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Conflicts in Boone County

Inkapaduta War

In 1856 settlers located at Spirit Lake in Dickinson County, Iowa. Although Indians weren't supposed to be in Iowa, there were several camps and lodges of them in the big woods near the Iowa/Minnesota border. The winter of 1856-1857 was a fearful one. It was extremely cold and snow was 2-20 feet deep. Settlers at Spirit Lake were snowbound from December 1. In March 1857, Inkapauta and his ban of 70 to 80 strong, with a low food supply at home, came down to Spirit Lake on snow shoes. They pillaged all they could find and killed all the stock. They then began their massacre of people. Seven were killed many more wounded before they were driven out by the settlers.

News of the Massacre was brought to Fort Dodge about April 1 and on to Boone the next day or so. Following the news came fleeing settlers going south. Around April 6 came the news that Inkapaduta had surrounded the town and the people could not keep them off much longer. When the news reached Boone, a meeting was called at the courthouse and a company of 100 organized to go help the besieged towns. The following citizens were elected to lead the effort:

Judge McFarland - Superior Officer
Samuel B. McCall - Captain
George B. Redman - First Lieutenant
Jonas H. Upton - Second Lieutenant
James Wright - Wagon Master
Dr. DeTarr - Surgeon
John A. Hull - Commissioner

Honor C. Beal locked his house and took his wife, on his horse, to her father on the west side of the Des Moines River were he left her. He then started north on his own hook, recruiting any men who could leave home. There were hurried, but tearful, partings of family members at Boone. After confiscating a ton of flour that belonged to John Grether, the same quantity of bacon belonging to Clark Luther, all the oats William Pilcher had and all the powder and fire water in town, the company was ready.

Old men and boys to weak to endure the hardships had to be driven back to prevent them from going to the front. A rear guard was put out to keep such stragglers back, yet many old men and boys escaped the guard by going across lots. They came into camp that night at Hook’s Point, where the commissary had four big log heap fires and a whole barrel of whiskey. No one slept that night. The wagons that continually passed, filled with fleeing settlers who confirmed the reports of the day before, kept the company in arms all night.

About daybreak an alarm was sounded. The pickets came in and, for a time, were sure the Indians were coming. A cow that had been left at home, some distance off, had become hungry and came trotting down the road, followed by others, making a terrible clang with the bell around her neck and created the alarm. After a hurry, the company started to Webster City. The day was cold with a fierce wind blowing in their faces. They reached Webster City where they were received in a very hostile manner by the people.

Due to the hostility, the men met the command out of town with buckets full of rye and other goods. A general invitation was given them to enjoy the freedom of the city and every house was opened to them. A public meeting was held at the school house that night at which people voted the company thanks and a fitting testimonial. It is related that on account of the exposure of the men on their trip, Dr. DeTarr and Judge Mitchell were the only members of the company that would appear and respond on behalf of the company. Dr. DeTarr’s speech was printed in full in the Daily Freeman Journal. The flour, bacon, oats and fire water left over were given to the needy settlers on the route home. It's said that Mr. Beal and his command who were fortified near West Dayton where they would have remained there all summer if word had not been sent them from Boone that the war was over. The name of the company was the Boonesboro Tigers. All names of those involved have been lost.

Pardee Siege

The Pardee Siege began April 1858. John Pardee and his sons, John, Nat, Ben and Bart had incurred the displeasure of many of their neighbors, who resolved that the Pardees must go. After repeated warnings the Pardees didn’t go and, by accident or on purpose, all occupied old man Pardee’s house. The house was a large log building, on a hillside, in an open space, and well calculated for military defense.

One morning the Pardees found themselves besieged in their house. If one of them showed his head, a shot from an adjacent thicket, tree or stump sent them hiding. Now and then a shot to the side of the house reminded them there was still danger outside. This lasted a day or so and both parties grew restless. The Pardees were well armed and equipped with enough defense and subsistence. The besieged, four men and the boy, Bart, at only 12 years proved the bravest and best shot of all.

The besiegers, 30-40 in all, were well armed and all good shots. Finding it impossible to dislodge the Pardees without storming the fort, the attacking party finally adopted the Indian method of setting fire to the house. They loaded a wagon with hay and Jo Masters, provided with a firebrand, ensconced himself in the hay at the front of the wagon. Two men undertook the task of pushing the wagon down the hill and against the house. Just as Masters raised up to throw the firebrand on the top of the house a bullet from the house pierced his brain and he fell dead. At the same time parties, inside the house, fired shots ibelow the wagon and into the legs and feet of the men who were pushing the wagon.

This spread dismay among the besiegers. They had not intended to kill anyone or be killed themselves. They were merely intending to intimidate the Pardees and drive them out. The Pardees were earnest and shot to kill. It was said that Bart did the shooting of Masters, contrary to the wish and orders of his father and older brothers. Besiegers under flag of truce, carried off the dead Masters and withdrew.

The matter later found its way to court. Warrants were issued and 30 residents of Yell Township, at least half of whom were innocent, were arrested and brought before Judge McCall. The times grew so hot that the judge dismissed the proceedings and advised the parties to go and sin no more. But the grand jury couldn’t ignore such public facts and the parties arrested were indicted in spring term of 1859 and charged with assault with intent to kill. The many prisoners, witnesses and excited public filled the courthouse for many terms. At last one of the accused, Jacob Long, was put on trial. After a week's fight he was convicted before Judge Porter of District Court of simple assault, and fined $10 and costs. It broke him up. It was believed by the state's attorney that Long was innocent, but stood up to the rack rather than call upon the guilty ones to prove he was not there. Some time after that Miles Randall, who was supposed to be a friend of the Pardees, was caught in the woods and whipped, and the guilty parties were never identified. Randall left the county shortly after that and old man Pardee and his boys gradually sold out and went away. Bart was a member of the 3rd Iowa Regiment in the War of the Rebellion and was said to have been a splendid soldier.

River Land Skirmish

In the winter of 1857 people of the Des Moines River, north of Des Moines, almost unanimously petitioned the legislature to abandon damming the river. The citizens wanted an outlet for their maple sugar and wished to settle up some way with the river company and use the land to build a railroad along the Des Moines River.

The legislature had also lost faith in the slack-water enterprise and granted the petitions. They gave nearly all the land to the company for the 2.5 dams they built. They allowed all the charges for outlays and expenses of the company and paid them in land at $1.25 an acre, when it was said to be worth from $5 to $10 per acre. These 2.5 dams cost the state a strip of land five miles wide from the Mississippi River to Fort Dodge. Honor C. Beal, member of the house, had been the company’s attorney and dodged the vote. The people were unanimous in calling that settlement a down right steal. It really looked so to them and they united in saying that if the company got the land they ought to take it unencumbered with timber, and all united to remove it.

The best ethics of the times allowed a man to cut and take timber off the river lands. It is believed that the pulpit encouraged it, because the preachers did it. This region was presented a fine field of labor. Times were hard and the timber harvest brought many adventurers from other counties to help remove it. The market for timber and maple sugar was in Fort Des Moines. Timber was cut, hauled to the river and then floated in rafts to the new capital city to be used in its building boom.

The chiefs of the fiver company began to suspect that all was not right. They wanted the timber left on their land. So they employed subagents and detectives who went up and down the river with and placed a secret brand on every log and stick of hewed timber near the river and all throughout he county. This brand was not observed by teamsters, raftsmen or owners but when the raft pulled up at the Fort the entire raft would be retrieved from them by the river company.

However, many logs had been branded from deeded land. Raftsmen began to come home despondent, with a few new incentives for the river company. The sole branch of the industry was about to be cut off. There is nothing that hurts a fellow so much as to hurt his trade, and while the branding was wrong and furnished good cause for war, the people thought the brands were trouble and it was right to suppress them.

A man by the name of Farr was the west side brander and Warner was the east side brander. One day Farr was found in the timber in upper Yell Township and whipped awfully. He was tied to a tree and three to four men took turns, whipping him on his bareback and shoulders, and then let loose to care for himself. The same party went to the river and saw Warner on a raft of logs on the other side of the river. They opened fire on him with their rifles. The shots whistled close by his head and he withdrew.

These terrified men went to Des Moines and reported what had happened, Honorable D. O. Finch and Col. Crocker were attorneys for the company. They raised a company of men to enforce the law and preserve order. Part of the men ransacked Dr. Hull’s tavern, three miles out of town, and part of them came into town. Warrants were issued and they were arrested. Among them was a man by the name of Phipps, one of the most peaceable and best disposed men in the county. The men whom whipped Farr and shot at Warner were disguised and could not be identified. A bloody row seemed imminent and would undoubtedly have occurred, but the sheriff, William Holmes, was out day and night talking to people.

The courthouse was heavily packed with a crowd of men with rifles and ready to use them. During the evening the sheriff was so occupied in watching the belligerents that he lost sight of one of his prisoners for a few minutes. The prisoner disappeard and no one knew how he escaped. A week or so later, the prisoners straggled into town and gave themselves up. The case went by default and the prisoners discharged. On the day set for the trial there were at least 400 residents of the county ready to receive Des Moines delegation. Their arms were stacked in a building convenient to the courthouse and they meant business. It is asserted that one of Mr. Farr’s neighbors was one of the party that did the mischief, and that they came from Polk and Dallas counties, not one of them being a resident here. This stopped the log branding business and the low water in the river destroyed the timber trade for about a year. However, now the timber from the river land was all gone, and stumps and brush mark its line so well that a stranger passing through the timber can tell where the river tract begins and ends.
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