounded men and the smaller children, tak 
ing no baggage, and no clothing, except 
what they had on, even leaving the body of 
little Willie where he fell, they sadly and 
silently started on the& journey down the 
valley of the Des Moines. 

Something of the tediousness and painful- 
ness of the journey, and the magnitude of 
the undertaking may be judged from the 
fact, that by traveling as far as they could 
that night, and until sundown next day, 
they made only fifteen miles. At this dis 
tance they reached the cabin of George 
Granger, on the Des Moines, where is now 
the town of Estherville. 

The night was cold, dark and foggy, 
and the frightened and wounded fugitives 
slowly and painfully traveled on through 
the deep snow for several miles; when they 
became satisfied that they were deviating 
from the right course. The weary oxen 



106 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

were then unhitched, and turned out, to lie 
down; while the poor sleepless wanderers 
passed the remainder of the night out in the 
cold, watching for the savages. With the 
early dawn, they were again upon the move,, 
continuing their weary march in the direc 
tion of George Granger s, until their oxen 
became entirely exhausted, when one of the 
party went on to get Mr. Granger to come 
for them with his team. 

In the meantime, the fugitives left their 
oxen and sled, as preferable to waiting out 
on the prairie, stuck in a bank of snow, and 
were making their way, on foot, wounded 
and all, as best they could, when they 
were met by Mr. Granger and Mr. Palmer, 
the messenger sent to his cabin. About this 
juncture of affairs, they saw a man running 
at full speed across the prairie toward 
Granger s timber, who mistook them for In 
dians, and was so frightened that he pulled 
off his boots and threw them away, so as 
to run faster. When hailed by Mr. Palmer, 
intent only on saving his life, if possible, 
he exclaimed: "Ho!" in the language and 
friendly salutation of the Sioux. It was 
then known to be the voice of Dr. Strong, 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 107 

who had left the Thomas cabin, before the 
attack, going to their neighbors to see 
Smith and Henderson, who had lost their 
limbs by freezing. As Mr. Granger had 
come with only his oxen, intending to hitch 
them to the sled, which had been aban 
doned, the fugitives were still compelled to 
go on foot to his house. 

On the same day, after being joined by 
Strong, they were overtaken by several other 
persons, who had been assailed by the In 
dians, and after being deserted by Strong 
decided to make their own escape. 

After being handsomely repulsed by the 
heroic little band at the house of Mr. 
Thomas, the braves (?) who have long been 
celebrated and their names made famous 
by sickly sentimentalists, completely failed 
to muster sufficient courage even to enter 
the Wheeler house, under the guise of 
friendship. So they fired a few shots as they 
passed by, killing an ox which stood near 
the corner of the house. Some of the bul 
lets passed through the door and on into the 
wall, barely missing Henderson, who was sit 
ting on the bed. The only attempt made 
here to repulse the Indians was done by 



108 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Tinging bells and drumming on tin-pans; but 
this, it appears, was sufficient to frighten 
the brave warriors, as they abandoned the 
attack, and left the neighborhood, 

The next morning Dr. Strong, not having 
courage to return to the Thomas cabin, where 
he had left his family, persuaded Mrs. Smith 
to go and see if they were killed, which she 
did. Upon reaching there she found the 
house still as the grave, and saw the dead 
body of Willie Thomas lying out in the yard. 
She looked in the door and saw the floor was 
torn up, and blood spilt upon the floor and 
ground. Everything showed that a conflict 
had taken place. Her nerves not being 
strong enough for the task of entering the 
house, she hurried home with the news of 
what she saw. Whereupon Dr. Strong left 
the place without making further investiga 
tion. He fled for dear life, as previously 
stated, without actually knowing the fate of 
his family. The varied emotions that strug 
gled for utterance in the bosoms of these 
panic-stricken people, with whom life was 
far more important than their dead, or even 
the living whom they left behind in their 
^flight, cannot be, even faintly, set forth in 



ATTACK ON SPR1K0JHKGD. 109 s 

words- A fit opportunity was this to test 
poor human nature, which we must confess, 
when weighed, has sometimes been found 
wanting. 

To cap the climax of woes, shortly after 
Dr. Strong left his neighbors in the Wheeler 
cabin they likewise concluded to flee, leav 
ing poor Henderson, who had both legs off, 
behind . Mr. Smith, who had lost only one leg, 
attempted to accompany the fleeing party; 
which consisted of his wife, Mr. Skinner and 
wife, Mrs. Nelson and child, about a year and 
a half old, and the little boy of Mr. Shiegley s; 
but after going a short distance he was com 
pelled to give up the journey, by reason of 
his bleeding wound. Seeing he was unable 
to travel. Mrs. Smith* and the others aban 
doned him and Mr. Shiegley s little boy on 
the prairie, where no white man could offer 
assistance or administer consolation. Thus 
he was left to crawl on his hands, or hobble 
along and drag his torn and bleeding limb* 
to the cabin. Who will say while gazing on 
this sad picture, that pen can portray it, or 

* Mrs. Smith returned to her husband, when met by the 
volunteers from Ft. Dodge, and Mr. Henderson afterward 
went east to his friends. 



110 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the imagination of man color it at all equal 
-to the dreadful reality? When Mr. Shiegley 
heard that his boy was alive, and had been 
abandoned on the prairie with Mr. Smith, he 
expressed his determination to turn back in 
search of him, and turn back he did, in spite 
of the entreaties of the entire party, who 
hardly expected ever again to see him alive. 
He returned the next day, but was unable 
to find his boy or Mr. Smith. He visited 
the cabin where Mr. Henderson was left, and 
cut a piece of meat from the ox, that had 
been killed by the Indians and carried it in 
for the poor fellow to eat. 

After refreshing themselves and their 
worn animals two nights and one day at 
Mr. Granger s, and waiting the return of Mr. 
Shiegley, the entire party again proceeded 
on their journey. With fatigue and suffer 
ing, they traveled all day, and at night lay 
down without tents, or shelter of any kind. 
The wounds of those shot by the Indians had 
not been dressed, and inflammation having 
set in every motion caused excruciating pain. 

With a bullet wound in her shoulder Miss 
Swanger walked for days, not over a smooth 
road, but across the trackless prairie, cov- 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. Ill 

ered with snow, and wading sloughs and 
streams. A case of equal suffering, and 
equal endurance, is seldom found on record- 
She gradually recovered, however, from the 
effects of her wound, and is now the re 
spected wife of Mr. W. J. Gillespie, of Web 
ster City, Towa. 

Monday, the thirtieth, about 3 p. in., they 
were met by a company of volunteers from 
Fort Dodge, coming to their rescue. The 
joy of the weary, bleeding fugitives was in 
describable on meeting the volunteers. Not 
until now had they for a moment felt safe 
from their foes, who, had they pursued them, 
would have found an easy prey. Especially 
was this a glad meeting for Mrs. Church, 
who among the volunteers recognized her 
husband, who had left his home on the nine 
teenth of November for Fort Dodge, and 
owing to the deep snow had not returned. 

Among the volunteers were Messrs. C. C. 
Carpenter (since governor of the state), J. F. 
Duncombe (now a prominent attorney), A. 
McBane (now president of the Merchants 
National Bank), and C. B. Richards, all of 
whom were at the time, and are at this writ 
ing, residing at Fort Dodge. 



112 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

In the company were also li. A. Smith,, 
now superintendent of public schools in 
Dickinson county; Capt. W. Y. Lucas, now of 
Chamberlain, S, D. (late state auditor of 
Iowa); W. R. Wilson (now deceased), who 
afterward married my sister, who was one 
of the refugees; T. M. Thatcher, whose wife 
was then a captive; and many others, as 
brave and noble men as ever went to the 
rescue of suffering humanity. 

The injuries of those who were wounded 
by the Indians were carefully dressed by Dr^ 
Bissell, the skillful surgeon of the expedi 
tion. The volunteers divided with them 
their provisions and blankets, and camped 
with them that night. The frightened 
women and children breathed free again, 
and slept in comparative safety. The next 
day they were sent, under an escort, to the 
Irish settlement. In the course of time the 
fugitives reached Fort Dodge in a forlorn 
and destitute condition. 

The property and household goods of all 
these people, including personal clothing, 
were either destroyed or carried off by the 
Indians. A large portion of the country was 
for a time deserted by settlers. Very few 



ATTACK ON SPRINGFIELD. 113 

of the survivors of the massacre dared to 
return to their ruined homes, and most of 
them were destitute of means to return, if 
they desired to do so. 



NOTE. This chapter is given upon the authority of 
Mr. Palmer, Mr Markham, Mrs Gillespie, Mrs. Church, 
and my sister. 



114 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER XII. 



OFFICIAL ACCOUNT OF THE MASSACRE. 

Settlers call for Help to check Indian outrage Three 
companies of Volunteers go to the Rescue Hardships 
endured by Volunteers They meet Settlers fleeing 
from Indians Three wounded The Surgeon of the 
Expedition dresses Wounds of Victims Fifty Regu~ 
lars at Springfield Woods, and Gaboo (half breed) f 
warn Indians of approaching Troops United States 
Officers from Fort Ridgely censured T went5 -nve men 
detailed to inter Dead Two of the number frozen 
to Death Others badly frozen. 

HE following is a copy of the offi 
cial report of Major Williams, com 
mander of the Spirit Lake Expedition: 

"FORT DODGE, Iowa, April 12, 1857 
"To his Excellency, James W. Grimes, Governor of the 

State of Iowa : 
"SiR: Being called upon by the frontier settlers for aid 
in checking the horrible outrages committed upon the 
citizens living on the Little Sioux river, in Clay county, 
in the Spirit Lake settlements, and in Emmet county by 




OFFICIAL ACCOUNT. 115 

the Sioux Indians, by authority you vested in me, I raised 
and organized and armed three companies of 30 men each, 
which were as we proceeded increased to over 37 men 
each. We took up our line of march on the 25th of 
March, and proceeded up the west branch of the Des 
Moines river to intercept the savages, who, reports said, 
were about to sweep all the settlements on that river. By 
forced marches through snow-banks from fifteen to 
twenty feet deep, and swollen streams, we forced our way 
up to the state line, where we learned the Indians em 
bodied 200 or 300 strong at Spirit Lake and Big Island 
Groves. Never was harder service rendered by any body 
of men than by those 110 men under my command. We 
had to ford streams breast deep every few miles, and at 
all snow-banks or drifts had to shovel roads and draw our 
wagons through by hand with tug ropes, also the oxen 
and horses. All were wet all day up to the middle at 
least, and lay out upon the open prairies at night without 
tents or other covering than a blanket or buffalo-robe. 

" About 80 miles up we met those who had escaped the 
massacre at Springfield, composed of three men unhurt 
and two wounded, and one female wounded, and several 
women and children, in all numbering some 15 or 20 
persons. They escaped in the night, carrying nothing 
with them but what they had on when they were attacked 
had nothing to eat for two days and one night. They 
were about exhausted and the Indians on their trail pur 
suing them. Had not our scouts discovered them and re 
ported, there can be no doubt that they would have been 
murdered that night. We found them in a miserable 
condition, destitute of everything, three of them badly 
wounded and several of the women without bonnets or 
shoes. They had nothing on them but what they had the 
night they fied; the poor women wading breast deep 
through snow and water, and carrying their crying chil 
dren. 

"We halted at a small lake that furnished sufficient 
timber to make fires and warm them, furnished them 



116 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

with provisions, and gave them blankets to shield them 
from the severe weather, and gave them all the relief in 
our power. Our surgeon dressed the wounds of the 
wounded, whose wounds were in a bad condition. We 
encamped there with them that night, posting sentinels 
and pickets, expecting to be attacked. Next morning we 
sent them on with our scout to what is known as the 
Irish settlement, to remain until we returned, the settlers 
above that point having abandoned their homes and em 
bodied themselves at that place where they were engaged 
in building a block-house. We proceeded on our march, 
throwing out in advance some 30 scouts, reconnoitering 
and examining every point where the enemy might possf- 
bly be found. Every point of timber, lake, and stream 
was closely examined, and we found very fresh traces 
of the Indians throughout the day. From these tracks 
and trails they had all taken their course for Spirit Lake, 
or in that direction. By forced marches we reached the 
state line, near Springfield, and encamped about sundown 
on the margin of a grove ; detailed 60 men armed, with 
rifles and six-shooters, with orders to cook their suppers 
and supply themselves with cold rations, each company 
their own, and be ready to march all night, in two divis 
ions of 30 men each, and surprise the Indians before day 
light next morning; furnished them with guides, as the 
information we had just received was that the Indians 
were embodied at or near the trading-house of a half 
breed by the name of Gaboo. We proceeded with great 
hopes of overtaking and giving a good account of them ; 
but to our great mortification we found that they had all 
fled at the approach of 50 regulars from Fort Ridgely. 
Wood and Gaboo, traders, gave them the information 
that the troops were corning, and whose movements they 
sent their runners to walch. H id they not sent to Ridgely 
for troops, we would most certainly have overtaken them. 
"The conduct of the troops from Fort Ridgely is hard to 
be accounted for. On Thursday, the 26th of March, the 
Indians attacked Springfield and neighborhood. The citi- 



OFFICIAL ACCOUNT. 117 

sens defended themselves as well as they could. The bat 
tle and pillaging lasted until nightfall when the Indians 
withdrew. On Friday, in the afternoon, the troops from 
Fort Ridgely arrived all well mounted on mules. Those 
troops lay at Springfield all day Saturday, and assisted in 
burying the dead. Their officers counseled with the half- 
breed, Gaboo. who was the only one unharmed, and known 
to be acting with, and identified with, the Indians, and 
whose squaw (he is married to a squaw) was at the time 
wearing the shawl of Mrs. Church, with other articles 
taken from the citizens. Said officers lay over from Fri 
day evening till Sunday morning without pursuing or 
making any effort to overtake the Indians, who, they 
must have known, had taken off four white women as 
prisoners. 

On Sunday morning he, the commanding officer, set out 
on their trail, and followed them half the day, finding 
their camp-fires, overtaking three or four straggling 
squaws, let them go, and finding all sorts of goods thrown 
and strewn along their trail to lighten their load and 
expedite their flight. When hs could not have been over 
half a day s march from them he stopped and returned 
the same evening (Sunday) to Springfield. When he 
ordered the men to return, they expressed a wish to fol 
low on, and said they would put up with half rations if 
he would allow it. His reply was that he had no orders 
to follow them. 

"On Monday he set out for Spirit Lake to bury the dead, 
etc. He went to the first house, that of Mr. Marble, found 
one dead body, buried it, and returned to Springfield. 

"It is certain such troops, or rather such officers, will 
afford no protection to our troubled frontier settlers. 
Think of his conduct! his men, all well mounted, turning 
back when he was not a half day s march off them ; they 
loaded down with plunder, and horses, and mules, and 
carrying off with them four respectable women as pris 
oners. The Indians were known to have twenty-five or 
thirty head of horses, and eight or ten mules, taken from 



118 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the settlers. These Indians commenced low down on the 
Little Sioux River, near the southwest corner of Buena 
Vista county, and proceeded to break up and destroy all 
the settlements in the county, Clay, Dickinson and Em 
met counties; then intended coming down the West 
Branch as far as they dare. 

"Throughout their whole course, they have completely 
demolished every settlement, killed all the cattle, ravished 
the women and most scandalously abused them. They 
stood over the men with their guns cocked, while they 
were engaged in their hellish outrages. Along that river 
they approached, and got into the houses through profes 
sions of friendship, and with a rush seized the men and 
arms, taking the people by surprise, attacking in such a 
way that one family could not help the other; all attacked 
simultaneously, robbed them of everything, in the midst 
of cold weather and deep snows. They did not commence 
to kill the settlers till they reached Dickinson county. 
There, at Spirit Lake, it appears that the settlers had 
prepared to defend themselves, as well as they could, and 
from all appearances they fought bravely for their fam 
ilies. The settlers of Spirit Lake numbered over forty 
souls, not one of whom is left to tell the tale. Finding 
that the troops from Fort Ridgely had not buried the 
dead, I detailed twenty-five men to proceed twelve miles 
to the lake, and reconnoiter that district, and if no Indians 
were discovered to inter the dead as an act of humanity. 
Guides were procured, and they set out under the com 
mand of Capt. Johnson and Lieut. Maxwell, of Company 
C. They could find no Indians, but found their encamp 
ment, and a dreadful destruction of property. They per 
formed the sad duty of interring the dead so far as they 
could find any. They found and buried twenty-nine 
bodies, and found the skulls and tones of those who were 
burned in the ruins of a house, whick, with one buried 
by the troops from Ridgely, made in aH thirty-two dead 
found at Spirit Lake, seven killed at Springfield, and 
twelve missing at the lakes, certainly killed. It is sup- 



OFFICIAL ACCOUNT. 119 

posed they are lying off at a distance, killed in attempting 
to escape. Some two or three were found who had been 
shot in attempting to escape, four of their women taken 
off as prisoners, and three badly wounded. I may sum 
up as follows: In all, 41 killed; 12 missing, no doubt 
killed; 3 badly wounded, two I fear mortally; 4 women 
prisoners. Besides several men from Boone river and 
counties east of this, who crossed the Des Moines river 
with a view of going to Dickinson county and the lakes, 
have never yet been heard from supposed to be killed on 
their way. 

"From all appearances the Sioux Indians have deter 
mined to wage a war of extermination on our frontiers, as 
everything goes to show it at every point on the upper 
Des Moines, Big Island Grove, Spirit Lake, and all points 
where we found traces of them. They had left the most 
threatening signs, stakes set up and painted red, trees 
barked and painted, representing men pierced with 
arrows, etc. At every point they broke up and destroyed 
all furniture, burned the houses, and killed the cattle. 
Over 100 head of fine cattle were found shot down and 
untouched in any way but knocking off the horns I sup 
pose to make powder-horns. Their whole course goes to 
show that they intend to break up and stop the settle 
ment of that north and northwest country. 

"Too much praise cannot be bestowed on the men I 
have had under my command on this occasion. Officers 
and men, without exception, have done their duty. They 
endured the greatest privations and fatigue without a 
murmur. For seventeen days they pressed forward on 
their march, waded rivers and creeks breast deep, and 
tugging wagons through snow-banks, sleeping on the prai 
ries, frequently iu their wet clothes, expecting every mile, 
after reaching thirty miles, to meet the Indians, as their 
threat was at Sioux river that they would sweep the Des 
Moines river settlements. Our men suffered very much, 
owing to the severe change and snow-storm. We have 
fourteen men badly frozen, and two lost, Capt. Johnson, 



120 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

of Webster City, and Mr. Burkholder of this place, both 
frozen to death in a snow-storm. They were separated in 
returning from the lake. From the state of the men who 
succeeded in getting back to camp, both of these men 
must be dead. Every search has been made for theni } 
but no discovery as yet. So severe was the weather that 
those who were picked up and got in were so much frozen 
and exhausted that they were crawling on their hands and 
knees when found, and three or four of them had lost 
their minds, becoming perfectly deranged, and knew no 
one. 

As near as I could ascertain, the Indian force was from 
150 to 200 warriors, judging from their encampments, etc. 
The number of Indians must be 15 or 20 killed and 
wounded. From the number seen to fall killed, and 
judging from the bloody clothes and clots of blood in 
their encampments, the struggle at the lakes must have 
been Very severe, particularly the one at the house of Esq, 
Mattork. Eleven dead bodies were found at this house 
together with several broken guns. They appear to have 
fought hand to hand. 

"I have to inform your Excellency that we have driven 
out of the north part of the sta e every Indian, and can 
say that at present there are no Sioux in the state, unless 
it be in that part near the mouth of the Big Sioux. The 
whole body has fled in the direction of the Missouri, 
crossing the Big Sioux. I shall not be surprised to hear 
of an attack on Sioux City. I am satisfied that the greater 
number of these Indians were from the Missouri, as they 
were strangers to the settlers where they appeared, and a 
portion of them were half-breeds. Never in the history 
of our country have such outrageous acts been committed 
on any people. We have no accounts of Indians commit 
ting such outrages on females as they have done no 
doubt committed by the half-breeds. We have a host of 
destitute and wounded persons thrown upon us to pro 
vide for, both from Little Sioux river and the upper Des 
Moines river, as well as our own frozen and disabled men. 



OFFICIAL ACCOUNT. 12l 

"I forward this hasty and somewhat confused report; 
will give another soon, more in detail. I instructed Capt. 
Richards, Mr. Morrison and others to forward to you the 
affidavits, etc., to apprise you of our marching to relieve 
the frontiers, etc. Very respectfully yours, 

"W. WILLIAMS." 

The following is an extract from Gover 
nor Grimes message to the Seventh General 
Assembly, January 12, 1858: 

"During the past three years my attention has been fre 
quently called to the probability of a collision between the 
Indians and the settlers in the west and northwestern 
counties of the state. I have repeatedly addressed the 
president of the United States, the secretary of war, and 
the commissioners of Indian affairs, warning them of the 
apprehended danger, and urging that immediate steps be 
taken to remove the Indians beyond our limits. 

"Without any military organization in the state, and 
without any power to act, except in the event of an actual 
hostile invasion; residing remote from the scene of antic 
ipated difficulty, and fearful that some exigency might 
arise that would require prompt and energetic action, in 
January, 1855, 1 requested Major Williams, of Fort Dodge, 
to assume a general charge of this subject, and author 
ized him, as far as I had power to do so, to act in my 
behalf, in any contingency that might arise in connection 
with the Indians. 

"In February last, Ink-pa-du-ta s band of Sioux Indians 
made a hostile incursion into the state, and perpetrated 
most horrible atrocities in Dickinson county. When in 
telligence of this event reached Fort Dadge, Major Will 
iams at once enrolled three companies of men under 
Capts. Richards and Duncombe, of Webster county, and 
Captain Johnson, of Hamilton county, and proceeded to 
the scene of difficulty. These heroic men left their homes 
in the most inclement season of the year, and endured 



122 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

almost unheard of sufferings and privations; crossing 
swollen streams flooded with ice, and traversing uninhab 
ited prairies in the most tempestuous weather, that they 
might save their fellow-creatures from a savage butchery, 
or rescue them from a captivity worse than death. Two 
of their number, Captain J. C. Johnson, of Hamilton 
county, and William Burkholder, of Webster county, per 
ished on the march. Others returned frozen and maimed, 
The expedition did not overtake the Indians; but they 
reached the scene of their barbarities, gave to the dead a 
Christian burial, and brought back with them two chil 
dren, the sole survivors of the slaughtered settlement. 

"The men who thus gallantly and humanely periled 
their lives have received no compensation for the time em 
ployed in the expedition, or for their outfit. The federal 
government is in equity bound for their compensation. 
The Indian tribes are under its protection and control. 
It has allotted to each tribe a scope of country for its ex 
clusive occupation. It has sold lands to settlers in this 
state with the understanding that these tribes shall be 
confined to their respective limits, and that the possession 
of the land purchased shall never be disturbed by the 
government, or those under its management. If the sav 
ages break over their bounds and inflict injury upon 
others, the government should respond to the parties 
injured for the damages sustained, and for the expenses 
incurred in protecting themselves against a repetition of 
the injury. To this end I recommend that a memorial be 
addressed to the congress of the United States. 

" But many of the members of Major Williams com 
mand are unable to await the tardy action of congress, 
and I therefore advise that the state assume the payment, 
and reserve the same from any appropriation that may be 
made. 

"I submit to the general assembly whether some public 
recognition of the noble gallantry and untimely death of 
Messrs. Johnson and Burkholder is not alike due to their 
memory and to the gratitude of the state. 



OFFICIAL ACCOUNT. 



123 



"I do not anticipate any further trouble from the In 
dians. The rumors put afloat in regard to future diffi 
culty can generally be traced to interested persons who 
seek by their circulation to accomplish some ulterior pur 
pose. To be prepared for any such emergency, however 
I have established a depot of arms and ammunition at 
Fort Dodge, and have procured a cannon, muskets, and 
ammunition for another depot? m DicKirison county,!" 



124 THE SPIRIT LAKE-MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



BURIAL OF THE DEAD. 

Reports of the Massacre reach Fort Dodge Reports con 
firmedGreat Excitement Three companies of Vol 
unteers organized Their Mission to bury the Dead 
and Punish Indians They meet Refugees from 
Springfield They hear of Troops from Fort Ridgely 
being at Springfield Twenty-five Men are detailed to 
bury Dead They complete the Task Memorial of 
Isaac II. Harriott Two of their Number are frozen 
to Death Fourteen badly frozen, 

HEN the first intelligence of these 
depredations reached the people of 
Fort Dodge, they were loth to be 
lieve the report. Those who have 
lived in an Indian country are aware 
such rumors frequently get into circu 
lation; and how often they prove untrue. 
Two men living on the Des Moines carried 
the news to Fort Dodge, as they received it 




BURIAL OF THE PEAD- 125 

from Mr. Mark ham; but being strangers, and 
having their particulars second hand, very 
little credit was given to the story. How 
ever, this was soon confirmed by Messrs 0. C. 
Howe, R. N. Wheelock, and B. F. Parmen- 
ter, who had visited the lakes in the fall 
previous, and had taken claims where the 
town of Spirit Lake now stands. They had 
returned to their homes in Jasper county to 
spend the winter, and were going out to the 
lakes for permanent settlement. From Fort 
Dodge they traveled up the west side of the 
Des Moines river, while the party who first 
carried the news came down on the east 
side; consequently these gentlemen had no 
knowledge of what had transpired until they 
reached the lakes at midnight on the 15th of 
March. They went to Mr. Thatcher s cabin,, 
then to Mr. Howe s; but to their horror and 
dismay they found only lifeless bodies to 
welcome them. They at once inferred that 
this was the work of the Indians, and has 
tened back to Fort Dodge, arriving there on 
the 22d of the month. Being well known 
their story was received without question. 

The direful news created intense feeling 
throughout the country and excited the 



126 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

wrath and sympathy of all who heard it. 
Flaming editorials, in many papers, spread 
the feeling far and wide; loud and moving 
was the demand for relief for the living, and 
vengeance on the murderers. 

Three companies of volunteers from Fort 
Dodge, Webster City and Homer, comprising 
thirty men each, were immediately organ 
ized, under the command of Major Williams, 
of Fort Dodge: Co. A, Capt. C. B. Richards, 
of Fort Dodge; Co. B, Capt. John F. Dun- 
combe, also of Fort Dodge; Co- C. Capt. C. 
Johnson, of Webster City. Their mission 
was to bury the dead, relieve the living if 
any could be found, and if possible overtake 
and punish the savages. 

The expedition left Fort Dodge on the 
25th of March, and as it proceeded others 
joined it, until the number increased to one 
hundred and ten men. All day long the 
companies forced their way through deep 
snow, and at night, cold and exhausted, lay 
down to rest with no covering but their 
blankets. 

The settlers between Fort Dodge and the 
scenes of the massacre became alarmed for 
their safety, and fled from their homes. 



BURIAL OF THE DEAD- 127 

Hence the country, through which the vol 
unteers passed, was well-nigh deserted. 
They were so eager to reach the scenes of 
depreciation, that they did not wait for tents, 
and other provisions necessary for a winter 
campaign; consequently, the hardships they 
endured, while out on this humane mission, 
were many and perilous. After struggling 
on six days, they met the refugees from 
Springfield, Minnesota (referred to in a 
former chapter), at a point since known as 
Camp Grove, about eight miles above Em 
mets burg. 

On their arrival at Mr. Granger s cabin, 
about twelve miles east of Spirit Lake and 
nine miles southeast of Springfield, they 
learned that the United States troops from 
Fort Ridgely were at Springfield. 

So it was not deemed necessary that the 
whole force should go to the lakes, and Major 
Williams detailed twenty-five men, under 
command of Captain Johnson, to bury the 
dead. They reached the scene of the mas 
sacre on the evening of April 3d; and the 
next day performed their sad duty of inter 
ring the dead. The bodies had lain nearly 
four weeks where they had fallen, under 



128 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the murderous rifle and war- club of the sav 
ages. 

No graveyard had been located, and even if 
there had been it would have been impossi 
ble to move the bodies any great distance; 
so they were buried where they had fallen, 
on their own premises. There was no lum 
ber for coffins, nor tools for their construc 
tion; so all that could be done was to dig 
the graves, deposit the bodies, and cover 
them over with mother earth. My father r 
mother, brother, sister, nephew, and niece, 
six in number, were laid side by side, in one 
common grave, a few rods southeast of the 
house- The grave is now marked by a 
mound of stones and an evergreen tree, 
which I have recently planted. 

Those found on the premises of Mr. Mat 
tock were also laid in one grave, near the 
ruins of the house. Dr. Harriott s body was 
taken up the following summer, by his father 
being identified by a ring which he had 
on his finger and buried in a metallic cof 
fin, on his claim, about three-quarters of a 
mile southeast of Dixon s beach. His grave 
is marked by boulders placed there by his 



BURIAL OF THE DEAD. 

father, and an evergreen tree recently 
planted by the writer.* 

Carl Granger was buried near his cabin, 
where he fell, a few rods southeast of the 
present residence of Milton Smith, and near 
the track of the C. M. & St. P. II. R. 

Joel Howe s headless body was buried on 
the southeast side of EastOkoboji, on one of 
the large, oval-shaped knolls which stand 
out so prominently, near the lake shore. 
This knoll has natural shrubbery, especially 
on its northern slope, and is a beautiful and 

*Isaac H. Harriott was born September 24. 1833, in 
Bound brook, Somerset county, New Jersey. He was the 
son of James and Ann Eliza Harriott, and with his 
parents moved to Illinois when five years old. In 1848- 
his parents became residents of St. Louis, Missouri, and 
in 1849 removed to Pekin, where Harry began study with 
a view to the medical profession, and placing himself 
under the tutorship of Dr. Maws remained in his care 
about three years. He next became a resident of Atlanta, 
111., where he pursued the study of medicine under Dr. 
Taney, at the same time acting as clerk in a drug-store. 
From Atlanta he removed to St. Paul, Minn., and thence 
to Red Wing, where he pursued his professional labors 
for a time. In 1856 he came to Lake Okoboji, where he 
fondly hoped to spend many years under the fair, blue sky 
in this delightful region, it was here that I had the 
pleasure of his acquaintance; he was genial, kind, and 
intelligent; his pleasant face was the light of every circle 
or gathering on that rude frontier. He enjoyed the confi 
dence and esteem of all who knew him, and yet he fell in 
the strength of his manhood by the hands of bloodthirsty 
monsters whom he had never wronged in word or deed. 
He was a cousin of Hon. A. V. Stout, a member of the 
Eighteenth and Nineteenth general assemblies of Iowa, 
from Grundy county. 
9 



130 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

picturesque spot. His family was buried 
near their dwelling not far from the south 
ern extremity of Tusculum Grove. 

The bodies of Messrs. Noble and Ryaii 
were buried near the cabin where they were 
found covered with straw, which was par 
tially consumed by tire. The two children 
were buried beneath the tree, against which 
their brains had been dashed out. The 
house still stands, and the stumps of the 
trees still mark the graves of the children. 

The bodies of Messrs Luce and Clark were 
among the missing at the time; but they 
were found some time in June, to the south 
east of East Okoboji, near the outlet. The 
body of Mr. Clark was identified by a mem 
orandum-book. I have been unable to as 
certain their burial place, but suppose they 
were interred where they were found. An 
old settler in the neighborhood tells me 
there were, and perhaps are yet, two grave- 
mounds to be seen at or near the spot. 

Mr. Marble was buried by the United 
States soldiers from Fort Ridgely, who came 
over from Springfield as far as his place. 
His gravels only a few rods from the west- 



BURIAL OF THE DEAD. 131 

era shore of Spirit Lake, and in the grove 
that bears his name. 

The bodies found and buried on the 
ground o-f Mr. Mattock were taken up, by 
the later inhabitants, and reinterred on a 
high rolling prairie, in a retired and pictur 
esque spot, on the farm of Jas, Helms. 

I have been thus concise in pointing out 
the graves of these brave pioneers, who fell 
victims to the vengeance of the savages, as a 
guide to the travelers and strangers who 
annually visit this beautiful locality. 

The detachment of volunteers above 
spoken of spent nineteen days in accom 
plishing the object of their mission. They 
suffered very much from exposure and 
fatigue, yet they performed their duty man 
fully, without complaint. It is sad to think, 
after all their toils and privations, that two 
of their number perished: Captain Johnson 
and William Burkholder, both noble fellows- 
They separated from their companies be 
cause of disagreement as to the route to be 
taken on their return trip, and were frozen 
to death on the prairie. Fourteen others 
were so badly frozen that they did not 



132 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

recover for nearly a year, and some were 
maimed for life. 

Much time was spent by the friends of the 
two missing men, searching for their bodies- 
But, strange to say, it was not until August, 
186S, eleven years afterward, that their 
bones and guns were found in Palo Alto 
county, lying side by side, within sight of a 
settlement. The relics were gathered up, 
and brought to Fort Dodge, where one of the 
largest funerals ever held in the city demon 
strated the respect and sympathy of the 
people. Mr. Burkholder was a Mason, and 
in compliance with his oft expressed wish 
his remains were interred by the Masonic 
order. He was a brother to the wife of 
Hon. Cyrus C. Carpenter. 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 133 



CHAPTER XIV. 

SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 

Leaves Webster City Arrival at Fort Dodge Citizens 
organize under Major W. Williams Names of Com 
panies, Officers and Privates Leaves Fort Dodge- 
Cooking by camp-fire Forced march through the 
deep snow Heroic conduct of Major Williams 
Capt. Duncombe s sufferings Some of the Volunteers 
desert and go home Meet Settlers fleeing from Scenes 
of Bloodshed Arrival at Granger s Cabin Unwel 
come news concerning United States Troops Detail 
twenty-five Men to bury Dead Terrible Scenes at the 
Cabins of the murdered Settlers Crossing Cylinder 
Creek Capt. C. B. Richards noble Efforts in behalf 
of the suffering Men Sufferings of the detail Party 
Two Men lost Tribute to the Memory of Captain 
Johnson. 

ROM an account of the expedition 
that was published in the Hamil 
ton Freeman, August 20, 1857, from 
the pen of Mr. H. Hoover, one of the 
volunteers, we make the following 
extract: 

"Being ready armed and equipped, we left Webster 
City at one o clock March 23d, and arrived that evening at 




134 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE, 

Fort Dodge, where we were received by a large and 
enthusiastic meeting of the citizens of that county, who 
were already organized under the respective command of 
Captains Charles 13. Richards and John F. Buncombe, and 
known as companies A and B. It now remained for us 
to form Company C, which we did, by electing the follow 
ing gentlemen our officers: J. C. Johnson captain, John 
N. Maxwell first lieutenant, F. R. Mason second lieuten 
ant, H. Hoover orderly sergeant, A. N. Hathaway cor 
poral. 

"Company A. Captain C. B. Richards, Lieutenant F, 
A. Stratton, Sergeant L. K. Wright, Corporal Solon Mason. 
Privates William Burkholder, George W. Brazee, C. C t 

Carpenter, P. D. Crawford, J. Conrad, Henry Carse, 

Chatterdon, W. Before, J. H. Dalley .William N. Ford, 

Faurey, Gales, A. Hood, O. C. Howe, Angus McBane, 

William McCauley, Mike Maher, Mahan, W. P. Pol 
lock, F. B. Parmeter, L. B. Ridgeway, Winton Smith, R. 
A. Smith, G. P. Smith, George B. Sherman, O. S. Spencer, 

C. Stebbins, S. Vancleve, R. W. Wheelock, W. F. Porter, 

D. Westfield, and O. Okeson. The last named was honor 
ably discharged on the fourth day from sickness. 

"Company B. Captain John F. Buncombe, First Lieu 
tenant James Linn, Second Lieutenant S. E. Stephens, 
Sergeant William K. Koons, Corporal Thomas Callagan, 
Privates Jesse Addington. A. E. Busere, Hiram Ben- 
jainan, B. H. Baker, Orlando Bice, R. Carter, A. F. Grouse, 
F. R. Carter, M. Cavenaugh, Jeremiah Evans, Orlando C. 
Howe, B. S. Ho well, Albert Johnson, Robert McCormiek, 
W. Serls, John White, William R. Wilson, Washington 
Williams, James Murray, BanielMorrissey,G.F. McClure. 
A. H. Malcome, M. McCarty, John McFarlee, Guernsey 
Smith, B. F. Parmetter, T. M. Thatcher, R, Whitstone, 
John O Laughlin. The last named of whom was honor 
ably discharged from inability to proceed. 

^Company C. Captain J. C. Johnson, First Lieutenant 
J. N. Maxwell, Second Lieutenant Frank Mason, Ser 
geant Harrison Hoover, Corporal A. N. Hathaway. Pri- 



SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 135 

vates Sherman Cassaday, A. K. Tullis, Elias D. Kellogg, 
A. S. Leonard, John Gates, T. B. Bonebright, Alorizo 
Richardson, Michael Sweeney, J. Brainard, Humphrey 
Hillock, F. R Moody, Wm. K. Laughlin, E. W. Gates, W. 
L. Church, Jared Palmer, J. C. Pemberton. Thomas An 
derson, J. Griffith, John Nolan, James Hidkey, Patrick 
Conlan, John Erie,- Patrick Stafford, Morris Markham, J. 
Griffith, J. Bradshaw. 

"George B. Sherman acting commissary, and Dr. C. R. 
Bissell surgeon. 

"We now numbered near a hundred strong, efficient 
men; but as we were principally young, and inexperi 
enced in the art of war, it appeared necessary that we be 
enrolled under the command of a chief officer, whose age 
and experience might qualify him to assume the position. 
Old men for council and young men for war. The veteran 
Maj. Wm. Williams was unanimously conceded to be the 
man. The Major, though afflicted with rheumatism, and 
the frosts of seventy winters whitening his brow, reso 
lutely set forward at our head. 

"We left Fort Dodge March 24th; but owing to our 
baggage wagons being detained we did not proceed far, 
but encamped at Beaver creek . We now began to realize 
that we were soldiers, for our appetites (true to nature) 
admonished us that we must prepare something to sus 
tain the inner man. To this end we bui It three large camp- 
fires, and began (to most of us) the novel procedure of pre 
paring our own refreshments. It was quite amusing to 
see the boys mix up meal, bake slapjacks, fry meat, wash 
dishes, and act the housewife generally; but it is said 
practice makes perfect, and the truth of the adage was 
substantiated in the case unaer consideration, for before 
our return some of the boys became quite expert in the 
handicraft above mentioned. One of our lieutenants a 
jolly good fellow by the way averred that he could 
throw a griddle-cake out of the roof of a log- cabin, 
which he temporarily occupied, and while it performed 



136 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

divers circumgyrations in mid air, could run out and 
<jatch it, t other side up, on the spider. 

" That night we were fortunate enough to secure a bed 
beside a haystack. In the morning, Wednesday, 25th, we 
resumed our march. The only incident of the day was 
the crossing of the east fork of the Des Moines. This 
was not attended with much difficulty, as the stream was 
not as yet much swollen. We encamped for the night at 
Dakota City. 

"Thursday, 26th. As we proceeded on our journey the 
trail became more and more obscure, and the snow appar 
ently deeper. Some places the snow was so hard as to re 
quire breaking down before our teams could possibly pass. 
In other places it had drifted into the ravines to the depth 
of eight or ten feet. The water had drained off the prai 
ries into these hollows, converting the snow into slush, 
and rendering it almost impossible to pass them. 

"Those of us who were green hands had now an ex 
cellent opportunity of learning the definition of the term 
actual service; for it soon became evident that the only 
practicable mode of proceeding was to wade through, 
stack arms, return and unhitch the teams, and attach 
ropes to them and draw them through. This done, we 
performed a similar operation on the wagons ; then rigged 
up, broke roads to the next slough, and amused ourselves 
with a repetition of the aforesaid interesting perform 
ances. In this manner we were two days in reaching 
McKnight s Point, on the west bank of the Des Moines, 
twelve miles from Dakota City. In this region the snow 
was about two feet deep, hard on the top, and soft be 
neath; too weak to support the weight of a man, thus 
making the traveling very tiresome. Our guides had 
gone on ahead to select the most practicable route; they 
were followed by the foot, and tie rear was brought up 
by the baggage wagons. 

" Under all this complication of difficulties, the conduct 
of our gallant commander, Major Williams, was deserv- 



SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 137 

ing of the highest praise, and worthy of the emulation of 
those of greater physical strength and fewer years. He 
was always upon the alert, as from the reports we knew 
not what moment might find us in a savage ambuscade. 
Frequently he was on foot, wading through the ice and 
snow at the head of his men, by his voice and example 
cheering and inspiring them on their weary way, and 
proving himself alike entitled to the name of an experi 
enced soldier and high toned gentlemen. 

"It was Friday, the 27th, that we arrived at McKnight s 
Point. Here we found our guides, Capt. Buncombe and 
Lieut. Maxwell, who had succeeded, through almost 
superhuman exertions, in reaching the point the night 
before. Capt. Buncombe suffered greatly from the severe 
labor and exposure of the trip, and was assisted to reach 
the settlement, where he arrived benumbed with cold and 
almost insensible. The next morning he was again on 
duty, and notwithstanding his recent exhaustion, and the 
advice of his friends to remain behind, like a true soldier 
resumed his command and nobly persevered in its toil 
some labors. 

"On Saturday morning, the 28th, for reasons best known 
to themselves, some eight or nine of the party I blush 
to relate it came to the conclusion that a peep at thr 
elephant was sufficient, so they just naturally backed 
out/ and struck a bee-line for home. The cause of this 
singular escapade was at the time a mystery to me, but 
the supposition was entertained that they believed dis 
cretion to be the better part of valor. I afterward 
^e-arned the cause of their retreat. The romance of the 
affair had become worn off by contact with material 
things, arid the mirage of glory was fast dissolving in the 
presence of the stern reality which was beginning to 
make itself visible in a tangible form. It was apparent 
that their military enthusiasm had become somewhat 
bleached out by the exercises of the two previous days; 
going a soldiering evidently was not in their line. We 
made no objection thinking it better to let the chaff 



133 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

blow off. Therefore, renewing our march, we reached 
the mouth of the Cylinder creek that night. 

" Sunday, 29th. We reached the Irish colony, twelve 
miles above. Here were a number of persons from a set 
tlement in Minnesota, who had left their homes on 
account of the Indian troubles. These, together with 
other accessions, brought our number up to 125 strong. 

"Monday, 3Cih,left our teams, which were pretty much 
exhausted, and having supplied ourselves with fresh ones 
we proceeded onward. When about five or six miles 
from the settlement, or advanced guard met what they 
supposed to be Indians, but upon a nearer approach they 
proved to be a party of fugitive men, women and chil 
dren flying from the scene of bloodshed and butchery 
which they had just escaped. 

" Tuesday, the 31st, reached Big Island Grove, where we 
encamped to reconnoiter, as we expected to find the Indi 
ans in that vicinity. We were disappointed, although 
comparatively recent signs were visible. We found an 
ox which had been killed, his horns cut off, and the hide 
laid open along his back, a little innocent amusement of 
the savages. But nary red bkin was to be seen. 

"April 1st. This morning, when a short distance on 
our way, an amusing incident occurred. The Major had 
sent forward a party of scouts, with orders not to fire a 
gun unless they encountered Indians. Some of our party 
hearing the report of a gun, a halt was ordered, when all 
heard a number of shots in rapid succession, and directly 
a party of men was seen issuing from the grove in ad 
vance of us, as though they were pursued. The cry of 
Indians was at once raised, and our men (exasperated 
by the recital of deeds of treachery and violence to which 
they had recently listened) became ungovernable, and 
rushing from their ranks threw themselves into defiant 
attitude. Some of them went so far as to cock their guns, 
although the enemy were at least two miles distant. 
However, the Major soon succeeded in restoring order,, 
and convincing the * fast young men that their move- 



SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 139 

raents were somewhat premature. The supposed Indians 
proved to be our scouts who had encountered some 
otter on the lakes, and in pursuing them had become so 
excited as to entirely forget their orders, and hence firing 
of guns and the consequent excitement in the ranks. 

"Proceeding on our way we reached G. Granger son the 
river near the Minnesota line. Here very unwelcome 
news awaited us. We learned that the Indians had left 
the place five days in advance of our arrival, and that a 
detachment of United States troops, sixty in number, 
were then quartered at Springfield. These tidings were 
particularly annoying to us at this juncture of affairs, 
and productive of considerable disappointment and vex 
ation. We had hoped that, if we did not reach the scene 
of action in time to afford the distressed settlers relief, we 
we might at least reach it in time to deal out justice to 
their murderers. After all our toil and privations, en 
dured in hope of accomplishing something, to b informed 
that we were considerable behind time, gave occasion 
to no very pleasant reflections. 

Upon inquiring, we learned that the United States 
troops from Fort Ridgely had arrived the next day after 
the Indians had left, and that a few of them had followed 
the Indians a short distance, and discovered where they 
had encamped the night before, and from the number of 
their teepes computed them to number about forty war 
riors. On the way they found various articles of clothing 
and other materials cast away by the Indians on account 
of the great amount of plunder with which they were 
burdened. But those ferocious dogs of war, after being 
set on a warm scent, and having their prey almost within 
their grasp, suffered them to escape unscathed. Our posi 
tion at this time was rather a perplexing one. Anticipated 
by the United States troops, the Indians five or six days in 
advance of us, and our provisions almost exhausted, it 
soon became apparent that the only alternative left was 
the painful one of abandoning the pursuit, paying the- 



140 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

last tribute of respect to the remains of the unfortunate 
settlers, and returning home. 

"Accordingly, on the morning of April 2d, a company 
of twenty-five men were selected and placed under the 
command of Capt. J. C. Johnson, with orders to proceed 
to Spirit Lake and bury the dead, while the residue were 
to return to the Irish colony. I was prevented from 
joining the company by an accident (a severe sprain of 
the ankle) which unfitted me for traveling. But the fol 
lowing are the most prominent particulars of their 
adventures, furnished me by a friend: 

BURIAL OF THE DEAD. 

44 Two of our number were mounted on horseback and 
carried provisions. On arriving at the river it was found 
that the horses could not be taken across, so the provision 
was distributed among us, and the horsemen returned. 
About 3 o clock that day, we arrived at the house of Mr. 
Thatcher. The door being shut, we opened it and entered 
the house. Within we found everything in utter con 
fusion. Hearing an exclamation of surprise outside, I 
went out there and beheld the bodies of two men lying 
side by side, brutally murdered by numerous shots in the 
breast (where the brave invariably receive the missiles of 
death) This sight convinced us that we had at least a 
painful duty to perform, if we did not encounter the in 
famous villains who perpetrated this cruel deed. We 
proceeded to bury them immediately. Our captain ap 
pointed two to dig the grave, while the remainder (ex 
cept l he guard) proceeded to the house of Mr Howe, 
about a mile beyond. Here the door was also closed; 
on opening it a sight met our eyes which sent a shudder 
through our veins and fired our minds with thoughts of 
vengeance and dire retribution upon the cowardly assas 
sins. It was such a sight as a sensitive person might well 
avoid encountering, arid which for humanity s sake we 
would gladly have erased from our memories. But there 
it confronted us in all the tragic horror of a fearful real 
ity. There lay before us, in an incongruous heap, the 
mangled forms of seven human beings, from the aged 
grandmother down to the prattling child of tender years, 
who alike fell victims to the merciless savages inordinate 
thirst for human blood. Alter covering the bodies we 
returned to our companies and buried the two first found, 
also a little daughter of Mr. Thatcher. 



SPIKIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 

" Next morning returned, found another body a few 
rods from the house, and buried them all in one grave. 
We next proceeded to Granger s, about three miles dis 
tant. Here we found one man lying in front of the house 
brutally murdered, his face literally chopped to pieces, 
and several marks of a tomahawk in the breast; a large 
bull dog was lying by his side, which probably died in 
valiantly defending his master. This house was also 
completely ransacked, everything carried off that could 
possibly be of any value to the Indians. 

" We then visited the house of Mr. Mattock, about a 
half mile further on, just across an arm of the lake and 
situated in a grove of heavy timber. We found one man 
and three or four head of cattle lying on the ice. As soon 
as we entered the grove we could see the bodies of men, 
women, children, and cattle scattered promiscuously 
about and mutilated in the most shocking manner. From 
all appearances here had been the struggle for life. Here 
was where the white and red man met in mortal combat 
and closed in the fearful death struggle: the one for life, 
home, wife and children, the dearest ties that bind souls 
to earth; the other to gratify the most fiendish passions 
which human nature in its most degraded and degenerate 
forms is heir to: revenge, malice, hatred, envy, and 
covetousness, and above all, and inherent ll penchant " to 
signalize themselves by imbuing their hands in the blood 
of the palefaces, irrespective of age, sex, or condition. 
The battle had evidently been fierce and hotly contested, 
but the whites, overpowered by numbers, sank like 
Leonidas band, covered with wounds and heirs to immor 
tal fame. The house was burnt, and in one corner the 
charred remains of a human body was found. Here we 
buried eleven. This was near the Indian camp. 

" At the house of Mr.Gardner we found six dead bodies, 
one in the house and the remainder just outside the door. 
We buried them all together about fifty yards from the 
house, on a spot designated by a daughter of Mr. Gardner, 
whom we met on our way up as a fugitive from Spring 
field. We buried twenty-nine in all. Several were miss 
ing, among whom were Mrs. Thatcher, Mrs. Marble, Mrs. 
Noble, and Miss Gardner, who were supposed to have been 
carried away captives by the Indians. Our melancholy 
task being done, we took supper and repaired to rest. 
Sleep coming to our aid we were soon oblivious of the 
past. In the morning we were very much refreshed, and 
taking a hasty meal of potatoes we bid adieu to Spirit 
Lake, the scene of this dreadful massacre, the thoughts 
of which filled our minds with an utter abhorrence of the 



142 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

whole Indian nation, and turned to join our companions 
in their homeward march. 

"April 3d. Reached the Irish colony. The following 
morning, April 4th, was very disagreeable, rainy, and cold; 
but as our provisions were daily diminishing in quantity 
and deteriorating in quality it was deemed prudent to 
resume our march. About one o clock we reached the 
banks of Cylinder creek, which owing to a recent rain 
and the melting of the snow, was impassable. This 
creek pursues a meandering course in a little valley of 
perhaps a half mile in width. The flats were entirely 
overflown with water about waist-deep ; while in the 
channel or bed of the stream the water was eleven or 
twelve feet deep. A halt was ordered ; which was a very 
judicious movement, seeing that we were unable to pro 
ceed any farther. Some of our party constructed a boat 
out of a wagon-bed, no doubt with the laudable design 
of transporting us across the vasty deep; but, alas for 
human foresight, it served to carry over three persons, 
but refused to return for a second cargo; as the head 
wind was by this time so strong as to resist all the en 
deavors of the experimenters to return. While awaiting 
the result I was irresistibly reminded of a certain coup 
let relating to the river Jordan: Part have crossed the 
flood and part (fain would be) crossing now, the only 
thing preventing being an entire absence of means; the 
doctrine that the end justified the means, being there 
upon no consolation to them. 

"We now found ourselves in rather an unenviable sit 
uation, a prospect of drowning if we proceeded, a pros 
pect of starving if we remained where we were, and ditto 
if we returned. Various plans were proposed only to be 
decided impracticable. However, it was determined that 
the teams should return to the settlement. Accordingly 
the Major with the wounded settlers and a few otfiers 
returned. The balance of us concluded to provide for our 
selves. 

"For my own part 1 confess to being no little puzzled to 



SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 143 

know how to dispose of myself. I knew that there was 
not provision enough at the colony for us all, and as to 
starving where I was, I looked upon the chance for life 
as being one to ten against that of freezing to death, as it 
was growing colder every moment and the wind blowing 
a hurricane. The only avenue open to me lay in the pos 
sibility of crossing the creek; but even of this hope told 
no flattering tale. Just then I remembered the words of 
Napoleon, when told by his engineers that the passage of 
the Alps was barely practicable, Set forward! Accom 
panied by a friend I ascended the stream about a mile, 
where I saw a bunch of willows ; these I knew grew upon 
the bank of the channel and might perhaps assist us in 
crossing, if we were fortunate enough to reach the place. 
After wading about 80 rods we reached them, and found 
behind them what had been a snow drift, now a com 
pound of snow and water denominated slush and ex 
tending perhaps half way across the bed of the stream. 
By breaking willow brush and covering it we made a par 
tial bridge which served to support us as far as it went. 
The only alternative now was to jump, which I did, and to 
my surprise and gratification brought up in only five feet 
of water, having been lucky enough to reach the opposite 
bank of the channel. My comrade now threw our blank 
ets and followed. By again wading some distance we 
gained the bluffs, thankful that the Rubicon was passed. 
By running four miles we reached a house where we ob 
tained shelter for the night. 

"Sunday, April 4th. Returned to the creek to look for 
our companions. As there were no signs of life to be seen, 
the conviction forced itself upon us that our fears were 
realized and that they were all frozen to death. The 
stream was by this time all frozen over except the chan 
nel. Capt. 0. B. Richards in particular deserves praise for 
his noble efforts in behalf of the sufferers He worked 
two hours in the severe cold, attempting to crawl over the 
ice to reach the shore; but notwithstanding the captain s 
warm heart the intense cold overcame him, and he was 



144 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE- 

obliged to abandon his philanthropic project without 
accomplishing his object. In justice to him and Capt. Dun- 
combe, I must say that they did all that under such cir 
cumstances could be done to relieve their men. Some of 
us tried to break a way across for the boat, but the effort 
proved futile and we were obliged to abandon the idea of 
reaching the place where we had left our companions, so 
we returned to the house to await further developments. 
" Monday, April 6th. Again proceeded to the creek and 
found the ice strong enough to carry a horse. Crossed 
over and with joy and surprise found our companions all 
alive. They were piled up like so many flour bags in the 
most approved style, under a tent constructed of a wagon 
cover, and with a quantity of bedding which they fortu 
nately had on hand were enabled to keep from freezing; 
and now they crossed on the ice (which they had patiently 
awaited the formation of), after lying in this position over 
forty -eight hours without food or fire on the open prairie. 
" But great as were their privations and sufferings, they 
were exceeded by those of our party who left Spirit Lake 
on Sunday to cross the prairie to the Irish settlement. 
They left Spirit Lake Saturday, April 4th, and traveled in 
a southeast direction, intending to reach, if possible, the 
Irish colony that day; but, owing to the many deep 
sloughs which they were obliged to cross, they failed in 
accomplishing their object. Towards evening their clothes 
began to freeze to their bodies and to impede their prog 
ress. Some of the party still continued to plunge in and 
wade through, while others deemed it prudent to evade 
them as much as possible in order to avoid having their 
clothes frozen stiff upon them. The necessary conse 
quence was, they became separated, some traveling in one 
direction, and some in another. The main body, however, 
with W. K. Laughlin as guide, kept a nearly direct course. 
Just before dark they passed a small lake skirted by a few 
trees. Some proposed to stop and pass the night, but the 
voice of the majority was in favor of traveling all night, 



SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 145 

to escape being frozen to death ; but overtasked and ex 
hausted nature will assert her rights. 

"About eight o clock at night they were overcome by 
hunger, cold and fatigue, and being unable to proceed any 
further lay down on the open prairie, exposed to the mer 
ciless wind which swept past like a tornado, their clothes 
frozen stiff as a coat of mail. Without food, fire or protec 
tion of any kind, they spent a sleepless night. Sleep came 
and offered the tired wanderers relief, but it was the 
treacherous sleep of death. A few resigned themselves 
to its influence, but the more experienced knew it would 
be their last sleep if they were permitted to indulge in 
that fatal stupor, the sure herald of the sleep that knows 
no wakuig. The grateful thanks of more than one of 
that forlorn company are due to John N. Maxwell and 
W. K. Laughlin for forcibly keeping them awake through 
the tedious watches of that awful night. In the morning 
they found themselves in sight of timber on the Des 
Moines river, and roused their last remaining energies to 
reach it. Those who had drawn off their boots were 
unable to get them on again, so they were compelled to 
cut up their blankets and wrap their feet in them. 

"In this manner they reached the settlement on Sunday, 
April 5th, where they all ultimately arrived except two. 
These were Capt. J. C. Johnson, of Webster City, and 
William Burkholder, of Ft. Dodge. They were last seen 
about five o clock Saturday, two miles distant from their 
companions, and traveling in a southerly direction. It 
was confidently hoped that they might have strayed down 
the river and found a lodging-place. Every effort was 
made to ascertain their whereabouts, but without success. 
Their comrades were at length forced to the conclusion 
that they had lost their way and had perished in attempt 
ing to reach the settlement. Their melancholy fate threw 
a gloom over the whole company, as they were special 
favorites. I was not personally acquainted with Burk 
holder, but had the honor of being a friend of the 
lamented Captain Johnson. As such I feel it my duty to 
10 



14(> THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

offer, in my humble way, that tribute which is justly due 
to his memory. 

"John (J. Johnson was born and raised in Westmoreland 
county, Pennsylvania. With a view of bettering his cir 
cumstances in life, he removed to Illinois, and subse 
quently to Hamilton county, Iowa, near Webster City. It 
was here I first got acquainted with him ; his gentlemanly 
manners and generous, frank disposition, winning my 
esteem and confidence. When the news of the Indian out 
rages reached us, his business claimed his attention at 
home; but unmindful of interests he thought only of the 
sufferings and wrongs of the unhappy victims, and knew 
no other way than that pointed out by duty and patriot 
ism. On the morning of our departure he remarked to 
me that Pennsylvania s sons should not be weighed and 
found wanting, and most nobly did he sustain his asser 
tion throughout the arduous labors of the expedition. 

"So favorable was the impression made by him on the 
company that he was unanimously chosen our captain, 
and subsequently proved himself worthy of the confidence 
reposed in him. He faithfully fulfilled the orders of his 
superior officer, maintaining order and decorum in his 
company. His orders were given in a manner to insure 
promptness of execution, but yet in such a courteous and 
affable manner that it was a pleasure to obey him. He 
appeared to have the comfort and welfare of his com 
pany at heart, and by his noble, self-sacrificing nature 
won golden opinions from all who became acquainted 
with him. I marched beside him through the day, and 
slept beside him at night, and 1 must say I never met one 
to whom 1 became so much attached in so short a time ; 
and I firmly believe I but reflect the aentiment of his 
company in saying that there was not one who did not 
esteem and love him. 

"But Death loves a shining mark. The good and 
gifted are not exempt from his power, but equally liable 
to be stricken down with the most delicate flower that 
hangs by a fragile stem exposed to the sweeping blast. 



SPIRIT LAKE EXPEDITION. 147 

" Tis hard indeed to part with those 

Whom we would have forever nigh, 
But shall we murmur if God choose 
To call their spirits to the sky ? 

"Our only comfort is found in submission to the will of 
Him who doeth all things well. 

"Monday, April 6th. Those of us who had succeeded 
in crossing the Cylinder now thought best to reach home 
as soon as possible, as we were out of provisions alto 
gether. After paying our bills to the last farthing where 
we stopped over Sunday, we departed, every man to his 
tent* and arrived home in three or four days, weary, worn 
and wasted. We met with a hearty welcome from ou r 
friends who were gratified to see us return alive. Al 
though some of us were pretty badly frozen, we consid 
ered ourselves extremely fortunate in having escaped the 
fate of our comrades. Thus ended the disastrous Spirit 
Lake Expedition, a second edition (on a small scale) of 
Bonaparte s expedition to Moscow. 

"Recapitulation. All those engaged in the expedition 
arrived safely at home, except two above mentioned, 
of whom aothing, as yet, has been heard Of the women 
taken prisoners, two, Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher, were 
murdered by the Indians; the others, Mrs. Marble and 
Miss Gardner were ransomed. Two more bodies have 
sinee been found and buried at Spirit Lake. A town is 
now laid out where the massacre (equal to that of Wyom 
ing) took place. It is fast settling with active and ener 
getic men. It is situated in Dickinson county, 140 miles 
from here and destined to become an important point in 
northwestern Iowa." 



148 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER 



RETURN OF WARRIORS. 

Warriors return from Field of Battle Bring Twelve 
Horses loaded with plunder Their Account of the 
Siege Broke Camp Captives Burdens Mrs. Mar 
ble slaps Papoose Terrible condition of Mrs. 
Thatcher Provisions give out Eat decayed Fish 
Cook Animals not dressed The Women prepare 
Wood, etc. Male Indians do not labor Etiquette of 
Inkpaduta s party. 



FTER an absence of two days, the 
warriors who had gone to the attack 
on Springfield returned to our camp, 
bringing in their plunder. They had 
twelve horses, heavily laden with dry 
goods, groceries, powder, lead, bed-quilts, 
wearing apparel, provisions, etc- They gave 
us to understand that they had met with y 
repulse; but to what extent we could only 
conjecture. They told us they had killed 




RETURN OF WARRIORS. 149 

only one woman. Whether that was my 
sister or not, I could riot tell. 

Among this plunder were several bolts of 
calico and red flannel. Of these, especially 
the flannel, they were exceedingly proud; 
decorating themselves with it in fantastic 
fashion. Red leggings, red shirts, red blank 
ets, and red in every conceivable way, was 
the style there, as long as it lasted. Could 
anything have amused me in those sad days, 
it would have been to see their grotesque 
attempts to wear the habiliments of the 
whites; especially the attempts of the squaws 
to wear the tight-fitting garments of the 
white women. They would put in one arm, 
and then reach back to try to get in the 
other; but, even if they succeeded in getting 
both arms into the sleeves at the same time, 
they were too broad-shouldered, and brawny, 
to get the waist into position, or fasten it; so 
after struggling awhile they would give 
up in disgust. They were altogether too 
much the shape of a barrel, to wear the 
dresses of white women. So they cut off 
and threw away the waists, and made the 
skirts into loose fitting sacks after the squaw- 
fashion. All this amused them, greatly; 



150 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

they would laugh and chatter like a lot of 
monkeys. 

Early on the morning after the warriors 
returned from Springfield, they started for 
the unbroken wilderness of the northwest. 
A male Indian never does anything that can 
be called labor; it is against his principles, 
and would lower his dignity, Work is only 
fit for women, Such is an Indian s sense of 
honor. The women are only slaves; and we, 
poor captives, were slaves of the slaves. 

After the first day s ride (to which I pre 
viously alluded), I was compelled to trudge 
on foot; and given a pack to carry. This 
was from time to time increased, until I had 
not less than seventy pounds. I will give 
the contents of the pack (that the reader 
may judge of its weight): eight bars of lead, 
one pint of lead-balls, one teepe cover made 
of the heaviest, thickest cloth, one blanket, 
one bed-comforter, one iron bar, three feet 
long and half an inch thick (the use of which 
I did not know), one gun, and one piece of 
wood several inches wide and four feet long, 
to keep the pack in shape. This was bound 
together with ropes, and strapped on my 
back. The other captives fared no better, 



RETURN OF WARRIORS. 151 

and if possible worse. Mrs. Marble, besides 
a pack equally as heavy as my own, had to 
carry a great lubber of a papoose, nearly 
two years old. This was seated on the pack, 
inside the blanket, and when awake would 
stick up its head, over her shoulder, clasp 
ing its arms around her neck; but when 
asleep, it would sink into a heap, apparently 
heavier, and certainly more difficult to carry. 
At such times, watching her opportunity 
when the Indians were not looking, she 
would reach over her shoulder and claw 
him in the face; thus making him wake up, 
and as he could riot talk he could not tell 
what was the matter. This made him cry, 
so that the squaws concluded: "Papoose no 
like white woman," and took him away. 
The only thing that ever amused me, during 
all the time I was with them, was seeing 
Mrs. Marble watching her opportunity, and 
clawing that filthy papoose- So interested 
in this did 1 become, that while walking by 
her side, in the rear of tho train, I would 
watch the Indians and tell her when to "go 
for 7 the papoose. 

While we, poor captives, were trudging 
along through the deep snow, bearing our 



152 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



heavy burdens, the warriors were tripping 
over the drifts on snow-shoes unencumbered. 
The squaws carried still greater loads, but 
they, too, had snow-shoes, while we sank 
beneath our burdens into the deep snow 
frequently finding it almost impossible to 
wallow through. 

These hardships proved too much for Mrs. 
Thatcher whose babe had been torn from 
her bosom. Taking cold, as she inevitably 
must, she was thrown into phlebitis fever 
and a combination of ills, resulting in the 
most excruciating suffering. One breast 
gathered and broke, and one limb, being 
swollen to nearly twice its natural size, 
turned black, even to her body, and the veins 
were bursted by the pressure. No woman 
in like condition at home would think of 
being out of her bed, and would require 
both medical attendant and nurse day and 
night, but she, poor woman, was compelled 
riot only to tramp through the snow, and 
wade through ice-cold water, waist-deep, 
but even to chop and carry wood at night, 
and help to do other drudgery about the 
camp, such as cutting poles and dragging 
them in, putting up tents, and all such work. 



RETURN OF WARRIORS. 153 

This may seem like an exaggeration; but it 
is strictly true. I was an eye-witness. Lan 
guage cannot express the sufferings she 
endured, or the fiendish barbarity of her 
heartless masters. When she could no longer 
move her limb, she was put on a horse for a 
few days; but this was only another method 
of torture; the wonder is, that she did not 
faint and fall from her horse. She bore up, 
through all her sufferings, with remarkable 
fortitude; hoping that the time might come 
when she could be rescued from her cap 
tors, and restored to her husband, for whom 
she manifested an attachment both heroic 
and sublime. Meantime their "medicine 
man" took her in hand, and really gave her 
relief: but how much she gained by it the 
sequel will show. 

The provisions taken from the whites lasted 
about four weeks; during which time they 
did no hunting, fishing, or anything to in 
crease or eke out their store; nothing, in 
fact, but tramp, eat and sleep. The Indians 
have no equal as gormandizers; they are 
perfectly devoid of anything like delicacy of 
appetite, or taste, or decency in the matter. 
Every part of an animal is devoured, cooked 



154 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

or raw, clean or unclean; the smaller game 
is sometimes roasted without opening; and 
if the entrails are taken out they are thrown 
on the fire and roasted, and eaten by the 
squaws, this being considered the right of 
the cook. Animals that have lain dead until 
putrescence has well begun are devoured 
with avidity. Fish found along the beach, 
that have lain till the flesh was actually 
dropping from the bone, were eaten without 
ever; being cooked, and pronounced: "wash- 
ta-do!" (very good!) It was no unusual thing, 
indeed to see the most delicate belles in 
Inkpaduta s train picking from the head of a 
papoose vermin such as Burns saw on the 
ladie s bonnet at church, and cracking them 
in her teeth. 

They have no regularity about their meals. 
It is always dinner timo if they have any 
thing fco eat. They will eat until they can 
eat no longer; and then lie down and grunt 
and puff, like cattle gorged with grass in the 
spring time; or like overfed swine- Thus 
they will lie and sleep and snore for an hour 
or two; then get up and smoke, and eat 
again. This is especially the habit of the 
"gentlemen" of the party; the ladies" con- 



RETURN OF WARRIORS. 155 

tenting themselves with what their lords 
cannot eat. and resting their weary bodies 
by cutting wood and backing it up; or by 
preparing something more to please the taste 
of their "better halves." 

The Indian is an inveterate smoker; and 
if he had whisky would go to the same 
extremes with that. They got a large quan 
tity of tobacco from the whites, more espe 
cially at Springfield; but all this would not 
have lasted long, if they had not extended it 
by a free use of kinnikinic a species of red 
willow that grows abundantly, on wet soil 
throughout the Northwest. They frequently 
smoke the leaves, but prefer the bark which 
is much stronger. It acts as a narcotic. The 
squaws prepare the bark by scraping it off 
the twigs and drying it, in the winter by the 
fire, on a grate made of strips of bark, woven 
across a frame; and in summer on a piece of 
buckskin in the sun. We were frequently 
compelled to help prepare it. 

Their lodges or teepes are conical tents* 
and vary in size from fourteen to twenty feet 
or more in diameter; they are made of the 
thickest, heaviest, kind of cloth, or skins, 
and kept in shape by nine poles. The fire is 



151) 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



built in the center, and the smoke escapes 
through an aperture at the top, made for 
that purpose. They make their beds of 
straw, mats, blankets, buffalo robes, etc. 
These they arrange around the fire, and on 
them they not only sleep, but eat, and sit to 
smoke through the day. 



THE INDIANS PURSUED. 157 



CHAPTER XVI. 



THE INDIANS PURSUED. 

tTnited States Soldiers arrive from Fort Eidgely They 
pursue Indians They reach at 3 p. M. Place left by 
Indians in the Morning They are discovered by In 
diansGreat Excitement among Indians Indians 
prepare to fight Threaten to kill Captives Soldiers 
are deceived by Guides Turn back Indians flee 
Two Days and Nights March Maj. Flandrau s 
Statement. 



CARCE twenty-four hours had 
elapsed ,since the attack on Spring 
field, and much less than that from 
the sad flight of the fugitives, when a 
company of United States soldiers ar 
rived from Fort Ridgely, under com 
mand of Captain Bee. They, too, like the 
volunteers from Fort Dodge, had endured 
almost incredible hardships, and surmounted 
every conceivable difficulty. They lay over 




158 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

one day at Springfield, and, although ex 
hausted from the journey already taken, at 
tempted the pursuit of the Indians. Twenty- 
four men, under Lieutenant Murray, came 
so near overtaking us that they reached at 
3 p. M. the place left by us in the morning. 
When their presence was discovered by the 
Indians, the wildest excitement reigned 
among them. We were encamped on a low 
piece of ground by a small stream of water. 
Between us and the soldiers was a high, roll 
ing prairie, so that the camp was not visible 
to the soldiers, but the Indians from the 
higher ground could see all the movements 
of their pursuers. Such was the situation, 
indeed, that the soldiers, had they followed 
on our trail, would not have discovered our 
presence until in our very midst. 

The squaws at once extinguished the fires 
by pouring on water, that the smoke might 
not be seen; tore down the tents; packed 
their plunder; and with the wounded Indian 
(the one shot by Dr. Harriott), and a sick 
papoose, hastened from the camp down the 
creek, skulking like partridges among the 
willows. One of the Indians crept along the 
ground to the base of a tree, some rods from 



THE INDIANS PURSUED. 159 

the camp, on higher ground, and perched him 
self among its branches. Here he could ob 
serve the movements of the soldiers and 
report them to his comrades. The rest of 
the warriors, with ourselves, remained on the 
camp-ground. One Indian was detailed to 
stand guard over u-s, and to kill us if there 
was an attack. The rest of the warriors 
prepared for battle. First they discharged 
their guns into the earth, to empty them of 
the loads of shot they already contained; 
but so that the reports could not be heard 
any distanca. Then they reloaded them 
with bullets. The excitement manifested by 
the Indians was for a little while intense; 
and although less manifested ours was fully 
as great, as we were well aware that the In 
dians meant all they said when they told us 
we were to ba shot, in case of an attack. We 
therefore knew that an attack would be cer ! 
tain death to us, whatever the results might 
be in other respects. 

After an hour and a half of this exciting 
suspense, in which the squaws were skulk 
ing in the willows; th-3 sentry watching 
from the tree top; the warriors lurking 
among the openings of the -willows on the 



160 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

banks of the stream; and we- cowering be 
neath the muzzles of the loaded rifles, a 
sudden change came to us. The soldiers, it 
seems, just here decided to turn back. In 
conversation with both Captain Bee and 
Lieutenant Murray at Fort Ridgley, on my 
return from captivity, 1 learned that their 
guides (two half-breeds,) assured them the 
camp-fires were at least two or three days 
old ; and hence their decision to relinquish 
the pursuit. It is easy to believe that the 
soldiers, having confidence in their guides, 
might have been misled by them ; but 
guides worthy of the name should not have 
made such a mistake. It could not have 
been more than nine hours, after we left 
the grove, until the soldiers entered it. Pos 
sibly, some pains had been taken to obliter 
ate the traces of our encampment; but if 
such is the Indian custom the guides should 
have known it, and made allowance for it. 
At the time we were captured, our shoes 
were taken from us, and moccasins given us 
instead, that we might leave no evidence of 
our presence in the trail ; but no reasonable 
guide would have declared that there were 
no whites in the company, because no shoe- 



THE INDIANS PURSUED. 161 

prints were seen. Lieutenant Murray in 
formed me that at first they were so sure 
that we were in the grove, that they sur 
rounded it, hoping thus to secure our rescue; 
and the guides evidently believed we were 
there; yet when the grove was entered they 
assured the officers that the camp-fires were 
two or three days old, and pursuit would be 
useless. Evidently they did not care to 
overtake the Indians. 

These guides were half-breeds. One of 
them, familiarly known as Joe Gaboo, had a 
full-blooded Indian wife. He had a trading- 
post some twelve miles above Springfield. 
His wife was seen wearing a shawl, the prop 
erty of Mrs. Church. From these and other 
circumstances, it is probable that his sympa 
thies were more with the Indians than with 
the whites. 

Maj. Williams, in his official report (see 
report), says, the soldiers overtook some 
straggling squaws, from which it might be 
inferred that the rest were not far off; also 
that the trail was strewed with articles of 
various kinds, taken from the whites; which 
not only marked the trail, but served to show 

how recently it had been made. Then, 
11 



162 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

when we remember there was yet consider 
able snow; and that the Indians not only 
had horses, but also travies, or trailing poles, 
on which they carried their baggage; it is 
readily seen that it could not have been diffi 
cult to follow the trail, or determine its 
freshness. 

But whether the guides were true or false, 
or whether or not tho soldiers were justifi 
able in turning back, it was life to us .cap 
tives. Had they not done so, I should have 
ended my earthly career then, and this ac 
count would never have been written. 

No sooner did the India) is discover that an 
immediate attack was not probable than 
they began in earnest to prepare for flight. 
The warriors, taking us with thsm, pro 
ceeded to where the squaws were secreted; 
called them out, as a partridge would her 
brood from their hiding-places, gathered up 
such of the baggage as was deemed most 
valuable, and struck westward. No time 
was given us to rest, much less to prepare 
any food, till some time next day; and we 
did not camp for two days and nights. 

About 3 P. M. of the second day, my 
strength gave out completely, and when 



THE INDIANS PURSUED. 163 

they moved on, after a brief halt to rest, I 
remained lying on the ground. They beck 
oned me to follow, but I paid no attention. 
Then one of the squaws rushed back, furi 
ously brandishing an Indian hoe over my 
head. The mental and physical sufferings I 
had already endured had taken away all the 
fear of death; so I quietly bowed my head, 
and waited the threatened blow; but seeing 
the menace did not arouse me she threw 
down her own pack, seized me by the arm, 
jerked me to my feet, adjusted the pack, and 
gave me a tremendous push in the back, 
sending me forward in the direction the 
others had gone. She then shouldered her 
own pack and followed after me. 

They, however, went little farther (per 
haps half or three-quarters of a mile), until 
they encamped for the night. Some of the 
wigwams were already up when I reached 
camp. 

Thus ended our flight from the United 
States soldiers, and their attempt to rescue 
us had only made our situation more ter 
rible. 

The following clear and careful statement 



164 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE- 

by Major F land ran, cannot but interest all 
lovev-s of historic truth: 

"The people at Springfield sent two young men to my 
agency with the news of the massacre. They brought 
with them a, statement of the facts as related by Mr. 
Markharn, signed by some persons with whom I was ac 
quainted. They came on foot, and arrived at the agency 
on the 18th of March. The snow was very deep, and was 
beginning to thaw, which made the traveling extremely 
difficult. When these young men arrived they were so 
badly affected with snow-blindness that they could 
scarcely see at all, and were completely wearied out. I was 
fully satisfied of the truth of the report that murders had 
been committed, although the details, of course, were very 
meager. I at once held a consultation with Col. Alexan 
der, commanding the Tenth United States infantry, 
five or six companies of which were at Fort Ridgely. 
The colonel, with commendable promptness, ordered Capt. 
Barnard E. Bee with his company to proceed at once to 
the scene of the massacre, and do all he could either in 
the way of protecting the settlers or punishing the enemy. 

CAPTAIN BEE S EXPEDITION. 

"The country between the Minnesota river at liidgely 
and Spirit Lake was, at that day, an utter wilderness with 
out an inhabitant. In fact, none of us knew where Spirit 
Lake was, except that it lay about due south of the fort, 
at a distance of from 100 to 125 miles. * * * 

"We procured two guides of experience from among 
our Sioux half-breeds, Joseph Coursall, more generally 
known as Joe Gaboo, and Joseph LaFramboise. These 
men took a pony and a light train to carry the blankets 
and provisions, put on their snow-shoes, and were ready 
to go anywhere; while the poor troops with their 
leather shoes and their back loads, accompanied by a pon 
derous army-wagon on wheels drawn by six mules, were 
about as fit for such a march as an elephant is for a ball- 



THE INDIANS PURSUED. 165 

room; but it was the best the government had, and they 
entered upon the arduous duty bravely and cheerfully. 
I had a light sleigh and a fine team, with my outfit aboard, 
with a French Canadian voyageur for a driver and old 
Mr. Prescott for my interpreter, being well outfitted for 
the occasion, as I always took good care to be while on 
Indian duty in the winter time. * * * 

" We started on March 19th, at about 1 o clock, p. M., at 
first intending to go directly across the country; but we 
soon decided that course to be utterly impossible as the 
mules could not draw the wagon through the deep snow. 
It became apparent that our only hope of reaching the 
lake was to follow the road down by the way of New Ulna 
to Mankato, and trust to luck for a road up the Waton- 
faan in the direction of the lake, we having learned that 
some teams had recently started for that point with sup 
plies. The first days of the march were appalling. The 
men were wet nearly up to their waists with the deep and 
melting snow, and utterly weary before they had gone 
ten miles. Captain Bee was a South Carolinian, and 
though a veteran had seen most of his service in Mexico 
and the South. Mr. Murray, his lieutenant, was a gallant 
young fellow, but had not seen much service. Neither of 
them had ever made a snow-camp before; and when we 
had dug out a place for our first camp, and were making 
futile efforts to dry our clothes before turning in for the 
night, I felt that the trip was hopeless. So much time 
had elapsed since the murders were committed, and so 
much more would be necessarily consumed before the 
troops could possibly reach the lake, that I felt assured 
that no good could result from going on. Sa I told Cap 
tain Bee that if he wanted to return I would furnish 
him with a written opinion of two of the most experi 
enced voyageurs on the frontier that the march was im 
possible of accomplishment with the inappropriate outfit 
with which tne troops were furnished. It was then that 
the stern sense of duty which animates the true soldier 
exhibited itself in these officers. The captain agreed with 



166 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

me with the chances of accomplishing any good by going 
on were very small, but he read his orders, and said, in 
answer to my suggestion, My orders are to go to Spirit 
Lake and do what I can. It is not for me to interpret 
my orders, but to obey them. I shall go on until it be 
comes physically impossible to proceed further. It will 
then be time to turn back; and go on he did. We fol 
lowed the trail up the Watonwan until we found the 
teams that had made it stuck in a snow-drift, and for 
the remaining forty or fifty miles the troops marched 
ahead of the mules, and broke a road for them, relieving 
the front rank every fifteen or twenty minutes. * 

"When the lake was reached, the Indians were gone. 
A careful examination was made of their camp and fires 
by their guides, who pronounced them three or four days 
old. Their trail led to the west. A pursuit was made by 
a portion of the command, partly mounted on the mules, 
and partly on foot; but it was soon abandoned on the de 
claration of the guides that the Indians were, by the signs, 
several days in advance. The dead were buried, a guard 
was established under Lieut.Murray with 24 men, and Cap 
tain Bee with the balance returned to the fort. I learned 
afterwards from Mrs. Marble, one of the rescued women, 
that the troops in pursuit came so near that the Indians 
saw them, and made an ambush for them, and had they 
not turned back the prisoners would have all been mur 
dered. The guides may have been mistaken in their 
judgment of the age of the camps and fires, and may have 
deceived the troops. I knew the youug men so well that 
I have never accused them of a betrayal of their trust; 
but it was probably best as it was in either case; because 
had the troops overtaken the Indians the women would 
have certainly been butchered and some of the soldiers 
killed. The satisfaction of having killed some of the In 
dians would not have compensated for the result." 



SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. 167 



CHAPTER XVII. 



SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. 

We still journey West Enduring Exposure and Starva 
tion Wading Streams Waist-deep Journey through 
Pipestone Quarry Legend of the Sioux Reach the 
Big Sioux after six Weeks March Young Indian 
pushes Mrs. Thatcher into the Sioux She swims to 
Shore Is pushed Back Finally Shot Indians think 
Mrs. Thatcher s Spirit is troubling them They take 
Flight. 



ALTHOUGH the fear of pursuit had 
subsided still we journeyed westward, 
knowing no rest. Frequently break 
ing the ice with the horses, the Indians 
waded through, and we followed, where 
the water was waist-deep. Then, with cloth- 
Ing wet and frozen, we tramped on through 
wind and storm, lying down at night in the 
same clothing in which we had forded the 
streams. Often we went without food for 
two or three days at a time, and when we 




168 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

did get any it was the poorest and most un 
palatable. The Indians themselves were 
never entirely without food long at a time; 
but we captives got only what they did not 
care for. No hay was carried, and no grass 
could yet be found, so the poor horses fared, 
if possible, worse than we. From time to 
time, one of them would die of starvation; 
and then tbe Indians had meat. But as the 
horses died our burdens were increased. 
Such things as they could not put upon the 
backs of the already overburdened squaws 
and captives, they buried; marking the place 
by blazing tree?, by boolders, and by streams, 
etc. 

Our journey led through the famous pipe- 
stone quarry, in Pipestone county, Minne 
sota. It is situated on a small tributary of 
the Big Sioux, called Pipestone creek. The 
surface of the country is broken and pictur 
esque abounding in bluffs and cliffs. But its 
principal attraction, of course, is a layer of 
peculiar and beautiful rock, highly prized by 
the Indians and no doubt valuable to tbe 
whites. The cliffs here are similar to those 
at Luverne, but smaller. Beneath these, on 
a level tract of land, is found the precious 



SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. 169 

pipesfcone. The stratum is about fourteen 
inches thick, and is overlaid by four feet of 
other rock, and about two feet of earth, 
which must be removed before the coveted 
rock is reached. It is softer than slate, en 
tirely free from grit, and not liable to frac 
ture. When first taken out it is soft, and 
easily cut with ordinary tools, hardly dulling 
them more than wood does. On exposure 
to the air, it becomes hard, and is capable 
of receiving a high polish. It has already 
been used for mantels, table-tops, and the 
like, as well as for ornaments, and is doubt 
less destined to more extensive use. In color 
it varies from light pink to deep, dark red; 
while some of it is mottled with all these 
shades, giving great variety. 

"The great Red PipeStone Quarry/" whence 
the North American Indians have, from time 
immemorial, obtained the material for their 
pipes, has become almost as famous among 
the white race, being celebrated both in song 
and story, as among the Indians themselves. 
This is largely due to the interest which has 
been excited, among the imaginative and 
fanciful, by various legends and traditions 
current among the Indians concerning this 



170 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

locality. Longfellow, in bis "Song of Hia 
watha," has rendered some of the strange 
legends of the Dakotas in unique poetic 
form, in which read the "Peace Pipe," in 
order better to understand the substance of 
the legend, which I will give for the benefit 
of my readers. 

"On the mountains of the prairie, 
On the great Red Pipestoce Quarry, 
Gritche Mairito, the mighty, 
Ho the Master of Life, descending 
On the red crags of the quarry, 
Stood erect, and called the nations, 

Called the tribes of men together." 
***** 

11 From the red stone of the quarry 
With his hand he broke a fragment. 
Molded it into a pipe head 
Shaped and fashioned it with figures." 

***** 

" Many ages ago the Great Spirit, whose tracks in the 
form of those of a large bird are yet to be seen upon the 
rocks, descending from the heavens, stood upon the cliff 
at the Red Pipostone. A stream issued from beneath his 
feet, which falling down the cliff passed away in the plain 
below, while near him, on an elevation, was the Thunder s 
nest, in which a small bird still sits upon her eggs, the 
hatching of every one of which causes a clap of thunder. 
He broke a piece from the ledge and formed it into a huge 
pipe and smoked it, the smoke rising in a vast cloud so 
high that it could be seen throughout the earth, and be 
came the signal to all the tribes of men to assemble at the 
spot from whence it issued, and listen to the words of the 



SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. 171 

Great Spirit. They came in vast numbers and filled the 
plain below him. He blew the smoke over them all, and 
told them that the stone was human flesh, the flesh of 
their ancestors, who were created upon this spot; that the 
pipe he had made from it was the symbol of peace ; that 
although they should be at war they must ever alter meet 
upon this ground in peace and as friends, for it belonged 
to them all; they must make their calumets from the soft 
stone and smoke them in their councils, and whenever 
they wished to appease him or obtain Ins favor. Having 
said this he disappeared in the cloud which the last whiff 
of his pipe had caused, when a great fire rushed over the 
surface and melted the rocks, and at the same time two 
squaws passed through the fire to their places beneath the 
two medicine rocks, where they remain to this day as 
guardian spirits of the place and must be propitiated by 
any one wishing to obtain the pipestone before it can be 
taken away." 

Our captors rested themselves here for 
about one day, in which time they were 
engaged in the delightful task of gathering 
the pipestone and shaping it into pipes, which 
were formed in the manner foretold ages 
ago. 

The smooth surface of the "Medicine 
Roks," are covered with Indian hieroglyph 
ics, of various grotesque forms, representing 
persons, animals, and turtles, and very many 
in the form of tracks of a large bird. 

By treaty stipulation, one mile square, in 
cluding the Red Pipestone quarry, has been 



172 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ceded to the Yankfcon Sioux; thus giving 
them control of this, to them, sacred spot, 
to which they come from time to time to 
quarry stone for pipes. 

After six weeks of incessant marching 
over the trackless prairie, and through the 
deep snow, across creeks, sloughs, rivers, and 
lakes, we reached the Big Sioux (at about 
the point where now stands the town of 
Flandrau). Most of the journey had been 
performed in cold and inclement weather, 
but now spring seemed to have come. The 
vast amount of snow which covered the 
ground that memorable winter had nearly 
gone, by reason of the rapid thawing during 
the last few weeks, causing the river to rise 
beyond all ordinary bounds, and assume 
majestic proportions. 

The natural scenery along the Big Sioux 
is grand and beautiful. From the summit 
of the bluffs, the eye can view thousands of 
acres of richest vale and undulating prairie; 
while through it, winding along like a mon 
strous serpent, is the river, its banks fringed 
with maple, oak, and elm. Had we been in 
a mood to appreciate it, we surely should 
have enjoyed this beautiful picture. But, 



SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. ^ 

alas, how could we! The helpless captives 
of these inhuman savages could see no beau 
ties in nature, or pleasures in life. 

The good Book says, " The tender mercies 
of the wicked are cruel." Here we had a sad 
illustration of the truth of this text. 

The trees on the margin of the river are 
gradually undermined by the constant wash 
ing of the water, and bow gracefully over 
the stream, as if to kiss their shadows. 
Sometimes these bowing trees, brought down 
by the wind or their own weight, fall head 
long into the stream, and are borne down 
ward by the current. Tnen, again, the chan 
nel is often gorged with ice during the spring 
freshets, compelling the water to cut for 
itself a new channel through the soft but 
heavily timbered bottom-lands. Thus, riot 
merely limbs and logs, but thousands of 
entire trees, tops, roots, and all, are annually 
borne off by the Big Sioux. Sometimes these 
undermined trees cling by their unloosened 
roots, while their tops reach far into the 
stream, forming a u boom" across the chan 
nel. Against this boom will accumulate a 
tangled mass of floating timbers, lying in 
every conceivable position; thus forming a 



174 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

precarious but picturesque bridge, over which 
one with clear head and steady step may 
pass with tolerable safety. Yet it is liable 
to break at any moment, plunging into the 
turbid stream whomsoever may be upon it; 
or perhaps to seize, with giant grasp, the 
hapless victim between the floating timbers 
On such a bridge, we were to cross the now 
swollen waters. Mrs. Thatcher, whose pain 
ful illness and terrible sufferings have been 
alluded to, had now partially recovered, and 
was compelled to carry her pack as before. 
During the six weeks of her captivity, with 
fortitude heroic and patience surprising, 
through slush, snow, and ice-cold water; 
through famine and fatigue, and forced 
marches; with physical ills that language 
cannot adequately portray; and with heart 
wounds yet deeper, she had been upborne 
by the hope of yet being restored to her hus 
band and relations. But, alas, for earthly 
hopes! How often they|>rove like will-o -the- 
wisps, that lead on the belated and bewil 
dered traveler, over weary wastes, in vain 
^pursuit; by their very brightness making the 
darkness more oppressive. All her patient 
endurance had only brought her here to die 



SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. 175 

a cruel death at last. As we were about to 
follow the Indians across one of these uncer 
tain bridges, where a single mistep might 
plunge us into the deep waters, an Indian, 
not more than sixteen years old, the same 
who snatched the box of caps from my father, 
and who had always manifested a great de 
gree of hatred and contempt for the whites, 
approached us, and taking the pack from 
Mrs. Tbatchers s shoulders, and placirag it on 
his own, ordered us forward. This seeming 
kindness at once aroused our suspicions, as 
no assistance had ever been offered to any 
of us, under any circumstances whatever. 
Mrs. Thatcher, being confident that her time 
had come to die, hastily bade me good-bye, 
and said, "If you are so fortunate as to es 
cape, tell my dear husband and parents that 
I desired to live and escape for their sakes." 
(It will be remembered that Mr. Thatcher 
was away from home at the time of the 
massacre.) When we reached the center of 
the swollen stream, as we anticipated, this 
insolent young savage pushed Mrs- Thatcher 
from the bridge mto the ice-cold water, but 
by what seemed supernatural strength she 
breasted the dreadful torrent, and making a 



176 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

last struggle for life reached the shore which 
had just been left, and was clinging to the 
root of a tree, at the bank. She was here 
met by some of the other Indians, who were 
just coming upon the scene; they com 
menced throwing clubs at her, and with loog 
poles shoved her back again into the angry 
stream. As if nerved by fear, or dread of 
such a death, she made another desperate 
effort for life,and doubtless woald have gained 
the opposite shore; but here again she was 
met by her merciless tormentors, and was 
beaten off as before. She was then carried 
down by the furious, boiling current of the 
Sioux; while the Indians on the other side of 
the stream were running along the banks, 
whooping and yelling, and throwing sticks 
and stones at her, until she reached another 
bridge. Here she was finally shot by one 
of tbe Indians in another division of the 
band, who was crossing with the other two 
Captives, some distance below. 

Thus ended the tortures and agonies of 
poor Mrs. Thatcher, and her sufferings as a 
captive in the hands of these worse than 
monsters. Her pure spirit returned to Him 
who gave it, while her body was borne down 



SAD FATE OF MRS- THATCHER. 177 

the rapid stream, to be devoured by the wild 
beasts of the plain, or the fishes of the river. 
In all of life s relations and trials she exem 
plified, most beautifully, all the womanly and 
Christian graces; and although she struggled 
for life, it was not because she feared to meet 
her God, but rather for the love she bore her 
husband and kindred. She was only nine 
teen years of age, just in the morning of life, 
with all those relations that make life so dear 
to one; yet she bore alt her bereavements, 
sufferings, and insults with the meekness, 
patience and fortitude of the true martyr. 

Her cruel murder deeply affected us three 
remaining captives. We realized, more than 
ever, how heartless were our captors, and 
how helpless we were in their hands; and 
that at any moment we might meet a like 
fate. What their motive was we could not 
tell. It seemed only an act of wanton bar- 
barity. Stepping, as I was, in her very foot 
steps at the time, I could not but feel that 
there was only a step between me and death. 

Mrs. Noble was a cousin of Mrs. Thatcher 
by marriage, and had been intimately asso 
ciated with her for years. She seemed fairly 

crushed by this terrible blow and gave up 
12 



178 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

all hopa of deliverance or escape. She be 
came so desperate over our situation that she 
tried to persuade me to go with her to the 
river and drown ourselves; but the instruc 
tion of a Christian mother came to me, as a 
heavenly benediction, calming my troubled 
spirit, restraining me from rashness, and 
strengthening my faith and hope in the life 
that is to come. 

Benighted and degraded as these savages 
are, they too believe in the immortality of 
the soul, and dread the spirits of their vic 
tims. An illustration of this occurred in 
connection with the death of Mrs. Thatcher. 
One day soon after, some of the squaws took 
me to dig artichokes near the river. We 
heard a sound, such as a beaver or otter 
might make by leaping into the water. As 
they saw nothing likely to have made the 
noise, and possibly having some sense of the 
injustice done to Mrs. Thatcher, they at once 
concluded it was her spirit and fled promis 
cuously, clambering up the high bluff, leav 
ing me and the artichokes behind. When 
about half way up the hill they halted, and 
beckoned for me to follow, saying: "Weah- 
seah wakon ininn-s," signifying: Spirit of 



SAD FATE OF MRS. THATCHER. 179 

white ic oman in the water. I followed them, 
but they never went back after the arti 
chokes. When they reached the camp, they 
had a wonderful story to tell, about the spirit 
of the white woman being in the water. 
And strange to say the brave Indian warriors 
took it at full face value, and no investiga 
tion was made into its reliability. Accord 
ingly no more artichokes were dug on the 
banks of the Big Sioux; and, early the nexrt 
morning we moved toward the setting sun. 
Ignorance and superstition, cruelty and 
cowardly fear, legitimately belong together. 
Bravery in the true sense of this word, they 
are ignorant of, as of Egyptian hieroglyph 
ics. They could pelt a defenseless drown 
ing woman, but would flee in terror from 
the mere imagination of her disembodied 
spirit. This, however, plainly teaches us that 
the belief in the immortality of the soul can 
not be entirely obliterated from the human 
mind (if human these beings can be called). 



180 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER XVIIf, 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 

Frequently meet roving Bands of Indians Visited by 
two Brothers May 6th They buy Mrs. Marble She 
bids Farewell Follows Indians off Twenty-eight 
Years finding her Mrs. Marble s Letter Hon. C. E. 
Flandrau s Report of Mrs. Marble s Rescue The 
Ransom First Bond ever issued by Minnesota. 

i& 

jfHILE making this journey, we had 
frequently met roving parties of In 
dians, from the various bands of 
Sioux, who always seemed to be "Hail 
fellows well met," with our captors. 
It has been claimed, by the Sioux generally, 
that Inkpaduta and his band were "bad In 
dians," and disfellowshiped by them. But 
I surely saw nothing of the kind while I was 
among them. Whenever we met any of the 
other bands, our captors would go over the 




RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 181 

story of their achievements, by word, ges 
ture, and the display of scalps and booty, 
giving a vivid description of the affair; re 
producing in fullest detail even the groans 
and sighs of their victims- To all this the 
other Sioux listened, not only without any 
signs of disapprobation, but with every indi 
cation of enjoyment and high appreciation. 
On the sixth of May, as we were encamped 
some thirty miles west of the Big Sioux and 
near a small lake, known to the Indians as 
Chau-pta-ya-ton-ka, or Skunk Lake, we were 
visited by two Sioux brothers, by the name 
of Ma-kpe-ya-ha-ho-ton and Se-ha-ho-ta, 
from the reservation on Yellow Medicine 
river, Minn. They remained over night, en 
joying the hospitality of Inkpaduta; and 
were especially entertained by a panto 
mimic representation of the march through, 
and heroic deeds done in, Iowa and Minne 
sota. After the entertainment was over, the 
visitors proposed to purchase me, but were 
informed that I was not for sale- Perhaps 
they might have bought Mrs. Noble, but in 
some way got the impression that she was 
German; and, as is well known, the Sioux 
have a prejudice against the Teutons. So 



182 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Mrs. Marble was the favored one, for whom 
they paid, as they claimed, all they had all 
their trading stock. 

Before leaving, she came to the tent where 
I was, to bid me good-bye, and gave me some 
account of the negotiations, by which she had 
changed hands. She told me. also, that she 
believed her purchasers intended to take her 
to the whites. She said, if they did, she 
would do all in her power for our rescue. 
Though twenty-eight eventful years have 
passed since that memorable day, the picture 
of her departure is as vivid in my memory 
as if it had been yesterday. I see her yet, as 
she marched away from camp: four Indians 
in front, and she, in full Indian costume, fol 
lowing in Indian file. But never have I seen 
her since. Some years ago the report was 
circulated that she died in an insane asylum. 
After that it was thought I was the only 
survivor of the massacre. Although I had 
made every effort to learn the truth concern 
ing her, I always failed, until January, 1S85, 
when, strange to say, we had the first com 
munication since our captivity. She is now 
the wife of S. M. Silbaugh, of California. In 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. J83 

a letter of recent date, sue writes me. de 
scribing her capture and rescue, as follows: 

"SIDELL, Napa Co., California, 

February 25, 1885. 
"My Dear AbUe: 

"Your dear, good letter of January 28th was received 
in due time, and as you may well suppose it awoke a flood 
of bitter memoiies, recalling scenes and events that I have 
for many years vainly tried to bury in the grave of oblivion. 
It is nearly twenty-eight years ago since those horrible 
scenes to which you refer were enacted, and though 
wrecked in health, and having lost at that time all that 
made life dear to us, we still live, wonderful witnesses 
of those horrible scenes. With all my horrors, both mental 
and physical, I have striven through the long years to for 
get the agonies we endured; but as long as reason remains 
there are times when these fearful scenes are reproduced 
in memory with painful fidelity. 

4 It was in the fall of 1856 that I, a young girl lately 
married, moved with my husband from Linn county to 
Spirit Lake, on the northern boundary of Iowa, near the 
line of Minnesota. We located on a piece of land some 
two or three miles from any other settlers. Here we 
fondly hoped to make a home, induce other settlers to 
come, and hew the way for civiliz ition. Alas! how little 
we know what is in store for us. The following winter 
was one of uncommon severity, the snow was very deep* 
and weather intensely cold. Cattle perished with cold 
and hunger ; lakes and rivers froze over ; and the scatter 
ing settlers remained in their log-cabins, fearing to at 
tempt the dreadful elements, even for a brief ride of a 
few miles. 

"In the month of March the Indian outbreak occurred. 
It is with feelings unutterable that I recall to memory the 
morning of the thirteenth day of March, 1857. On that 
sad day I lost all that lent to life a charm home, hus 
band, health, love, peace of mind, and everything, save 



184 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

existence itself. This alone with reason was spared to 
me, and why? I have often asked myself the question. 
God in His infinite wisdom alone knows. 

"For your sake, dear Abbie, I will once again tear aside 
the veil that has shrouded those scenes, and go over 
again, as well as memory will permit, a recital of the 
horrible atrocities enacted, and the agonies I endured. 

"It was just after breakfast, and my husband and I 
had partaken of our cheerful rneal in our sunny little 
cabin. Little did we dream of danger, or that the stealthy 
and murderous savages were then Hearing our happy 
hoine. But, being attracted by noise outside, we looked 
through the window and saw, with fearful forebodings, 
a band of painted warriors nearing the door. Knowing 
nothing of the massacre, though the outbreak had com 
menced five days before, my husband stepped to the door, 
spoke to the leader of the band, and welcomed them to 
the house. A number came, and one of them perceived 
my husband s rifle, a handsome one. The Indian imme 
diately offered to trade; the trade was made on his own 
terms. My husband gave him 82.50 extra. The Indian 
then proposed to shoot at a mark, and signaled to my hus 
band to put up the target. It was then that the fearful 
work began, for while putting up the target the fiendish 
savage leveled his gun and shot my noble husband through 
the heart. With a scream, I rushed for the door to go to 
him, but two brawny savages barred my passage and held 
last the door. But love and agony were stronger than 
brute force, and with frantic energy I burst the door open, 
and was soon kneeling by the side of him who a few min 
utes before was my loving and beloved husband. But 
before I reached him a merciful God had released his 
spirit from mortal agony. He wore a belt around his 
waist containing a thousand dollars in gold. This belt 
was soaked with his precious blood. The Indians imme 
diately took possession of the money, and entering the 
house they began searching for valuables. They took 
what they desired. They first found my gold watch, and 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 185 

taking it apart they used the wheels for ornaments. They 
took quilts, blankets, provisions and everything that 
pleased their savage fancy. They gave me to understand 
that for the present they would riot kill me, but I must 
accompany them. 

"Having committed their diabolical deeds and plun 
dered my house, they placed me, broken-hearted ana 
crushed, on a pony in their midst, and the march com 
menced. I can not attempt to describe the feelings with 
which I looked for the last time on the mutilated body of 
my husband as it was left, crushed and beaten into the 
snow, by fiends who disgrace the name of human beings. 

"As we left the spot which had so lately been associated 
to me by the sacred name of home, the brutal savages 
fastened my red stand-cover to a pole as a flag or trophy, 
and picked up my husband s cap that had so lately covered 
his beautiful raven locks. They kicked it before them 
for perhaps a mile. It seemed to be done in mockery of 
my intense sufferings. 

"I now come to the part of this terrible history, dear 
Abbie, where I met you a sweet innocent girl of fourteen 
years Mrs. Thatcher and Mrs. Noble. We met, oh lov 
ing friend, as pitiful captives in an Indian camp! 

"Perhaps you remember that while we were camped at 
a little lake the Indians went to Springfield and massa 
cred the people and robbed that place. I do not know the 
name of the lake, but I remember it was surrounded 
with large oak trees, in which there were a number of 
eagles nests. I do not know whether you recollect their 
arrival in camp that evening or not, but I remember it 
well, and so long as reason retains her throne I shall never 
forget it. It was just about sundown, and I had stepped 
out of the tent, when through the opening of the oaks 
my eyes caught the sight of a long line of dusky objects 
coming across the prairie. A second glance, and I recog 
nized the Indians of our camp. They came single file to 
the number of some twelve or thirteen. Each one led a 
horse, which with their drag- poles, on which they carry 



188 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

their loads, m-ide a long line of men and horses. The 
horses were loaded with all kinds of goods and plunder. 
It was evident a dry-goods store had been robbed. For, 
if you remember, each Indian wore a full suit of new, 
dark clothes, and with the new dark cape drawn closely 
down over their brows they presented a singular and really 
gloomy appearance. Many of them even wore new gloves. 
They brought blankets, groceries of all kinds, and whole 
bolts of prints. I with my own hands made up dozens of 
garments of the calico; dresses for their papooses, and 
shirts for the men, as well as dresses for the squaws. They 
had also, many of them, a young animal strapped to their 
horses. I soon perceived that they were young calves. 
You doubtless remember they feasted about this time on 
veal cooked with the hair and hide on. 

"Now, in regard to the death of Mrs. Thatcher, 1 did 
not see her until she was in the water. I was some dis 
tance below. On reaching the river I noticed an Indian 
shooting at an obiect in the water. I attracted his atten 
tion, and pointing to the object, remarked in Indian. 
JBudot (meaning otter), when he answered, Hea, hea 1 
WasechaS white woman. I then saw, to my horror and 
dismay, that it was one of the white captives, and soon 
recognized by her dress that it was Mrs. Thatcher. He 
was still shooting at her, but I think that she was already 
dead. 

"I will now give you a brief description of my rescue. 
One afternoon as I stepped out of the tent I saw two fine- 
looking, well-dressed Indians. I spoke to them, and soon 
perceived that they had taken a fancy to me, and desired to 
buy me. The trade was mad;) in guns, blankets, powder, 
etc., quickly done, and I was made to understand that I 
was the property of the two strange Indians. I found 
we were to start immediately, and then, if you remember, 
I stepped to you and told you I was bought by them, and 
if I ever reached civilization that I would do all in my 
power to effect your rescue and that of Lyclia; a prom- 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 187 

ise I fulfilled as soon as possible, but, to my great horror, 
the relief party came too late to benefit poor Lydia. 

"On leaving the camp of Inkpaduta, two of his Indians 
accompanied the friendly Indians and myself for the sole 
purpose, it proved, to secure the remainder of the pur 
chase price. It was evident the friendly Indians feared 
the savages would regret their trade, and for this reason 
I was pushed on as rapidly as possible. It was about 3 p. 
M. when we started. Some time after dark a halt was 
made and we partook of a frugal repast of parched corn 
provided by the friendly Indians. We then lay down for 
a short sleep, myself perched between the two friendly 
Indians. It was evident they feared treachery. 

" Before daybreak the march was ordered, and we arose 
and without a bite for refreshment a rapid march com 
menced. About 9 o clock A. M. we arrived on the bank 
of the Big Sioux river. On the opposite bank was an en 
campment of Indians. I may here state, this whole jour 
ney, a long sixty miles, we traveled from the savage 
carnp, was made over burned prairie, and as my mocca 
sins were worn to shreds my bleeding feet were pierced 
through with the sharp stubbles. 

" We crossed the river in a canoe, the savages going 
with one of the friendly Indians first. The canoe re 
turned and the other one and myself went over. As we 
started across my rescuer threw back my blanket from 
my shoulders, to make all the display possible, so as the 
Indians could all see they had purchased and rescued a 
white woman. It was evident they were very proud of 
their new possession. I soon found that fortune had 
vastly changed for me. . All honors and courtesies known 
to them were showered upon me. A bountiful repast of 
corn, cooked and served in wooden bowls, with horn 
spoons, was set before us. It seemed approaching a 
shade of civilization. I thought food had never tasted so 
good before. 

"Soon after this a Frenchman came to the door of the 
tent, and in good English said, Come to my house now. 



188 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

I went, but found only a tent, yet to my great pleasure 
his neat little squaw served me a cup of hot tea, some 
potatoes, and dried pumpkins, cooked. Surely, I thought 
this a feast fit for the gods! A great contrast from my 
former experience with Inkpaduta, where we subsisted 
mostly on digging roots, and roasting bones and feathers, 
to keep soul and body together. 

"After the repast, and the departure of Inkpaduta s 
Indians, it was thought best to move camp for fear they 
might attack us, and endeavor to regain their captive. On 
the journey we came to another Indian camp. Here new 
honors were heaped upon me. A fine new blanket was 
presented me. A dog-feast was ordered in a tent in the 
midst of hosts of Sioux warriors. I, the only woman, 
received the toast and listened to the speeches and par 
took of the feast, which was tendered to me by the hands 
of the chief. The only recompense asked was, the chief 
desired me to mention him favorably to the Great Father 
at Washington, should I go there. We then took up our 
line of march again, and after several days reached the 
Yellow Medicine. 

"Here were the parents of the two Indians who had 
rescued me, and they gave me into their charge. They 
had shortly before lost a daughter, and it seems their in 
tentions were to adopt me in her place. Every kindness 
possible was shown me. I soon found myself in the po 
sition of an Indian princess. A snug apartment was fitted 
out for my use. A couch of fine robes was prepared, and 
real pillows of softest feathers. The room was curtained 
off from the main tent by print curtains. My food was 
cooked, and the bones even taken from the meat before 
passed into my apartment. I remained here about two 
weeks, and was made to know by their actions it was 
their desire to keep me as their daughter. 

"At this place was a government store, and one day an 
Indian clerk, I think, of the store, visited me to go to 
the store to present me a dress-pattern. It appears, dur 
ing my stay here, word had been sent that a white woman 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 189 

rescued from thelndians was in the camp at Yellow Med 
icine. Between two and three weeks after my rescue, 
Messrs. Biggs and Williamson, missionaries of the 
agency, at Hazelwood, came to see me, and, buying me a 
suit of clothing, soap, and other articles, took me to visit 
in their families. I was formally passed over to the 
whites by my Indian father, who accompanied me, and in 
the presence of a number of white people kissed me, and 
shedding tears bade me farewell. 

" I was then virtually free and among my own people. 

" I learned that the sum of $1,000 had been paid by the 
state of Minnesota for me. I soon after accompanied 
Major Flandrau to St. Paul, where every evidence of 
sympathy and kindness was showered upon me by every 
one I met. 

"Believe me ever your own true friend, 

"M. A. SlLBAUGH." 

It was perhaps three weeks after our cap 
ture, when our own clothing actually be 
came worn out, and we were compelled to 
adopt the costume of the squaws, a style of 
dress having, at least, one thing in its favor, 
it was better adapted to our mode of life 
than that of the civilized nations. Trailing 
skirts may be the proper thing in the draw 
ing-room, carpeted with brussels, but in the 
drawing-room of the Sioux, or on one of their 
tours, just between winter and spring time, 
they would hardly be found either healthful 
or convenient. Experience has probably 



190 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

taught them the advantage of their costume. 
This costume I will describe. 

The dress of the males, ordinarily, con 
sists of deer-skin leggings, having the resem 
blance of the lower half of a pair of panta 
loons; moccasins cover the feet, and complete 
the dress of the lower extremities. A belt 
or girdle surrounds the waist, and under this 
is drawn a piece of blue broadcloth, about a 
quarter of a yard in width, and a yard and 
a half in length, or long enough to pass be 
tween the lower extremities, and the ends 
fall over, and form a flap in front, and on 
the back of the lower portion of the body. 
A short skirt of buck-skin sometimes 
fringed around the bottom and a blanket, 
complete the outfit of the men. In addition 
to this, however, may be seen a fathom of 
scarlet or blue cloth, worn around the waist, 
as a sash; and another of like material, or 
a shawl, around the head, as a turban. 

With the female a calico chemise covers 
the arms and body a little below the waist; 
a skirt of blue broadcloth is confined 
around the waist by a belt or girdle, and ex 
tends nearly to the ankles; a pair of red or 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 191 

blue pantalets and moccasins complete the 
under dress. To this is added a blanket, or 
fathom of red and blue broadcloth to be 
used as an outer garment or wrap. With 
this the usual dress of the squaw is com 
plete. Their blankets are white, red, blue, 
or green; composed of fine wool, and of su 
perior fabrication. 

Our shoes were taken from .us immediately 
after our capture, and moccasins given us 
instead, so that we should not make "shoe- 
tracks/ 5 as before stated. A moccasin will 
wear through in a couple of days, and need 
mending. They would sit up at night, after 
a long day s march, and dry and mend their 
moccasins. But night always found me too 
exhausted for that; and as soon as we were 
settled for the night I would fall asleep. 
Next day as I would go limping, with bleed 
ing feet, they would tell me that if I had 
mended my moccasins, as they did, I need not 
now go lame. 

I missed Mrs. Marble s presence very 
much, but did not grieve as formerly, for 
poor Mrs- Thatcher, nor as subsequently for 
Mrs. Noble; for I trusted she had, at least, 
bettered her condition by the change, if she 



192 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

had not really gained her liberty. Of one 
thing I was certain, she could not fall into 
worse hands than those from which she had 
escaped. 

She was at once taken by her purchasers, 
to the agency on the Yellow Medicine, and 
delivered into the hands of Stephen R. 
Riggs and Dr. Williamson, missionaries 
stationed at that place. Here, the various 
tribes of the Sioux were accustomed to as 
semble to receive their annuities, and all the 
business between them and the United States 
was transacted. These missionaries imme 
diately delivered Mrs. Marble into the hands 
of Charles E. Flandrau, United States In 
dian agent for the Sioux. 

There was an understanding with her pur 
chasers that they should be amply rewarded. 
This agreement was carried out; the two 
Indians receiving five hundred dollars each. 
At the agency she laid aside the habiliments 
of savagery and serfdom, donning the attire 
of freedom and civilization. 

The major took her in his buggy to St. 
Paul, where he generously ordered for her a 
rich and more becoming habiliment of 
widowhood, in which to appear before the 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 193 

pablic. Excitement ran high. Hundreds 
c/Cttvrled the hotel where she stopped, to offer 
their congratulations, and express their 
sympathies. 

The legislature then in session appropri 
ated, from an empty treasury, ten thousand 
dollars, to be used (all or part, as occasion 
might require,) for the rescue of the two 
remaining captives, and to compensate for 
the one already brought in. 

Many other important and interesting 
facts concerning her rescue from the Indians 
are given by Hon. C. F. Fbindrau, and her 
purchasers, as follows: 

MRS. MARBLE BROUGHT IN. 

"I was engaged in devising plans for the rescue of the 
captives and the punishment of the Indians, in connection 
with Col. Alexander, of the 10th infantry, but had found 
it very difficult to settle upon any course which would 
not endanger the safety of the prisoners. We knew that 
any hostile demonstration would be sure to result in the 
destruction of the women, and were without means to fit 
out an expedition for their ransom. 

"While we were deliberating upon the best course to 
pursue, an accident opened the way to success. A party 
of my Indians were hunting on the Big Sioux river, and 
having learned that Inkpaduta s band were encamped at 
Lake Chau-pta-ya-ton-ka, about thirty miles west of the 
river, arid also knowing . f the fact that they held some 
white women prisoners, two young men (brothers) visited 
the camp, and after much talk they succeeded in purchas- 
13 



194 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ing Mrs. Marble. They paid for her all they possessed, 
and brought her into the agency, and delivered her into 
the possession of the missionaries stationed at that point. 
She was at once turned over to me with a written state 
ment from the two Indians who had brought her in, 
which was prepared for them at their request by Mr. 
Riggs, who spoke their language fluently. I will allow 
them to tell their own story. It was as follows: 

" l Hon. C. E. Flandrau: 

" FATHER: In our spring hunt, when encamped at the 
north end of Big Wood on the Sioux river, we learned 
from some Indians who came to us that we were not far 
from Bed End s camp. Of our own accord, and contrary 
to the advice of all about us, we concluded to visit them, 
thinking that possibly we might be able to obtain one or 
more of the white women held by them as prisoners. We 
found them encamped at Chau-pta-ya-ton-ka lake, about 
thirty miles west of our own camp. We were met at 
some distance from their lodges by four men armed with 
revolvers, who demanded of us our business. After sat 
isfying them that we were not spies, and had no evil 
intentions in regard to them, we were taken into Inkpa- 
uuta s lodge. 

" The night was spent in reciting their massacre, etc. 
It was not until the next morning that we ventured to 
ask for one of the women. Much time was spent in talk 
ing, and it was not until the middle of the afternoon did 
we obtain their consent to our proposition. We paid for 
her all we had. 

" We brought her to our mother s tent, clothed her as 
we were able, and fed her bountifully with the best we 
had, duck and corn. We brought her to Lacqui Parle, 
and now, father, after having her with us fifteen days, 
we place her in your hands. 

" It was perilous business for which we think we 
should be liberally rewarded. We claim for our services 
$500 each. We do not want it in horses. They would be 
killed by jealous warriors. We do not want it in ammu 
nition and goods; these we should be obliged to divide 
with others. The laborer is worthy of his own reward. 
We want it in money, which we can make more service 
able to ourselves than it could be in any other form. 
This is what we want to say 

" MA-KPE : YA-HA-HO TON. 
" SE-HA-HO-TA. 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 195 

" In the above statement and demand, we the under 
signedfather of the young men, and father-in-law to 
one of them concur. 

" WA-KAN-VA-NE, X his mark. 
" NON-PA-KIN-YAN, X his mark. 
" May 21, 1857. 

EFFORTS TO RESCUE THE OTHER CAPTIVES. 

. -By the action of these Indians we not only got one of 
the captives, but we learned for the first time definitely 
the whereabouts of the marauders and the assurance that 
the other women were still alive, as these Indians had 
seen them in Red End s camp. 

"The legislature of the territory was in session, and the 
interest in the fate of the captured women was very 
active at the capital. Of course there was no end of peo 
ple who knew just how to rescue them, and also exactly 
how to annihilate the Indians. There always are such 
people on such occasions. Public sentiment received its 
expression through the legislature, which on the 15th day 
of May passed an act appropriating $10,000, or so much 
thereof as was necessary, out of an empty treasury to be 
applied to the rescue of the captives. Fortunately the 
appropriation was not hampered by any condition, or 
adoption of any of the numerous plans suggested to 
assume it, but the governor was given carte blanche to d o 
what he thought best with it. 

NOVEL FINANCIERING. 

"At the time I received Mrs. Marble, on the 21st of 
May, from her deliverers, I had not heard of this appro 
priation, but the way seemed open to rescue the remain 
ing captives. I at once called for volunteers from among 
my Indians to go out and buy them, which I knew was 
the only way they could be obtained alive. The first dif 
ficulty I had to overcome was to satisfy the demand of 
the two brothers for Mrs. Marble, as I wanted to use 



196 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

them in my proposed expedition. I had no public fund 
that could be devoted to such a purpose; but I had confi 
dence in the generosity of the people, especially if 1 suc 
ceeded. As every moment might be worth a life, I deter 
mined to resume the responsibility of anything that was 
necessary. 1 was ably assisted by Messrs. Riggs and Will 
iamson, both in excellent advice, and in the exertion of 
their influence with the Indians. The traders all re 
sponded cheerfully to my call upon them. I could not 
raise $1,000 in money in the country, but I had $500; and, 
in order to raise the other $500 to pay the two Indians 
for Mrs. Marble, we resorted to a novel mode of financier 
ing. Mr. Biggs and myself decided to issue a territorial 
bond for the amount, drawn on hope and charity, payable 
in three months from date, It was the first bond ever 
issued by the territory, and I am happy to say, although 
executed without authority, it met with a better fate than 
some which followed it under the broad seal of the 
state; it was paid at maturity. As it was the first obliga 
tion of the territory, and being rather original in form I 
give it in full: 

"I, Stephen R. Riggs, missionary of the Sioux Indians, 
and I, Charles E Fiandrau, U. S. Indian agent for the 
Sioux, being satisfied that Makpeyahahoton and Seha- 
hota, two Sioux Indians, have performed a valuable serv 
ice to the Territory of Minnesota, and humanity, by res 
cuing from captivity Margaret Ann Marble and delivering 
her to the Sioux agent; and being further satisfied that 
the lescueof the two remaining white women who are now 
in captivity among Inkpaduta s band of Indians, depends 
much upon the liberality of the territory of Minnesota, 
through its government and citizsns, have this day paid 
to said above named Indians the sum of $500 in money, 
and do Inroby pledge to said two Indians, that the further 
sum of $500 will be paid to them by the Territory of 
Minnesota, or its citizens, within three months from date 
hereof. 
"Dated May 22d, 1857, at Paja^jgi, M. T. 

STEPHEN R. RIGGS, A. B. F. M. 

CHARLES E. FLANDRAU, 

U. S Agent for Sioux/ 



RESCUE OF MRS. MARBLE. 197 



THE RESCUING PARTY. 

"The cash and this paper paid for Mrs. Marble, and 
the magnificence of the ransom, produced the effect I had 
anticipated. Volunteers were not wanting. I selected 
Mazintemani, who was one of the pillars of Mr. Riggs 
church; John Other Day (who was such a friend of the 
whites at the time of the Minnesota massacre of 1862, as 
to be rewarded by the state with a quarter section of 
land), and Hoton Ho Washta. 

"The question of outfit then presented itself, and I ran 
my credit with the traders for the following articles at 
the prices stated : 

"Wagon $110.00 

" Four horses 600.00 

Twelve 3-point blankets, 4 blue and 8 white 56.00 

Thirty-two yds. of squaw cloth 44.00 

* Thirty-seven and a half yds of calico 5.37 

Twenty pounds of tobacco 10.00 

One sack of shot 4.00 

One dozen shirts 13.00 

Ribbon 4.00 

Fifteen pounds of powder 25.00 

Corn 4.00 

Flour 10.00 

Coffee 1.50 

Sugar 1.50 

" With this outfit, and instructions to give as much of 
it as was necessary for the women, my expedition started 
on the 23d day of May, from Yellow Medicine. 

* I at once left for Fort Ridgely, to consult Col. Alexan 
der, as to the plan of operation for an attack upon the 
camp of Inkpaduta, the instant we could get word as to 
the safety of the white women. Tue colonel entered into 
the spirit of the matter with zeal. He had four office 
companies at the fort, and proposed to put them into the 
field so as to approach Skunk Lake, where Inkpaduta 
had his camp, from several different directions, and 
insure his destruction. 



198 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

" If an event which was wholly unforeseen had not 
transpired the well laid plan of Col. Alexander would 
undoubtedly have succeeded. But, unfortunately for the 
cause of justice, just about the time we began to expect 
information from my expedition, which was the signal for 
moving on the enemy, an order arrived at the fort, com 
manding the colonel, with all his available force, to start 
immediately and join the expedition against the Mor 
mons, which was then moving to Utah, under the com 
mand of Gen. Sidney Johnston. So peremptory was the 
command that the steamboat which brought the order 
carried off the entire garrison of the fort, and put an end 
to all hopes of our being able to punish the enemy. 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 199 



CHAPTER XIX. 



SUPERSTITIONS AND MANNERS OF THE 
DAKOTAS. 

Beyond the Big Sioux in Dakota Living on Roots Wild 
Animals eaten without Salt Skunk-hunt Ponies 
and Dogs overloaded Sick Papoose Divinations Per 
formedPapoose dies Burial in a Tree Home 
Training Religious Beliefs Believe in Great Spirit 
Immortality of the Soul Their Sacrifices, Oblations, 
etc. The supposed Origin of the Dakotas. 



FTER the departure from Inkpaduta s 
camp of the two Yellow Medicine In 
dians and Mrs, Marble, we proceeded 
on our journey. We were now far be- 
"yond the Big Sioux, in Dakota territory, 
and probably beyond where any white man 
had ever been. The provisions taken from 
the whites had long been exhausted, and our 
only subsistence was furnished by such edi 
ble roots as had survived the winter, and 




200 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

whatever animals or wild fowl we could find 
on the way. We passed through an Indian 
village on one occasion, in Minnesota, where 
the squaws had planted and raised a small 
patch of corn. Here, about half a teacup 
full was boiled and given to me, the first 
morsel I had eaten in three days. 

The principal root we had was wild arti 
choke. They also got two or three other 
kinds of roots; one. although growing in the 
ground, resembled beans; another being 
longer and more irregular in form, and of a 
light color, nearly white. All these were 
roasted, boiled, or eaten raw, as fancy or 
convenience led them to do- Unpalatable 
as these roots were, hut for them we must 
have famished. 

Among the game killed and greedily de 
voured were geese, ducks, swans, brants, pel 
icans, and cranes, of the fowl kind; and of 
quadrupeds there were beaver, otter, musk- 
rat, skunk, etc., and fish. The fowls were pre 
pared for the kettle by simply pulling off the 
roughest of the feathers, without washing 
or dressing. They were eaten without salt 
or seasoning. Beaver and otter were singed 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 20 L 

to free them of the thickest of the fur, 
pitched into a pot and boiled. 

When cooked these savory meats were 
dished out into wooden bowls, each bowl 
holding a quart or more, and eaten with 
spoons made of buffalo horns. 

Each Indian has his place in the wigwam, 
into which he drops as regularly as cattle into 
their stalls in a stable. The squaws dish up 
the food into these bowls, and hand them to 
their lordly masters, who sit and eat at the 
meat, and drink the soup, and pass up their 
dishes for more until the supply is gone. 

Most savory among these savory meats 
was the polecat or skunk. I well remember, 
on one occasion, going on a skunk-hunt. It 
was a warm evening, when they would be 
likely to be out of their holes. Just a little 
before sundown one of the squaws came to 
me, told me she was going after skunks, and 
ordered me to accompany her. She was 
armed with a club, but I went unarmed, to 
carry the game- The dusky huntress was 
not long in scenting her game, and she took 
after it like a bloodhound. It struck for 
cover; she after it. Just as it entered its 
hole she struck, but missed her prey, and 



202 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

broke her club. Tt was full a quarter of a 
mile to timber where a new club could be 
obtained. So she left me to prevent the 
escape of the game while she went for arms. 
Her instructions were explicit and peremp 
tory: if he came to the mouth of the hole I 
was to strike at him and drive him back. I 
lay down by the hole to watch, of course, 
but only too gbid of a chance to rest, and 
most sincerely hoping he would escape. She 
had been gone but a little while when the 
aromatic little fellow poked his nose out of 
the hole. I kept as still as a mouse. After 
concluding that the coast was clear he trot 
ted off, so saving his own dear life, and sav 
ing me from the necessity of helping to eat 
him. In due time the chief of this little 
hunting party returned, fully prepared to 
cope with the game she had driven to cover, 
and inquired of me if he was still there. 
Thinking "honesty the best policy," I shook 
my head, and pointed off in the way he had 
gone. To say she was angry is to put it 
mildly. She fairly danced with rage, show 
ered upon me a perfect torrent of invectives, 
and gesticulated in a manner indescribable. 
It is a wonder she did not use on me the club 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 203 

she had been at so much pains to get, but 
for unaccountable reasons I escaped the 
blows, and was heartily glad Mr. Skunk was 
gone. Had she known that I purposely 
allowed him to escape I would, doubtless, 
have felt the full weight of her club. By this 
time it was too dark for further operations, 
so we went back to camp without the cov 
eted luxury, and I was never taken on a 
skunk-hunt again. 

We were absolutely compelled to eat what 
ever was given to us, or to dispose of it un 
known to them. Frequently they would 
give me things I could not possibly swallow, 
for instance, fish of which the flesh was so 
decomposed it was falling from the bone- 
In such cases I would watch rny opportunity 
and drop it inside my blanket, from which T 
would throw it away when on the march. 
Possibly skunk-meat might not be so bad 
if properly dressed, but singed and boiled 
entire it was almost too savory to suit my 
taste. 

When the Indians came to my father s 
house, they brought with them a sick pa 
poose, about eight or nine years old. How 
long it had then been sick I do not know, 



204 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

but from its emaciation and weakness, I 
should judge, some time. They then had 
two sleds, in one of which this papoose was 
carried. As the snow melted away, they left 
the sleds, substituting "travies." As this 
term may be new to the reader I will give a 
brief explanation. 

The long poles used in the construction of 
their teepes are made into small bundles by 
being bound together at the ends. Then 
two of these bundles are attached to a strong 
thong of rawhide long enough to go around 
a horse s neck where the collar usually goes. 
The poles are so attached as to be a foot or 
more apart, and w r hen the thong is fastened 
at the horse s neck, the smaller ends of the 
poles will be at his shouklers,while the others 
w T ill drag on the ground. The travies, a large 
hoop, oval in shape, and woven across with 
bark or buckskin, are attached to the poles, 
just back of the horse s heels- On this were 
placed such articles as they did not choose 
to carry, or such persons as were not able to 
walk. The loads which even ponies were 
made to haul in this awkward manner were 
immense. Besides these heavy loads on the 
travies, it is not unusual to see an Indian 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTA3. 205 

on the back of the pony, and heavy laden 
baskets at the sides. Even the dogs were 
made to haul smaller travies, yet large 
enough to be perfectly barbarous. The poor 
creatures would pull, as if for dear life, until 
perfectly exhausted, when they would drop 
to the ground, as if dead, and lie there a few 
minutes, then get up and trudge on again. 
Thus, day after day, these half-fed animals 
were made to toil to the utmost limit of 
possible endurance for their lazy masters. 

But to return to the sick papoose. In re 
gard to the death of Mrs. Thatcher, we saw 
some ot their superstition. In the cass of 
this papoose we see yet others- They would 
gather cedar twigs and burn them in the 
teepe, near the couch of the sick one, as a 
method of divination. The omen seemed 
to be good or ill, according as the smoke 
went from or toward the sick. The first 
time that I remember of their trying this, 
the smoke accidentally drew toward the fire, 
and so away from the couch, which 1 soon 
saw pleased them ; they pointed to the smoke, 
motioned in the direction it went, and by 
their lively gibberish, and expressive faces, 
showed that they were perfectly delighted. 



206 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

As, however, the papoose did not recover, 
some days later they got the medicine-man 
again, and repeated the experiment, but with 
less satisfactory results. This time, for some 
reason, the smoke was borne toward the 
papoose, whereupon every Indian in the tent 
commenced howling, as only an Indian can. 
This was to them, evidently, a bad omen a 
sign that the child would die. It died; so to 
them the sign proved true. 

On one occasion, as the papoose was un 
wrapped, at the close of the day s march, 
they evidently thought it was dead, as the 
mother broke out in the song of death, and 
the father seized his gun and started off in 
great rage, as we supposed, to kill himself ; 
as the other Indians ran after him, seized his 
gun, and brought him back. The papoose 
was found, however, to be still alive (though 
chilled and nearly dead). So the parents 
were quieted for the time. Perhaps it was 
a week or ten days after this, that the pa 
poose actually died; and then the mother cut 
off her coarse black hair as a sign of mourn 
ing, and the death-wail broke out in earnest. 
Their death-song is a wild, hideous succession 
of cadences, utterly unlike the plaints of de- 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 207 

spair or grief, but rather a wild, unearthly 
sound, expressive of only savage passion, 
impressive to witness and startling to hear. 
Every night at the same hour, for several 
weeks, this passionate wailing was repeated. 
The mother would begin; then others, one 
after another, would break out in the wild 
wail, until not only those in the teepe, where 
the death occurred, but also those in other 
teepes, who were related to the deceased, had 
joined in the lamentations. Thus, for weeks, 
the twilight hours were made hideous by 
these horrible sounds, which, once heard, can 
never be forgotten. 

After death, the body was still borne on 
the travies for several days, closely wrapped 
in a blanket. When we reached the desired 
grove, a platform was constructed of poles 
laid across two horizontal limbs of a large 
oak tree, and, by means of strips of bark 
tied to the body, it was hauled up for burial. 
There the poor emaciated body was laid to 
rest, after having been dragged around so 
long. And thus the Sioux bury their dead. 

Speaking of this papoose suggests the 
treatment of papooses in general. A Sioux 
mother binds her infant to a small board 



208 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

when a few hours old. It is first imbed 
ded in the feathery heads of the cat-tail 
flag (picked to pieces), and wrapped around 
with strips of cloth or buckskin, commenc 
ing at the feet, and extending upward until 
all but the head is enveloped. It is then 
placed on a board and firmly bound with a 
blanket. This keeps it straight, protects it 
from injury in the rough treatment it re 
ceives, and is altogether more convenient for 
their mode of living than any other arrange 
ment. From this confined position they are 
relieved only for a few minutes at a time, 
and this only at long inteivals. 

When old enough to run alone, it is relieved 
of its swathing bands, and if the weather 
is warm it is turned loose, without an nrti- 
cle of clothing to protect or impede the 
action of its limbs. In the teepes the pa 
pooses are stood up against the wall, even 
from the first, and are almost no trouble at 
all. On the march they are stuck in the 
panniers on the horses; or on the backs of the 
squaws, inside of their blankets, or in any 
manner convenience may suggest. 

When I came to see how the children 
were educated, and what was the early home- 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 209 

training (if home they can be said to have) I 
ceased to wonder at their savagery. From 
their earliest childhood they are taught that 
fighting and killing are the highest virtues. 
The war-dance is a school eminently adapted 
to this end. There, all the fierce and cruel 
deeds in which each has participated are 
recited in a manner that might 

" Stir a fever in the blood of age, 
Or make an infant s sinews strong as steel." 

Not only this, but the private recitals, 
around the fire in the teepes, and all the in 
tercourse of the children with each other, 
their sports (if sports they can be called), 
tend to the same end. 

Occasionally there would be a, day so cold 
and stormy that even a Sioux would not 
travel. These were to me more dreaded, 
even, than the wearisome marches, because 
of being crowded in the teepe, by the side of 
the young scions, with their dirty faces and 
noses; who here had a good opportunity of 
developing their true nature. There were 
" wars and rumors of wars " from morning 
till night. They would fight, pull hair, 
scratch, and bite until their faces were 
smeared with blood; the squaws not only 



210 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

making no attempt to restrain them, but 
actually cheering and urging them on; 
laughing in great glee when the} got in 
some lucky hit, or if they showed fierce or 
revengeful dispositions. With such train 
ing, is it strange that they grow to be what 
they are ? "As the twig is bent the tree is 
inclined. 7 

The highest ambit-ion of the young war 
rior is to secure the feather," which is the 
testimonial of his having murdered some 
human being; but securing one feather only 
whets his zeal for more, as his rank or 
standing depends upon the number of his 
feathers. These are worn in the hair until 
enough are obtained to make a cap, or head 
gear. No one would be allowed to wear a 
feather which did not represent a life taken, 
any more than in our regular army a cap 
tain w T ould be allowed to wear the shoulder- 
straps of a colonel. The head-dress, filled 
with these eagle-feathers and other insignia 
of blood, is regarded as "Wakan," (most 
sacred), and no unhallowed hand of man or 
woman dare tourh it. 

It seems to me that Christian states 
men, and all those who have a duty to per- 



SUPE11STITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 211 

form toward the rising generation in civil 
ized nations, might find a lesson in this Is 
there not altogether too much glorification 
of deeds of blood? Too much talk about 
gunpowder and glory? Patriotism is a no 
ble emotion; but love of country is one 
thing; love of war is quite another. 

The religious beliefs of the Dakotas is 
a profound study; worthy of an older head 
than mine was; yet there was much that 
could not but interest and impress me. The 
following statement of these beliefs is given, 
not simply on my own authority as the re 
sult of my own observation while among 
them, but on authority of Philander 
Prescott, U. S. government interpreter of the 
expedition sent from Fort Ridgely, for the 
relief of Springfield. 

For forty-five years this man was inti 
mately associated with them; married one 
of their number; and spoke their language 
better than they did themselves. He was 
thus familiar with all their beliefs and cus 
toms, and his statements are most reliable. 
In the massacre of 1862, at the age of nearly 
seventy he was murdered in cold blood by 
those he had so faithfully served for nearly 



212 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

half a century. He talked with his fiendish 
murderers and tried to reason with them 
by saying, "I am an old man; I have lived 
among you forty-five years; I have never 
done you any harm, but have ever been your 
true friend in all your troubles. My wife 
and children are of your own blood. Why 
do you want to kill me?" But the iron 
heart of the savage knows no pity, no mercy; 
and while he was thus remonstrating with 
them he received the fatal bullet, and died 
a martyr at the brands of that perfidious 
race, with no other reason given him for 
taking his life than that he was a white man 
and "the white man must die." 

The Sioux believe in one Great Spirit, the 
maker of heaven and earth. They also be 
lieve in subordinate spirits both good and 
bad, and in the immortality of the soul. 
The Great Spirit they believe created every 
thing except wild rice and thunder- The 
rice they believe to be beneath the work 
manship of the Great One, and attribute it 
to chance Thunder they believe to be the 
sound of the wings of an immense bird. 

They believe that somewhere in the 
heavens are cities and villages where the 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 213 

spirits of the departed remain at war with 
their enemies; and where the Sioux will al 
ways find plenty of game. They believe the 
spirits of the dead have power to inflict 
injury. They therefore offer sacrifices, to ap 
pease them. 

They adore the Great Spirit, although they 
have distorted conceptions of the attributes 
of the Deity. Various objects, animate and 
inanimate, are worshiped. Sometimes they 
think the Great Spirit angry with them, as 
when storms do them harm. They then 
make sacrifices of animals and other things 
to pacify him, that they may prosper in life. 

They support a non-hereditary sacerdotal 
order; the same person being both priest 
and medicine-man. They have also what 
may be termed jugglers, who, they believe, 
have power to confer blessings or curses. 
They have little conception of rewards and 
punishments after death. 

In cases of sickness, they perform cere 
monies, which are expected to cure the sick. 
They also believe in dreams and omens. 
When they have a good dream, they suppose 
some friendly spirit has been near them; 
but bad dreams indicate that of an enemy. 



214 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

The bat they regard as an evil omen, and 
dread the ignis fatuus, believing it a certain 
sign of death in the family of the one who 
sees it. 

In war, or hunting, they are directed by 
signs and dreams. The signs may be, the 
running of animals, flying of birds, or sounds 
at nighfc. They think some animals have 
souls, and that the bear has four; but do not 
believe in the transmigration of souls as do 
some of the people of Asia. 

Their fabled monsters are: Haokuk, the 
giant, and Unkatahe- The giant could stand 
astride the tallest pine-tree, or the broadest 
river; lives on the fat of animals; and is 
armed with a huge bow and arrow. They 
believe he yet lives, and can kill them with 
a look from his piercing eye. The Unka 
tahe is an animal of two kinds, one of the 
water and one of the land. They are sup- 
posed to possess great power, and can even 
kill the thunder. They also believe in fairies 
who inhabit all strange places, in rivers, 
lakes, cliffs, mountains, and forests. 

The manners, customs, and institutions of 
the Dakotas have many of the patriarchal 
features of the ancients. They strictly ob- 



SUPERSTITIONS OF THE DAKOTAS. 215 

serve the feast of first fruits; and all ani 
mals offered in sacrifice must be the best* 
In some of the feasts they are obliged to eat 
all that has been cooked. After a religious 
feast incense is offered; the host taking a 
large coal from the fire, upon which the foli 
age of the cedar is laid, and with this the 
vessels are perfumed. Certain animals 
they regard with great veneration : among 
these, the serpent, turtle, wolf, grizzly bear, 
and eagle. 

In customs, language, traditions, and phys 
iognomy, the Sioux differ radically from the 
Algonquins. So marked is this difference 
that Pike, Bchoolcraft and others have ex* 
pressed the opinion that they are a distinct 
race. Their sacrifices and supplications to 
the unknown God, their feasts, burnt offer 
ings, incense and certain customs of the fe 
males, remind one of the customs and ob 
servances among the Asiatic tribes before 
the Christian era. Pike expressed the opin 
ion that they are of Tartarian origin. They 
are the Arabs of the western plains. 



216 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER XX. 



DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 

Met a Party of Yanktons Captives sold to Yanktons- 
Continue with Inkpaduta Mrs. Noble refuses to 
obey Son of Inkpaduta He drags her from Tent and 
kills her Scalps her Ties her Hair to Stick Terror 
of remaining Captive Spring had come The bound 
less Prairie Buffalo, Antelope and Fowl for Game- 
Cross Great Battle-FieldBones and Skulls found- 
Great Scaffolds for Burial-places. 



BEFORE stated, we from time to 
time met with strange bands of 
Sioux, of the various subordinate 
tribes. Hence, in about four weeks 
after the departure of Mrs. Marble, we 
fell in with a small party of Yanktons. One 
of them by the name of Wanduskaihanke, 
or End-of-the-snake, purchased Mrs. Noble 
and myself. What he paid I never knew, 




DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 217 

His in otive was to make money by selling 
us to the whites. Unfortunately our pur 
chaser did not take an immediate departure, 
as did the purchaser of Mrs. Marble, but con 
tinued to journey with Inkpaduta. Now, 
for the first time since our captivity, Mrs- 
Noble and 1 were allowed to lodge in the 
same teepe. Our owner treated us about 
the same as our former masters, and we 
were required to trudge along and carry a 
pack as before. Our master was a one-leg 
ged Indian, and having no artificial limb he 
hobbled about on a crutch. It might be 
well said, he lived on his horse. He went 
hunting mounted, and his squaw, or one of 
us captives, had to follow after and pick up 
the game- I have followed after him many 
a weary mile for this purpose. If any game 
was shot in the water, his dog, being trained 
for that purpose, would bring it out to the 
shore, where I would take it and carry it on. 
One evening, a few days after we were sold, 
just as we supposed we were settled for the 
night, and as Mrs. Noble ard I were about 
to lie down to rest, a son of Inkpaduta, of 
the name of Makpeahotoman, or Roaring 
Cloud, came into the tent of the Yankton, 



218 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

and ordered Mrs. Noble out. She shook hot 
head and refused to go. I told her she had 
better, as I feared he would kill her if she 
did not. But she still refused. Mrs. Noble 
was the only one of us who ever dared to 
refuse obedience to our masters. Naturally 
of an independent nature, and conscious of 
her superiority to her masters in everything 
except brute force, it was hard for her to 
submit to their arbitrary and inhuman man 
dates. Frequently before, she had refused 
obedience, but in the end was always com 
pelled to submit. All the reward she got 
for her show of independence was heavier 
burdens by the way, and a bloody death at 
last. 

No sooner did she positively refuse to 
comply with Roaring Cloud s demand, than, 
seizing her by the arm with one hand, and a 
great stick of wood, she had a little while 
before brought in for fuel, in the other, he 
dragged her from the tent. When I saw 
this I well knew what would follow. It 
would have been madness, and in vain, for 
me to interfere; the Yankton did not, ex 
cept by words. I could only listen in silence 
to the cruel blows and groans, as the sounds 



DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 219 

came into the tent; expecting he would re 
turn to serve me in the same manner. He 
struck her three blows, such as only an In 
dian can deal, when, concluding he had fin 
ished her, he came into the tent, washed his 
bloody hands, had a few high words with the 
Yankton, and lay down to sleep. 

The piteous groans from my murdered 
companion continued for half an hour or so 
deep, sorrowful, and terrible; then all was 
silent. No one went out to administer re 
lief or sympathy, or even out of curiosity. 
She was left to die alone, within a few feet 
of those she had faithfully served, and of one 
by whom she was tenderly loved. Gladly 
would I have gone to her side, but was per 
fectly paralyzed, and terror-stricken with 
the sights aud sounds around me. I evi 
dently would not have been permitted to 
leave the tent, and any attempt to do so 
would, doubtless, have brought upon my de 
fenseless head a like thunderbolt. Mrs. 
Noble was about twenty years of age, rather 
tall and slender though of good form and 
graceful in her manners. She was a mem 
ber of the Disciples church, and during the 
dark days of captivity I have frequently 



") THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

heard her sing gospel hymns in praise of 
Him who rules the universe. 

Now I was left alone with these inhuman 
murderers, with no one to talk to, no one to 
share with me my sorrow and woe. Oh! 
how keenly I felt her sad fate and my lonely 
situation. While all was still in the dark 
ness of the night, and the Indians lay sleeping 
around me in the tent, with an aching heart 
full to bursting, I buried my streaming eyes 
in my hands and prayed to God: "Leave 
me not alone with these cruel savages! 
God! wilt thou leave me thus alone?" How 
gladly would I have lain down in dreamless 
sleep," and have "slept the sleep that knows 
no waking." 

The next morning the warriors gathered 
around the already mangled corpse, and 
amused themselves by making it a target to 
shoot at. To this show of baibarism 1 was 
brought out and compelled to stand a silent 
witness. Faint and sick at heart, I at length 
turned away from the dreadful sight, with 
out their orders to do so, and started off on 
the day s march, expecting they would rid 
dle me with their bullets; for why should I 
escape more than others? But for some un- 



DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 221 

accountable reason I was spared. After go 
ing a short distance I looked back, and they 
were still around her using their knives, 
cutting off her hair, and mutilating her body. 

All this time the whole camp was in con 
fusion. The squaws were dragging down 
the tent-poles, wrapping the canvas into 
bundles, packing the cooking utensils, and 
loading up the dogs. At last the bloody 
camp was deserted, and the mangled body 
left lying upon the ground unburied. Her 
hair in two heavy braids, just as she had 
arranged it was tied to the end of a stick, 
perhaps three feet long, and during the day, 
as I wearily and sadly toiled on, one of the 
young Indians walked by my side and re 
peatedly slashed me in the face with it: 
thus adding insult to injury, and wounding 
my heart even more than my face. Such 
was the sympathy a lonely, broken-hearted 
girl got at the hands of the "noble red man." 

At the close of the day we went into camp 
as usual, but during the night I was sud 
denly awakened to find the camp in the 
wildest excitement. The tents were being 
torn down, the one I was in being pulled 
clown over my head. Everything was being 



222 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

made ready for flight; and flee we did as for 
dear life. The flight was kept up the re 
mainder of that night and the whole of the 
next day. When they camped the evening 
after Mrs. Noble s death, the stick to which 
her hair was tied was stuck into the ground 
near one of the tents, and was forgotten in 
the panic of the sudden departure. 

The cause of this flight I was unable to 
determine exactly. The Sioux, being at war 
with all other tribes of Indians, might have 
suspected that they were being pursued by 
their enemies, but as the warriors made no 
preparations for battle as when apprehen 
sive of an attack from the soldiers I con. 
eluded that it was some superstitious notion 
that caused the alarm, perhaps the "spirit of 
the white woman" they had so wantonly 
murdered at their last encampment. 

It was on the sacred Sabbath that the first 
scene of this gory drama was enacted. I 
kept account of the days o as to know when 
Sabbath came, and in my heart felt the day 
sacred, no matter what I had to do; or how 
uncongenial the surroundings might be- 
But now/left entirely alone, with no one to 
communicate with, I began to lose track of 



DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 2*23 

time. At first I had resolved not to do this, 
but stunned as I was by this last bloody hor 
ror, perfectly exhausted with incessant toil, 
which was now telling upon me more and 
more every day; and with no one with whom 
1 could pass one word; it is a wonder I did 
not break down entirely, and a worse calam 
ity befall me than the loss of my reckoning 
of time. 

It was now beautiful spring. Nature was 
arrayed in her fairest and freshest robes. 
The prairie, as boundless as the ocean, was 
decked and beautified with a carpet of vari 
ous shades of green, luxuriant grass. The 
trees along the streams put forth their 
leaves, which quivered on the sterns. The 
birds, decked in their gayest plumage, flitted 
among the trees, and sang their sweetest 
songs; while the air was redolent with the 
perfume of countless flowers. But nature, 
with all her beauty and glory, had no 
charms for me, while surrounded with such 
bloodthirsty savages. 

Sadly and wearily the days went by while 
I was thus down in the very depths of despair- 
Although with many irregularities, our 



224 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

general course from the Big Sioux was in a 
northwestern direction, leading through the 
counties of Brook ings, Hamlin. and Clark, 
and into Spink (as now laid out). 

We crossed one prairie so vast and so per 
fectly devoid of timber, that for days not 
even a hazel-brush, or a sprout large enough 
for a riding- whip could be found. The sen 
sation produced by being thus lost, as it 
were, on the boundless prairie was really op 
pressive. Exhausted as I was, and preoccu 
pied as my mind was by other things, I still 
could not ignore the novelty of the situa 
tion; and the impressions produced will 
never be forgotten. As we attained the 
more elevated points the scene was really 
sublime. Look in any direction, and the 
grassy plain was bounded only by the hori 
zon. Then we would journey on for miles, 
till we reached another elevation and the 
same limitless expanse of grass lay around 
us. This was repeated day after day till it 
seemed as if we were in another world. I 
almost despaired of ever seeing a tree again. 
The only things to be seen, except grass, 
were wild fowls, birds, buffalo, and antelope. 



DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 225 

The supply of buffalo seemed almost as lim 
itless as the grass. This was their own 
realm, and they showed no inclination to 
surrender it, not even to the Sioux. These, 
however, waged war upon them daily. 
They would surround a herd and with clubs 
kill several before they could escape. There 
was now no scarcity of provisions. The Indians 
had a feast every day. They ate all they 
could; and their only grief seemed to be that 
they could eat no more. Not alone did the 
warriors feast, but the squaws as well, and 
even the poor captive had plenty. Not only 
was the buffalo steak eaten, but the brains, 
lungs, liver, and blood were greedily de 
voured, and raw at that. No sooner does a 
Sioux kill a buffalo than he chops open the 
head, scoops out the brain, and gobbles it 
down with the voraciousness of a hungry 
bloodhound. This was his sweetmeat. If 
there was any part of the animal preferred 
before the brain, it \vas the blood. This he 
sucked with the avidity of a weasel, not 
waiting for the animal to die, but gulped it 
as it flowed. The stomach of the buffalo is 

emptied of its contents and used as a can- 
is 



226 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

teen to carry water in. The horns are made 
into spoons and coarse combs. 

The antelope were not so easily captured. 
They were both timid and fleet, and here, at 
least, were by no means so plentiful. They 
would start up from their coverts, like Fitz 
James soldiers from the rocks, and bound 
away over the prairie, as if on legs of steel, 
with hoofs and joints of rubber. The ante 
lope is said to be to the American plains 
what the gazelle is to the African. At least 
they are graceful in form and movement and 
literally fleet as the wind. 

While journeying through Dakota, we on 
one occasion passed what had evidently been 
tho scene of a great battle. A large number 
of scaffolds had been erected by setting in 
the ground four strong posts, and laying long 
poles on these, and then laying shorter and 
lighter ones across. These scaffolds were 
eight or nine feet high, perhaps fifteen feet 
long by six wide. The bodies had evidently 
been laid across the scaffold, and were closely 
packed, side by side; but when we were there 
only bones remained. These the winds had 
blown about until they lay thickly strewed 
upon the ground. 



DEATH OF MRS. NOBLE. 227 

At this battle-field we halted for perhaps 
an hour, but did not pitch our tents or pre 
pare food. The Indians seemed greatly in 
terested in the osseous relics, picked them 
up, exhibited them to each other, and made 
much talk over them. The skulls especially 
interested them, and after examining them, 
and chattering over them, they laid them 
back upon the scaffolds- 

The lighter poles had been blown from 
some of the scaffolds, but the posts or 
crotches were yet standing. By whom, and 
how long since this great battle was fought 
I could only conjecture. The posts ar>d poles 
must have been brought several miles, as 
there was no timber near. Probably the 
bodies of the enemy had not been thus cared 
for, but had been left to rot on the ground, 
or to be devoured by beasts of prey. 

As I could not understand very much of 
their language, their words and actions were 
a mystery to me, and perhaps impressed me 
more profoundly and permanently on that 
account. I have often wished that I could 
have learned the historic facts connected 
with the spot. At the tune I was too nearly 
exhausted, and too much overcome with 



223 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



fear and sorrow, to care much for these 
things. Possibly the earlier settlers in Da 
kota territory could tell something of the 
place, GT at least the Indian tradition of it. 



OF RESCUING PARTY. 229 



CHAPTER XXI. 



ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 

James River reached Encampment of Yanktons Their 
uncivilized State The Captive an Object of great 
Curiosity Despair settled upon Captive Plans of 
Major Flandrau and Governor Medary Arrival of 
Rescuing Party Indian Council Price of Ransom 
Dog-feast Last Night in Indian Camp. 

" Of all sad words of tongue or pen, 
The saddest are these, it might have beem" 

F Mrs. Noble could only have escaped 
the vengeance of Roaring Cloud a 
few days longer, she doubtless would 
have been set at liberty, and restored 
to civilized society and the companion 
ship of her sister and two brothers. 
These were living at this time in Hampton, 
Iowa. Could she only have known the efforts 
being made for her rescue, and how near 
they already were to success, she would have 
had courage to endure insults a little longer 




230 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

and hope to bid her look forward. At the 
very moment when she was dragged from 
h ; er tent and brutally murdered, rescuers 
under the direction of the United States 
commissioner, fully prepared for her ransom, 
were pressing forward with all the dispatch 
possible. 

It was only a few days after her death that 
we reached the banks of the James river, 
where now is situated the town of Old Ash- 
ton, in Spink county, D. T. Here w r as an 
encampment of one hundred and ninety 
lodges of Tanktons, a powerful branch of 
the Sioux nation. I counted the lodges and 
would have been glad to count the Indians 
had that been practicable. But there were 
evidently two thousand or more. All the 
other Indians I had ever seen seemed tame 
and civilized by the side of these. There was 
not a single article of white man s manu 
facture visible. The teepes were made of 
buffalo robes as was their clothing (when 
they wore any). They started their tires 
with flint and roasted their meat on the fire 
or ate it raw- Some time previously they 
had captured some property from the Red 



ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 231 

Biver half-breeds, but at this time little or 
none of it was visible. 

Bows and arrows and clubs were their 
principal weapons. In the use of these they 
were expert. From fifty to seventy-five of 
these Yanktons would surround a herd of 
buffalo, and knock down and kill them by 
the dozen. They made no use of salt; but 
the meat, sliced and spread in the sunshine, 
would dry without becoming tainted. This 
was a mystery to me then, but I have since 
learned that it may be done almost any 
where in central North America. 

I was probably the first white person these 
Yanktons had ever seen, and was, to them, 
as great a curiosity as anything Barnum 
ever brought out was to the people of civil 
ized communities. They not only gathered 
around the door of the teepe where I was, 
but came in and looked me over, wondering 
and commenting on my flixen hair, blue 
eyes, and still light though terribly tanned 
complexion. Some of my original captors 
would roll up my sleeves showing my un- 
tanned arms, and then explain that when 
they found me my face and hands were as 
white as that. No sooner was one company 



23:2 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

out of the teepe than others came; and so 
they kept it up from morning until night, 
day after day, as long as I was with them. 
If my one-legged proprietor had only had 
an eye to business, and had charged every 
adult a mink-skin, and child under twelve 
a muskrat-skin, he might have filled his tent 
with downy pelts, and possibly have paid his 
way to the national capital, where he in turn 
might have been an object of curiosity. At 
least, if he did not feather his nest, he might 
have lined it with fur. But, possibly, he felt 
that to be the owner of such a curiosity was 
honor enough. 

This camp of the Yanktons was located 
on the west bank of the James river, and 
unfavorable as my situation was for sesthetic 
enjoyment, I could not altogether ignore the 
grandeur of the landscape. The river, 
though not wide, is deep and clear, and the 
water dark blue. At intervals along the 
banks are clumps of thrifty timber, grace 
fully and copiously festooned with wild 
grape and other clinging vines. As the 
river travels on in majestic winding curves 
and loops, its course maybe traced for many 
miles by these picturesque groups of timbor. 



ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 233 

On either side, the green, rolling prairie is 
limited only by the horizon. 

The rich soil produced grass on which sub 
sisted immense herds of buffalo. All that 
were slaughtered by the voracious Indians 
seemed to have no effect towards exhausting 
the supply. Bat, lo! what a change a few 
short years have wrought. Where then buf 
falo, and nakad savages who had never seen 
the face of a white man or learned any of 
the arts of civilized nations, then subsisted 
on the spontaneous luxuriance of nature, 
now a teeming population, abreast with 
the front line of modern progress, cul 
ture and refinement, develops and controls 
the resources of nature. Spink county has 
to-day a population of not less than 8,000. 
Two great railroad corporations have ex 
tended their lines up the James, and one has 
pushed a second line well into the county 
from the east, making over one hundred 
miles of railway in the county. Such are 
some of the changes twenty-seven years 
have wrought in Dakuta. 

We had been in this camp two or three 
days, and the novelty and excitement caused 
by the arrival of Inkpaduta s band, with a 



234 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

white captive, had hardly begun to subside, 
when a new and to me more intense ex 
citement occurred. By this time all hope 
of ever escaping this bitter, galling servitude 
had completely died out. I had once changed 
masters, it is true; but it brought no relief. 
We were constantly moving further and fur 
ther from civilization, and deeper into the 
heart of an unbroken realm of barbarism. 
The disappearance of all traces of civilza- 
tion in manners, customs, clothing, or equip 
ments, told me how widely we were separated 
from the abode of the whites. The purchase 
of Mrs. Marble had awakened a little hope, 
that possibly she would reach the whites, 
and thus interest might be awakened in my 
behalf. But we had now tramped one hun 
dred and fifty miles toward the setting sun 
since she left, and no help or word had come. 
Besides, Mrs. Noble and myself had been 
bought, but were not taken to the whites, 
and one of us had been cruelly murdered. 
For aught I knew it might have been no bet 
ter with Mrs. Marble. But even if she did 
escape, or reach friends and awaken their 
sympathy for me, what could they do? I. 
well knew that any attempt to rescue me 



ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 

by force of arms would result in my imme*- 
diate death. I had no friends, powerful or 
wealthy, either to move the general govern 
ment or to plan my rescue through private 
influence. Despair settled upon me. I had 
one dear sister, it is true; but at this time I 
knew not whether she was dead or alive. 
Mrs. Noble s cruel and unprovoked death had 
extinguished the last ray of hope. No words 
can express, or imagination conceive, my 
situation at this time. Hope gone, physical 
vitality and energy exhausted, I was bruised, 
sore, and lame in every part of my body. It 
seemed impossible for me to get rested. Al 
though twenty-eight years have passed since 
then, I have not recovered from the fearful 
strain upon my physical and nervous sys 
tem. 

Of all the living things taken in Iowa and 

Minnesota, Dr. Harriott s pony and myself 
were all that remained. Of the seventeen 
horses taken, all save this one had succumbed 
to the severity of the journey and the cruelty 
of their masters. The horses had starved to 
death, or died from exhaustion, and been 
eaten by the Indians before grass had come, 
and while game was scarce. 



230 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

While this dark cloud of gloom was set 
tling upon me heavier and heavier day by 
day, a deep interest was being awakened in 
the hearts of the most influential persons in 
Minnesota. Among these were Governor 
Medary and Major C. E. Flandrau. To these 
persons I owe a debt of gratitude I can never 
repay. How often have I mentally exclaimed 
u Where would I have been, or what would 
have been my fate, had it not been for these 
men! Their well-laid and carefully ex 
ecuted plans are so happily told in Major 
Flandrau s report (which see), that words 
of mine are needless. 

The morning of May 30th daw T ned as fair 
and lovely as any mortal eye has ever seen. 
The sky was blue, the earth green, the air 
balmy with the breath of spring; while the 
sun poured down a perfect flood of golden 
light. But all the brightness and beauty of 
nature could not symbolize the brightness 
of that clay to me. 

While the Yanktons, as usual, were crowd 
ing our tent to see the "white squaw," there 
came into the tent three Indians dressed in 
coats and white shirts, with starched bosoms. 
Coming into the camp of the Yanktons, who 



ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 237 

were without a single shred of white man s 
make, these coats and shirts would naturally 
attract attention and excite wonder. To me 
the interest was deep and thrilling. I knew, 
at once that they were from the borders of 
civilization, whether I should ever reach 
there or not; but it was some comfort even 
to see an Indian clothed in the habiliments 
of the whites. 

Much as I wished to communicate with 
them I dared not attempt it. I could only 
watch and wait. No attempt was made by 
them to communicate with me, and I was 
loft in doubt as to the object of their visit. 
I at once discovered, however, that there 
was some unusual commotion among them, 
and was not long in divining that it was 
concerning me. Councils were held after 
the usual fashion of the Indians. First, they 
gathered in and around the tcepe where I 
was; then, they adjourned to the open 
prairie, where they sat in a circle and talked 
and smoked and smoked and talked. 

These pipes though the same as ordinar 
ily used yet deserve description. The 
bowls were made of the red pipestone, clum 
sily wrought, and large enough to hold a 



2P)S THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

good, single handful. The stems were of 
reed, found abundantly in marshy places, or 
of ash. They are usually some two feet long 
and often ornamented with brass nails. 

After holding their council for an hour or 
two, they would walk about and talk and 
eat, then gather into a circle again. This 
they kept up for three days during which 
time I was kept in porfect ignorance as to 
the state of affairs. Inkpaduta s men and 
the Yanktons, however, amused themselves 
by telling me the most fearful and outrage 
ous falsehoods. The Indians love for tortur 
ing their victims is well illustrated in these 
falsehoods. Along with other things they 
told me ttat the "Indians with shirts 7 were 
going to take me a long way off, farther 
from the whites, and where there were a 
great many more Indians, and that then I 
would be killed. As to the method every 
one seemed to have a version of his own. 
One would say that I would be taken to the 
river and drowned, portraying with gesture, 
my gasping for breath and dying struggles 
in the water. Another would tell me that I 
would be bound to a stake and burned, show 
ing the manner in which I would writhe and 



ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 289 

struggle in the flimes- Another declared 
that I was to be cut to pieces by inches; 
taking his knife and beginning at my toes, 
or fingers, he would show how piece after 
piece was to be cut off, leaving the vital parts 
till the last, that they might wring from me 
the last possible groan and the last pang of 
anguish. To all this I listened with com 
posure and indifference. But the darkest 
cloud, we are told, has a silver lining, r.nd 
there is said to be a soft spot in even an ele 
phant s head, though it may be hard to find. 
The only instance of truth and the only 
manifestation of sympathy showed me dur 
ing my captivity, came in right here- 

One day, after the Indians had been de 
scribing the fearful things about to befall 
me, and had gone out, leaving me alone with 
a Yankton squaw, she took pains to tell me 
that there was no truth in their "yarns;" 
but that I was to be taken where there were 
many whites, and no Dakotas; and that I 
was to be free again. Which to believe I 
hardly knew. The squaw seemed to be sin 
cere, and actuated by a generous impulse, 
but honesty and generosity were such rare 
virtues among them that I could hardly be- 



240 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

lieve her. On the other hand the adverse 
statements had been made in the presence 
of the "Indians in shirts," and had gone un- 
rebuked, so far as I could see; so I was kept 
in suspense and trepidation, vascillating be 
tween hope and fear. 

"A fellow feeling makes us wondrous 
kind." At this same time this squaw told 
me how cruelly her husband treated her- 
She pointed him out as he satin council; and 
then would strike herself, to show how lie 
was accustomed to beat her. It was no un 
usual thing for the males thus to treat the 
squaws. I have often seen the squaws fleeing 
from tent to tent, screaming at the tops of 
their voices, seeking to escape from their in 
furiated masters. 

All this parley and these repeated coun 
cils, I subsequently learned, were occasioned 
by the fact that the council was divided. 
The head Yankton chief seems to have been 
something of a "granger," and disposed to 
ignore middle-men. He therefore proposed 
that they should themselves tiko mo to the 
military station on the Missouri river, claim 
ing that they would get more for my ransom 
than these Yellow Medicine men were able 



ARRIVAL OF RESCUING PARTY. 241 

to pay; that is, more tobacco and powder. 
At last, however, his consent was obtained, 
somewhat as the votes of pale-faced legis 
lators have often been. A present was made 
to him, and then all " went merry as a mar 
riage bell." 

The price paid for my ransom was two 
horses, twelve blankets, two kegs of powder, 
twenty pounds of tobacco, thirty-two yards 
of blue squaw cloth, thirty-seven and a half 
yards of calico and ribbon, and other small 
articles, with which these Indians had been 
provided by Major Flandrau- 

The bargain having been agreed to and 
the price paid, I was at once turned over into 
the hands of my new purchasers. But so 
great a business transaction as this must be 
sealed and celebrated by nothing less than 
a dog-feast. Of all feasts known to the In 
dians a dog feast is the greatest, and the 
giving of such a feast to me and my pur 
chasers was the highest honor they could 
have conferred upon us. I was, however, so 
unappreciative of the honor, and had such 
prejudice against dog soup, that I did the 
unhandsome thing to remain in my tent. 
This feaso occurred in the after part of the 

16 



242 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



day, and together with the many and myste 
rious rites and ceremonies connected with it 
continued well into the night. This was my 
last night with the Yanktons; one never to 
be forgotten. I was still in uncertainty, but 
felt thankful to get rid of those from whom 
I had suffered so much, and who had mur 
dered so many dear to me. 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 243 



CHAPTER XXII. 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION". 

Leave Inkpaduta s Band Novel Boat Indian Escort- 
Team and Wagon produced Travel East Reach 
Half-breed Trading- post Receive Kindness Ob 
tain White Woman s Dress Reach Yellow Med 
icine Agency Outbreak feared from Sioux Trouble 
Quieted War- cap Presented Proceed down Min 
nesota River. 



HE next morning after the dog-feast, 
we left the Yankton encampment 
early, and with it Inkpaduta and his 
band. Two Yanktons sons of End-of- 
the-snake accompanied us as an escort 
and safeguard against Inkpaduta or any of 
his men. It was feared that they might be 
unwilling for me to be taken back to the 
whites, and so follow my new masters and 
kill me, as they had Mrs. Noble. Bat as the 
Yanktons were far more powerful than Ink- 




244 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

paduta, and as these two men went with us 
by the authority of the chief, it would have 
been dangerous business for them to molest 
me while thus, as it were, under the safe con 
duct of the great Yankton chief. 

Almost the first move was to cross the 
James river. Here I was put into a frail 
little boat, made of buffalo-skin, stripped of 
hair and dressed, so as to be impervious to 
w r ater. The boat was not more than five" 
feet long, by four wide, and incapable of car 
rying more than one person. When I found 
I was to be the only occupant, I concluded 
that the story of the Indian, who told me I 
was to be drowned, was after all the true 
one. I thought surely I was to be sent adrift 
and left to my own destruction. I was, how 
ever, happily disappointed to see my new 
purchasers divest themselves of their fine 
clothes and swim across, holding the end of 
a cable, made of buffalo hide, which had pre 
viously been fastened to the boat. With this 
they drew the boat, with me in it, to the 
eastern shore of the James river. Thus, 
though I knew it not, I was being drawn to 
ward home and friends, and the river was 
put between me atid my cruel foes. 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 245 

Here, on the bank, I was left in charge of 
some of our party, while others went after 
a wagon and span of horses that had been 
hidden, lest those who held me in captivity 
should demand them also as part of my ran 
som. Hiding the team and wagon was not 
only a piece of sharp practice, but a wise 
stroke of policy and shrewd diplomacy. 
These three Indians showed sagacity as well 
as courage in this enterprise. "When Greek 
meets Greek then comes the tug of war;" 
and an Indian onderstands an Indian, and 
knows how to manage him. 

The names of the persons composing this 
rescue-party should be put on record, and 
held in remembrance, not alone for this mis 
sion, but for other humane deeds done by 
them. They were: Mazaintemani, or Man- 
who-shoots-metal-as-he-walks ; but noiv famil 
iarly known among the whites as John Other 
Day; Hotonhowashta. or Beautiful Voice; 
and Chetanmaza, or Iron Hawk. They were 
quiet, intelligent-looking, middle-aged men, 
and prominent members of the church at 
the mission-station on Yellow Medicine. 

Mazaintemani, who was leader of the expe- 
nition, was president of Dr. Riggs Hazel- 



246 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

wood republic, and is represented as possess 
ing much of that oratorical power for which 
many of the aborigines are celebrated. He 
not only conducted me safely to the whites? 
but went with me to St. Paul. He after 
ward was taken to Washington, where he 
had an interview with President Buchanan. 
Here he fell in love with a Washington 
lady," whom he found acting as "waiter" in 
the dining-room of one of the hotels. This 
love was reciprocated, and the "waiter" 
became the wife of the President of Hazel- 
wood republic. During the memorable Min 
nesota massacre of 1S62 he remained faith 
ful to the whites. 

k Faithful found among the faithless; 
Faithful only he." 

By so doing he at one time saved the lives 
of sixty-two persons. For his faithful serv 
ices at this time he was rewarded by the 
state of Minnesota with one hundred and 
sixty acres of land. He died some four or 
five years ago of pulmonary consumption. 

The Yankton chief having been placated, 
I safely towed across the river, and the team 
brought out, the Yanktons filled the wagon 
with dried buffalo meat, buffalo-robes, etc. I 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 247 

was installed driver, and the five Indians 
(three Yellow Medicine and two Yanktons) 
leading the way, in single file, we took up 
our line of march. Oar route led due east, 
so that every morning the sun rose directly 
in our faces until we reached Lac qui Parle 
lake on the Minnesota river. At one time, 
as we were fording a river, Hoton Ho Washta 
pointed down the stream and said, "Steam 
boat," and by other signs gave me to under 
stand that we were to have a ride on a 
steamboat. The statement of the one kind- 
hearted squaw, the direction we were taking, 
and the word "steamboat," with accompa 
nying gestures, were all that I had from 
which to form an opinion as to our destina 
tion. There were, however, as we shall see, 
circumstances tending to confirm the more 
terrible prophecies of the warriors. 

After seven days of incessant traveling 
through a beautiful country, and with al 
most uninterrupted pleasant weather, we 
came into a region thickly peopled with In 
dians- Some of these w r ere living in log- 
houses, and when my eyes first caught sight 
of one of them my heart fairly bounded 
with joy. I thought surely we were near- 



248 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ing the abode of white people. But when 1 
reached the house and found it inhabited by 
Indians, my heart was as heavy as before it 
had been light. The large number of Indians 
also tended to depress me- I thought the 
fearful stories of the warriors were true, or 
that I had only been sold from one tribe to 
another a little more civilized. 

Two days of this suspense brought me to 
the house of a half-breed who could speak 
the English language. Here my anxiety 
was put forever at rest. There were residing 
at this place two half-breed girls who came 
to see me, and I accompanied them to their 
home, which was kept very neat and tidy. 
Their father was a white man, but their 
mother was a full-blooded Sioux, in full 
Sioux costume. She sat on the floor, and 
would not eat with the family at the table. 
From them I learned that my purchasers 
were acting under instructions from the 
U. S. Indian agent, and that the long 
journey, with its perils and sacrifices, had 
been made for me. All my fears from them 
were groundless, as they were really my 
friends. How often is it thus in life we do 
not know our friends from our enemies. I 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 249 

also learned from these half-breeds that Mrs. 
Marble had been there about a month before 
and had gone on to St. Paul. 

These sisters (half-breeds) very kindly 
made me several presents, among them 
some very beautiful moccasins trimmed with 
bead-work. But such was my abhorrence 
of everything that reminded me of the In 
dians that I threw away the moccasins as 
we crossed the river, a short distance from 
the house. We stopped at this station a 
day and a half, during which time, without 
pattern or model, and of course without 
sewing machine, I cut and made a full suit 
of clothing for myself. The style and fit 
might not have been approved by Worth, 
but it was worth everything to me- I had 
not time to make a bonnet, and could not 
get one here, so I entered the first white 
family bareheaded, as I had gone all these 
months, through winter s cold and summer s 
heat. 

Inkpaduta s squaws had copiously oiled 
my hair and painted my head and face deep 
est red. The paint was applied to my head 
along the line where the hair parted, to my 
face on the cheeks, and in lines drawn back- 



250 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ward from the corners of my eyes; and wher.e- 
ever it helped to make me look hideous, if 
we were not on a tramp, they made me sit 
in the sunshine, bare-headed, for hours at a 
time, when not at work. Their .oject for 
keeping me in the sun I do not know, un 
less it was to tan my skin, and make me 
dark like themselves. 

When I found that I was soon to be among 
white people, I began to wash in "dead 
earnest," to get off the paint and oil; but 
this was a slow process, and required time. 
Especially was this true of my hair; but I 
did my best to get rid of all traces of these 
hated monsters. 

After a day and a half spent at this half- 
breed s trading post in which time I had 
tried to make myself as respectable as possi 
ble, we proceeded to the Yellow Medicine 
Agency, and then to the mission station of 
Dr. Thomas S. Williamson. When we 
reached this agency, a scene of wild con 
fusion met us. It was about time for the 
annuity Indians to receive their pay from 
government; but for some reason, not 
known, there was a delay in receiving their 
supplies. Major Flandrau had gone to St. 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 251 

Paul to see what the trouble was, and to ar 
range matters. All the Indians belonging 
to that agency had come in for their share 
of the payment, and as no intelligible ex 
planation could be given them for the delay 
they became very much excited. They con 
jectured that the annuities were being with 
held because of the depredations committed 
by Inkpaduta s band, and my being there at 
the time tended to confirm this belief. 
Their desperate and hostile bearing greatly 
alarmed the few white people stationed at 
this point, and they feared another outbreak 
would be the result. That this was no 
groundless fear was proved by the massacre 
of 1862. 

Thus my escape began to seem well nigh 
hopeless. Even at this period I was in dan 
ger of being killed, or carried again into cap 
tivity. 

There had been times when I had lost all 
fear and dread of death, and all hope of res 
cue; but now life seemed more precious, and 
liberty sweet. Why had I been spared so 
long, I thought, arid been brought to the 
very threshold of liberty, only to be put to 
still more torture? At no time did I feel the 



252 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

danger of my situation more keenly than 
now. 

These greatly excited, armed and war- 
painted Sioux warriors thronged the gov 
ernment building by hundreds, demanding 
their annuities. At last, after much parley 
ing through an interpreter, they were per 
suaded to await the return of the agent from 
St. Paul, with the assurance that they would 
then be paid. 

While this dun cloud of war hung over 
our heads, one of the Yanktons who had 
accompanied us as an escort from the 
James river brought out a beautiful In 
dian war-cap, that had been carefully 
parked away in the wagon without my 
knowledge. I was seated on a stool in the 
center of the room, and with great display 
of fndian eloquence it was presented to me, 
and placed upon my head, in the name of 
the great chief Matowaken. The instruc 
tions of the chief were, that I should be 
crowned with it on our first arrival at the 
abode of the whites; and that it should 
be exhibited when we came into the pres 
ence of the " Great Father," the governor of 
Minnesota. 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 



253 



The cap was made in this manner: first, 
there was a close fitting cap, of finely 
dressed buck-skin, soft and light. Around 
this was a crest of thirty-six of the very 




INDIAN WAR- CAP. 
From a Daguerreotype taken at Dubuque, June 25, 1857. 

largest eagle-feathers, the quills being set 
with the* utmost exactness, so as to form a 
true circle, wider at the top than at the base. 
Around the crest, the cap was covered with 
weasel fur, white as ermine, while the tails 
of weasels, equally as white, hung as pend 
ants, all around, except in front. The tips 
of the feathers were painted black. Then 



254 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

there was a stripe of pink, then of black 
again, and the rest was pink. When prop 
erly adjusted upon the head it was beautiful. 
If grand in the estimation of the whites 
what must it have been in the eyes of the 
Dakotas? To them every feather repre 
sented the high honor of having slain a fel 
low-mortal. The strangest thing about it 
was, that the great Yank ton chieftain was 
willing to part with it. In so doing he con 
ferred the highest honor known to the 
Dakotas upon me. 

In the presentation speak it was stated 
that it was given as a token of respect for 
the fortitude and bravery I had manifested 
and it was because of this that Inkpaduta s 
Indians did not kill me. It was also stated 
that as long as I retained the cap I would be 
under the protection of ail the Dakotas. 

The Indians having been appeased by the 
promise of their annuities, and the excite 
ment being over we proceeded on our jour 
ney which led down the Minnesota river. 

During my stay with Dr. Williamson, the 
missionary, and his family, I was treated 
with great kindness and consideration, was 
furnished with more becoming apparel than 



RETURNING TO CIVILIZATION. 255 

that I had constructed while among the 
half-breeds; was supplied with a bonnet, etc. 
Everything was done that possibly could be, 
to alleviate my sufferings, both mental and 
physical. Had it not been for this great kind 
ness I should have sunk under a conscious 
ness of my forlorn and helpless situation. 
As the prospect of being set at liberty grew 
stronger, and the time nearer, I the more 
intensely realized that I was a poor, friend 
less orphan, without so far as I knew a near 
relative in the world, But just at this time 
the dear heavenly Father gave me many very 
kind friends. Not alone at this mission, but 
all along the journey; and all through the 
journey of life it has ever been the same. 
He who declared himself the Father of the 
fatherless has ever been such to me. The 
darkest cloud has its silver lining, if not its 
golden border. Till I had known sorrow, I 
did not, could not, know sympathy. 



256 THE SPIKIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



DELIVERED OVER TO THE GOVERNOR. 

Journey resumed Redwood Fort Ridgely St. Paul- 
Great Excitement Kindness of the People Delivered 
over to the Governor Speeches of Indians Gover 
nor s Reply Free once more $500 Donated Dis 
cover Sister s Whereabouts On to Dubuque Thence 
to Ft. Dodge To Hampton Meeting with Sister, and 
Relatives of Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher Extracts 
from Col. Lee s account 



HE coast being now clear, we again 
took up the line of march. The 
wagon and horses, that had brought 
me all the way from the James river, 
I were now abandoned. A Mr. Robinson 
took his own team and lumber-wage,!!, and 
in company with an interpreter and the 
three Indians we started on. We stopped 
over Sabbath with the family of a physi 
cian at the Kedwood or Lower agencj r , thir- 




DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 257 

teen miles above Ft. Ridgely. Here again 
we were most kindly and hospitably enter 
tained. Their kindness I can never forget; 
although the name, I am sorry to say, I have 
forgotten. 

Captain Bee, commandant at the fort, 
learning of my arrival at the agency, sent 
Lieut. Murray, with a horse and buggy, to 
bring me down to the fort, where the others 
would rejoin me on their way Monday. But 
the Indians, in the suspiciousness of their 
nature, believed this to be a device to get 
me out of their hands without paying them 
for their trouble, and would not let me go. 
So we remained over Sabbath, and took din 
ner at the fort on Monday. Here, also, we 
were kindly entertained, and many valuable 
presents were made me. Mrs. Bee gave me 
a purse containing several dollars in gold, and 
a beautiful gold ring. Lieut. Murray took 
me to a store, where he bought me a shawl 
and the material for a dress, as fine as was 
in the store. 

In the afternoon we again started on our 
journoy, and soon reached Traverse, then the 
head of navigation on the Minnesota, or St. 
Peter s river. Here the prophecy of Hoton 

17 



258 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Ho Washfca that we were to ride on a steam 
boat proved true. Abandoning the lumber- 
wagon we embarked on the steamer bound 
for St. Paul. 

The news of the return of the expedition 
sent out by Maj. Flandrau, and the rescue of 
the "captive," spread over the state like fire 
over the prairie. A deep interest in our 
fate had been manifested in Minnesota from 
the first, which had been greatly increased 
by the rescue of Mrs. Marble and her accounts 
of our sufferings. 

My appearance and that of the rescuing 
party, together with the story of Mrs- 
Noble s death whose mutilated body the 
friendly Indians had found, and to which 
they had ^iven burial awakened great 
indignation toward the Sioux and sympathy 
for us. 

We reached Shakopee June 22d. As we 
halted there a crowd gathered on the boat 
and dock, and so great was the sympathy 
that a purse of thirty dollars was raised for 
me in a few minutes. On the boat crowds 
gathered around to hear my answers to 
questions put by some one of the passengers 
and many valuable presents were made me, 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 259 

besides some money. At 6 P. M., June 22, 
we reached St. Paul. Our coming was 
known, and crowds and deafening shouts 
from the people greeted the approach of our 
boat- A carriage was waiting, and we were 
conducted at once to the Fuller House, then 
the leading hotel in the city. I was deliv 
ered into the hands of the landlady, by 
whom I was carefully provided for, and 
every want anticipated. 

At 10 o clock next morning Tuesday, 
June 231 was formally delivered over to 
the governor, at his room in the Fuller 
House, by the three Indians with much cer 
emony. 

The ample reception-room was filled with 
a select company of distinguished ladies and 
gentlemen, among whom were Chas. E. Flan- 
drau,- U. S. Indian agent; Wm. J. Cullen, 
superintendent of Indian affairs; Fletcher 
Williams, now secretary of the Minnesota 
Historical Society; Col. L. P. Lee, of New 
Britain, Cfc.; Mr. and Mrs. Long, of the Ful 
ler House, and other persons of note. 

After the Indians had shaken hands with 
the governor, Mazaintemani addressed him 
as follows: 



260 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

"FatJier:We have come to the white settlement, not 
of our own accord, but at the wish of the white people. 
Our father sent us off on business; we have got through 
with that business, and have come to meet him here, 

"The American people are a great people a strong na 
tion; and if they wanted to could kill all our people, but 
they had better judgment, and permitted the Indians to 
go themselves, and hunt up the poor girl who was with 
the bad Indians. We believed when we left our kindred 
and friends that we would be killed ourselves; but not 
withstanding this we desired to show our love for the 
white people. Our father could have sent troops after 
Inkpaduta s band, but that would have created trouble, 
and many innocent people would have been killed. That 
was the reason we desired to go ourselves. We have been 
among the white people a good deal, and have been as 
sured by good traders that the whites would always pun 
ish those who had done wrong. Last spring we heard of 
the troubles about Mankato, and we were very desirous 
t j get among the Indians before the troops in order that 
innocent blood might not be shed. 

"The Wapetons and Sissetons made a treaty with the 
whites, but we are fearful even they will get into trouble. 
There are good and bad men everywhere could not point 
to any nation where all were good. Among the Chippe- 
was, the Sioux of Missouri, and the red half-breeds, there 
were good and bad men. The Wapetons and Sissetons 
had aold their lands to the Great Father. lie had pity 
on them and gave them a reserve here to live upon; but 
they were not well treated always. Indians had dark 
skins, but yet had five fingers and two eyes, and therefore 
wanted to be as much respected as the whites. We want 
to become as industrious and as able to do something for 
ourselves as the whites are. We have a church, and I 
attend it every Sunday and hear good advice. We want 
good counsel. There were bad Indians, but we desired to 
behave well. We want this known and considered by our 
Great Father in Washington. The whites told us to stop 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 261 

making war and lay down the tomahawk. The advice 
was good and we have followed it, and now our women 
can plant in peace. We wish to say a word in reference 
to the Yanktons. For many years they had trouble with 
the Red River half-breeds. We told them not to fight the 
Red River men as they counted themselves as Americans 
and they promised us they would not. The Yanktons 
desired their father should be informed of their determi 
nation and that the Red River men should be made 
acquainted with their desire for peace. 

"Our father, the agent, desired us to go out and hunt 
this poor girl. The Great Spirit had pity on her and we 
succeeded in finding her. You see the girl here in the 
power of the white people. We have acted according to 
the will of the agent. We now give her up to you, but 
desire to shake hands with her before leaving." 

The above speech was addressed to G-ov. 
Medary. Upon its conclusion, Agent Flan- 
drau desired one of the Indians present to 
give an account of the journey from the 
Yellow Medicine agency to the camp of 
the Yanktons where I was discovered. In 
accordance with the request, Hotonho- 
washta, or Beautiful Voice, addressed the 
agent as follows: 

"Father: About planting-time you came up and we 
started for Inkpaduta s lodges. Had we not been sent 
out then we would have had a great yield. Four days 
after we left Yellow Medicine we came to the place 
where the other woman was killed. We took blankets, 
wrapped her in them, and buried her. In two days more 
we got to the camp of the Yanktons, but Inkpaduta 
had got there two days before us. When we arrived we 
offered everything we had for the girl, but the Yank- 



262 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



tons refused the first time. We waited four days, and the 
Yanktons were divided into two parties. One desired to 
take her to the Missouri and surrender her to the mili 
tary; and others desired to bring her here. They were 
about quarreling when the braves determined to sur 
render her to us. We slept six nights before we reached 
the Yellow Medicine. We found you was not there, and 




HOTON Ho WASHTA, OR BEAUTIFUL VOICE. 
From a Daguerreotype taken at St. Paul, June 23, 1857. 

we followed you to St. Paul. The girl is yours now. Our 
conduct shows the heart of the Indian toward the whites. 
We threw away our lives to benefit the whites, in Inkpa- 
duta s camp; but the Great Spirit had pity on us and pre 
served us. It shows that the Wapetons are good people. 
First, two men were sent out, and they brought in one of 
the captives (Mrs. Marble), and other three were sent out, 
who also brought in one." 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 263 

Major Flandrau addressed the Indians in 
response. He referred to the excitement 
that prevailed among the whites in conse 
quence of the Spirit Lake massacre, and to 
the fact that it was laid at the door of the 
entire Sioux nation. It was for this reason, 
and because he knew the Wapetons were loyal 
and brave that he asked them to volunteer 
and go in search of the unfortunate captives, 
in order that they might establish the fact 
that they were friendly to the whites, by 
rendering important services. He knew the 
Wapetons so well that he was satisfied there 
would be no difficulty in procuring volun 
teers. He knew the expedition would suc 
ceed, and had always predicted so to the 
whites. Major Flandrau concluded his re 
marks by addressing the Indians as follows: 

"You have gone out and done your duty well and 
nobly, and are entitled to the gratitude of the white peo 
ple. I am glad you came down here because it gave you 
an opportunity to see the Father of all the whites in the 
territory, and to assure him of your love for the whites. 
For the services you have rendered you will be rewarded 
to your entire satisfaction. Your Father will start im 
mediately on a journey to Washington, where he will see 
your Great Father, and be enabled to explain your part in 
these matters personally to him. 1 



264 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Governor Medary then addressed the Indi 
ans as follows: 

"My Red Children: I am happy to meet ou here be 
cause you have been performing a worthy and humane 
act. You have brought us back this young white girl, 
who was taken by those whose conduct you disapprove 
of. We shall endeavor to restore her to the few friends 
and relatives she has left, for a greater portion of them 
have been killed. As you have nobly and promptly risked 
your lives in behalf of this white woman, we hope all 
good whites will be as ready to succor your friends in 
their hour of need. I hope that the occasion will result 
in a renewal of the friendship of whites and Indians, and 
that it will be always kept alive. I well understood and 
appreciated the danger of sending a large body of soldiers, 
unacquainted with your country, to attempt the rescue of 
the women taken prisoners. There was danger that 
friendly Indians would be killed; and that in the end 
more harm would result even to the captives from such 
interference. I felt that Inkpaduta and his band should 
be punished for their crimes; but I believed, and events 
have shown, that it wts better, in order to rescue the 
women, to send you out. Major Flandrau and yourselves 
deserve the thanks of the people of Minnesota, and of the 
entire country, for your prompt, humane, and wise action. 
Had any other course been adopted the lives of many 
whites and friendly Indians would have been sacrificed 
without the accomplishment of so much good. 

" I hope the friendly Indians will hold no communica 
tion whatever with Inkpaduta s band. They are vil 
lains and murderers, and by holding communication with 
them you would get yourselves into trouble with thf3 
whites. I hope there will be a lasting peace between the 
Indians and their white brethren in Minnesota. 

" I will convey to the Great Father at Washington an 
account of the good deeds you have performed, and will 
urge, in behalf of the whites of this territory, that all en- 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 265 

gagements entered into with you shall be faithfully car 
ried out. I will say to him that you desire to keep peace, 
and that it is the desire of the Indians adjoining you, the 
Yanktons, that peace should be made between them and 
the Red River half-breeds, and harmony and peace and 
industry restored along the borders of our territory. 
These things I will convey to the Great Father. We 
thank you for restoring the white woman to us; and, if 
ever red men, women, or children should be placed in 
such an unfortunate position, we hope to be able to treat 
them with equal humanity and kindness. In the name 
of humanity, of Christianity, and of that church you say 
you attend, and those precepts and counsels you heed, I 
again return you our thanks. We will take her, and see 
that you are liberally rewarded for all the trouble and 
danger you have subjected yourselves to in serving us." 

The remarks of the governor and the 
agent were received by the Indians with 
their customary gravity and decorum. The 
usual " ho " was the only expression elicited 
during the speeches- 

At the conclusion of the governor s re 
marks, Major Flandrau again, in behalf of 
Matowaken, the Yankton chief, presented 
me with the war-cap, of which [ have pre 
viously spoken. 

After some little conversation about the 
pay the Indians were to receive for their 
services, they shook hands with me and took 

their leave. 

I was now free once more. No longer the 
slave of slaves in the camp of the Dakotas, 



266 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

but a free girl, tenderly cared for, in a rich 
and populous city. The generous people of 
St. Paul contributed $500 for my benefit as 
they had previously $1,000 for Mrs. Marble, 
which we both deposited in one of the St. 
Paul banks subject to our order, drawing 
interest at three per cent a month. But in 
the great financial crash in 1857, a few 
months following, this bank failed, and we 
lost every dollar of our money. 

At 2 o clock on Tuesday, June 23, the In 
dians and Agent Flaudrau again assembled 
in the governor s room for the purpose of 
arranging with the former for the payment 
of the ransom. The next day the Indians, 
accompanied by their agent and interperter, 
left St. Paul for Yellow Medicine Agency. 

On the 27th of June Major Flandrau paid 
each of the three Indians $400 for their 
services in effecting my release and took the 
following voucher: 

" MAZAINTEMANI, 
HOTON Ho WASIITA, 
CHETANMAZA, 

"For rescuing Miss Gardner from captivity among Ink- 
paduta s band of Indians, and for services performed in 
attempting the rescue of Mrs. Noble from the same Indi 
ans, and for all services performed by them in said mat. 
ter, $1,200. 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 267 

"Received at Sioux Agency, June 27, 1857, of Samuel 
Medary, Governor of Minnesota. 

MAZAINTEMANI, X mark. 
HOTON Ho WASHTA, X mark. 
CHETANMAZA, X mark. 

"I certify that the above account is correct and just, 
and that I have actually, this 27th day of June, 1857, paid 
the amount thereof. 

CHARLES E. FLANDRAU. 

"We witness the payment of said money, and the sig 
nature of said Indians. 

A. J. CAMPBELL, 
STEWART B. GARVIE, 

Interpreter." 

Over three thousand dollars were expended 
by the territory of Minnesota under the gov- 
ornor s and Agent Flandrau s directions in 
effecting the release of Mrs. Marble and 
myself. 

While at St. Paul, I learned that ray sister 
had escaped, unharmed, the attack on Spring 
field, had married, and was living somewhere 
in Iowa- 

Wednesday, June 24th, in company with 
Governor Medary and Col. Lee, I embarked 
on the steamer Galena for Dubuque, the 
governor on his way to Washington to lay 
the facts of the massacre before the govern 
ment, and to ask that troops might be sent 
to punish the Indians and give security to 



268 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the settlers; I in search of my sister, my 
only near relative. At Dubuque the gov 
ernor most affectionately bade me farewell 
and I never saw him again. Many years 
ago he passed from earth; but his kind 
ness, at least to one, has never been forgot 
ten. Scarcely could he have shown more 
genuine sympathy had he been my own 
father. He even invited me to make my 
home in his family, and offered to adopt me 
as his daughter, a proposition I should have 
accepted, had I nob found my sister. 

After an eight days journey by stage I 
reached Fort Dodge, where I was most kindly 
welcomed and entertained by the family of 
Major Williams. Here I learned that my 
sister, now Mrs. William Wilson, was living 
with her husband at Hampton, Franklin 
county. 

I remained in the family of Maj. Williams 
until my brother-in-law came for me. We 
reached my sister in the evening of July 5th. 
This meeting can well be imagined. Since 
last we met how much of sorrow and terror 
we both had seen! It was a sad meeting, for 
inevitably the dead rose up before us. We 
had parted in the midst of a circle of loved 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR, 269 

ones. We met here as two torn, bleeding 
lambs, all that had escaped the wolfs de 
vouring jaws. Twenty-eight eventful years 
have passed since that sorrowful meeting 
with my sister, years that have brought to 
each of us much of toil, care and sadness. 
We then realized that a dark shadow had 
fallen upon us; but out of this we hoped 
life s journey would bring us, and the sun 
shine of other springs revive the buds that 
had been blasted as by an untimely frost. 
All this, indeed, might have been, but for a 
more subtle and relentless foe, which annu 
ally sends to premature graves one hundred 
thousand of our people, while it enslaves 
and tortures tenfold more. 

Here, at Hampton, in the mysterious order 
of Providence, it was my sad privilege to 
convey to the heart-stricken husband, pa 
rents, and relatives of Mrs Thatcher the 
tender message so hastily given me, as she 
was about to tread that fatal bridge, from 
which she landed on the eternal shore. 

Upon his return to his home in Connecti 
cut, Col. Lee, who accompanied Governor 
Medary and myself to Dubuque, published 
an account of the massacre, the material for 



270 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

which was obtained from the author of this 
volume. From his pamphlet I will be par 
doned for making the following extracts: 

"It is no easy matter for us who have never seen death 
in his most savage forms, never lived in scenes of blood 
shed, never suffered from privation and want, never 
braved the rough-and-tumble life of the prairie, or dared 
the war-whoop and scaipiug-knife, to realize fully the 
horrors described in the following pages. Had they 
transpired in New York or any of our more populous 
cities, they would have kindled the sympathies of the 
whole nation, and excited a world-wide interest. The 
daily papers would have trebled their circulation while 
magnifying every incident connected with the " Horrible 
Tragedy." Every act, every word, every look of the sav 
age perpetrators of such outrages would be reported to 
thousands of eager readers. Social circles would for weeks 
talk or think of nothing else, The streets, the hotels, the 
saloons, the thoroughfares of business, the steamboats, 
rail-cars, and in short every resort of the living would 
ring with the interesting gossip relating to the barbarous 
massacre. Miss Abbie Gardner would become a heroine of 
the most enviable notoriety. Throngs would press to be 
hold her expressive face; crowds would be anxious to 
know every word that might escape from her lips for 
months, and she, with all her relatives and fellow-suffer 
ers, would at once take rank among the historical charac 
ters of the age. Human hearts vibrate most with sympa 
thy when near the exciting cause, but, like the gently rip 
pling waters far off from the falling stone, they are very 
slightly moved by the troubles of those at a distance. 

"Accordingly, we at the east have felt, comparatively, 
but little sympathy in the Spirit Lake Massacre, while 
wrath and sympathy have lashed the hearts of our West 
ern countrymen with a tempest of excitement, the surg 
ing swells of which are still heard moaning their solemn 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 271 

dirge. Who that gazes upon Miss Gardner s well-formed 
features, sees the depths of her eyes, the character and 
strength of endurance and of self-command, and yet the 
almost enslaved submissiveness, the despairing indiffer 
ence to fate, the keen suffering and grief, all stamped on 
her countenance, and shaded by. the tawn of her ruthless 
captors, can read the sojil-harrowing tale of her tortures, 
without a tear of sympathy for the afflicted maiden, and 
an unutterable feeling of indignation against her foul 
tormentors? 

"As children, we have all read with exciing interest the 
story of the attacks of the Indians on the early settlers of 
our country. We have felt for the distracted family of 
Mr. Williams, of Deerfleld, Massachusetts, execrated the 
barbarities committed by the Indians upon Saratoga, and 
upon the early settlers in Virginia, wept over the bloody 
murder of Miss McCrea, the luckless victim of Wyo 
ming, and followed with tears and admiration the for 
tunes of Daniel Boone and his brave companions in 
Kentucky; but we doubt whether among all these bloodier 
tomahawks ever gleamed than those which hewed down 
the settlers at Spirit Lake, or greater fortitude was ever 
exhibited than that which so heroically shines in Miss 
ABBIE GARDNER. 

" If misfortune comes she brings along the bravest virtues. Thompson. 



"On Wednesday, June 24, 1857, on board the steamer Ga 
lena, Miss Gardner embarked in company of Gov. Medary 
and Col. Lee, for Dubuque, Iowa, on her way in search of 
her only remaining relative, her sister Eliza.who (it will be 
remembered") was absent, near Fort Dodge at the time of 
the massacre, and thus escaped. On parting with his 
young and interesting charge the governor was so touched 
with her subdued grief, and the intolerable trials she had 
so meekly and patiently borne, that his eyes filled with 
tears, in which the others present joined, showing much 
sympathy and feeling for her. 



272 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

" No radiant pearls, which crested Fortune wears, 
No gem that twinkling hangs from Beauty s ears; 
Not the bright stars, which Night s blue arch adorn; 
Nor radiant Sun, that gilds the vernal Morn; 
Shines with such luster as the tear that flows 
Down virtue s manly cheek for others woes. 



" Col. Lee, at the request of the governor, very gladly 
undertook the escort of the released captive from Dubuque 
to Fort Dodge. The governor s parting charge was that 
if her only surviving sister could not be found, and no 
other provision made for her, Col. Lee should take her 
to Columbus, Ohio, where the governor s family reside, 
and commit her to the care of Mrs. Medary, who would 
adopt her and educate her as her own. Through this 
whole affair the governor acted with a manliness and 
discretion as rare as they are admirable. 

"During this agreeable trip, Col. Lee enjoyed the inter 
esting society of Miss Gardner for eight days before 
arriving at Fort Dodge. First to him of all the whites 
she had seen since her release, she told the details of her 
wonderful adventures, as they have been narrated in 
these pages. 

"While in Dubuque the> had been entertained very hos 
pitably by a private family, where an intelligent and well 
educated, young lady was visiting; she kindly wrote out 
for Col. Lee the following description of Miss Gardner as 
she appeared at that time: For a girl of her years, Miss 
Gardner is rather tall and slender, though with a look of 
health and endurance. Her manners are quiet and pleas 
ing, and her face, though so deeply browned from her 
long continued exposure, has a subdued and pensive ex 
pression, sufficiently attesting the suffering she has passed 
through. She has evidently great amiability of disposition, 
and to this she doubtless owes not only her life, but her 
exemption from many of the cruelties to which Mrs. 
Noble, and those who evinced more spirit, were constantly 
subjected. She seems, even now, to entertain no feelings 
of wrong, but only of deep thankfulness that she has been 



DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR. 273 

rescued from that bondage, in which she had looked for 
ward to death as the only release, and as we might sup 
pose, longed for its coming. She speaks of her own 
suffering with a calmness amounting to indifference when 
compared with the depth of feeling she evinces when the 
dreadful fate of her family is alluded to, and it is then 
her woman s heart is more manifest than in speaking of 
any personal abuse she lias received. Her complexion is 
naturally light, with soft blue eyes and brown hair, but 
the barbarous manner in which the squaws were accus 
tomed to dressing it was in accordance with our ideas 
neither of cleanliness nor beauty. They bestowed an 
abundance of oil from any animal they happened to have 
killed, and then braided it closely, allowing it to remain 
for days in this filthy condition, with the full force of the 
sun s rays burning it into her head, for she wore no pro 
tection over her head during the whole of her wan 
derings. 

"On arriving at Fort Dodge with his ward Col, Lee left 
her under the care of Major W, Williams. The major 
promised to provide her as early a passage as possible to 
her sister when found. In St. Paul Miss Gardner had 
heard a rumor that her sister had married, and had sent 
messengers to Minnesota to seek for her. But not until 
after her arrival at Fort Dodge could she learn where her 
sister had settled, nor whom she had married. After 
leaving her with Major Williams in Fort Dodge, Col. Lee 
learned at;.,Iowa Falls, on his return toward Dubuqne 
that the object of their search (Miss Abbie s sister) had 
married Mr. Wilson and was living at Hampton, in 
Franklin county, Iowa. The colonel immedately wrote 
to Maj. Williams, and also to Mr. Wilson, informing the 
latter of Miss Gardner s release and stay at Fort Dodge, 
and the former of his discovery." 



18 



274 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



CHAPTER XXTY. 



SINCE THE CAPTIVITY. 

Marriage Visit Spirit Lake Names of Early Settlers- 
Indian Excitement Become Resident of Bremer and 
Butler Counties, Iowa Birth of Son Move to Mis 
souriLose Household Effects by Fire Remove to 
Kansas Back to Iowa Birth of second Son 
Another Fire Visit the Scenes of Childhood Loss 
of Health Birth and Death of third Child Visit St. 
Paul. 



MONG the many relatives of Mes- 
dames Noble and Thatcher residing 
at Hampton, was a cousin, a young 
man by the name of Casville Sharp, 
with whom I naturally soon became ac 
quainted. The acquaintance rapidly became 
more intimate, and on the 16th of August, 
1857, we were married. 

Some eighteen months afterwards, in 
company with my husband, 1 visited the 




SINCE THE CAPTIVITY. 275 

lakes, the scene of ray anguish and unutter 
able sorrow. Not even the desolation Ink- 
paduta had wrought could deter people from 
seeking homes in this charming country. 
Already the tide of immigation was pouring 
in. As early as the 15th of April, 1857- 
only a month after my capture, J. S. Pres- 
cott and W. B, Brown arrived, Prescott 
taking possession of my father s home and 
claim. 

Prominent among those who came in 
early after the massacre to establish homes 
may be mentioned, Henry Barkman, 0. C. 
Howe, B. F. Parmenter, R. N. Wheelock, C. 
F. Hill, R. Kingmau, A. Kingman, Geo. E- 
Spencer (since U. S. senator from Alabama), 
his brother Gustave Spercer, M A. Blanch- 
ard, S. W. Foreman, A. Arthur, Dr. Hunter, 
S. Thornton, E. Farmer, R. A. Smith, his 
father and brother, Milton. Howe, Wheelock 
and Parmenter (as stated in a previous 
chapter), had located prior to the mas 
sacre and were among the first to discover 
the fact, and they assisted in burying the 
dead. 

My object in going to the lakes was to 
visit the graves of those so dear to me, to 



276 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

add some tribute of affection; and also to se 
cure, if possible, some compensation for the 
property, and pre-emption claim, of my 
father, of which possession had been taken 
by Mr. Prescott After some delay, I se 
cured a small amount, not so much as the 
personal property left by the Indians was 
worth, or the improvements made, or the 
value of the choice location; not so much, in 
fact, as the old log house would be worth to 
me to-day; but it was all Mr. Prescott was 
willing to pay, and so it was all I could get. 
While we were there, an intense excitement 
was raised on account of the reports of the 
presence of hostile Indians in the vicinity. 
One man came in and reported that he had 
been shot at by an Indian. The next day 
a small party of Indians was discovered ap 
proaching the town. They were halted a 
short distance from the place, and I went 
out to see if they belonged to Inkpaduta s 
band. Had I recognized any of them the 
citizens stood ready to shoot them down. 
As they were not the marauders, they were 
allowed to depart; but they were not per 
mitted to enter the town, as they were be- 



SINCE THE CAPTIVITY, 277 

lieved to be spies trying to find out the situ 
ation of the settlers. 

United States soldiers had been ordered 
to the lake to give security to the settle 
ment for the winter, and were expected soon. 
In the meantime, the citizens stood guard 
at night, and for days nothing was thought 
of, or talked of, but the Indians. With my 
own terrible experience yet so fresh in mem 
ory, or so vividly recalled by the present 
surroundings, this excitement was unuttera 
bly dreadful, and it was with a sense of great 
relief that I left the place where I had wit 
nessed such bitter scenes of agony and 
bloodshed, and where I was living in fear of 
seeing them repeated upon myself and those 
around me. 

Returning again to Hampton, we passed 
on to Bremer county, where my husband 
owned land, and where his parents resided. 
Here, in 1859, came to our home a darling 
baby boy, whom I called Albert, for my sis 
ter s Albert, who was torn from my arms on 
that memorable day of the massacre. 

Most of the time since, I have been a resi 
dent of Iowa. Twice we removed to Grundy 
county, Missouri. The first time we re- 



278 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

mained only a few weeks, the second time 
a year. This time it was our misfortune to 
be burned out of house and home. As we 
were away when it burned we lost all the 
house contained, including not only much 
valuable property, but also the beautiful 
war-cap, the relic of my captivity. 

Soon afterward we moved to Kansas, ar 
riving there just at the time of the great 
drouth of 1860. This drouth was so severe 
that on the 4th of July the corn standing in 
the field was as dry as tinder and the leaves 
would break into pieces in the hands. The 
grass was, to all appearances, dead, and 
would crack under the feet as one walked. 
The wind blew steadily from the south, and 
seemed like the air from an oven. We were 
compelled to remain in the house and to 
close the doors and windows, to protect our 
selves from the scalding breath of this 
American sirocco- 

Great was our disappointment after jour 
neying so far to be obliged to leave Kansas 
at the end of one week. However, to us at 
least, considerable as was the expense of the 
journey, the drouth was doubtless a blessing 
in disguise, as it drove us back to Iowa just 



SINCE THE CAPTIVITY. 



279 



in time to escape the ravages of war that for 
four years swept over that part of the state. 

In 1862 I was blessed with the second son. 
This one we called Allen. He and Albert are 
both now in the employ of the M. & St. Louis 
railway company. From Bremer county we 
removed to Shell Rock, in Butler county, 
where, in 1870, it was again our misfortune 
to lose all our household effects by fire. This 
time, as before, we were away from home, 
and nothing was saved. In 1871 little Min 
nie came, but her mission on earth was soon 
accomplished, and her short life was over in 
eighteen months. This sorrow was to me 
the greatest since my captivity. 

In 1876 I went East, accompanied by my 
son Allen, spending some six months in the 
state of New York, and about the same time 
in Pennsylvania, visiting among places of 
interest many of the spots dear to my child 
hood. Pleasant it was to linger amid the 
scenes of earlier years; and yet how sad! 

Rev. F. M. Smith, my mother s brother, 
was pastor of the M. E. church at Green 
wood, our former home. The stone school- 
house in which I first attended school, and 
around which I played, stood just across the 



230 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

stream from this church. The old school- 
house had been replaced by another, of like 
material, but larger and better. My uncle s 
dwelling was only a few rods away, and from 
his door I could see the children at play, as 
others and myself had played, more than 
twenty years before. I could not but think 
of my own happy life when I played on that 
same ground, and contrasted it with the 
years of suffering and sorrow that had fol 
lowed. I thought of the time when we dwelt 
there an unbroken family, and the sad fate 
that befell us by exchanging our home here 
for one of hardships and privations on the 
extreme frontier. How could I suppress a 
sigh or help but wish that we had been con 
tent with our home in the Empire state. 

Among those whom I visited was Mrs- 
Lydia Ersley, my first teacher and ever- 
remembered friend. Many other places and 
persons, dear to me, I was not permitted to 
visit on account of ill health. 

Never have I recovered from the injuries 
inflicted upon me while a captive among the 
Indians. Instead of outgrowing them, as I 
hoped to, they have grown upon me as the 
years went by, and utterly undermined my 



SINCE THE CAPTIVITY. 281 

health. For fourteen years I have been an 
invalid confined to my room; often, for 
months at a time, perfectly helpless. For 
nearly three years I was under the personal 
care of W. H. Pettit, M. D., of Cedar Falls, 
Iowa, and it is due to his skillful treatment 
that I have so far recovered my health, as to 
be able to prepare this volume. But for the 
failure of my health this work would doubt 
less have been given to the world years ago; 
but perhaps the delay is more than compen 
sated for by greater accuracy in detail- 

Many of the publications I have read, 
touching the events recorded in this history, 
are so inaccurate and unreliable that I have 
been constrained, on this account, to give to 
the public the facts as I know them to be. 

In 1883 I visited St. Paul, where I had not 
been since that memorable visit twenty-six 
years before, when I was brought there un 
der Indian escort, still held in their custody 
till the price of my ransom should be paid. 

One object of my last visit was to gather 
material for this volume- In this I was most 
successful, as every facility was offered me. 
Judge Flandrau put into my hands all his 
private papers that would throw any light 



282 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

upon this subject. I also had access to all 
the documents in possession of the State 
Historical Society, which are very full and 
complete. The old capitol had fallen a 
victim to the flames; and many valuable 
records were destroyed, but, fortunately for 
me, those pertaining to this history had es 
caped. 

Among the relics show r n me at the capitol 
was the scalp of Little Crow, the great Sioux 
chief, who claimed to have punished Inkpa- 
duta s band, and who originated, and led in, 
the scheme to. massacre all the whites in the 
valley of Minnesota. As I turned over the 
scalp, it was a satisfaction to know that he 
could never again lead his warriors on to 
murderous deeds. Had Inkpaduta s scalp 
been taken, the Minnesota massacre of 1862 
might have been averted. 



RETRIBUTION. 283 



CHAPTER XXV. 



RETRIBUTION. 

Inkpaduta on Yellow Medicine Expedition fitted up to 
find and punish him Reach the camp Roaring 
Cloud runs He is shot and killed His Squaw taken 
Captive Expedition of Indians sent after the others 
Three killed and three taken Captive Trouble 
about Payment Matter dropped Little Crow s 
Treachery Minnesota Massacre Eight Hundred 
Whites Murdered. 



BOUT the time I reached Hampton, 
in 1857, Maj. Flandrau received the 
startling news that Inkpaduta and sev 
eral of his band were on the Yellow 
Medicine, not far from the agency. The 
major went to Fort Ridgely to consult with 
Col Alexander as to what ought to be done, 
and how to do it. They agreed that something 
ought to be done, to punish the reckless ma 
rauders. A lieutenant and eighteen men 




f 

,fei 



284 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

were detailed to co-operate with Maj. Flan- 
drau. This work fell to the lot of Lieut. 
Murray, of Capt. Bee s company the same 
who had made the terrible winter campaign 
to Springfield, and who had once been so 
near Inkpaduta and his desperados. 

He marched his men up to Redwood 
agency, a distance of thirteen miles, where 
he arrived about 5 p. M. Here the major 
had wagons to transport them to the Yellow 
Medicine, thirty miles farther. The major 
had also raised a squad of volunteers to 
accompany the soldiers. 

Several young men were visiting at the 
agency at the time who joined the expedi 
tion. Among them was a son of Prof. Morse 
(inventor of the telegraph), who had been in 
the military school at West Point. There 
were in the company three brothers by the 
name of Campbell, James Maynaer, who 
afterward fell leading a company in the 
war to put down the rebellion, Charles 
Jenijy, who had been a great traveler, and 
some half dozen more whites and half-breeds. 
]t was arranged to have a guide meet them 
to conduct them to the place where Inkpa- 



RETRIBUTION. 285 

duta s men were supposed to be- With these 
preparations they set out about dark. 

The Redwood and Yellow Medicine enter 
the Minnesota from the west, flowing in 
nearly parallel lines, with a distance of 
twenty miles between them. The country 
between is a level prairie with a conspicu 
ous butte, or elevation, about half way from 
river co river. This butte is renowned for 
being the place of a great four days battle 
between the Sioux and Chippewas. The 
rifle-pits made by the Sioux were still well 
defined a few years ago, and probably are at 
this time. From the top of this hill, the tim 
ber on both rivers is distinctly visible. 

When the expedition reached this butte, 
on the summit sat John Other Day, whom 
Joseph Brown had sent as guide to the camp 
of Inkpaduta. It will be remembered that 
this guide was one of the party that rescued 
me. He was sitting, pipe in his mouth, and, 
Indian like, showed not the slightest sign of 
interest or recognition, but waited to be 
spoken to. 

He stated that there were some of Inkpa- 
duta s men on the Yellow Medicine, how 
many he did not know; but could point 



286 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

out their camp. This he described as 
composed of six teepes, standing aloof from 
all the others, and up the river some five 
miles from the agency. When asked how 
they could distinguish Inkpaduta s men 
from the others, he replied: You charge 
on the camp. When they see the soldiers 
they will know what they are after. Ink- 
pad uta s people will either run or show 
fight. The others will remain quiet." 

Joe Campbell, the interpreter, approved 
the wisdom of the advice. The officers de 
cided to capture or kill any who fled, and 
take the chances of their being the right 
ones- With this. arrangement they moved 
forward, piloted by Other Day. They reached 
the river, where they were to cross, just in 
the gray of the morning. The camp they 
sought was in sight on a high plateau, north 
of the river, and about a mile above the 
ford. The utmost caution had . been ob 
served, even before they reached the river, 
by creeping along, and keeping a knoll 
of the prairie between them and the camp. 
The alertness and skill with which Other 
Day led the expedition, and his snake-like 
movements, were marvelous. No panther 



RETRIBUTION. 287 

ever stole upon its prey with more deadly 
silence and certainty. The river was about 
a quarter of a mile from the camp, and forty 
feet below, with a precipitous bank, which 
was lined with a thick growth of willow. It 
was evident that if the Indians ran they 
would make for the river. 

Lieut. Murray commanded the infantry 
while the cavalry was under direction of 
Maj. Flandrau. The plan of operations 
was as follows: the infantry were to charge, 
at double quick, up along the river, and en 
deavor to cut off a retreat to the cover of the 
bank; while the cavalry were to keep to the 
right and so surround the camp. When all 
was ready, the word of command was given, 
and off they started. The night had been 
sultry, and the teepes were rolled up from 
the bottom for ventilation, thus giving those 
within an opportunity to observe what was 
going on without. 

A dozen horsemen furiously galloping to 
ward one side of the camp, and fifteen or 
twenty soldiers charging at double quick to 
ward the other side, could not remain long 
unnoticed. When they were within about 
half a mile of the camp, an Indian, holding 



288 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

a squaw by the hand, sprang from one of the 
teepes and darted, like an antelope, in the 
direction of the river- Other Day and Camp 
bell at once shouted " That s our man!" and 
rifles began to crack. The soldiers opened 
on him at long range, as they were some 
what in the rear, and several shots were 
fired by the mounted men. Whether he was 
hit or not no one knew, except from the fact 
that he bounded forward the faster. He had 
a double-barreled shot gun in his hand, but 
did not stop to use it until he reached cover. 
Here he could not be seen but had full view 
of his pursuers. 

The situation was critical. Every moment 
a fatal shot was expected. He fired four 
times, one bullet striking the cartridge-box 
of one of the soldiers (which he had drawn 
to his left side for convenience in loading), 
turning it inside out, and destroying all his 
ammunition. The other shots missed. At 
each discharge of his gun, a volley was fired 
at the point where the flash was seen. He 
was soon riddled with bullets, and as no 
more shots came a soldier rushed forward 
and finished the work with a thrust of his 
bayonet. So fell Roaring Cloud, son of Ink- 



RETRIBUTION. 289 

paduta. His two companions were thought 
to have fled to the haunts of the old chief. 

The soldiers captured the squaw, put her 
in one of the wagons brought to convey the 
soldiers, and started down the river for the 
agency. Their object in taking the squaw 
was to learn who the Indian was that had 
been killed, and to get any other desirable 
information; but they had not counted the 
cost of making her a prisoner, as events 
soon showed. 

Three members of Inkpaduta s band had 
evidently come to the vicinity of the agency 
hoping to share in the annuities soon to be 
dispensed by government; but while look 
ing after rations one, at least, had thoughts 
of love. This was Inkpaduta, junior, son of 
the old chief, and Mrs. Noble s murderer, 
one of the worst of the band. Having tri 
umphed in war, he must now try his skill in 
love, where he seems to have met with 
equal success; perhaps successful because 
of his bloody deeds. Nor, if so, would this 
be the first time in the history of the world 
that sacrifices to the god of war seemed to 
please the gentle goddess of love. But hav 
ing slain his hecatombs upon the altar of 

19 



290 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Mars, he now lays, not only his heart, but 
unwittingly bis head, upon the altar of Venus. 
Available and attractive brides seemed to 
have been wanting in his own band, nor 
would one of the artless maidens in the 
Yankton encampment, though arrayed in 
all the simplicity of nature, meet the de 
mand of this prospective chieftain. He 
must have a maiden w r ho was a ward of the 
United States, and had learned some of the 
blandishments of civilization. So he woos 
and wins a bride from among the annuity 
Indians at Yellow Medicine Agency. 

The making prisoner of this fair young 
widow seemed to have touched the hearts 
of the Yellow Medicine braves, even more 
than the sudden "taking-off" of her illus 
trious husband. In going down to the 
agency, the expedition passed through the 
camp of some ten thousand Indians. Here 
they found they had stirred up a hornet s 
ne&fc. The excitement was awful. The 
squaws howled as only squaws can howl. 
The warriors, naked, painted and ready, 
armed for a fight, scowled, frowned, and 
swarmed on every side, like an infuriated 
swarm of bees. A single shot from either 



RETRIBUTION. 291 

party would have been as a spark of fire in 
a magazine, and the little band would have 
shared a fate like that which in later years 
overtook Ouster and his men. Fortunately 
no collision occurred and they reached the 
agency in safety. Here they took posses 
sion of a log house, and awaited results, 
determined to fight if need be while a man 
could lift a weapon. 

The Indians brought up the dead body 
and held a long council over it. Many 
speeches were made similar in their object 
to that made by Mark Antony over the dead 
body of Caesar, but either there was no 
"plain, blunt man" with the skill of Antony 
among them, or else a wholesome fear of the 
proximity of reinforcements of soldiers 
restrained them. 

Within the little fort were fifty deter 
mined men, well organized, with Charles 
Jenny and young Morse acting as lieuten 
ants. Had an attack been made there 
would have been more than one dead Indian 
outside. After several days spent in sleep 
less anxiety, they were reinforced by the 
arrival of Maj. Sherman, with the famous 
Buena Vista battery, who had been ordered 



292 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

up from Fort Snelling to attend the payment 
of the annuities. Sherman had sixty men 
with him, which made the little fort a pretty 
strong garrison, and with the artillery ren 
dered the situation quite safe. They were, 
however, finally and effectually relieved by 
several companies of soldiers under Major 
Patton, who was on his way to Fort Ridgely 
from some post on the Missouri, and whose 
coming was most opportune. 

The government required of the Sioux the 
delivery of Inkpaduta and his band, as the 
condition of the payment of the annuities. 
This the Indians considered as a great wrong 
visited upon the innocent, for the crime of 
the guilty. Notwithstanding, Maj. Flandrau 
succeeded in organizing a company of war 
riors, from each of the different bands of the 
annuity Sioux, under the chieftainship of 
Little Crow, numbering in all one hundred 
and six, besides four half-breeds. The ex 
pedition left Yellow Medicine July 22, going 
out after Inkpaduta. After an absence of 
thirteen days, they returned, claiming that 
they had killed three of his band, wounded 
one, and taken two squaws and one papoose 
prisoners. 



RETRIBUTION. 293 

In a council held at Yellow Medicine, in 
August, 1857, by the Sisseton and Wapefcm 
bands of Sioux, one of their speakers, Ma- 
zaintemani, said: 

" The soldiers have appointed me to speak for them. 
The men who killed the white people did not belong to 
us, and we did not expect to be called to account for the 
people of another band. We have always tried to do as 
our Great Father tells us. One of our young men 
brought in a captive woman. I went out and brought in 
another. The soldiers came up here, and our men assisted 
them to kill one of Inkpaduta s sons at this place. 
Then you fSupt. Cullen] spoke of our soldiers going after 
the rest. Wakeaska [ White Lodge] said he would go, and 
the rest of us followed. The lower Indians did not get 
up the war-party for you; it was our Indians, the Wape- 
tons and Sissetons. 

"The soldiers, here, say they were told by you that a 
thousand dollars would be paid for killing each of the 
murderers. Our Great Father does not expect us to do 
these things without money. I suppose it is for that, the 
special agent [Maj. Pritchette] is come up. We, with the 
men who went out, want to be paid for what we have 
done. Three men were killed as we know. All of us 
want our money very much. We have not seen our 
Great Father, but we have heard a great deal from him, 
and have always tried to do as he told us. A man of 
another band has done wrong, and we are to suffer for it. 
Our old women and children are hungry for this. I have 
seen $10.000 sent here to pay for our going out. I wish 
our soldiers were paid for it. I suppose our Great Father 
has more money than this." 



294 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Su pt. Call en replied to a part of this 
speech as follows: 

"The money that man saw was the annuity moneys. I 
have never promised a thousand dollars a head, or any 
other sum. I have never made an offer for the head of 
any man. I was willing to pay a thousand dollars, out of 
my own pocket, to the Indians, if they went and did as 
their Great Father desired. I know what I say, and I will 
do as I say. I put my words down when I go home." 

Maj. Pritchette, the special government 
agent, thought it necessary to answer some 
other point made by Mazaintemani, and 
addressed him in council as follows: 

"Your Great Father has sent me to see Supt. Cullen, 
and to say to him that he is well satisfied with his con 
duct, because he had acted according to his instructions. 
Your Great Father had heard that some of his white chil 
dren had been cruelly and brutally murdered by some of 
the Sioux nation. The news went on the wings of light 
ning from the extreme north to the land of eternal sum 
mer, throughout which his children dwell. His young 
men wish to make war on the entire Sioux nation, and 
revenge the death of their brethren. But your Great 
Father is a just father, and wishes to treat all his children 
alike, with justice. He wants no innocent man punished 
for the guilty. He punishes the guilty alone. He expects 
those missionaries, who have been here teaching you the 
laws of the Great Spirit, have taught you this. When 
ever a Sioux is injured by a white man, your Great Father 
will punish the white man; and he expects from your 
chiefs and warriors of the great Sioux nation that they 
will punish those Indians who injure the whites. He 
considers the Sioux as a part of his family, and as friends 
and brothers he expects them to do as the whites do to 



RETRIBUTION. 295 

them. He knows the Sioux nation is divided into bauds; 
but he also knows how they can all band together for 
common protection. He expects the nation to punish 
those murderers, or to deliver them up. He expects this 
because they are his friends. As long as these murderers 
are not punished or delivered up, they are not acting as 
friends of the Great Father. It is for this reason that he 
has withheld the annuity. He has instructed Supt. Cul- 
len so to say, and so to act. 

" If you have determined not to punish them or deliver 
them up, your Great Father will send his own warriors 
to do so, and he wants no assistance from you. If your 
father (Supt. Cullen) is satisfied that you will do nothing 
further, then the warriors of your Great Father will go 
out, and if the murderers do not hide in holes like foxes 
your annuity will soon be paid. Your Great Father will 
have his white children protected; and all who have told 
you that he is not able to punish those who injure them 
will find themselves bitterly mistaken. Your Great 
Father desires to do good to all his children, and will do 
all in his power to accomplish it; but he is nrmly resolved 
to punish all who do wrong." 

It will be seen by the preceding speeches 
that the Sioux, under the nominal lead of 
Little Crow, argued that they had pursued 
Inkpaduta, killed three of his men, and 
taken two squaws and one papoose prison 
ers, and that they had done enough to merit 
the payment of their annuities. We will 
only say, that it was the opinion of some of 
the Indian officials, and the general, intelli 
gent sentiment of the people of Minnesota at 
the time, that the apparently friendly disposi- 



296 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

tion of the Sioux nation should not be endan 
gered by subjecting them to wants, incident 
their present condition, thus leading them 
into temptation and to commit depredations 
to which the withholding their annuities 
might leave them exposed; and that their 
annuities might now be paid without vio 
lating the spirit of the expressed determina 
tion of the department, to withhold them 
until the murderers should be surrendered or 
punished. 

The officials finally yielded this point in 
favor of the Indians, for the reasons stated; 
simply because it was thought the best pol 
icy. But it was believed by some, and more 
recent events have greatly strengthened this 
belief, that, had our government enforced the 
surrender or the entire extirpation of Ink- 
paduta s murderous outlaws, the ever-to-be- 
remembered massacre of August, 1862, would 
never have happened. 

August 18, 1857, Major Cullen telegraphed 
to Hon. J. W. Denver, Commissioner of In 
dian Affairs, as follows: 

"If the department concurs, I am of the opinion that 
the Sioux of the Mississippi have done all in their power 
to punish or surrender Inkpaduta s band, and their annu- 



RETRIBUTION. 297 

ities may with propriety be paid as a signal to the mili 
tary movements from Forts Ridgely and Randall. The 
special agent awaits answer to this dispatch at Dunleith, 
and for instructions in the premises." 

Suffice it to say the government paid the 
Indians their annuities and made no further 
effort to bring to punishment the remainder 
of the band, who had escaped the pursuit of 
Little Crow. The result was that the In 
dians construed this as an evidence of weak 
ness, or that the whites were afraid to pursue 
the matter further, lest it should terminate 
in still more disastrous results to themselves. 
From this time the Indians on the border of 
Minnesota became more and more insolent. 
It is said that Little Crow boastfully declared 
that if Inkpaduta with his little band of 
fourteen warriors could massacre a whole 
settlement and create a panic that drove 
thousands from their homes, and escape un 
punished, he, numbering his warriors by 
thousands, could massacre and expel all the 
whites from the valley of the Minnesota. 

In August, 1S62, during our civil war, the 
cunning, treacherous Little Crow, taking 
advantage of the troubled condition of the 
country, attacked the settlers in Minnesota, 



29$ THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

killing men, women and children. Not less 
than eight hundred persons fell victims at 
this time to savage cruelty. The outbreak 
was sudden and unexpected, and again con 
sternation swept along the northern bound 
ary of Iowa, while a large portion of Minne 
sota was depopulated. 

On the morning of August 22, 1862. a Nor 
wegian named Nelson came to Spirit Lake, 
with his two children, that he had carried 
in his arms from his home on the Des Moines, 
some fourteen miles north of the Iowa line. 
On the evening before, the settlers in his 
neighborhood had held a meeting to adopt 
some measures for defense, in view of the 
reports which had come to them of the In 
dian depredations at New Ulm. Those who 
attended the meeting on the evening of Au 
gust 2 1st, returned to their homes to find 
their families murdered and their houses 
plundered. Nelson found his family all killed 
except the two children mentioned, and they 
had been left for dead. One of them after 
ward died from its injuries, but the other 
recovered. 

These reports caused intense excitement 
at Spirit Lake, and a party was sent to the 



RETRIBUTION. 



299 



Des Moines- They made a hasty reeonnoist 
sance, and returned next day, when a largetf 
force was organized and sent over to Jack* 
son, Minnesota, where they were met by 
another party from Estherville, Iowa. The 
two parties united, and followed up the Des 
Moines fifteen miles, where they encamped 
for the night. About fifteen bodies were 
found and buried. The next day each party 
returned to their homes. 

The settlers about the lakes immediately 
gathered at the court-house, and for the time 
being adopted that as headquarters. A stock 
ade was constructed of boards set up endwise 
in a trench around the court-house, a dis 
tance of twenty feet from it. This was occu 
pied as a military station until 1865; but 
fortunately no other use of it was required. 



300 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACBE, 



CHAPTER XXVI. 



VISIT TO THE OLD HOME, 

Third Journey to Spirit Lake Mode of Conveyance The 
Wonderful Change Spirit and Okoboji Lakes as a 
Summer Resort Hotel Orleans Visit the House 
where captured by Indians, and other scenes of the 
Massacre Sad Memories Memorial Mound Seated 
by Window in old Home. 



tbe tenfch day of December 1883 > T 

made my third journey to Spirit and 
O k boji lakes, not with "prairie 
schooner/ and slowly moving train of 
oxen, camping out at night, as on my 
first visit, nor yet with nimble horses, as on 
my second; but with steed of iron, whose 
nerves were steel and whose breath was flame, 
we flew over the prairie with the speed of the 
wind. The landmarks we then looked for 
ward to with anxious longing, and toward 




VISIT TO THE OLD HOME- 



301 




which we patiently toiled, now fled backward 
as the train sped on. 

But not more changed was the mode of 
conveyance than were the objects that met 
our eyes. Where then stretched the track 
less prairie as far as the eye could see, were 
now fields, barns, stacks of grain and com- 



302 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

modious dwellings. How different the scene 
since 1856 and 1858, when last 1 beheld these 
shores. The groves and hills which once 
echoed with the war whoop of the savages 
now reverberates with the shrill whistle of 
the locomotive. Now, upon the western 
shore of the north end of East Okoboji, about 
one and a half miles from Spirit Lake, de 
riving its name from the latter, we beheld a 
promising young city, with all the advan 
tages and conveniences of advanced civiliza 
tion, the county-seat of Dickinson county, 
and the junction of two great railroads the 
Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern, and 
the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul connect 
ing it directly with the great centers of pop 
ulation and trade. 

One great improvement worthy of note, 
that has been wrought where a few years 
ago might have been seen the wigwams of 
the Dakotas, is the Hotel Orleans, the pride 
of Spirit Lake, with its half mile or more 
of verandas, and its nine artistic towers, 
furnishing ample room for hundreds of ob 
servers to behold the magnificent scenery of 
the surrounding country. This hotel is beau 
tifully located on the isthmus between Spirit 



VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 303 

Lake and East Okoboji. It was built, and is 
owned, by the B., C. R. & N. railway company, 
and is said to be the largest in the state. 

Five miles south of Spirit Lake, on the 
Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway, and 
also on the strait connecting the two Oko- 
bojis, is the town of Okoboji, with a neat and 
beautiful depot building, steamboat-landing, 
post-office, store, etc. On the north side of 
the strait, near the spot where the Granger 
cabin stood, is now a large residence owned 
by Mr. Smith, one of the early settlers. 

On the south side of the railroad bridge, 
and within a few rods of the lake shore, is 
the place where the helpless Mattocks per 
ished in the flames of their own dwelling, 
and where I spent that never-to-be-forgotten 
night of horrors the tirst of iny captivity; 
where, in the hideous orgies of the war-dance, 
Inkpaduta s bloody warriors celebrated the 
slaughter of my kindred. On the claim of 
my brother-in-law, Mr. Luce, half a mile 
southwest of this, and by the path over which 
I was led a helpless captive, near the south 
ern shore of West Okoboji, is now a favorite 
summer resort, known as Arnold s Park. 
Here the trains on the C.,M. & St. P. railway 



304 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

halt, and the steamers on the Okoboji land 
for the accommodation of tourists. One 
mile and a half across the lake on the north 
shore, on the pre-emption claim of Dr. Har 
riott, is another popular resort known as 
Dixon s Beach. Here, where once stood the 
grimy teepes of the Dakotas, may be seen, in 
summer, the white touts of people of cul 
ture and refinement, gleaming amid the dark 
green foliage of the grand old oaks that 
spread their branches over this gravelly 
beach, and crown the picturesque knolls in 
the background. 

The rare beauty of these lakes, as delight 
ful as a bewildering dream of paradise, com 
bined with the purity and brilliancy of the 
atmosphere, have attracted the attention of 
capitalists, who have purchased several miles 
of choice lots on the Okobojis for the pur 
pose of transforming this sylvan country into 
a fashionable watering-place. But, when the 
hand of art shall have done its utmost to 
develop and enhance the charms of nature, 
it will still be found that the weird tradi 
tions of the dusky race that once haunted 
these shores, and the story of the dark trag 
edies enacted here, have laid over all a more 



VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 305 

powerful spell than beauty: the subtle one 
of romance. 

Eighty or one hundred rods southwest of 
Arnold s Park is what is now called Pillsbury 
Point. This place is the most sacred to me 
of all on earth. Around it gather life s 
sweetest and saddest memories. It marks 
the definite boundary between the bright 
clays of childhood and the darkness and bit 
terness of the years that have followed. 
From it radiated the lights and shadows that 
have fallen across life s pathway. Here 
stands in good preservation, the log-house 
which my father built with his own hand, 
to shelter his family, and around which I 
have so often played with my little brothers 
The place is now owned and occupied by 
Rev. Samuel Pillsbury and the family of his 
son. These good people have treated me 
with great kindness and consideration. I 
am indeed glad this spot, purchased by the 
blood of my kindred, has fallen into hands 
so worthy. 

No language can express the thrilling emo 
tions that I experienced on my return to this 
place. It was on a winter s night similar to 

that one which was so long and dreadful. 
20 



306 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

All the years that had intervened seemed ob 
literated and everything appeared the same 
as in the years long gone. The snow-covered 
ground, the oak trees with their seared leaves 
clinging to their boughs all seemed the same 
as on that eventful night. As the shadows 
darkened I could almost see the dusky forms 
of the savages filing up to the doorway rifles 
in hand, crowd into the house, shoot my father 
when his back was turned, drive mother and 
sister out of the house, killing them with their 
guns, tearing the children from my arms, 
and beating them to death with stovewood. 
All this, and much more, came involuntarily 
before me, not as a picture in memory, but 
as a present reality. The supper-hour hav 
ing arrived we gathered around the table. 
Then the last meal eaten there together by 
our family rose before me, and so real 
seemed the vision that I could scarcely con 
trol my feelings or swallow a morsel. Hav 
ing retired to rest the swarthy creatures 
seemed all about me, murdering, plundering 
and ravishing, arid I found but little sleep 
during the night. Again, when the morn 
ing dawned and I heard the prattle of the 
children of the household, it seemed as 



VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. H07 

though they were the very same whose 
merry voices were so suddenly changed to 
dying groans on that fearful night. I could 
scarcely realize that twenty-seven years 
with all their varied experiences, lay be 
tween that dreadful night and this morning s 
waking. 

Frequently since then I have visited the 
place with similar impressions, though per 
haps not so vivid. To me this is, and ever 
must remain "holy ground," and 1 cannot 
but wish it were mine so that I could live 
here, and die here, and be buried by the side 
of my kindred. A memorial mound of 
stones, gathered from the lake shore, has 
been kindly erected by tourists and stran 
gers to mark the spot where rest the re 
mains of those most dear to me, which 
simple recognition I greatly appreciate. A 
few years ago steps were taken to erect a 
monument to mark the spot consecrated to 
civilization by the blood of those early pion 
eers, but the project, I am sorry to say, was 
never consummated. I trust it will yet be 
done by the generous people of Iowa. It is 
while here on a visit to this sacred spot, 
seated by the window in the old log-house, 



308 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



where I can gaze on the mound where lie 
the ashes of those dearer to me than life, 
that I bring this volume to a close, and bid 
the reader farewell. 




AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 309 



CHAPTER XXVII. 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 

Visit Indian Reservations in the Dakotas Wondrous 
Change in Condition of Sioux Receive kindness from 
Ir.dians Visit Government Schools and Indian 
Churches on route taken when Captive Missionaries 
and Superintendents Report of Indian Progress 
Find Chetanmaza, one of Rescuing Party Purchase 
the old Log Cabin where Captured by Indians Mon 
ument Erected on the Site by State of Iowa Visit 
World s Fair Benefit Received by Christian Science. 

T will be remembered that when the 
author of this story so replete with 
thrilling incidents was made a cap 
tive bv the Indians she was a child of 
only little more than thirteen summers. 
The idea of writing a history of the Oko- 
boji and Spirit Lakes massacre, and subse 
quent events, was born with years of matur 
ity in the desire to sive to the public an 
authentic account of the tragedy. Thus I 




310 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

began to jot down the memories of my child 
hood, and at the age of twenty- four years the 
manuscript pertaining to my own experi 
ence was completed, but it was destroyed by 
tire when first I was burned out of h^rse 
and home ; and it did not appear in print 
until rewritten in 1885. Misfortunes seemed 
to follow on my track; one was pursued by 
another, for years following my captivity, 
until it can be truly said of this work that 
it was brought out under great difficulties. 
Without strength to sit up throughout the 
day, and no means in sight with which to 
publish a book, I began the second time to 
prepare the manuscript for this volume. By 
giving lectures sitting in my chair,(not being 
able to remain standing,) I raised money 
enough to place the manuscript in the hands 
of the publisher, with a promise to pay the 
remainder at an early date. I thus succeeded 
in presenting to tbe public the fruits of 
my labor. 

The work is now in its fourth edition, 
some three thousand copies having been dis 
posed of, mostly among the tourists who 
annually visit the Iowa summer resort where 
the foundation of this history was laid. 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 311 

Thence the work has been carried into 
nearly every state and territory in America, 
also into the dominion of Canada and into 
England, where it has been perused with 
thrilling interest as the many assurances I 
have received testify. 

It seems only proper that some further 
publication should now be made, wherein 
might be recorded recent events and more 
pleasing features than any which have been 
related in the preceding pages. 

First, and to me the most important of all 
that has occurred since I bade the reader 
farewell, is the recovery of my health, which 
I had failed to gain through physical and 
hygienic laws. In the year 1889 my atten 
tion was attracted to the work of healing 
the sick by " Christian Science," and after 
long meditation I lesolved to give this new 
yet old religion a trial, with little faith or 
hope that I could be relieved by its ministry. 
However, to the great surprise of all who 
knew me, I was healed by this demonstrable 
truth. 

The science of metaphysical healing was 
discovered in the year 1866 by Mary B. G. 
Eddy. The Bible was her sole teacher in 



31.2 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

this newly discovered science of healing by 
divine method, and thus she denominated it 
" Christian Science." As in the days of Jesns, 
the physical healing in science results from 
the operation of divine principles, which 
destroy sin and heal our diseases as naturally 
as darkness disappears before the light. 
Nothing has so much appealed to the human 
mind, willing to investigate it as being the 
absolute truth, as this science, which points 
the way to the living Christ, who forgives 
our sins, and heals all our diseases. 

It is not my purpose, as it would be impos 
sible, to give the reader of this narrative 
any just conception of a subject so infinitely 
great, and of so much importance to man 
kind as the study of Divine Science. I only 
wish to state how I regained my health after 
so many years of suffering had gone by. By 
a faithful and earnest study of the science, 
revealed through this woman and recorded 
in her book entitled " Science and Health, 
with Key to the Scriptures," in connection 
with the study of the Bible, I was not only 
healed of physical ills, but I obtained a b-t- 
ter understanding of Him whom to know 
aright is life eternal. 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 313 

This is an age ever to be remembered for 
its great discoveries, valuable inventions, 
magnificent enterprises, and infinite move 
ments in private and public life. What bat 
tles have been fought what rights and lib 
erties have been secured to nations what 
victories have been won for God and human 
ity within the last quarter of a century! 
Even the difficult Indian problem has to a 
great extent been solved in the present gen 
eration . 

It is gratifying to learn from the annual 
report of the secretary of war in November, 
1893, that it may be assumed that Indian 
war is practically at an end in the United 
States. Within the past three years 1 have 
made repeated visits to the Indian reserva 
tions in the two Dakotas for the purpose of 
studying the environments of the Indians, 
and the progress which has been made in 
their condition since I first knew them, as 
well as to find if possible any of the rescuing 
party. I made the first journey to "Devil s 
Lake" reservation at Ft. Totten, North Da 
kota. Here the government has erected a 
military training school for the Indians at a 
cost of a quarter of a million dollars. In this 



314 



THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 



age of unparalleled mental development the 
wise will no longer apply the word u impos 
sible " to the proposed civilization of the 
Indians. A visit to the government schools, 
where their young are placed for a short time 
under the instruction of competent teachers, 
will convince the most skeptical that they 
are all here, not in perfection it is true, 
but as negatives of mind which awaits devel 
opment. 

The military reservation on which the 
school buildings stand comprises thirty-six 
square miles. It is all devoted to the uses 
of the school. The site is a beautiful one. 
It overlooks the charming waters of " Devil s 
Lake," and is about fifteen milrs from town, 
with which it is connected by daily steamer 
during the spring, summer, and autumn 
months. The Indians ignore the wh>te 
man s designation of this lake and insist on 
the opposite title "Minnie Waukon," signi 
fying in their language "Sacred or Holy 
Water," and no Dakota ever ventures to 
cross it in his canoe. This common belief 
among the Dakota Indians, regarding this 
body of water, has so influenced their young 
that those attending this school are filled 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 315 

with strange forebodings, and they, too, are 
afraid to venture on its waters in a canoe or 
embark on a steamer. The steamboat which 
carried me safely over its waters landed at 
the wharf just as the western sunlight 
gleamed over the distant hills, and fell on 
the lake as it lay calm and still, presenting a 
beautiful sight on that evening in November. 
While visiting this military school I was 
at once convinced that the Indian possesses 
the qualities of mind sufficient to elevate 
him above the low plane of thought and 
habit in which he has groveled along ever 
since he was found by Columbus in the fif 
teenth century. The same law of develop 
ment that has been illustrated in the prog 
ress of all nations can also be traced in our 
experience among the Indian tribes. From 
a personal investigation along the line of 
Indian education during the past few years, 
together with what information I have ob 
tained from missionaries and the annual 
reports of the superintendents of Indian 
schools, I must confess that my confidence 
in the capacity of the Indian race for eleva 
tion has increased a hundred fold. Large 
expenditures have been made by the govern- 



316 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

merit each year for the past ten years, and 
many substantial school buildings, with all 
the modern appliances, have been erected 
for the education of the Indian. So the 
same scho JL system that fits the white man s 
children to cope with the world also trains 
the descendants of the aboriginal tribes for 
citizenship, and to keep up with the ideas of 
civilized people. Under its recent adminis 
tration the Indian bureau has sounded the 
keynote of Indian education, and it has met 
with a gratifying response from an enlight 
ened public, so that the people who feel an 
interest in the civilization of the Indian 
tribes have reason to be encouraged. One 
great good which was wrought for the Dakota 
Indians, the influence of which has changed 
their thoughts, manners, and customs, was 
the work of translating the scriptures into 
their own language. This work was per 
formed by Thomas S. Williamson and 
Stephen E. Riggs, assisted by Joseph Ren- 
ville, a half-breed, who acted as interpreter. 
The names of these lifelong missionaries are 
stereotyped in the history of the Sioux, and 
their work will confer a lasting benefit on 
the generations yet to be, and entitle them 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. HI 7 

to the gratitude of both Indians and whites. 
I was astonished at the progress they had 
made in many cases, and their ability to read 
and detect errors in their names made by 
other translators. From the report of the 
superintendent of Indian schools in the year 
1892 I will be pardoned for making the fol 
lowing extracts which reflect the sentiment 
of those who are working in the field: 

STATEMENT OF H. P. DOUGLASS, POST TRADER. 
STANDING ROCK, NORTH DAKOTA, 

November 21, 1891. 

DEAR SIR I take pleasure in complying with your 
request of November 2. My residence on this reservation 
dates from 1876. At that time but little had been done in 
the way of civilizing the Indians. They knew no habita 
tion save the tepee, and their clothing was of the most 
primitive kind. Mocassins, a breech-clout, a baffalo robe 
or blanket, with a liberal supply of paint and feathers, 
constituted the wardrobe of the Indian man; and that of 
the Indian woman was not more modern. From 1876 to 
1881 the improvement in the condition of these Indians 
was very slow, in fact hardly noticeable. Since 1881, 
however, their progress has been steady, and very rapid 
for three years. The Indian of to-day cuts his hair short, 
has discarded the blanket KH d paint and the trinkets with 
which he former y adorned himself; and he is clothed as 
well as you will often find the average western farmer. 

In no particular has their progress been more marked 
than in the interest which they now take in their churches 
and schools. The churches on the reservation are well 
filled every Sunday with well-dressed, orderly and atten 
tive congregations, and the schools are taxed to their 



318 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

utmost capacity. Very much of this is due to the vigorous 
policy of the present administration in promoting and 
improving the school system, and the efforts of the agents 
in carrying out the policy. 

I am convinced tnat if you want to educate the Indian 
you must give him good reservation schools, right at home 
where his growth and progress may be daily observed by 
his parents and fellows. Don t send him away to eastern 
schools, from which he returns so changed that his own 
family hardly know him and are made to feel as though 
he was no longer one of them. In this connection permit 
me to say that in my opinion the establishment of an 
industrial school on each reservation would greatly con 
tribute to the improvement of the Indians, and hasten the 
time when they will become self-supporting. 

Testimony of S. Parkins, trader, near Stand 
ing Rock Reservation, North Dakota. 

I have been in this region since 1874. At that time 
Indians considered it a disgrace to wear pants with seats 
in them. They cut out the seats and would not wear a 
coat. Then there was not an Indian who could talk 
English, nor one who could read the letters on a sign; nor 
was there any school until 1877. Then every Indian carried 
a gun or revolver and a knife. They did their traveling 
on two long poles hitched to a pony and running back 
upon the ground, on which they packed their goods and 
children. Now nearly all have wagons. Then they had 
as many wives as they could get. Now only a few old 
Indians have plural wives. The tribal feeling is declining, 
almost entirely gone. The chief is only so in name and 
by courtesy. Chiefs do not try to exercise power as 
formerly. Indians care little for chiefs now, biiv. do care 
for the police. The Soldier Band of the olden time, 
which surrounded the chiefs and inflicted vengence upon 
Indians who did not comply with their wishes, has passed 
away. It was one of the complaints of Sitting Bull in 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT, 

his last days, that he no longer had any authority and but 
little influence among his people. 

Testimony of John P. Williamson. [Mr. 
Williamson is a life-long missionary and son 
of Thomas Williamson, whose name is em 
balmed in the history of the Sioux Indians.] 

PINE RIDGE AGENCY, SOUTH DAKOTA. 
November 18, 1891. 

I have been acquainted with the Sioux Indians ever 
since I can remember; first in Minnesota, and since 1863 
in Dakota. Before 1863 I do not think there was a full- 
blood Sioux Indian who dressed in citizens clothes, or 
had learned to read in English or any other language. A 
few Sioux in Minnesota had so advanced. Neither had 
there been a church or school house for Indians in 
Dakota. At that time the sole dependence of these people 
for a livelihood was in the chase. The men killed buffaloes 
and the women manufactured therefrom food, clothing, 
and tepees. That was the extent of their industrial pur 
suits. The defeat of rebellion and heathenism after the 
Minnesota massacre of 1862 made way for civilization 
and Christianity among the Sioux, and their subsequent 
removal to Dakota had its effect in opening the eyes of 
the prairie nomads to the dawn of a new era. 

These twenty years have wrought a wonderful 
change in their exterior life, and could we see it, I have 
no doubt, as great a change in their interior life. Then, 
in thought and habit, they were the same savages Colum 
bus discovered in the fifteenth century. They received 
from civilization only such articles as were adapted to 
their wild life; nothing that would change that life. 
Blankets had largely taken the place of robes in dress, 
and guns of the bow and arrow, but had not yet displaced 
them. As yet a man was never seen without a weapon 
at his hand. Else he was no man. They were radiant 



320 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

with paint, and bristled with spears, knives, tomahawks, 
war-clubs, and quivers. I need not tell you how com 
pletely these things have passed away, for your own eyes 
have seen it. God in his providence has brought about a 
change. There was no longer a place for the roaming 
savage. He has been corralled and is insensibly losing 
his wildness. New observers are apt to think the pro 
gress of the schools has been slow. Having watched the 
schools government and missionary from their very 
beginning, I arn convinced remarkable progress has been 
made in the Indian schools. Let them press on with an 
enlightened management and such improvements as 
experience shows from time to time are needed, and in 
another score of years the sun will rise upon an enlight 
ened Dakota race. 

While I was visiting this military reserva 
tion at Devil s Lake an interesting interview 
was held with Indians in Superintendent 
Canfield s room. Among them was one who 
claimed to know lukpaduta, and that he 
was a member of the hand while I was a 
captive, though young at the time. Many 
questions were asked concerning the inci 
dents recorded in this volume that were 
readily answered and the same interpreted, 
which satisfied me that Inkpaduta s raid 
through Northwestern Iowa was well known 
to him. A copy of THE SPIRIT LAKE MAS 
SACRE was exhibited with the illustrations 
of the scenes, and the eagle feather war-cap, 
the sacred gift of Mato waken, the Yankton 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 321 

chief, which he said I should use on such 
occasions to command respect and insure 
protection. It is a fact not generally known 
that among the Indians on the warpath the 
coveted eagle feather was not alone bestowed 
on the warrior who had shot down the 
enemy, but also upon him who "came 
through the jaws of death " like the " six 
hundred. They consider less courage is 
required to shoot behind cover, as is their 
custom to do, than to rush forward into the 
valley of death under the enemy s fire- 

Thus it was, that in that awful moment, 
when the last member of my family had 
fallen before rny eyes, and it seemed as 
though I could not wait for the missile of 
death to strike me also, arid I rushed for 
ward to meet him whose hands were red 
with blood, arid besought him to kill me 
quick, that I saved my own life, won the 
eagle feather, and became the heroine of the 
occasion. It was a moment in life when the 
bitterest cup known to human experience 
was drained to its very dregs, the last ray 
of hope and love was gone out of my life as 
it seemed forever, and I had no desire to live; 
but to the Indian the glory and honor of 



322 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

exhibiting the eagle feather was compensa 
tion enough for all. I am informed, upon 
the highest authority, that for a woman to 
receive such a mark of honor was unknown 
among these people, and that contrary to 
the custom of the Indian tribes the chief 
bestowed this gift on me. From that mem 
orable day I was held in special favor by 
the Dakota Indian, and am called until this 
day, Winyantokcha, wonderful woman. A 
deep interest was manifested among the 
Indians everywhere [ went, and several 
copies of my history were sold among them. 
On this occasion I did not obtain any 
definite information as to the object of my 
search, but felt that .[ was fully repaid for 
the time and money expended in making 
the trip to Devil s Lake reservation. 

In the following season in September, 
1892, I made a journey to Pipestone, Minne 
sota, and Flandrau, South Dakota, camp 
ing in places on the route taken by our 
captors when fleeing into the unbroken wil 
derness of the great Northwest. While at 
Pipestone I was treated with great consider 
ation and kindness and was made the wel 
come guest of Charles H. Bennett and wife, 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 323 

and H. L. Moore and wife, and was hos 
pitably entertained by the Moores during 
my stay in their city. The site of Inkpa- 
duta s camping ground was identified on the 
Pipestone reservation about one-fourth of a 
mile south of the Fails. A temporary 
memorial was erected where the lodge of 
the captive stood, and a photograph of my 
self taken standing amid the scenes, the site 
of which will doubtless be preserved through 
all time by future generations. On Sunday, 
September 26, accompanied by C. H. Ben 
nett and wife, and H. L. Moore and wife, a 
drive of some fifteen miles was made to 
Flandreau, visiting on this occasion the 
Indian Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. 
It seemed as though a miracle had been 
wrought in this region and the day of civili 
zation was at hand. Hero at Flandreau the 
red man and the white man are brought 
face to face in daily contact, living, as it 
were, next door neighbors, the Indians com 
manding the utmost respect of the white 
residents. 

On an elevation about one mile north of 
town a large and commodious Indian indus 
trial school building was in the course of 



324 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

erection at an enormous expense to the gov 
ernment. From this site a charming view 
can be obtained of the picturesque valley of 
the Big Sioux. From this point I beheld a 
promising young city (named in honor of the 
man who conceived the plan of my rescue), 
two Indian churches, and the river where I 
stood on the bridge of driftwood and wit 
nessed the death of Mrs. Thatcher some 
thirty years ago. The past and present 
scenes rose up and passed before me like a 
living, moving panorama, and the change 
that had come to pass on the stage of life 
seemed truly marvelous. We attended the 
services in these churches, listening to 
impressive sermons, delivered in the Sioux 
tongue, to large, well dressed, and attentive 
congregations. What had once seemed an 
impossibility, had become a living reality 
a body of Sioux Indians, with religious 
thought, congregated together to praise Him 
whose name is Love! 

At the close of the morning services in 
the Presbyterian church, a scene was pre 
sented which would have touched the 
stoutest heart; an event ever to be remem 
bered by all who were present, and worthy 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 325 

to be depicted by a master pen, or to awake 
the loftiest inspiration of a poet. John 
Eastman, Indian pastor, requested the peo 
ple to remain. I was then called forward 
and introduced to his people. He inter 
preted the words which I spoke. Having 
good reason to think that possibly some of 
Inkpaduta s band or their relatives were 
before me, I could scarcely utter a word; but 
with faltering voice I related the story of 
the massacre, the fearful fate of the two 
captives put to death, and the subsequent 
rescue of Mrs. Marble and myself by the 
friendly Indians. While I stood before them 
I exhibited the illustrations of the scenes 
that appear in this volume, together with the 
eagle-feather war-cap, in order that they 
might better comprehend the subject on 
which I was speaking. But the most dra 
matic and thrilling scene was enacted when 
I came to that part of my experience in 
which I assured those present that notwith 
standing all that I had suffered I entertained 
nothing but the kindest regard towards the 
race which had exterminated everything in 
the world dear to me; that through the 
revelation of the spirit of the Savior I had 



326 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

overcome my former spirit of hatred toward 
the Indians; and that I entertained only 
good wishes for their advancement in every 
possible way. As this was interpreted the 
stillness that had pervaded the room was 
broken by a low, pathetic murmur, in con 
cert, from all present, showing that the 
strong heart of the Sioux had become sub 
dued, and could be touched with the feelings 
of common humanity. The most intense 
interest was manifested while I entreated 
them with mild admonition to continue in 
the good work which God in his goodness 
and mercy had begun for them, to live in 
the ways of peace and usefulness, to love 
one another, and never cease to learn His 
will and obey His law, that they might 
become heirs to his glory; that they were 
God s children as well as the white people; 
that there was no difference between them 
in our Father s house; and that I wanted to 
see all of the Indians brought into harmony 
with the whites, and was very glad they 
were learning how to read, write? and do use 
ful things. Aa these words were inter 
preted the Indians were deeply affected, and 
the low murmur of approval that ran 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 327 

through the audience again left such an 
impression, and awakened such feelings and 
emotions, as none present can ever forget. 
This touching scene was followed by all 
coming forward and giving the Sioux salu 
tation, "Ho," and shaking my hand in token 
of reciprocated friendship and true apprecia 
tion of what I had said, while the pleasant 
gleam of their countenances revealed far 
different emotions than those reflected when 
I beheld the tragic death of my companion 
in captivity within plain view of the site of 
this church- They crowded up, and some 
tarried awhile to talk with me and express 
their delight that I was spared, and that 
they were glad to see me on this occasion, 
and that I was restored to my own race. 
There were many questions asked and 
readily answered and interpreted, showing 
that these Indians were familiar with the 
events recorded in the pages of this book. 
In fact, I have never found an Indian any 
where yet, who did not know all about Ink- 
paduta s "big killing white man." Thus their 
history is handed down from one generation 
to another, and is well preserved, and related 
around the fireside bv father to son. 



828 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

Among the Indians who shook hands with 
me were two very intelligent young men, 
who introduced themselves, one as CharJie 
Iron Heart, the other as Peter Hunter. These 
Indians claimed near relationship to Chetan- 
maza, one of the Indians used by Judge Flan- 
drau to effect my ransom, and they informed 
me that he was living on the Minnesota 
river, below Grand Falls. 

Many expressions were given on this occa 
sion of their friendship and appreciation of 
my appearance among them. I exchanged 
photographs with the two Indians, and sold 
two copies of this history, one to Rev. John 
Eastman, the other to Peter Hunter. Later 
on I spent some time at Flandrau, mingling 
freely among the Indians, and visiting in 
their homes, their schools, and their churches. 
Indeed, during my stay, there might have 
been seen on the first day of the week one 
solitary white woman sitting in the Indian 
Episcopal church without fear or hatred 
toward the red man. 

The Indians in the vicinity of Flandrau 
rank the highest in their standing among 
the Indian tribes for having attained a fair 
degree of education. Nearly all can read 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 329 

in their own language, and many can read 
and write in English also. They live in 
houses, which contain many articles used by 
white people, such as beds, chairs, stoves, 
tables, dishes, sewing machines, and other 
things which add to their comfort. It is 
interesting to observe that they themselves 
think there is nothing too good for the Indi 
ans. The more progressive families have as 
well furnished houses as you often find in the 
average home of the white man. The 
Flandrau Indians pay taxes and go to the 
ballot-box, exercising the right of suffrage 
with as much dignity as the white man. It 
has been stated that some of these Indians 
took an active part in the massacre of 1862 
and were confined for a time in Fort Snelling, 
and while there they were taught to read 
the Bible and were converted to Christianity, 
showing what the Word of Gocl can do for 
the Indian, despite his wild tendency. 

It compliance with the request of the peo 
ple of Pipestone I delivered a lecture in the 
Presbyterian church. Many were turned 
away, being unable to gain admittance. 
Three Indians came from Flandrau to hear 
the lecture, and at the close, Peter Hunter, a 



330 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

fairly well educated and intelligent Indian 
some twenty-four years of age, entertained 
the audience with a few well chosen and 
appropriate remarks- The congregation 
then came forward and expressed their 
appreciation of the demonstration on this 
occasion of the fulfillment of the prophecy, 
found in Indian legend on the great Red Pipe- 
stone quarry, and perpetuated by Longfel 
low in his song of Hiawatha. Thus closed 
an interesting event in the history of the 
Pipestone region. 

Having learned from the Flandrau Indians 
that one of the rescuing party was still liv 
ing and might be found in Minnesota, I 
journeyed thence to Granite Falls, arriving 
on Saturday about midnight. Early on 
Sunday morning, with team and driver, I 
started down the Minnesota river in search 
of the Indian camp, hoping to find Chetan- 
maza, the object of my search. A charming 
drive of some ten miles brought us to the 
foot of a young mountain in the midst of a 
forest of great oak, elm, maple, and linden 
trees variegated and beautiful with all the 
tints and shades of autumn. Here, as if 
secreted from all harm, a solitary Indian 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 331 

tepee stood closed from top to bottom . Thus 
it gave those within an opportunity to 
observe what was going on without. But 
when the driver shouted with a loud voice, 
"Halloo," the door opened, disclosing their 
dusky forms and faces. An old Indian came 
out and greeted us with the Sioux saluta 
tion, "Ho." I then made an explanation as 
to the object of my visit by exhibiting a 
copy of this history and referring to the 
Indian names on page 267. He gave me to 
understand that he had some knowledge 
concerning the event which was of so much 
importance to me, but that he had taken no 
part in my rescue. He seemed very much 
pleased, however, to recognize in me the 
person who was brought out of captivity. 
He stepped forward, shook my hand, and 
said: "I look on you as my own daughter/ 
which was accepted as the highest com 
pliment that an Indian could have paid a 
white woman. 

He informed me that Chetanmaza, or Iron 
Hawk, who escorted me on that perilous 
journey, was his brother, and that his own 
name was Charitamaza, or Iron Heart. The 
similarity between the two names had prob- 



332 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

ably led to the mistake in the personality. 
In compliance with his request we drove 
thence to their house of worship, attending 
the morning service held at the home of 
Big Eagle, where I had an opportunity of 
seeing nearly all the Indians in the vicinity, 
who also manifested deep interest in my 
concerns. I had had many interesting talks 
with other Indians, but received more intel 
ligence from Chantamaza in regard to the 
particular person I was searching for than 
from anyone else. He had no doubt con 
cerning his identity and his whereabouts, as 
he had seen him some ten days previously 
on the Sisseton reservation in South Dakota. 
Eight days later I was in Brown s valley, 
the terminus of the Great Northern rail 
way in Traverse county, Minnesota, which 
brought me within twelve miles drive of 
the Sisseton agency government headquar 
ters on the reservation. For ages back, in a 
time of which we have no knowledge concern 
ing the section of country now known as the 
Sisseton reservation, except as it comes to 
us through traditions and legends handed 
clown among the tribes of Sioux Indians, it 
is said this country was considered a kind 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. H33 

of Mecca for the Wahpeton, Medaunaukay- 
ton, and Wahkuta bands. On the highest 
point of a range of hills which run through 
the reservation they built up a sacred mound 
on which they raised their stone god, Tari- 
kanizaphix, made of stones piled together 
with a cross-shaped rock upon the top. In 
the golden age of the Indian, when war and 
chase constituted his sole occupation, the 
chiefs and medicine men would gather 
around this stone altar just before setting 
out on a raid of more than usual import 
ance. Gazing upon the sun as it was about 
to disappear beneath the western horizon, 
they would throw themselves upon their 
faces, and by self-inflicted wounds invoke 
the aid of the great spirit (Wakaytayka, 
which had its dwelling place in the sun) 
upon their undertaking. To the Indian who 
in any way disturbed the smallest pebble 
which helps make up this sacred mound of 
their god, death after infinite torture was 
his portion. 

The Sisseton reservation contains nearly 
a million acres of choice land, abounding in 
beautiful scenery of hills and rolling prai 
ries, with plains so level that objects can be 



334 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

seen many miles. Here are numberless 
lakes, streams, and springs of pure, bright, 
crystal water, said to be equal to the waters 
of the famous "Saratoga Springs." The 
waters of one-half the reservation flow north, 
to Hudson s Bay, and the other half, south, 
to the Gulf of Mexico. The Sisseton agency, 
with its white buildings, is beautifully 
located, twelve miles west of "Brown s Val 
ley," about the middle of the reservation 
north and south, where a charming view can 
be had for twenty-five or thirty miles of the 
surrounding country. Here, along the 
creeks and ravines, scattered in every direc 
tion, are the log and frame houses of the 
Indians, as well as the tepee, still occupied 
by older and perhaps less progressive fami 
lies. Two miles north is the government 
boarding-school, with all the modern 
improvements; steam heat and water forced 
to all parts of the building. This edifice is 
about two hundred feet long and forty wide, 
with accommodations for two hundred schol 
ars. Near by stands the "Good Will" mis 
sion school building, which accommodates 
one hundred and fifty scholars- This school 
is partly supported by the government and 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 335 

partly by missionary agencies. All the schol 
ars in both of these schools are Indians, and 
they are clothed and fed, and instructed in 
English branches. The girls are taught the 
arts of housekeeping, sewing, and dress 
making, with a smattering of general knowl 
edge. The boys are given practical instruc 
tions in farming, as well as the care of 
live stock, tailoring, harness-making, shoe- 
making, etc. The churches on the reserva 
tion are presided over by native preachers, 
who exert a strong religious influence over 
their people. 

It has been observed that as a nation 
advances in culture and moral qualities 
woman assumes her rightful position as com 
panion and equal of the male portion of the 
race. So the condition of the Indian woman 
is the sure test of the progress of her race. 
Legal marriages are superseding polygamy, 
which was formerly the practice among these 
people; and the sale of their daughters has 
become a thing of the past. It may not be 
amiss here to note the fact that the intimate 
association of the Indian tribes with tho 
white race develops many a love romance, all 
the more interesting because of the strange 



336 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE, 

freak of Cupid s dart. The red lover charms 
the ear ind stirs the impulses of the fair 
young maiden s heart with as much skill as 
he formerly exercised in the chase, bending 
his bow with as sure aim as at the wild deer 
or buffalo, and many handsome and intelli 
gent women are made willing captives 
among "the noble red men." Incidents of 
this nature not unfrequently occur near the 
Indian reservations, where it is considered 
no marvel for a marriage to occur between 
the races. 

On my arrival at Brown s valley, the object 
of my visit was made known and the news 
spread over the reservation like fire over 
the prairie. The Indians made a thorough 
search for Chetanmaza, but in this I was 
disappointed, for it was soon ascertained 
that he had gone away only a few days 
previously to Devil s Lake to remain during 
the winter. However, when he returned in 
the following summer, Samuel Brown, who 
acted as interpreter and correspondent, let 
me know of it, and several communications 
have been received since then. A photograph 
of Chetanmaza was taken and sent to me 
with the promise that he would make me a 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 337 

visit and pitch his tent by the historical log 
cabin on the shores ot Okoboji. 

Mr. Brown, to whom I am indebted for 
much valuable information on the occasion 
of my visit to the Sisseton reservation, wrote 
June 24, 1893, as follows: 

Chetanmaza seems very much pleased when I read to 
him your letter. He says he remembers how you looked 
when he saw you at the great camp on the Jim river at the 
council held over the question as to whether you would 
be given up or not. You sat there in the midst of the 
people; sat on the ground squaw fashion, with your hair 
greased and smoothly combed, and parting painted red, 
and both cheeks painted red, with red leggins and squaw 
dress on. 

This description is a true account of the 
deplorable condition in which I was found 
by the three friendly Indians, and satisfies 
me that I have found my man. Chetanmaza 
is now sixty-eight years of age and nearly 
blind. He is the only surviving member of 
the rescuing party. He spends his summers 
among his relatives on the feisseton reserva 
tion and his winters at Devil s Lake, North 
Dakota. 

Among the historic scenes of memorable 
events that made my visit at the Sisseton 
reservation of increasing interest was that 
here Hotonhowashta lived out the last days 



333 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

of bis earthly existence, died, and was buried 
near Long Hollow. After the Minnesota 
massacre of 1862. there came to him a 
tempestuous period in which he spent many 
years of his life, ostracised by his tribe on 
account of his friendship and his most com 
mendable service performed for the whites. 
Some years after he had participated in 
my rescue he took the cognomen of "Other 
Day" among the whites. The following 
description of his appearance and conduct 
on the battlefield of Wood Lake, Minnesota, 
taken from L. Y. D. Heard s History of The 
Sioux War and Massacre of 1862, may be of 
interest here: 

Other Day nobly redeemed the pledge he had made 
two days before. He took with his own hand two horses 
from the enemy and slew their riders. He was often in 
their midst, and so far in advance of our own men that they 
fired many shots at him in the belief that he was one of 
the foe. No person on the field compared with him in 
the exhibition of reckless bravery. He was a warrior 
worthy to have crossed cimeters with Saladin, or dashed 
with Arabia s mad prophet through the shock of eastern 
war. He seemed to be instinct with the spirit of a fierce, 
resistless steed, which saith among trumpets, Ha! ha! and 
smelleth thejbattle afar off, the thunder of the captains, 
and the shoutings. He was clothed entirely in white, a 
belt around his waist in which was placed his knife. A 
handkerchief was knotted about his head, and in his hand 
he lightly grasped his rifle. His teeth glistened like 



AN -EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 339 

purest ivory through his slightly parted lips; his eye was 
ablaze with fire; his face of bronze radiant with the joy 
of battle; his exulting utterances came thick and fast, in 
a sort of purr pitched upon a high key, soft as the dulect 
tones of an Italian woman. As he bounded strong with 
the graceful spring of a tiger-cat, there came to mind 
Djalmer, the Prince of Java, when ia the theater in Paris, 
at the time of the escape of the panther Le Mort, he 
leaped upon the stage, with the returning ardor of his 
native jungles, and struck his dagger to his heart. With 
the exuberant riotous health of Bulwer s Margrave, and 
the airy wildness of the Jam, he looked the perfection of 
all the creatures of the woods and fields ; and the incar 
nation of the ideal Indian God of War. 

Some years since the writer dedicated one 
of the small lakes in Dickinson county, Iowa, 
to the memory of this heroic red man, nam 
ing it Minnewashta, "the beautiful water," 
his name meaning the beautiful voice." 
This charming sheet of living water, into 
which the Okoboji open as they flow south 
ward to the sea, was formerly known as Mid- 
dlegar. The new name of Minnewashta was 
conferred upon it to commemorate the 
achievement of this heroic Indian who, at 
the risk of his own life, volunteered to rescue 
a young white girl from a band of hostile 
Sioux. 

There are many charming "Retreats" amid 
the slopes and hills, and in the groves along 



340 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the lake shore, in this romantic region; but 
Minnewashta excels them all in beauty and 
loveliness On the bluffs along the western 
shore several cottages have been erected, 
which are owned, and occupied during the 
summer season by families of culture and 
refinement. 

In the year 189 L some thirteen acres of 
the land on which my father established his 
last earthly home was purchased by a syn 
dicate, and lots were staked for sale, includ 
ing the one on which the original log cabin 
stands. From the proceeds of the sales of 
this work I purchased this to me most sacred 
site. I bought it just in time to save the 
old cabin from ruin. It was ready to fall 
down through undermining and inundation 
by water. A rock foundation was put under 
it, and it was replastered between the logs. 
Its walls inside are now as white as snow, 
and it seems solid and good to stand the 
storms for many years to come. Oil paint 
ings of the tragedy hang against its walls; 
while Indian relics and momentos pertaining 
to this history, which I have collected, fur 
nish the inside. The history, photographs, 
and relics are on sale within. The latch- 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 341 

strings hang on the outside of the cabin 
doors, where visitors walk in, pay a small 
fee, and register their names. This is said to 
be the most prominent historical site in the 
state of Iowa and is one of the greatest 
attractions for tourists about the lakes. 

I spent the winter of 18 ( Jd-4 at the capi 
tal in order to submit to the general assem 
bly the long-cherished hope I have enter 
tained, that Iowa would yet make an appro 
priation sufficient to erect a monument to 
the memory of those early pioneers who 
first essayed to establish homes of civiliza 
tion on the shores of these beautiful lakes, as 
well as to permanently mark the spot where 
occurred this important event in the history 
of Iowa. 

All those who have ever stood by the 
grave wherein lie six of my family near the 
cabin door, as well as thousands who have 
never looked upon the little mounds of 
stone which mark their resting place, will 
rejoice with me to know that after more 
than a quarter of a century the hearts of 
statesmen have been touched by the story of 
their tragic death, and the quiet bravery 
which inspired these people to seek homes in 



342 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

the wilderness and thus lured them on to 
their unmarked graves. In the month of 
March, 1894, on the thirty-seventh anni 
versary of the event, the Twenty-fifth Gen 
eral Assembly of Iowa appropriated five 
thousand dollars to erect a commemorative 
monument. 

A special commission was appointed by 
Governor Jackson to carry out the legisla 
tive intention, composed of the following 
named persons: Ex-Governor Cyrus C. Car 
penter, Hon. John F. Buncombe, Hon. Rod 
erick A. Smith, Hon. Chas. Aldrich, and Mrs. 
Abbie Gardner Sharp. 

The commission appointed by the Gov 
ernor to design and superintend the erection 
of this monument devoted much time and 
attention to secure a monument which 
would be worthy the event which it is to 
commemorate, and one which, in their opin 
ion, would give general satisfaction to the 
public. Their efforts resulted in a monu 
ment with an imposing shaft of Minnesota 
granite, fifty-five feet in height, and of the 
most graceful proportions. The base is 14x 
14 feet; above this there are three massive 
sections. Upon the top of the third base 



AN EPOCH OF AD VA> CEMENT. 343 

the die is placed; upon the four faces of the 
die are the inscriptoris, on bronze tablets, of 
the names of the pioneers who were massa 
cred by the Indians; the relief party who 
marched to the scene and buried the dead; 
third, a historical statement of the captivity; 
fourth, that it was erected by the order of 
the Twenty-fifth General Assembly of the 
State of Iowa, 

A most fitting location was selected, on 
the shore of West Okoboji lake, within a few 
feet of the log cabin of my father, who was 
the first white man to establish a home in 
this section of Iowa. 

* 

This chapter would scarcely be complete 
unless some mention was made of the 
World s Columbian Exposition, an event ever 
to be remembered by those whose good por 
tion it was to explore the wonders of the White 
City. No attempt will be made here to give 
the reader any conception of the magnitude 
of the display of nations and generations, 
exhibiting in a space of seven hundred acres 
the results of centuries of effort. As the vast 
throngs of people of all countries came surg 
ing in, and there beheld with amazement the 



344 THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE. 

product of all nations and countries, the 
greatness and grandeur of the spectacle 
quite overcame them. All realized that it 
was too great, too magnificent, to be compre 
hended by any one individual with only a 
few short weeks in which to see it all. 

The Woman s Building secured for women, 
by the well directed efforts of the Board of 
Lady Managers, had many attractions for all 
visitors to the Columbian Exposition. It 
has been well said that this is woman s age, 
and the inexhaustible and deeply interest 
ing subject, Woman s Work," was well 
represented here. The assembly room in 
the north end of the second floor, under the 
auspices of the Board of Lady Managers, 
was made one of the most attractive and 
profitable about the Woman s Building. A 
daily program of entertainments, lasting 
from one to two hours, consisting of con- 
Corts, lectures, congresses, social gatherings, 
receptions, etc., was held in this room. The 
committee on entertainments was so suc 
cessful with its work that each day had 
some special attraction for the hour assigned 
to it in the assembly room. Distinguished 
women from the old and the new world 



AN EPOCH OF ADVANCEMENT. 345 

availed themselves of the opportunity, 
accepted invitations, and took part in these 
congresses, which was a guarantee of the 
excellence of these entertainments. 

In response to an invitation from the Board 
of Lady Managers the author of this history 
delivered her lecture to a large and attentive 
audience in the assembly room of the 
Woman s Building on Chicago day. The 
lecture was so well received that it was called 
for on several occasions during my brie*f visit 
at the World s Fair. Twice I lectured in the 
assembly room, also in the Children s Build 
ing and in the Chicago Woman s Refuge on 
Indian Avenue. 

With this I close the new chapter in the 
history of my life and bid the reader fare well ^ 
ABBIE GARDNER SHARP. 



APPENDIX. 



TESTIMONIALS. 

STATE OF IOWA, 
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, DES MOINES, 

May 18, 1885. 

An examination of the advance sheets of Mrs. Abbie 
Gardner-Sharp s history and account of tho Indian massa 
cre at Spirit Lake convinces me that the work is one of 
true merit and thrilling interest. It records the most 
tragic event in the history of the State, and gives young 
readers a vivid impression not only of the frightful mas 
sacre at Spirit Lake, but of the trials and dangers which 
surrounded the early settlers of Iowa. In my opinion the 
work is a valuable contribution to the history of the State. 

B. R. SHERMAN, 
Governor of Iowa. 



FORT DODGE, Iowa, March 2, 1885. 
To the Public: Mrs. Sharp has asked me to say briefly 
what I know concerning the story of her life, and the ter 
rible massacre at Spirit Lake, of which she is one of two 
survivors. In the fall of 18uo Mr. Angus McBane, Mr. 
VV. W. Marlatt, and myself, made a sort of prospecting 
tour through Northwestern Iowa. We reached the Little 
Sioux river, in the vicinity of the present town of Sioux 
Rapids, and followed it up to its source in Okoboji Lake. 
Here we found the first house and family we saw after 
leaving Fort Dodge. It was the house of Rowland Gard 
ner, the father of Mrs. Sharp. We camped near the house, 
and for two days explored the lakes and adjacent country 



348 APPENDIX. 

Mrs. Sharp was then a little girl of perhaps thirteen years; 
bright, cheery, and happy. The next spring Mr. McBane 
and myself were members of the relief party that, upon 
report of the massacre, went from Fort Dodge to rescue, 
if possible, the living, if any should remain, and punish 
the Indians if they could be overtaken. 

Mrs. Sharp tells the story of the massacre and her own 
sufferings as a captive, and gives the details of her final 
rescue in the sad and plaintive language of a broken 
hearted and noble woman. It is a story of absorbing in 
terest and thrilling pathos. Many of the incidents related 
are within my personal knowledge. The entire book is 
part of the history of Northwestern Iowa and South west 
ern Minnesota twenty-eight years ago. It is a record of 
personal suffering incident to captivity among the Indi 
ans, and of the dangers and difficulties of frontier life in 
other years, which should tend to kindle in the hearts of 
the present inhabitants of this country a feeling of grati 
tude to those who pioneered the way to the civilization of 
these better days. And it is a book that will deeply inter 
est u reader in any part cf the country, who loves to read 
of the pioneer, and to trace the progress of the past; and 
will especially interest the young and old in Northwest 
ern Iowa and Southwestern Minnesota, where it should 
find a place in every family library. 
Very respectfully, 

C. C. CARPENTER, 

Ex-Governor of Iowa. 



I very fully concur with Mr. Carpenter in his statement 
respecting Mrs. Sharp and her book. I have personal 
knowledge of many of the incidents of her book, and 
believe the entire story to be truthful and conscientious. 

ANGUS MCBANE, 

President Merchants National Bank, Ft. Dodge, Iowa. 



APPENDIX. 

CHAMBERLAIN, Dak., May 4, 1885. 
MRS. ABBIE GARDNER SHARP, Des Moines, Iowa. 

My Dear Lady : Your letter, with proof sheets of 
several chapters of your forthcoming book, descriptive 
of the bloody massacre at Spirit Lake, is at hand. From 
a hasty reading of the chapters before me, I unhesitat 
ingly say it will be a valuable contribution to the earlier 
history of Iowa and the Northwest. 

From a long personal acquaintance with you, and a 
knowledge of the great worth and respectability of the 
persons slain by the savages, I am satisfied your narrative 
is as nearly correct as it is possible for one person to write 
a history of such an exciting event, after so many years, 
with their wonderful history, have gone by. 

I can most fully and cordially recommend the book as 
entirely worthy of a place in the Historical Society of 
Iowa, and of the patronage of the people of the North, 
west. I congratulate you on your untiring efforts to 
accomplish this work, and doubly congratulate you on 
the success that is now within your easy grasp. I know 
much of the difficulties you have had to contend with; 
the ill health, that like a millstone about your neck, would 
have discouraged and defeated a person with less will 
power than you possess. 

I hope you may realize full compensation for your 
labor, and meet with a hearty greeting from your coun 
trymen in this labor of history and recital of facts of the 
bloodiest drama ever enacted on the rich soil of fair Iowa. 

I can only add a devout hope that your last days may 
be those of rest and comfort, amidst friends and grateful 
countrymen, as a slight recompense for the sufferings 
endured in your girlhood days. 

With great respect and sympathy, 

I am, as ever, your friend, 

W.V.LUCAS, 
Dept. Commander Q. A. R. for Dakota. 



APPENDIX. 

STATE OF IOWA, \ 

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, I 
DBS MOINES. ) 
MRS. ABBIE GARDNER-SHARP, Des Moines, Iowa. 

I have examined with thrilling interest the advance 
pages of your book, entitled, "The History of the Spirit 
Lake Massacre." 

I must congratulate you, in view of the completeness of 
the volume and the easy and graceful style in which it is 
written. 

Your book will be a most valuable contribution to the 
early history of our State, and I am sure, will give to our 
young readers and to the public generally a truer concep 
tion of the perils of pioneer life endured by the brave 
and true hearted settlers who went before to prepare for 
the triumph of civilization, the benefits and blessings of 
which we are enjoying to-day. 

I sincerely hope and believe that your book will soon be 

found in every household. I most cordially commend 

your volume to the reading public, in the hope that it may 

receive the cordial reception which I am sure it deserves. 

Very respectfully, your friend, 

J. W. AKERS, 

5.U488B. 



APPENDIX. 351 

ST. PAUL, MINN., Aug. 1, 1885. 
Mii8. ABBIE GARDNER-SHARP, Spirit Lake, Iowa. 

Dear M idam : If not too late, I desire to fulfill my 
promise to send you a prefatory letter to be published 
with your book entitled "History of the Indian Massacre 
at Spirit Lake and the Captivity of Abbie Gardner. 1 
Since I saw you I have been a long time away from 
America and have not been able to compty with your 
request. I received the advance proofs of your work and 
have carefully read them. Their statements are in all 
things correct as far as my knowledge of the facts and 
circumstances of the massacre and your captivity and 
rescue are concerned, and your book is a very interesting 
contribution to the history of the Northwest. 

To the public I will add that at the time of this massa 
cre I was the United States agent for the Sioux of the 
Mississippi stationed at the Sioux agencies on the Red 
wood and Yellow Medicine rivers above Fort Ridgely 
in the then territory of Minnesota. Ridgely was the near 
est military post to the scene of the massacre and I was 
the nearest civil officer of the United States Government 
to that point. The news of the massacre reached the Fort 
and the agencies three or four days after the destruction 
of the people at Spirit Lake. Colonel Alexander with live 
companies of the Tenth United States Infantry composed 
the garrison at the Fort. In consultation we were in 
doubt at rirst as to whether the depredations had been 
committed by my Indians or a roving band of outlaws 
which frequented the Vermillion and James River val 
leys, but I soon became convinced that Inkpaduta and 
his band were responsible for the raid. However, the 
colonel dispatched a company to Spirit Lake, which, after 
a terrible march, and much suffering, arrived there too 
late to pursue the Indians, and they with their captives 
escaped. The territory of Minnesota appropriated $10,000 
to compass the rescue of the captives and the whole plan 
and its execution was by the governor entrusted to me. 



352 APPENDIX. 

I succeeded in procuring the liberation of the author of 
this work; and by these means and the peculiarly advan 
tageous position I occupied for obtaining accurate infor 
mation concerning the whole affair, I suppose I know as 
much, if not more about it, than any other living man. 

Mrs. Sharp spent several months in St. Paul engaged 
in collecting information for her book, in which labor I 
gave her all the assistance in my power, and from my 
records and recollection, furnished her much of the data 
on which her narrative rests. Of course all the history 
of her immediate captivity and sufferings is her own. 
The public can accept the book as perfectly reliable in all 
its historical facts, and, in my judgment, as an absorb 
ingly interesting narrative of the personal sufferings and 
experiences of a very worthy member of the band of 
pioneers who first embarked their fortunes on the then 
savage border of this now prosperous and happy land. 

That your book may meet with a cordial welcome from 
the public is the wish of your friend. 

CHAS. E. FLANDRAU 



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