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DISAGREEMENTS AND JEALOUSIES—THE TROOPS ORDERED BACK TO THE LAKES—JOHN CAMPBELL AND HIS BAND OF INDIANS—TWO RECOGNIZED AS MEMBERS OF INKPADUTAH'S BAND—ARE ARRESTED BUT MAKE THEIR ESCAPE—CAMPBELL TRIED AND HUNG FOR MURDER AT MANKATO—“BAD HAIL” AND HIS BAND—INDIAN MEDICAL PRACTICE—QUARREL OVER THE STEAM MILL—ATTEMPT TO REPLEVIN THE LOGS—A FIGHT PREVENTED BY AN UNLOOKED -FOR CIRCUMSTANCE —UMPASHOTA AND HIS BAND—THE FIRST SCHOOL A PRIVATE ONE—THE FIRST TERM OF THE DISTRICT COURT—PRESCOTT DISPOSES OF HIS TUSCULUM CLAIMS.
WHEN we now look back and consider the obstacles that met the early settler at every stage of his progress at this time, the only wonder is that any exhibited the energy, hardihood and pluck necessary to overcome them and gain a foothold under such adverse conditions. As might be expected, jealousies and differences of opinion began to manifest themselves as different and apparently conflicting interests began to develop.
One question on which the sentiment was divided was the policy of applying for troops, as a protection against the Indians. One portion insisted that, from the exposed position of the settlement on the frontier, we were liable at any moment to be attacked by the Indians and swept out of existence before any aid could be obtained or resistance made. On the other hand, it was .argued by those who were opposed to applying for troops, that inasmuch as the large bodies of savages had left the country, there was really no danger, and that the act of asking for troops for the purpose of protection had the appearance and effect of advertising to the world that there was danger and that this was dangerous ground to occupy, thus preventing emigration. The consequence was petitions and remonstrances went in from both sides, each side representing the condition of affairs as viewed from its own standpoint.
It will be remembered that the troops stationed here the previous winter had been called in in the spring, but not discharged, the organization having been kept intact, and the proposition was to have this body of troops ordered into service .again. This plan finally prevailed. The troops were ordered back here in the fall of 1858, and kept here until their discharge in the spring of 1859.
In the fall of 1858 the first election was held under the new constitution. In the Fourth Judicial District, Hon. A. W. Hubbard, of Sioux City, was elected District Judge and Hon. O. C. Howe, of Spirit Lake, District Attorney.
The winter of 1858 and 1859 was not marked by any event out of the ordinary other than has been related. The more timid suffered from continued apprehensions of Indian troubles. There apprehensions were somewhat intensified by the arrival at the lakes, some time in January, of a party of Indians in charge of a half-breed by the name of John Campbell, who acted as chief and interpreter. These Indians claimed to be friendly, but a couple of trappers from the Des Moines River, by the names of John Dodson and Henry Chiffen, who were trapping ,at the lakes at the time, claimed to recognize two of them as having belonged to Inkpadutah's band. They had been trapping along the Des Moines River for a year or two and had frequently come in contact with the Indians. It will be remembered that Mr. Chiffen was one of the messengers who went from Springfield to Fort Ridgley for help after learning of the massacre at the lakes and before the attack on Springfield. Dodson and Chiffen both claimed to identify two of Campbell's men as belonging to Inkpadutah's band, and presumably, as participating in the massacre at the lakes.
Acting upon this information, Captain Martin determined to arrest them and send them to Des Moines, that their case might be investigated. A detail of soldiers was made for that purpose, and the party started, arriving at Mahan's place on the Des Moines River the first day. During the evening the Indians were very uneasy and kept going in and out of doors, and kept their guards busy looking after them. Finally about nine o'clock in the evening they both went out at the same time, the guards accompanying them. When a short distance from the house they commenced talking to each other by the usual Indian grunts, when all at once they both dropped their blankets to the ground and springing away from their guards, started on the run and were soon lost iii the darkness. The surprised guards returned next day to headquarters, where they were most unmercifully nagged by their comrades for allowing their prisoners to escape them so easily. The balance of the band were kept prisoners at Spirit Lake for nearly three weeks, when Captain Martin decided that he had cared for them long enough and the best thing to do would be to send them back to the agency at once. Accordingly he dispatched a squad of eight or ten men in charge of A. Kingman to escort them out of the state. Kingman and his men accompanied them as far as they could and be sure of getting back to the fort the same day. Then they left them with orders to get back to the agency as soon as possible and not try to visit the lakes again. Upon arriving at Marble Grove on his return, Kingman fell in with a squad of four or five soldiers and as many Indians who had been sent out by the commandant at Fort Ridgley to look after Campbell and his party. Kingman and his men followed a different route on their return than they did on going out. This accounts for their not falling in with the other party earlier in the day. The sergeant in charge at once enquired for news of Campbell's party, when Kingman proceeded to tell them the whole story. This the sergeant and his men accepted as true, but the Indians were suspicious, and one of them, a strapping big fellow who could talk English stepped before him and looking him square in the face, exclaimed: "You lie! God damn you. You have killed those Indians." Except for the presence of the soldiers there might have been serious trouble then and there, but they soon had the Indians cooled down and started at once for Fort Ridgley, and as was afterwards learned, overtook Campbell's party when about half way there.
As before stated, Campbell was a half-breed, and at the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion, in company with several half-breeds and Indians, enlisted and went south, but were soon after discharged for disability. It was a curious fact that came to the surface during the war that the Indians and half-breeds enlisted from Minnesota could not withstand the hardships and vicissitudes of camp life at all in comparison with the volunteers. After his discharge, Campbell returned to Minnesota, where he lived a kind of roving life along the Minnesota River in the vicinity of Mankato and New Ulm. Later on he was accused of the murder of the Jewett family, on Elm Creek in Minnesota. He was taken to Mankato, tried, found guilty and hanged.
Another party of Indians visited the lakes that winter that may as well be noticed here .as anywhere, inasmuch as the date of their coming cannot be definitely determined, although the incident is vouched for by several credible witnesses. They were in charge of a chief by the name of "Bad Hail," a very old man. They came down from the Northwest, and went into camp in the bend of the Little Sioux west of Milford, in what was then known as the Risling Grove. The first seen of them, two of their number came to the settlement begging for provisions and stated that one of the squaws was very sick. Captain Martin immediately dispatched a squad of troops to the place with orders to bring the Indians to headquarters at once. This order was obeyed. Upon their arrival at the fort the squaw proved, to be really quite sick, whereupon the medicine man of the party proceeded to treat the case in accordance with the most approved methods of Indian practice. They laid her down .at full length upon the floor and then proceeded to deposit gunpowder in small quantities at different places in a circle entirely around her. Then they formed in Indian file and commenced marching around her, chanting their monotonous "Hi Yi, Hi Yi," and every little while touching off one of the deposits of the powder. These incantations were kept up for some time, and the curious thing about the whole matter was that the squaw was soon visibly better and by the next morning was able to resume the journey. The captain sent a squad of men to escort them beyond the state line, giving them strict orders to go back to the agency as soon as possible and stay there.
The discouraging curcumstances under which the settlers labored and the difficulties they encountered were much intensified by the bitter quarrel which about this time broke out among the leading men of the settlement. A steam mill had been purchased the previous year by Howe, Wheelock and Parmenter, and shipped to Iowa City, which was at that time the terminus of the railroad. There was no advance payment made, but one was due before it could be moved from Iowa City. The financial panic coming on at the time it did, the purchasers found themselves without the money necessary to meet the payment they had promised, or even to pay the freight. In this emergency they turned the contract over to Prescott, who paid the freight and assumed the entire obligation for the mill. At the same time he entered into a kind of written agreement with Howe and Wheelock whereby they were to retain a kind of partnership in running the mill. The language of this agreement was somewhat vague, and afterward gave rise to no end of trouble. In the spring of 1858 this mill was lying in the Rock Island depot at Iowa City. The distance to Spirit Lake by the then traveled route was but little short of three hundred miles. For the last two hundred miles of the route the streams were not bridged, the low prairie was under water, the streams were bank full and some of them overflowing. The boiler weighed about four tons; the balance of the machine was in such shape that it could be distributed in such a way as not to overload the wagons. An old government wagon was procured for hauling the boiler. Something like twenty yoke of oxen were required to haul the entire outfit. The train was placed in charge of Mr. Wheelock. The time occupied in bringing it through was something over six weeks, which, considering the obstacles and drawbacks in the way, was a remarkably quick trip.
The mill was located in the grove south of the Okoboji bridge. It was not got into running order until some time in the winter following. Through some misunderstanding or misconstruction of the terms of the contract, a bitter quarrel arose between Doctor Prescott on one side and Howe, Wheelock and Parmenter on the other in regard to the control of the mill. The merits and demerits of that controversy are too voluminous and are not of sufficient importance to be given in detail. The contest was a long and bitter one, and before it was ended most of the people in the county had been drawn into taking sides with one party or the other.
While it would be both impossible and undesirable to give a detailed account of the events entering into this unfortunate controversy, one or two incidents will give some insight into the nature and intensity of it. Prescott, in addition to the Tusculum claims, endeavored to hold the Okoboji Grove and the Gardner place. The Okoboji Grove he had staked off as a town site and was endeavoring to hold it as such under the town site law, although he didn't comply with its provisions very well. The Gardner place he was trying to hold under the preemption law. The mill was located in the northeast part of the Okoboji Grove. A log boarding house about sixteen by thirty feet in size had been built near it, also a blacksmith shop. During the early part of the winter Prescott's men had cut and hauled into the yard where the mill was then being set up, about twelve hundred sawlogs, with the intention of cutting them into lumber as soon as the mill could be started. Howe and Wheelock and their party had thrown all the obstacles they could in the way of starting the mill, they claiming that Prescott was going ahead in violation of their contract.
Among other things they contended he was not complying with the law in relation to his town site claim, and, therefore, that it could be taken by any one who saw fit to file a contest on it. Consequently John Gilbert filed a claim on it under the provisions of the preemption law, and by virtue of so doing claimed ownership of the sawlogs that had been cut and hauled together, and commenced proceedings in the district court to take them out of Prescott's hands by a writ of replevin. C. F. Hill, the sheriff, refused to serve the writ, but they made a short job of removing him by requiring additional bonds and then refusing to accept any he could obtain, and appointing another. Matters came to a crisis on the twenty-second of February, 1859, when the newly appointed sheriff, with a posse of eight or en men with six or eight teams, came to take possession of the logs and deliver them to Mr. Gilbert, whose plan was to remove a portion of the best ones to Spirit Lake to be used in making shingle.
In the meantime Prescott's men had kept pretty well posted on what was going on, and they made up their minds the logs should not go without a fight. Prescott himself was away. He went East some time in December, and his affairs were left in charge of G. H. Bush. The boys made it in their way to be in the millyard when they knew the sheriff was coming. The sheriff's party drove into the yard, where he read his writ to Mr. Bush and gave him a copy. They then commenced the operation of loading the logs, but when one was fairly loaded Prescott's men would grab it and roll it off on the other side. These proceedings were kept up for some little time, the sheriff's men loading a log when Prescott's men would tip it over, some of the time sled and all. In the meantime the conversation between the two parties was more remarkable for strength than for its beauty. In other words, the air was blue with profanity. But there weren't any logs taken away that day.
After two or three hours' wrangling, the sheriff and his party left, and in the evening came back with ,a warrant for the arrest of all those who had been engaged in resisting the service of the writ of replevin. This time he was accompanied by a small squad of soldiers, Captain Martin with his company of state troops being stationed at Spirit Lake at this time. The excitement now ran higher than ever. A majority were in favor of resisting, and it is more than probable that such would have been the outcome except for a very unexpected occurrence. Just as the excitement was at its height and the prospect seemed good for a general scrimmage, a messenger out of breath came running with all his might, stating that Indians were in the grove at the head of Spirit Lake.
The soldiers started for headquarters at once and a majority of the sheriff's posse started for home, regardless of prisoners or sawlogs. The sheriff insisted on taking with him two or three of the leaders and the balance were let off on their promise to appear and answer at the proper time, which they did. As soon as possible, Bush, Mr. Prescott's manager, consulted a lawyer, Judge Meservey of Fort Dodge, and by his advice obtained a counter replevin, which, together with an injunction obtained later on, put a stop to further proceedings, and the matter quietly died down. Gilbert never made any further attempt to get possession.
In the meantime Howe, and Wheelock were determined the mill should not run without their claims to a part ownership were recognized, consequently when the mill was about ready to be started up they went down with quite a party of men and took away the valves from the pump, and some of the minor pieces of machinery, thinking the mill could not be started without sending to the works where it was made and getting duplicates of the parts taken. But Mr. Mastellar, Prescott's engineer, being a very ingenious man, went to work and made new valves and supplied the missing parts. Prescott now obtained an injunction against all of the parties concerned, restraining them from interfering with his work and then started up the mill. In a few days, however, Howe and Wheelock with their men came down again and this time they took parts of the machinery that could not be replaced without sending to the works where the mill was made.
Prescott on his return from the East obtained the requisite papers for arresting the other parties for violating the injunction. He was accompanied by an officer and a posse of men from Webster County, but upon arriving here his men were missing, having skipped to Minnesota to avoid arrest. It seems that one of Captain Martin's men was in Fort Dodge at the time, and on learning what was up rode all night to get ahead of Prescott's party and warn the men. They remained in camp just over the state line for a few days, when that becoming irksome they boldly came back to town, submitted to an arrest and then went before Judge Congleton, who was in sympathy with them, and procured a writ of habeas corpus and were discharged. The first term of the district court for this county, which is mentioned in .another place, coming on soon after this, the injunction was dissolved.
This was but one of the many episodes of this unfortunate quarrel, which was kept up with more or less bitterness until both sides were practically exhausted, but it will be neither interesting nor profitable to follow the details of it further. Taking a retrospective view of the matter it must be admitted that the blame should be about evenly divided.
It is now necessary to go back to where we left the inhabitants in a state of wild excitement over the appearance of a party of Indians in the grove at the head of Spirit Lake.
As soon as possible after the alarm was given, Captain Martin dispatched a small force to the head of the lake to investigate the Indian scare. Upon their arrival there they found old Chief Umpashota with his family and a few followers in camp, who upon seeing the troops were worse scared then they were. The soldiers took the Indians to headquarters as prisoners, where Captain Martin found himself in about the same predicament as the man who drew the white elephant in the lottery. He couldn't keep him, he couldn't sell him, he couldn't give him away, he hated to kill him and what to do with him he didn't know. In this case Captain Martin finally decided to send his prisoners to Fort Dodge and turn them over to the authorities there.
In pursuance of this plan he dispatched Lieutenant Church with .a small detachment of men to carry it out. Church really understood the situation better than Martin himself, and knew that upon arriving at Fort Dodge he would be no better off than he was then; consequently, upon reaching Gillett's Grove he released the Indians upon their promise to stay away from the lakes in the future. This was without doubt the old chief's last visit to Spirit Lake.
No public schools had been established in the county up to this time, and were not until sometime later. A private school was established by Doctor Prescott soon after the arrival of his family in the fall of 1858. Prescott had erected a comparatively convenient and comfortable house during the summer, one room of which was set aside for a schoolroom. The teacher employed was Miss Amanda L. Smith, Prescott's family, with a few outsiders, furnishing the pupils. The expense of this arrangement was borne by Doctor Prescott. It was kept up about a year and a half, or until the spring of 1860. A private school had also been started at Spirit Lake about the same time with Miss Mary Howe as teacher.
The first public school in the county was taught at Okoboji during the winter of 1862 and 1863, Miss Myra Smith, teacher, and will be noticed further.
The first term of the district court in the county was held at Spirit Lake in June, 1859. Judge Hubbard presided, with O. C. Howe, district attorney; Jareb Palmer, clerk of the district court, and Alfred Arthur, sheriff. Attorneys in attendance were B. F. Parmenter, Dickinson County; C. C. Smeltzer, Clay County, and Patt Robb, Woodbury County.
Nearly, if not quite all, of the business of this term grew out of the quarrel heretofore mentioned between Prescott on one side, and Howe, Wheelock and Parmenter on the other. If this quarrel was not the means of breaking up the enterprise of establishing the institution at Tusculum by Doctor Prescott, it certainly hurried up the event, for it demonstrated the fact that it world be utterly impossible for him to hold or maintain his claim to the land he had selected for that purpose, as there was no law under which he could do it. His enemies questioned his honesty and sincerity of motive and claimed that he was holding, or rather endeavoring to hold, all of these choice places simply as .a matter of speculation; that he had no expectation of establishing an institution of learning here, such as he had been describing, and that all of his talk in that direction was cheap bluff just for the purpose of keeping other people from claiming the land.
Add to this the fact that his friends were getting heartily sick and tired of being dragged into quarrels, in which they had no individual concern. Some of the more prominent of these became so thoroughly disgusted with the way things were being managed that they unceremoniously pulled up and left. Among this number were C. F. Hill and G. H. Bush, both of whom had ably and earnestly seconded Doctor Prescott's efforts to gain a foothold, but they could see nothing but contention ahead with no chance for advantage to themselves. Many others felt the same way. Prescott, seeing that he had lost the support, sympathy and confidence of a majority of the inhabitants, decided to abandon the whole project, so far as trying to found the institution was concerned, and sold off his Tusculum claims for what he could get, which was but a nominal suns and a mere fraction of what they cost him.
Looking at the project in the light of subsequent events, it is hardly possible that it could have succeeded even without those early troubles. The claims to the land were bought by Alfred Arthur and disposed of by him to parties who settled upon them at once. These parties were H. D. Arthur, John Francis, John P. Gilbert, Crosby Warner, Peter Ladu and Charles Carpenter, who came from Wisconsin, part of them in 1859 and the balance in 1860. Prescott still retained his claim to Okoboji Grove.
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