Another IAGenWeb Project
NAMING THE LAKES—ORGANIZING THE COUNTY—HILL'S TRIP TO SIOUX CITY TO OBTAIN THE ORDER FOR THE ELECTION—THE ELECTION HELD—OFFICERS ELECTED CARRYING IN THE RETURNS —THE BOOM—THE PANIC—ITS EFFECT ON TILE SETTLEMENT—THE FIRST SAWMILL—THE FIRST FAMILY AFTER THE MASSACRE—PETERS AND THE OLD RED MILL—THE GENERAL ELECTION—THE FIRST PARTY OF MINNESOTA INDIANS TO VENTURE INTO THE STATE AFTER THE MASSACRE—TROUBLE ON THE LITTLE SIOUX—TROOPS ASKED FOR—THE LEGISLATURE AUTHORIZES THE RAISING OF A COMPANY.
IMPORTANT among the first acts of the settlers was the naming of the different lakes, or rather familiarizing themselves with the names they had already received. Spirit Lake had been known by the Indians as Minnie Waukon, and by the French as Lac d'Esprit. Professor McBride, in his report of the geological survey of the county, unearths a somewhat amusing instance of the comical results of attempting to apply English orthography to French words. He says: "The redoubtable Clarke in his notes relates how `The Cenoux River passes through Lake Despree.' If this matter had not been corrected by the French interpreter, in all probability Spirit. Lake would have gone on to the maps as Lake Depree, and by this time local archeologists would have been puzzling their brains in a vain attempt to ascertain and explain its origin and meaning. Granger and his party made an attempt to have it called Green Lake, but it did not succeed."
East Okoboji Lake was called by the Dacotahs "Okoboozhy," and West Okoboji "Minnietonka," signifying Big Water. Minnietonka was and is the name of a somewhat celebrated lake in Minnesota, and to avoid confusion the Iowa Minnietonka was abandoned and West Okoboji adopted instead. Granger made an attempt to dame West Okoboji "Lake Marriott," in honor of Doctor Harriott .and East Okoboji, "'Rice Lake," in honor of Senator Henry M. Rice, then United States senator from Minnesota, but the inhabitants finally settled down upon the present names, East and West Okoboji.
The origin and meaning of the word Okoboji is a little uncertain. Professor, McBride says, "place of rest." The preponderance of testimony, however, seems to be that Okoboji simply means "rushes." Mrs. Wood, who was for years a successful teacher .among the Dacotahs, gave that as the meaning, "And there are others."
The impression exists in some quarters that Okoboji was a powerful Sioux chief, who formerly had his headquarters in Okoboji Grove, and that the lake was named for him. The question is often asked where Okoboji was buried, but as has been before explained, such belief is wholly unfounded.
The Indian name of Center Lake is unknown. Previous to the massacre it was called by the first settlers Snyder's Lake, for Bert Snyder, who had a claim on the east side of it. After that for a year or two it was called Sylvan Lake, but finally that name was dropped and the present name, Center Lake, substituted, which has come into general use.
Gar Lake was at first designated by Granger as Carl Lake in honor of Carl Granger. Whether the name Gar Lake is a corruption of that cannot be positively stated, but the presumption is that it is not, as the outlet was known by the name of Gar Outlet long before anyone knew anything about Granger's name for the lake. It had its origin in a little incident which, though not important, may be worth telling.
On the evening of the day of the arrival of the first party of settlers subsequent to the massacre, as a small party of the boys were cruising around on a voyage of discovery, they brought up at the outlet in which were a school of gars working their way upstream. The boys had never heard of such a fish and thought them pickerel and became much excited. One of them ran to the cabin where he procured a spear which they had brought along, and for two hours they waded up and down the outlet spearing and throwing out the worthless gars. When they tired of that they strung what they could carry on some poles and started for the cabin with their wonderful catch. Upon arriving there a young fellow from Illinois saw what they were and exclaimed: "Boys, those are gars and are no earthly good." When the boys became convinced that they had had all their work and wetting for nothing, and that their fish were indeed worthless, they were somewhat crestfallen. They took the guying they received from the others in good part, but it. was some time before they heard the last of their wonderful exploits. And this is how Gar Outlet first received its name, and Gar Lake soon followed.
Recently the name of Middle Gar has been changed to "Minnie Washta." Washta is the Dacotah synonym for good or nice. Originally there were three lakes known as the Gar Lakes, forming a chain about two miles in length, and were called Upper, Middle and Lower Gar Lakes. The outlet for the Okobojis is through this chain. Middle Gar, or Minnie Washta, as it is now called, is the finest of the three. The other two retain their old names of Upper and Lower Gar Lakes. Various considerations seemed to emphasize the fact that it would be desirable to organize the county at as early a date as possible. While nominally attached to Woodbury County for judicial and financial purposes, it was practically outside of any civil jurisdiction whatever. It was early foreseen that it would be a great advantage to be able to settle all questions liable to arise in the future under the forms and provisions of the statutes. It was therefore determined to organize at the earliest practical period, which would be at the August election. That election was held on the first Tuesday in August, 1857, at the house of J. S. Prescott. Under the law as it then stood it was necessary to send in a petition signed by two-thirds of the voters of the new county to the county judge of the county to which it was attached and if in his judgment the interests of the county demanded it, he issued an order for the organization of the new county.
The petition for organization had twenty names attached, and was taken to Sioux City by C. F. Hill some time in June. John K. Cook was at that time county judge of Woodbury County. He issued an order for holding the election, which was held accordingly. The first officers elected were as follows: O. C. Howe, County Judge; B. F. Parmenter, Prosecuting Attorney; M. A. Blanchard, Treasurer and Recorder; Ii, A. Smith, Clerk of the District Court; C. F. Hill, Sheriff; Alfred Wilkins, County Surveyor; W. B. Brown Coroner. R. U. Wheelock and R. A. Smith were elected Justices of the Peace. After the election it was necessary that the returns be sent to Sioux City, and that either the county judge, district attorney or clerk of the district court elect go before the judge of Woodbury County and give bonds for his approval and be sworn in in due form. This journey fell to the lot of the clerk of the district court.
These trips to Sioux City were no holiday affairs. The route by which they were made was to strike out in. a westerly direction to the head of the Floyd and follow that stream to Sioux City. There were no settlements on the route until within eight miles of the city. The time required for making the trip was seven days; the distance one hundred and twenty miles each way, or two hundred and forty miles in all. Let a person imagine himself taking a trip that distance alone on horseback, drinking from the streams he might chance to cross, eating a dry lunch from his portmanteau, at night rolling up in a saddle blanket with the saddle under his head as a pillow, his horse picketed by his side, and with no probability of seeing a human being for the next three days, and he can form some idea of what those trips were. Add to this the ever-present danger that roving bands of Indians were continually hovering along the border ready at any moment to waylay any luckless adventurer who may have ventured beyond the line of the settlements, and it will be understood that no slight amount of courage and hardihood were exhibited in their successful accomplishment.
The following letter, written by C. F. Hill and published in the Sioux City Journal, June 10, 1900, conveys a pretty vivid idea of what these early trips were. In his letter Mr. Hill says:
"Hazleton, Pa., June 4, 1900--Neil Bonner, Sioux City, Iowa.--Dear Sir: Yours of May 30, referring to my early visit to Sioux City, is received. In the spring of 1857 I located at Spirit Lake, shortly after the massacre took place under Inkpadutah, and I helped bury some of the dead that had been overlooked by the soldiers sent down from Fort Ridgley. About the month of May, 1857, the settlers at Spirit Lake decided to organize Dickinson County, which before that had been attached with all northwestern Iowa to Woodbury County, and I was designated to go to Sioux City and get an order from the court there to hold an election and organize Dickinson County.
"I started out on my mission mounted on an Indian pony which had both ears badly burned in a prairie fire, and accompanied by a young man by the name of Barnum, a relative of P. T. Barnum, the great showman. Barnum was on foot, and as he was, a good fellow, I shared my pony with him and allowed him to ride half of the time. After we left Spirit Lake we did not reach a white man until we reached the Floyd River in Plymouth County, where we met a party of surveyors, who were staking out Plymouth City. Barnum and I were glad to meet these men, and we begged the privilege of camping near them, which they reluctantly granted. The next day we reached Sioux City, and put up at the Sioux City House, a story and a half building, and to my great surprise I found it kept by the Trescott Brothers, Wesley and Milo, who were from near Shiekshinny, Pa. I knew them well, but I had some little trouble in making myself known to them, as my camp life, my leggings, Indian pony and other Indian fixings led them to believe that I was a half-breed, which amused my companion very much.
"Next day I looked up his honor, the Judge of Woodbury County, and in a day or two had matters all arranged to start the wheels of government for Dickinson County. While I remained at Sioux City I heard much talk that the remains of Sergeant Floyd were exposed by the action of the Missouri River and the citizens were about to remove the remains to another bluff, where the aggressive Missouri River could not reach them. A man by the name of Brughier, a Frenchman, lived at the mouth of the Big Sioux River, and he had two squaw wives.
"Sioux City at that time was an unpretentious village of one story and story and a half frame houses. The town was hemmed in closely by bluffs, which were so numerous and so close together as in some cases to admit only of a wagon road between them. I remember many interesting incidents while in the city, regarding the Indians who came there. I remember a one story clothing store on the wharf which had a large picture on canvas of an elephant, which the boys called the 'land elephant.' The land elephant was the great animal of those days, and woe to the poor fellow who indulged in too much land and allowed the elephant to lie down on him.
AN INDIAN CAROUSAL.
"Having completed the object of my mission, I made my arrangements to return to Spirit Lake, and was directed to a saloon, restaurant and grocery store, where I could purchase a supply of provisions for my return. While selecting my outfit a band of Indians and half-breeds entered. They seemed to have plenty of money and one of the braves called up the drinks for all hands. They were all well armed and in a state of carousal that would have laid `Pat in a Grog Shop' in his palmiest days in the shade. The brave who was treating stepped up to me and in an animated tone asked:
" `Are you my fren ?'
"I replied : `Oh, yes, I am your friend.'
" `Then come and take a drink wi' me.'
"I declined with many apologies.
" `Then you no my fren.'
"I thought I saw trouble ahead and I quickly changed my mind, as I had just discovered that I did want a drink, and I stepped up to the bar and took a ration of Missouri corn whisky. I proceeded with preparing my outfit, when a second brave asked me to take a drink with him. This invitation followed the first in such quick succession that I was forced to decline, when he sang out :
" 'You drink wi' him—you no drink wi' me--eh ?'
"So I was in for a second ration, and so it went on, growing more lively. At no time was it long between drinks, and I devoted the brief time between drinks to collecting my purchases and completing my outfit, and at the first opportunity that offered I made a straight coattail out of the door. And as I walked up the street I wondered how that poor bartender expected to get out of that green corn whisky dance alive. He, however, had a six inch Colt's revolver lying on the bar behind him in easy reach. It was wonderful what a respect a Colt's revolver inspired for its owner in that day.
"Well, I was happy. I escaped that drunken, carousing baud of Indians and was pleased with my little outfit, which contained a bottle of raspberry syrup, one can of peaches and a box of good cigars. Mr. Trescott was very kind to me and asked for my pocket compass which he compared with a surveyor's instrument and it was pronounced correct. This was the last thing done. I was now ready to start for Spirit Lake alone, as Barnum did not return with me.
LOST ON THE PRAIRIE.
"Sherman's battery had passed through the country a few days before, en-route from Fort Scott to Fort Ridgley, in Minnesota, and it had left a well beaten trail along the Floyd River. This battery suffered severely in the first battle of Bull Run, July 22, 1861. On my way back I decided to follow this trail as far as I could north and then I left it in a right line for Spirit Lake. I left this trail either in Buncombe (now Lyon) or Osceola County. In the following day, while riding under a hot noonday sun, I became very somnolent and slept while riding. In fact, I fell off my pony, and then I tied my pony to my foot with my lariat and lay down and slept it out. When I awoke, to my great surprise, the sun was in the north. I now had to resort to my pocket compass to discover, if I could what had gone wrong with the sun. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the compass was just as erratic as the sun. It now began to dawn upon me that my idea of direction was muddled and I was lost. The question now .arose, Where am I? Which way have I been traveling? Which way shall I go?
"I, however, took a course and while riding along I suddenly came upon what seemed to me to be a camp of Indian tepees on the prairie. My first thought was to turn back, and then I was afraid if I should be discovered the Indians would give chase, so I decided the best thing I could do was to move right on, which I did, and when I neared the supposed camp of tepees, to my great surprise up jumped a herd of elk and ran away over a divide. The elk horns which I saw were so magnified by the clear atmosphere that I mistook them for tepees.
"After the herd ran over the divide I heard several shots fired, and as there were no white men in that country, as I believed, I made up my mind that the shots had been fired by Indians. I did not want to meet any Indians, yet I was curious to know from whence the shots came, so I dismounted and crept cautiously to the top of the divide; the elk had disappeared, but I saw a man going in the opposite direction to which I was going, and I, for the time, was greatly relieved. After going a few miles I was hailed by two men coming towards me, whom I took for Indians, and I tried hard to avoid them, and they tried as hard to intercept me. They finally waved their hats, and then I knew they were white men and turned to meet them. When we met these two men simply exhausted their vocabulary of profanity on me. They were members of a party of government surveyors and said they had not seen a white man for so long that they almost had a mind to shoot me for trying to evade them. They soon informed me that their chief surveyor, Alfred Wilkins, was lost and they were trying to find him. I then related the incident of the elks and how I saw a man going in the opposite direction that I calve. They then put one of their party on a horse and started him after him with a very large tin horn. He returned to camp during the night with the lost surveyor all right.
"I camped with the party and at our mess I shared with them some of the delicacies I had brought with me from Sioux City, which they enjoyed, especially the cigars. They now informed me that I was in Osceola County, and in the morning gave me the direction to take to reach Spirit Lake. I was glad that I had not wandered away farther than I did, for had they told me that I had wandered into the then unceded territory of Dakota I world have scarcely been prepared to dispute it. However, I consoled myself with the thought that if I was lost the government surveyor had undergone a similar experience. `Misery loves company.'
DICKINSON COUNTY ORGANIZED
"I reached Spirit Lake the next day, and soon posted the notices for the election in Dickinson County. The election came and we elected a full line of county and township officers. I had the honor of being elected the first sheriff. The election over, we held a jollification, made speeches, etc. O. C. Howe In a speech said we had the most independent set of officers he ever knew, that each man in the county had an office of some kind, and we owed no thanks to anyone, as we had elected ourselves. The election passed off very quietly. There were no charges of ballot box stuffing and no contests. It certainly was an honest election, and I know of no election since that I have had the same good opinion of. Every man had an office and the harmony that followed was great. The secret of good government and honest election lies in the plan of giving every man an office. If the administration at Washington will act on the line of this theory there will be no reason why turbulent Kentucky in time should not become as peaceable and order loving as Ohio. I make no charge for this tip. C. F. Hill."
Mr. Hill in his letter mentions the fact that "a few days before Sherman's battery had passed from Fort Scott to Fort Ridgley in Minnesota, and that in doing so they left a well beaten trail .along the Floyd River to the state line, which they crossed near the northwest corner of Osceola County." This trail was visible for years and served as a road through that country when going to Sioux City from here. The practice was to go west until that trail was struck and then follow it. Later the usual route to Sioux City was by way of Peterson and Cherokee, then across the prairie to Melbourne. By this route a fifty mile prairie had to be crossed without a house. "Twelve mile slough" and "twenty mile slough" were as well known by the early traveler as stopping places as the leading hotels now are.
It is well known as a historical fact that during the years of 1855 and 1856, there had been a rush of emigration to the West, such as had hitherto been unknown. People neglected their legitimate business and many run wild in town lot .and real estate speculations. Emigration had been booming and all kinds of property throughout the West advanced in value at fabulous rates. Vast amounts of money were loaned at as high rates as five per cent a month for the purpose of investing in western lands. Everybody was dealing in real estate. Towns were laid out and railroads projected in every possible direction. The wildest extravagance took the place of judicious economy and business sense. This state of affairs could not last, but finally culminated in the financial crash of 1857, which every one admits was induced by over speculation.
The revulsion was instantaneous and complete, and no where were the consequence more severely felt than on the frontier. Emigration immediately came to a standstill, real estate became valueless and town property a byword. The gold was soon swept out of the country and the currency was worthless. Perhaps there are some at this time who don't understand what was implied in a bank failure previous to the time of the national banks. Not only did the depositors suffer, but the bill holders as well. Many banks were based on the fictitious and inflated values prevalent at that time, and when the bottom fell out, depositor and bill holder went to ruin together. All projected enterprises .and improvements were for the time abandoned.
The effect of this state of affairs upon the frontier settlements was disastrous in the extreme, and in no place was the depressing effects felt more keenly than in this county. To remain here seemed to court a life of hardship and privation, while to return to the older settled portions of the country offered nothing that was much better. It was the old orthodox dilemma, "You are lost if you do, and you are lost if you don't." Of course the conditions of the settlers became much changed. Frontier life, instead of being a short period of adventure which in a few years would be rewarded by positions of influence and affluence, became a desperate struggle with adverse circumstances for existence.
Some emigration came in in the fall of 1857, but in most cases it was made up of persons who had been stripped of their property by the panic and struck for the frontier to try their luck anew. In the fall of 1857 a couple of men named Isaac Jones and William Miller, from Story County, brought in a small steam sawmill, which they set up on the bank of East Okoboji Lake, at a point a little southwest of the Stevens' boat landing. It was a small affair, but it supplied a want that had been severely felt. Previous to this time no lumber had been used in the construction of the cabins. Doors, window frames, door frames, stools and benches had been constructed by splitting out puncheons from the bodies of trees and then dressing them down to the desired thickness with a hand ax and jack plane. Heretofore the nearest mill was at Algona.
The first man to bring his family into the county subsequent to the massacre was Hon. O. C. Howe, who arrived here with his wife and one child on the sixth of August. Mrs. Howe was the first woman to set foot in the county after the massacre, and her coming was counted as an event of considerable interest if not importance. Their daughter, a bright girl of three or four years of age, was the first child in the settlement. It had been from two to four months since any of the boys had seen either woman or child, and it was wonderful what a transformation the contact wrought in their habits and deportment.
Not much was done at farming during the summer. Some few had breaking done on their claims, but as a rule, farming was neglected. In fact, but few had come here to farm anyway. They had come to secure government land, which they imagined would soon appreciate in value, thereby making them forehanded. They were wiser after two or three years' experience. Had they gone into stock raising for all there was in it, and kept at it during all those years when the vacant prairies 'stretching indefinitely in every direction furnished unlimited range for stock, they might have made a good thing of it, provided the straggling parties of marauding Indians that infested the frontier up to 1863 did not come in and compel them to divide profits. But then they were like the proverbial Dutchman, their foresight was not near so good as their back sight.
The second man to bring his family was Rosalvo Kingman, who came from Sparta, Wisconsin. Mr. Kingman was first here early in July, then went back for his family, and returned sometime in September. About the same time a roving character by the name of Thurston came along with his family and spent the winter, but left early in the spring. These three, with a Mrs. Peters, who lived upon the isthmus between East Okoboji and Spirit Lake, constituted the sum total of female society in Dickinson County during the winter of 1857 and 1858.
The mention of the name of Peters brings to mind the old red mill which may as well be noticed here as anywhere. In the fall of 1857 a man by the name of James S. Peters, from Bureau County, Illinois, conceived the project of building a mill on the isthmus between Spirit and East Okoboji Lakes, and for that purpose cut a race across from one lake to the other. There was at that time nearly eight feet difference in the level of the two lakes, so that had the water supply been sufficient the mill could eventually have been made a success.
In the summer of 1858, with the assistance of such of the inhabitants as had faith enough in the project to lend a helping hand, Peters succeeded in getting up the frame and putting in the machinery, which was of a very rude and primitive character, having made the most of it himself. He finally got the mill in operation in 1859, but his work was so unsatisfactory and defective that it was a failure. The supply of water was also insufficient, as was afterwards proven. Peters was a half crazy fanatic and a believer in witchcraft, and when by reason of low water or the imprefections of his machinery his mill refused to work, he invariably ascribed it to some person having bewitched his machinery. Having decided in his own mind who the guilty person was, he would draw an outline of their profile with a piece of chalk on an oak tree that stood near the mill, and then would sometime spend a half day at a time shooting the figure with silver bullets. He seems to have imagined that if he could only hit upon the right person and then shoot his figure with a silver bullet, that the spell would be broken and his power over him and his operations would cease. He was always very careful to cut the bullets out again after he had exhausted his supply. After trying in vain to do something with his mill for a year or two, dividing his time about equally between witches and work, he sold it to Stimpson and Davis, of Emmet County, who overhauled it, but failed to achieve, any great success.
The story is told that one day a halfwitted chap from the head of Spirit Lake was down to the mill waiting for his grist, and getting impatient, remarked that he could eat the grain faster than that mill could grind it. "Well, but," said Stimpson, "how long could yon do it?" "Until I starved to death," replied the boy.
Stimpson kept the mill until 1869, when he disposed of it to Oliver Compton, who overhauled it again thoroughly, putting in an entire new set of first-class machinery. But it was of no use, the water power was a failure. The drawing of the water out of Spirit Lake had lowered that lake and raised Okoboji accordingly, and the project, after sinking several thousand dollars in it, had to be abandoned. The old frame was torn down afterwards and the timbers used for bridge timbers.
Among those who were here previous to the massacre were Philip Risling and Robert Madison, from Delaware County, both of whom were stopping temporarily with the Mattock family. Along about the holidays Risling went back to his home, but Madison remained here, and as a consequence fell a victim to the massacre. In the summer of 1857, Mr. Risling, with a party of neighbors, consisting of William Oldman, George Deftrick, Levi Daugherty and William Wisegarver, came out, bringing with them coffins for the interment of their friends, the Mattocks .and Madison. They brought seven coffins in all. They disinterred the bodies of their friends and took them out southwest on the prairie and buried them on Mr. Oldham's claim. The place has since become the property of Wood Allen.
Instead of taking his claim about the lakes, Mr. Risling took his claim down on the Little Sioux. Shortly after that some half dozen claims were taken over on the Little Sioux, the earlier ones by Moses Miller, Andrew Oleson, Gunder and Omen Mattheson. A little later H. Meeker and Mr. Close commenced their enterprise of building a mill on the outlet which they abandoned a couple of years later. Before the close of the war this settlement was reinforced by R. R. Wilcox .and Hiram Davis, who also took claims on the Sioux. This little settlement, although insignificant in numbers, was important from the fact that it was the first point reached after crossing a forty mile prairie, in coming from Sioux City by way of Peterson and Cherokee. lose Miller's shack was small and dirty and inconvenient but the light from his window looked mighty cheerful and encouraging to a person who had been toiling all day through the snow across that inhospitable prairie without meeting a human being or seeing a vestige of anything indicating the existence of civilized life.
We will now resume the current of events which we have been considering as having occurred in the fall of 1857 and the winter of 1857 and 1858. Under the old constitution, we had two fall elections, one in August when the county officers were chosen, and one in October when state and legislative officers were elected. The August election has already been noticed. This county at that time was embraced in the Fort Dodge representative district. C. C. Carpenter and John F. Duncombe, both of Fort Dodge, were the opposing candidates. The vote of this county was almost unanimous for Carpenter. After the vote had been duly canvassed and certified to, then the question arose how were the returns to be sent in in time to be counted. There was no postoffice and no mails, and it was not known that any person was going out by whom the returns could be sent in time. In this dilemma it became necessary for some one to volunteer to carry in the returns. It was finally arranged that R. A. Smith should take them to Fort Dodge, but fortunately, on reaching the Des Moines River, on the evening of the first day out he fell in with R. E. Carpenter, a brother of C. C., who was on his way to the lakes for the purpose of getting them. The election was very close, the returns from this county deciding it in favor of Carpenter, and the county has stood by him loyally ever since.
The winter of 1857 and 1858 was a remarkably mild one and in marked contrast with the one previous. There was no difficulty in getting in a sufficient supply of provisions. The hard times did not affect the people here so seriously then as later. The total number wintering at the lakes that winter was not far from forty. At this time there had been erected about a half dozen cabins in the immediate region of the old fort, and they made up in high sounding names what they lacked in pretentious appearance. The "St. Charles" was a one room log cabin, with a large stone fireplace in one end, while a short distance from it was the "St. Cloud," a cabin about twelve by fourteen feet and about seven feet high with a half window and a dirt roof. Still further on was the "St. Bernard," where three or four of the boys divided their time that winter between reading Shakespeare and playing seven-up.
Although no outbreak had occurred, many entertained serious apprehensions of danger from the Indians. While there was no serious alarm felt, all acknowledged the necessity of being on the alert and keeping a sharp lookout for danger. At one time, in order to allay the fears of the women and children, system of standing sentry was adopted, whereby two men were selected each night to do duty as .a kind of picket guard by patrolling the immediate neighborhood of the fort and cabins. After a while this became monotonous and was finally abandoned.
A small party of Indians representing themselves as belonging to Little Crow's band from the Yellow Medicine Agency, put in an appearance here some time in January. They claimed to belong to the same party that had rendered such signal service in rescuing Mrs. Marble and Abigail Gardner from the Indians the previous year. They camped in Center Grove, and remained there about six weeks, when they returned to Minnesota. The leader of this band called himself Little John, and claimed to be a son of Little Crow, which claim was afterwards known to be false. Little Crow was not so well known then as he was later. Later in the winter a party near Peterson, in Clay County, had a brush with a small party of Indians. Mr. Jareb Palmer, of Spirit Lake, who was then carrying the mail from there to Sioux City, was a member of the party. After a running fight for about an hour, in which one or two were slightly wounded, but no one seriously, the settlers drew off, leaving the Indians in possession of the field.
This affair created a considerable alarm, and it was decided to apply to the state for protection. A meeting was called at the "old fort" to consider the situation, and a committee appointed to draw up a petition and present the matter to the state authorities. The legislature was in session. A statement of the affair and a petition to the legislature asking immediate assistance was drawn up. Mr. Jareb Palmer was selected to take the petition to Des Moines and lay it before the authorities.
C. C. Carpenter represented this district. He took hold of the matter in earnest, and in the shortest time possible, a bill was passed providing for the raising of a company of volunteers for the defense of the northwestern frontier. The company was raised principally in Hamilton and Webster Counties, though not entirely. Upon .arriving at the lakes, the captain was authorized to enlist ten additional men from the settlers here. The names of these additional enlistments were as follows: A. Kingman, J. Palmer, E. Palmer, W. Donnelson, J. D. Hawkins, George W. Rogers, Charles Clark, William Carslev, William Allen and one other whose name is unknown. It was organized by the election of .Henry Martin of Webster City, Captain; William Church of Homer, First Lieutenant; and a Mr. Jewett of Border Plains, Second Lieutenant. It was the wife of Lieutenant Church who acted so heroic a part in the defense of the cabin of Mr. Thomas at Springfield against the attack of the Indians the spring before.
This company arrived upon the frontier about the last of February or first of March, and was divided into three squads; Captain Martin, with the main squad, making his headquarters at the old fort at Spirit Lake; Lieutenant Church with one squad .at Peterson, and Lieutenant Jewett with the remaining one at Emmet. This company had nothing to do with the force known as the Northern Border Brigade, which was not organized until some three years later.
This force was kept on duty until about the first of July, when they were ordered off, but not disbanded. In the fall of 1858, upon the earnest representations of .a large majority of the inhabitants, they were again ordered into service and kept on duty along the frontier until the following spring, when they were discharged. This was the last of any military operations until the breaking out of the war in 1861.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DICKINSON COUNTY MAIN PAGE