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Full text of "The story of Mary Schwandt : her captivity during the Sioux "outbreak", 1862"

LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 

GIF'T OF" 

^ 



Received r.cnJT* ,1900. 

Accession No. 8 1 5 Q fo . Class No. 




MARY SCHWANDT-SCHMIDT, 
One of the Captives in the Sioux Outbreak of 1862. 



THE STORY OF MARY SCHWANDT. 461 

THE STORY OF MARY SCHWANDT. 

HER CAPTIVITY DURING THE SIOUX "OUTBREAK" 1862. 

I was born in the district of Brandenburg, near Berlin, Ger- 
many, in March, 1848. My parents were John and Christina 
Schwandt. In 1858, when I was ten years of age, our family 
came to America and settled near Ripon, Wis. Here we lived 
about four years. In the early spring of 1862 we came to Min- 
nesota and journeyed up the beautiful valley of the Minnesota 
river to above the mouth of Beaver creek and above where the 
town of Beaver Falls now stands, and somewhere near a small 
stream, which I think was called Honey creek, though it may 
have been known as Sacred Heart, my father took up a claim, 
built a house and settled. His land was, I think, all in the 
Minnesota bottom or valley, extending from the bluff on the 
north side to the river. Our family at this time consisted of 
my father and mother; my sister Caroline, aged nineteen, and 
her husband, John Waltz ; myself, aged fourteen ; my brothers, 
August, Frederick and Christian, aged respectively ten, six and 
four years, and a hired man named John Fross. We all lived 
together. My brother-in-law, Mr. Waltz, had taken up a claim 
and expected to remove to it as soon as he had made certain 
necessary improvements. The greater part of the spring and 
summer was spent by the men in breaking the raw prairie 
and bottom lands so that the sod would be sufficiently rotted for 
the next season's planting. My father brought with him from 
Wisconsin some good horses and wagons and several head of 
cattle and other stock. He also brought a sum of money, the 
most of which was in gold. I remember that I have seen him 



I remember Mary Schwandt at Camp Release, Sept. 26, 1862, when she, with 
other captives, was surrendered after the battle of Wood lake. I was a member 
of the military commission before whom were tried the 306 Sioux, convicted of 
taking part in the outbreak (thirty-eight of whom were executed at Mankato, 
the others kept prisoners at Rock Island until after the close of the civil war). 
Mary Schwandt, then a girl of sixteen, testified against the prisoners, relating 
the same facts substantially given in this narrative. W. R. M. 



462 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

counting the gold, and I once testified that I thought he had at 
least $400, but some of my relatives say that he had over f 2,000 
when he came to Minnesota. He had brought some money 
from Germany, and he added to it when in Wisconsin. 

Our situation in our new home was comfortable, and my 
father seemed well satisfied. It was a little lonely, for our 
nearest white neighbors were some distance away. These 
were some German families, who lived to the northward of us, 
T believe, along the small stream which I remember was called 
Honey creek. One of these families was named Lentz or 
Lantz, and at this time I cannot remember the names of the 
others. The country was wild, though it was very beautiful. 
We had no schools or churches, and did not see many white 
people, and we children were often lonesome and longed for 
companions. 

Just across the river, to the south of us, a few miles away, 
was the Indian village of the chief of Shakopee. The Indians 
visited us almost every day, but they were not company for us. 
Their ways were so strange that they were disagreeable to me. 
They were always begging, but otherwise were well behaved. 
We treated them kindly, and tried the best we knew to keep 
their good will. I remember well the first Indians we saw in 
Minnesota. It was near Fort Ridgely, when we were on our 
way into the country in our wagons. My sister, Mrs. W r altz, 
was much frightened at them. She cried and sobbed in her 
terror, and even hid herself in the wagon and would not look 
at them, so distressed was she. I have often wondered 
whether she did not then have a premonition of the dreadful 
fate she was destined to suffer at their cruel and brutal hands. 
In time I became accustomed to the Indians, and had no real 
fear of them. 

About the 1st of August a Mr. Le Grand Davis came to our 
house in search of a girl to go to the house of Mr. J. B. Rey- 
nolds, who lived on the south side of the river on the bluff, just 
above the mouth of the Redwood, and assist Mrs. Reynolds in 
the housework. Mr. Reynolds lived on the main road, between 
the lower and Yellow Medicine agencies, and kept a sort of 
stopping place for travelers. I was young, but rather well de- 



THE STORY OF MARY SCHWANDT. 463 

veloped for a girl of fourteen and a half years, and I could do 
most kinds of housework as well as many a young woman older 
than I, and I was so lonesome that I begged my mother to let 
me go and take the place. She and all the rest of the family 
were opposed to my going, but I insisted, and at last they let 
me have my way. I do not think the wages I was to receive 
were any consideration ; indeed, I do not know what they were. 
Mr. Davis said there were tw r o other girls at the Reynolds 
house, and that the family was very nice, and these induce- 
ments influenced me. So I packed a few of my things together 
and was soon ready. My mother and sister seemed to feel 
badly about my going, but I was light-hearted, and said to 
them: <r Why is it as if I were going back to the old country, 
or somewhere else a long way off, that you act so, when it is not 
very far and I shall come back soon, and it is best for me, 
since I am of little help to you .here." So, at last we bade one 
another good-bye, and I went away down the beautiful valley, 
never to see my good father nor my precious mother nor my 
lovely sister nor my two dear little brothers any more any 
more in this life. How little did I think, as I rode away from 
home, that I should not see it again, and that in less than a 
month of all that peaceful and happy household but one of its 
members my dear, brave brother August should be left to 
me. Many years afterward my husband and I visited the re- 
gion of my former home, and I tried hard to locate its site. 
But the times had changed, and the country had changed. 
There were new faces, new scenes and new features, and so 
many of them, and such a flood of sorrowful recollections came 
over me, that I was bewildered, and could recognize but few 
of the old landmarks, and I came away unable to determine 
where our house stood, or even which had been my father's 
land. 

When I came to Mr. Reynolds' house I was welcomed and 
made at home. The inmates of the house at the time, besides 
Mr. Reynolds, were his wife, Mrs. Valencia Reynolds, and their 
two children; Mr. Davis, who was staying here temporarily; 
William Landmeier, a hired man; Miss Mattie Williams of 
Painesville, Ohio, a niece of Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds; Mary An- 



464 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

derson, a Swedish girl, whose father had been a blacksmith in 
the employ of the government at one of the agencies,' and my- 
self. In a narrative, published by Mrs. Reynolds (now dead), 
which I have seen, she mentions a boy that lived with them, 
but somehow I cannot remember him. I do not now recall any- 
thing of special importance that occurred during my stay 
here until the dreadful morning of the outbreak. Mr. and Mrs. 
Reynolds had been in charge of the government school for the 
Indians which had been established at Shakopee's village, only 
a mile away. Travelers frequently stopped at the house, Mat- 
tie and Mary were very companionable, and I was not lone- 
some, and the time passed pleasantly. I- was so young and 
girlish then that I took little notice of anything that did not 
concern me, but I know that there was no thought of the ter- 
rible things about to happen nor of any sort of danger. 

The morning of Aug. 18 came. It was just such a morning 
as is often seen here in that month. The great red sun came 
up in the eastern sky, tinging all the clouds with crimson, 
and sending long, scarlet shafts of light up the green river val- 
ley and upon the golden bluffs on either side. It was a "red 
morning," and, as I think of it now, the words of ap old Ger- 
man soldier's song that I had learned in my girlhood come to 
my mind and fitly describe it: 

"O, Morgen-roth! O, Morgen-roth! 
Leuchtet rnir zum fruehen todt," etc. 

(O, morning red! O, morning red! 

You shine upon my early death!) 

It was Monday, and I think Mary Anderson and I were pre- 
paring for the week's washing. A wagon drove up from the 
west, in which were a Mr. Patoile, a trader, and another 
Frenchman from the Yellow Medicine agency, where Mr. 
Patoile's store was. They stopped for breakfast. While they 
were eating, a half-breed, named Antoine La Blaugh, who was 
living with John Mooer, another half-breed, not far away, came 
to the house and told Mr. Reynolds that Mr. Mooer had sent 
him to tell us that the Indians had broken out and had gone 
down to the lower agency, ten miles below, and across the river 
to the Beaver creek settlements to murder all the whites! A 
lot of squaws and an Indian man were already at the house. 



THE STORY OF MARY SCHWANDT. 465 

The dreadful intelligence soon reached us girls, and we at once 
made preparations to fly. Mr. Patoile agreed to help us. Mr. 
Reynolds had a horse and buggy, and he began to harness his 
horse, haying sent La Blaugh to tell Mr. Mooer to come over. 
Mr. Mooer came and told Mr. Keynolds to ha sten his flight, and 
directed him what course to take. I was much excited, and 
it has been so long ago that I cannot remember the incidents 
of this time very clearly. I remember that Mr. and Mrs. Rey- 
nolds and the two children got into the buggy, and that we 
three girls got into Mr. Patoile's wagon with him and Mr. 
Davis and followed. We did not take many things with us. 
In our wagon was a feather bed and at least one trunk, be- 
longing to Miss Williams. Mrs. Reynolds' statement says that 
the boy started with an ox team and was killed near Little 
Crow's village, but I cannot now remember about this. It is 
singular that I cannot well remember the Frenchman who was 
with Mr. Patoile, when, in my statement before the commission 
the following year, I gave full particulars regarding him, 
stating that he was on horseback, and how he was killed, etc. 
I cannot account for this discrepancy, except that I have often 
honestly and earnestly tried hard to forget all about that 
dreadful time, and only those recollections that I cannot put 
away, or that are not painful in their nature, remain in my 
memory. The hired man, Landnieier, would not leave with us. 
He went down the river by himself and reached Fort Ridgely 
in safety that night. Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds also reached Fort 
Ridgely, taking with them two children of a Mr. Nairn that 
they picked up on the road. 

Mr. Patoile was advised by Mr. Mooer to follow close after 
Mr. Reynolds in the buggy and not follow the road. But Mr. 
Patoile thought best to keep the road until we crossed the 
Redwood river. He then left the road and turned up Red- 
wood some distance, and then struck out southeast across the 
great wide prairie. It seems to me now that we followed some 
sort of road across this prairie. When we had got about eight 
miles from the Redwood a mounted Indian overtook us and 
told us to turn back and go up to Big Stone lake, and that he 
would come up the next day and tell us what to do. I do not 

28 



466 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

know his name, but he seemed very friendly and to mean well; 
yet I do not think it would have been better had we done as he 
directed. At any rate, Mr. Patoile refused to return, and con- 
tinued on, keeping to the right or south of the lower agency. 
At one time we were within two miles of the agency and could 
see the buildings very plainly. We now hoped that it was all a 
false alarm. It seemed that the agency had not been at- 
tacked, at least the buildings had not been burned, and our 
spirits returned somewhat. But soon after we saw a smoke 
in the direction of the agency, and then we were fearful and 
depressed again. And yet we thought w r e could escape if the 
horses could hold out, for they were getting tired, as Mr. 
Patoile had driven them pretty hard. We were trying to 
reach New Ulm, where we thought we would be entirely safe. 

About the middle of the afternoon some Indians appeared 
to the left or north of us. They were mounted and at once 
began shooting arrows at us. Some of the arrows came into 
the wagon.We succeeded in dodging them, and we girls picked 
them up. Miss Williams secured some and asked Mary and 
me for ours, saying she meant to take them back to Ohio and 
show them to her friends as mementoes of her perilous ex- 
perience. (In the record of my testimony before the claims 
commission of 1863 I am made to say that only one Indian 
shot these arrows, and that he took the Frenchman's horse, 
but it is impossible for me now to remember the incident in 
this way.) When we arrived opposite Fort Ridgely which 
stood about half a mile from the north bank of the Minnesota 
Mr. Patoile supposed we could not cross the river, as there 
was no ferry there, and we continued down on the road to 
New Ulm. The horses were now very tired, and we frequently 
got out and walked. 

When we were within about eight miles of New Ulm and 
thought all serious danger was over, we met about fifty In- 
dians coming from the direction of the town. They were 
mounted, and had wagons loaded with flour and all sorts of 
provisions and goods taken from the houses of the settlers. 
They were nearly naked, painted all over their bodies, and all 
of them seemed to be drunk, shouting and yelling and acting 
very riotously in every way. Two of them dashed forward to 



THE STORY OF MARY SCETWANDT. 467 

us, one on each side of the wagon, and ordered us to halt. Mr. 
Patoile turned the wagon to one side of the road, and all of 
us jumped out except him. As we, leaped out Mr. Davis said, 
"We are lost!" The rest of the Indians came up and shot Mr. 
Patoile, four balls entering his body, and he fell dead from the 
wagon. I have a faint recollection of seeing him fall. He 
was a large man, as I remember him, and he fell heavily. Mr. 
Davis and we girls ran toward a slough where there was some 
high grass. The Indians began firing at us. Mr. Davis was 
killed. The Frenchman ran in another direction, but ^as 
shot and killed. Mary Anderson was shot in the back, the 
ball lodging near the surface of the groin or abdomen. Some 
shots passed through my dress, but I was not hit. Miss Will- 
iams, too, was unhurt. I was running as fast as I could 
towards the slough, when two Indians caught me, one by each 
of my arms, and stopped me. An Indian caught Mattie Will- 
iams and tore off part of her "shaker" bonnet. Then another 
^ame, and the two led her back to the wagon. I was led back 
also. Mary Anderson was probably carried back. Mattie 
was put in a wagon with Mary, and I was placed in one driven 
l)y the negro Godfrey. It was nearly 4 o'clock, as I remember 
from a certain circumstance. The black wretch Godfrey had 
been with the Indians murdering and plundering, and about 
his waist were strung quite a number of watches. I learn 
that this old villain is now at Santee Agency, Neb. He 
gave evidence against the Indians who were hanged at Man- 
kato, and so escaped their deserved fate. The Indians shouted 
and were very joyful over the great victory, and soon we were 
started off. The wagon with Mattie and Mary went toward 
the lower agency, and the one I was in went off into the 
prairie. I asked Godfrey what they were going to do with 
me, and he said he did not know. He said they had chased 
Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, and he believed had killed them. He 
said : "W T e are going out this way to look for our women, who 
are here somewhere." About three miles out we came to these 
squaws, who were sitting behind a little mound or hill on the 
prairie. They set up a joyful and noisy chattering as we ap- 
proached, and when w 7 e stopped they ran to the wagons and 
took out bread and other articles. Here we remained about 



468 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

an hour, and the Indians dressed their hair, fixing it up with 
ribbons. When we came up to these Indians I asked Godfrey 
the time, and, looking at one of the watches, he replied, "It is 
4 o'clock." 

About 5 o'clock we started in the direction of the lower 
agency. Three hours later we arrived at the house of the 
chief, Wacouta, in his village, half a mile or so below the 
agency. Here I found Mrs. De Camp (now Mrs. Sweet), whose 
story was published in the Pioneer Press of July 15. As she 
has so well described the incidents of that dreadful night and 
the four following dreadful days, it seems unnecessary that 
I should repeat them; and, indeed, it is a relief to avoid the 
subject. Since it pleased God that we should all suffer as we 
did at this time, I pray him of his mercy to grant that all my 
memories of this period of my captivity may soon and forever 
pass away. At about 11 o'clock in the night I arrived at 
Wacouta's house. Mattie and Mary were brought in. The 
ball was yet in Mary's body, and Wacouta tried to take it out, 
but I am sure that Mrs. Sweet is mistaken when she sa^s he 
succeeded. He tried to, in all kindness, but it seemed to me 
that he was unwilling to cause her any more pain. At any 
rate, he gave up the attempt, and I remember well that the 
brave girl then took his knife from his hand, made an incision 
over the lump where the ball lay, took out first the wadding, 
which was of a green color and looked like grass, and then re- 
moved the ball. I think after this Wacouta dressed the 
wound she had made by applying to it some wet cloths. 

On the fourth day we were taken from Wacouta's, up to Lit- 
tle Crow's village, two miles above the agency. Mary Ander- 
son died at 4 o'clock the following morning. I can never forget 
the incidents of her death. When we came we were given some 
cooked chicken. Mary ate of the meat and drank of the broth. 
Mattie and I were both with her, and watched her by turns. 
It rained hard that night, and the water ran under the tepee 
where we were, and Mary was wet and had no bedclothing or 
anything else to keep her dry and warm. When at Wacouta's 
she asked for a change of clothing, as her own were very 
bloody from her wounds. Wacouta gave her a black silk dress 
and a shawl, which some of his men had taken from some 



THE STORY OF MARY SOHWANDT. 469 

other white woman. Mary was a rather large girl, and I re- 
member that the waist of this dress was too small for her and 
would not meet or fasten. It was in this dress she died. She 
was very thirsty, and called often for water, but otherwise 
made no complaint and said but little. Before she died she 
prayed in Swedish. She had a plain gold ring on one of her 
fingers, and she asked us to give it to her mother, but after 
her death her finger was so swollen we could not remove the 
ring, and it was buried with her. I was awake when she died, 
and she passed away so gently that T did not know she was 
dead until Mattie began to prepare the face cloths. She was 
the first person whose death I had ever witnessed. The next 
morning she was buried. Joseph Campbell, a half-breed pris- 
oner, assisted us in the burial. Her poor body was wrapped 
in a piece of tablecloth, and the Indians carried it to the 
grave, which was dug near Little Crow's house. The body 
was afterward disinterred and reburied at the lower agency. 
A likeness of a young man to whom she was to have been mar- 
ried we kept, and it was returned to him. Her own we gave 
to Mrs. Reynolds. 

While in Little Crow's village I saw some of my father's cat- 
tle and many of our household goods in the hands of the In- 
dians. I now knew that my family had been plundered, and 1 
believed murdered. I was very, very wretched, and cared not 
how soon I too was killed. Mrs. Huggan, the half-breed woman 
whose experience as a prisoner has been printed in this paper, 
says she remembers me at this time, and that my eyes were 
always red and sw r ollen from constant weeping. I presume 
this is true. But soon there came a time when I did not weep. 
I could not. The dreadful scenes I had witnessed, the suffer- 
ings that I had undergone, the almost certainty that my family 
had all been killed, and that I was alone in the world, and the 
belief that I was destined to witness other things as horrible 
as those I had seen, and that my career of suffering and misery 
had only begun, all came to my comprehension, and when I 
realized my utterly wretched, helpless and hopeless situation, 
for I did not think I would ever be released, I became as one 
paralyzed, and could hardly speak. Others of my fellow cap- 
tives say they often spoke to me, but that I said but little, and 
went about like a sleep-walker. 



470 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

I shall always remember Little Crow from an incident that 
happened while I was in his village. One day I was sitting 
quietly and shrinkingly by a tepee when he came along dressed 
in full chief's costume and looking very grand. Suddenly he 
jerked his tomahawk from his belt and sprang toward me 
with the weapon uplifted as if he meant to cleave my head in 
two. I remember, as well as if it were only an hour ago that 
he glared down upon me so savagely, that I thought he really 
would kill me; but I looked up at him, without .any fear or 
care about my fate, and gazed quietly into his face without 
so much as winking my tear-swollen eyes. He brandished hi& 
tomahawk over me a few times, then laughed, put it back in 
his belt and walked away, still laughing and saying something 
in Indian, which, of course, I could not understand. Of course 
he only meant to frighten me, but I do not think he was at all 
excusable for his conduct. He was a great chief, and some 
people say he had many noble traits of character, but I have 
another opinion of any man, savage or civilized, who will take 
for a subject of sport a poor, weak, defenseless, broken-hearted 
girl, a prisoner in his hands, who feels as if she could never 
smile again. A few days since I saw Little Crow's scalp 
among the relics of the Historical society, and may I be for- 
given for the sin of feeling a satisfaction at the sight. 

But now it pleased Providence to consider that my measure 
of suffering was nearly full. An old Indian woman called 
Wam-nu-ka-win (meaning a peculiarly shaped bead called bar- 
ley corn, sometimes used to produce the sound in Indian 
rattles) took compassion on me and bought me of the Indian 
who claimed me, giving a pony for me. She gave me to her 
daughter, whose Indian name was Snana (ringing sound), but 
the whites called her Maggie, and who was the wife of Wa- 
kin-yan Weste, or Good Thunder. Maggie was one of the 
handsomest Indian women I ever saw, and one of the best. 
She had been educated and was a Christian. She could speak 
English fluently (but never liked to), and she could read and 
write. She had an Episcopal prayer book, and often read it, 
so that Mrs. Sweet is mistaken in her belief that Mrs. Hunter 
had the only prayer book in the camp. Maggie and her mother 
were both very kind to me, and Maggie could not have treated 
me more tenderly if I had been her daughter. Often and often 



c*: 

THE STORY OF MARY SCHWANDT. 471 

she preserved me from danger, and sometimes, I think, she 
saved my life. Many a time, when the savage and brutal In- 
dians were threatening to kill all the prisoners, and it was 
feared they would, she and her mother hid me, piling blankets 
and buffalo robes upon me until I would be nearly smothered, 
and then they would tell everybody that I had left them. Late 
one night, when we were all asleep, Maggie in one corner of 
the tent, her mother in another, and I in another, some 
drunken young hoodlums came in. Maggie sprang up as 
swiftly as a tigress defending her young, and almost as fierce, 
and ordered them out. A hot quarrel resulted. They seemed 
determined to take me aw T ay or kill me, but Maggie was just 
as determined to protect me. I lay in my little couch, tremb- 
ling in fear' and praying for help, and at last good, brave 
Maggie drove the villains away. Mr. Good Thunder was not 
there that night, but I do not know where he was. I have 
not much to say about him. He often took his gun, mounted 
his horse, and rode away, and would be absent for some time, 
but I never saw him with his face painted or with a war party. 
He is living at Birch Coulie agency now, but Maggie is not 
his present wife. I learn that she is somewhere in Nebraska, 
but wherever you are, Maggie, I want you to know that the 
lit lie captive German girl you so often befriended and shielded 
from harm loves you still for your kindness and care, and she 
prays God to bless you and reward you in this life and that to 
come. I was told to call Mr. Good Thunder and Maggie 
"father" and "mother," and I did so. It was best, for then 
some of the Indians seemed to think I had been adopted into 
the tribe. But Maggie never relaxed her watchful care over 
me, and forbade my going about .the camp alone or hardly 
anywhere out of her sight. I was with her nearly all the time 
after I went to live with her. She gave me a clean white 
blanket, but it was not white very long, and made me squaw 
clothes and embroidered for me a most beautiful pair of white 
moccasins, and I put them on in place of the clothing I wore 
when I was captured. Old Wam-nu-ka was always very good 
to me, too. The kind old creature has been dead many years, 
and Heaven grant that she is in peace. For several days after 
I first came to live with them they were very attentive, waking 
me for breakfast, and bringing me soap, water and a towel, 
and showing me many other considerations. 



472 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

I think we remained at Little Crow's village about a week, 
when we moved in haste up toward Yellow Medicine about 
fifteen miles and encamped. The next morning there was an 
alarm that the white soldiers were coming. Maggie woke me, 
took off my squaw clothes and dressed me in my own. But 
the soldiers did not come, and we went on to Yellow Medicine, 
where we arrived about noon. On the way there was another 
alarm that the soldiers were coming, and there was great con- 
fusion. Some ran off into the prairie and scattered in all 
directions, while others pushed the teams as fast as they could 
be driven. Four miles from Yellow Medicine I was made to 
get out of the wagon and walk. From this time every day 
there was an alarm of some kind. One day the soldiers were 
said to be coming; the next day all the prisoners were to be 
killed, etc. On one occasion a woman was killed while trying 
to escape. I was again dressed in Indian garments. I was 
told that the Sissetons were coming down from Big Stone lake, 
and there was danger of my being killed if I looked like a 
white girl. Maggie and her mother wanted to paint my face 
and put rings in my ears so that I would look more like a 
squaw, but I refused^ the proposition. I assisted my Indian 
"mother" with her work, carried water, baked bread when 
we had any and tried to make myself useful to her. We 
lived chiefly on beef and potatoes; often we had no bread. 

We were encamped at Yellow Medicine at least two weeks. 
Then we left and went on west, making so many removals 
that I cannot remember them. I did not go about the camps 
alone, and I knew nothing of what was going on outside. I 
saw the warriors constantly going and coming, but I knew 
nothing of their military movements and projects. A simple 
little German "maedchen" of fourteen cannot be expected to 
understand such things. I did not hear the cannon at Wood 
lake, and did not know the battle was. in progress till it was 
all over. During my captivity I saw very many dreadful 
scenes and sickening sights, but I need not describe them. 
Once I saw a little white girl of not more than five years, 
whose head had been cut and gashed with knives until it was 
a mass of wounds. I think this child was saved, but I do not 
know who she was. I do not remember that I talked with my 
fellow prisoners. I remember Mrs. Dr. Wakefield and Mrs. 



THE STORY OF MARY SCHWANDT. 473 

Adams. They were painted and decorated and dressed in full 
Indian costume, and seemed proud of it. They were usually 
in good spirits, laughing and joking, and appeared to fnjoy 
their new life. The rest of us disliked their conduct, and 
would have but little to do with them. Mrs. Adams was a 
handsome young woman, talented and educated, but she told 
me she saw her husband murdered, and that the Indian she 
was then living with had dashed out her baby's brains before 
her eyes. And yet she seemed perfectly happy and contented 
with him ! 

At last came Camp Kelease and our deliverance by the 
soldiers under Gen. Sibley. That story is well known. I re- 
member how angry the soldiers were at the Indians who sur- 
rendered there, and how eager they were to be turned loose 
upon the vile and bloody wretches. I testified before the mili- 
tary commission that tried the Indians. .Soon after I was taken 
below to St. Peter, where I learned the particulars of the sad 
fate of my family. I must be excused from giving the particu- 
lars of their atrocious murders. All were murdered at our 
home but my brother August, His head was split with a tom- 
ahawk, and he was left senseless for dead, but he recovered 
consciousness, and finally, though he was but ten years of age, 
succeeded in escaping to Fort Kidgely. On the way he found 
& child, five years old, and carried it several miles, when, by 
the direction of a German woman he had fallen in with, he left 
it in a house eighteen miles from the fort. The child was re- 
covered at Camp Kelease, but it was so much injured by 
wounds and exposure that it died soon after reaching Fort 
Ridgely. August is now a hardware merchant in Portland, 
Oregon. 

Soon after arriving at St. Peter I w r as sent to my friends and 
relatives in Wisconsin, and here I met my brother August. It 
was a sad meeting for the two little orphans, though we were 
most happy in seeing each other. The next year I returned to 
Minnesota and testified before what was called the claims 
commission. The government had suspended the annuities 
usually paid the Sioux, and directed that the money should 
be paid to the people whose property had been destroyed by 
the Indians during the outbreak, or to their heirs. An admin- 



474 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

istrator was appointed for my father's estate, and a guardian 
for me and my brother. I testified to the property my father 
had, all of which had been taken or destroyed by the Indians; 
but I do not remember that my brother and I ever received 
but an insignificant sum, and yet I do not know why we did 
not. It seems that everybody else, traders and all, were paid 
in full. Some gold was taken from the dead body of an Indian 
during the war, and, from the circumstances, Gen. Sibley 
thought the money had been taken from my father. The 
amount was $90, but there was a premium on gold at the time.' 
Gen. Sibley purchased two $50 government bonds with the 
money and held them for my brother and me some years. In 
1866 Gen. Sibley gave me one of the bonds and $20 in interest 
on it, and my receipts to him for this money are among the 
Sibley papers in the Historical society. A part of the year 1863 
I was with the family of my old employer, Mr. Reynolds, who 
then kept a hotel at St. Peter. In the fall I went to Fair- 
water, Wis., and remained with an uncle for two years. In 1866 
I married Mr. William Schmidt, then and for many years after- 
ward one of the business men of St. Paul. We lived in St. 
Paul until 1889, when we removed to Portland, Ore. Two 
months since we returned to St. Paul. We have three living 
children, a daughter and two sons; four children are dead. 
Life is made up of shadow and shine. I sometimes think I 
have had more than nay share of sorrow and suffering, but I 
bear in mind that I have seen much of the agreeable side of 
life, too. A third of a century almost has passed since the 
period of my great bereavement and of my captivity. The 
memory of that period, with all its hideous features, often rises 
before me, but I put it down. I have called it up at this time 
because kind friends have assured me that my experience is a 
part of a leading incident in the history of Minnesota that 
ought to be given to the world. In the hope that what I have 
written may serve to inform the present and future genera- 
tions what some of the pioneers of Minnesota underwent in 
their efforts to settle and civilize our great state, I submit my 
plain and imperfect story. 

MARY SCHWANDT-SCHMIDT. 
St. Paul, July 26, 1894. 



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