Another IAGenWeb Project



Dickinson County, Iowa


The Spirit Lake Massacre, and the Indian
Troubles on the Northwestern



Des Moines:

The Kenyon Printing & Mfg. Co. MDCCCCII

R. A. Smith







There has for some time existed a feeling that a connected account of the Indian trouble on the northwestern border of Iowa should be given to the public, or rather that what facts are preserved should be so grouped that a person reading them could form a reasonably intelligent idea of them. Any person following this line of investigation will soon come face to face with the fact that the sources of information are extremely limited. The writer has endeavored to give as correct and concise an idea of the points treated as was possible under the circumstances, and it seems appropriate to combine them with the early history of Dickinson County, inasmuch as that was the storm center around which, so far as Iowa is concerned, these events seemed to culminate.


In doing this work he has quoted freely from such sources as were accessible and known to be reliable, and notably so from the writings of Hon. C. E. Flandrau, Hon. Harvey Ingham, Hon. A. R. Fulton and Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp, giving at all times the proper credit. The writer was a member of the Relief Expedition in 1857, and assisted in burying the victims of the massacre at that time, and much of what is written in that regard came under his own personal observation. He was also a member of the first party that effected a settlement subsequent to the massacre and was given those events as nearly correct as he can remember them after the lapse of near half a century.


Many will remember that in the centennial year Governor Kirkwood recommended that the several counties procure a summary or synopsis of their pioneer history, and to the writer here-with was assigned the task of preparing one for Dickinson County. The article was published in the Spirit Lake Beacon of that year running through ten numbers. Had that paper not been preserved the present work would not have been attempted. In writing up the county history proper he has departed somewhat from the usual method; whether wisely or unwisely remains to be seen. It has come to be, the practice too much in works of this kind to give a glowing write-up for those who are able and willing to pay well for it and ignore others whose work may have been more valuable in building up and developing the country but who do not feel that they have money to invest that way.


It has been the aim of the writer to evade this objection and to avoid everything that looked like favoritism or booming anybody's business. In this he realizes that he may have gone to the other extreme. In fact this defect, if defect it be, became more apparent as the work neared completion and it was too late to remedy it. Such as it is it must go to the public who will doubtless judge it at its true value.