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FOR SEVERAL years there had been among the old settlers a feeling in favor of erecting a suitable monument to the memory of the victims of the massacre of 1857, and as the years went by and as the people became more and more interested in preserving the history of that tragic event, this feeling became intensified and it remained for the Twenty-fifth General Assembly to take final and successful action in the matter.


Doubtless one of the chief factors in awakening public sentiment on this point was the procuring, largely through the efforts of Hon. Charles Aldrich, the memorial tablet in the Webster City courthouse which commemorates the labors and sufferings of the company from that town in the disastrous march to Spirit Lake in 1857 The dedication of this tablet was an interesting occasion. Governor Larrabee presided and addresses were made by Ex-Governor Carpenter, Hon. J. F. Duncombe, Hon. C. B. Richards, Charles Aldrich and many others, and much enthusiasm prevailed. This seemed to be the first awakening of the people to the fact that the most tragic event in the history of Iowa had hitherto received but little notice.


The Spirit Lake Beacon of July 25, 1895, in referring to this subject, has the following:


"Measures looking to this end had been previously introduced and received the sanction of one legislative branch, but it remained for the last assembly to make the laudable enterprise successful. Following is the law in question:


" `An act to provide for the proper interment of the remains of pioneers on Okoboji and Spirit Lakes, massacred by the Sioux Indians in 1857, and for the erection of a commemorative monument.


" `Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa:


" `Section 1. That there is hereby appropriated out of any money in the state treasury not otherwise appropriated the sum of five thousand dollars or so much thereof as may be necessary for the purposes hereinafter provided.


" `Sec. 2. That the remains of all persons killed by Inkpadutah's band of Sioux Indians in the vicinity of the Dickinson County lakes, in March, 1857, be collected and properly interred.


" `Sec. 3. That a monument fittingly commemorative of this tragic event be erected, upon which shall be inscribed the names of all persons who lost their lives at that time at the hands of the savages.


" `Sec. 4. That grounds suitable for these purposes shall be selected near the scene of the tragedy, title to which shall be acquired and remain in the state of Iowa.


" `Sec. 5. That said grounds shall be purchased, re-interments made and monument erected before the 4th day of July, 1895.


" 'See. 6. A special commission composed of five members shall be appointed by the governor of the state to carry out the provisions of this act, and to take all needful action in the premises consistent with the spirit of the statute. They shall have entire management and control of the funds herein appropriated, which shall be paid out on bills approved by the commission. They shall file with the auditor of state a full and complete account of all expenditures, and shall, also report to the governor their proceedings in this connection upon the completion of their labors. The said commission shall serve without compensation.'



"Only four negative votes were cast in the senate and but few in the house. The bill ,as introduced named the commissioners, but to please a captious legislator, this clause was stricken out upon the floor. Governor Jackson, however, promptly appointed as commissioners the parties originally named, to-wit: Hon. C. C. Carpenter, Hon. John F. Duncombe, Hon. R. A. Smith, Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp and Hon. Charles Aldrich. The commission proceeded to the performance of its duties practically and vigorously. Though given until the fourth of July to complete the work, the structure was read: to turn over by the contractors early in the spring. Speaking of construction, it may be said that in material and workmanship it is up to the best standards. The shaft is fifty-five feet in height, composed of Minnesota granite, with alternate sections highly polished. The base upon which the pile rests is fourteen by fourteen feet, the lower course in the shaft is five by five feet. The top is in the form of an arrow head.


"The inscriptions are upon bronze tablets about thirty by forty inches, even more durable than granite, and are given below:



All of the essential details relative to the building of the monument are contained in the report of the commissioners to the Governor, made July 4, 1895, which is given below:




"Sir—The undersigned commissioners having in charge the matter of erecting the monument to the memory of the pioneer settlers massacred by Sioux Indians in the vicinity of Okoboji and Spirit Lakes, in 1857, in respectfully submitting their final report, deem it proper to a full understanding of the subject to copy the legislation relating thereto, as follows:


(This act has already been given.)


"As soon as practicable after receiving our commissions we met at the Duncombe House in Fort Dodge, and afterwards at the residence (Gardner cabin) of Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp, near Lake Okoboji, where the massacre was commenced on the 8th day of March, 1857. An organization was effected by appointing Cyrus C. Carpenter, chairman, Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp, secretary; Charles Aldrich, assistant secretary, and John F. Duncombe, attorney. The first action of the commission after organizing was to decide upon the location, which was fixed on the lot south of that owned by Mrs. Sharp—provided it could be secured without expense to the state. This lot, 100x180 feet, was owned by the Okoboji South Beach Company, who promptly conveyed it as a free gift t to the state of Iowa for this purpose. An advertisement was then prepared and published in several newspapers asking for plans and bids for the erection of the proposed monument, the commissioners reserving to themselves the right to accept any plan or bid or reject all that might be made. The meeting for the examination of the plans and bids took place at the Gardner cabin on the 20th day of June, 1894. Upon a full and careful examination of the several propositions, many of which possessed high merit, it was decided to accept that of P. N. Peterson, doing business under the name of P. N. Peterson Granite Company, of St. Paul, Minn. This contemplated a shaft fifty-five feet high above the foundation, in alternate blocks of rough and polished Minnesota granite, with a die of 6x6 feet, upon which should be placed four bronze tablets—for the sum of $4,500. The inscriptions placed upon the tablets may be described as follows : On the east, the list of murdered settlers ; on the west, a complete roster of the relief expedition commanded by Major William Williams; on the south, historical memoranda relating to the loss of Captain J. C. Johnson and Private W. E. Burkholder, the list of settlers who escaped from Springfield (now Jackson), Minn., etc. ; and on the north, the coat of arms of Iowa, with these words : `Erected by order of the Twenty-fifth General Assembly of the State of Iowa.'



"While the time for the completion of the entire work as stipulated in the act was fixed for the 4th of July, 1895, it was completed and ready for acceptance in March preceding that date. A meeting was therefore held on the monument grounds on the 14th day of March, 1895, at which the work was carefully examined ,and formally accepted by the commission, the contractor's bill for the cost of its erection approved, :end the auditor of state requested to issue his warrant upon the state treasury for the payment thereof. In this connection it is but just to say that, in the judgment of the commission, Mr. Peterson carried out every stipulation of his bond and contract, giving to our state a work which in its beauty of design and durability of its material, and the honesty with which it was built, is without a rival in the Northwest. This is also the unanimous judgment of, all who have examined the monument.


"To Mr. R. A. Smith of the commission was assigned the duty of grading the grounds, superintending the construction of the monument, including the foundation, and gathering together and reinterring the remains of the murdered persons. These last were buried in one broad grave on the east front of the monument.


"To Charles Aldrich was assigned the work of preparing the inscriptions for the tablets.


"The following is a recapitulation of the expenses incurred and paid in this undertaking:


J. & R. Lamb, for tablet designs and drawings        $ 30.00

The contract price paid to P. N. Peterson               4,500.00

Expenses allowed to C. C. Carpenter                          40.67

Expenses allowed to John F. Duncombe                    11.00

Expenses allowed to R. A. Smith                              252.88

Expenses allowed to Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp      118.33

Expenses allowed to Charles Aldrich                          44.82


Total                                                                     $4,997.70

Amount of appropriation                                        5,000.00

Balance unexpended                                                    2.30


"In concluding their duties the commission respectfully beg to suggest that provision should be made by the legislature for providing the monument lot with a permanent fence. Regulations should also be made for the appointment of a custodian and the care of the grounds.


"All of which is respectfully submitted.


"July 4, 1894.








"To Hon. Frank D. Jackson,

"Governor of Iowa.

"Des Moines."


This report was made on the fourth of July, but was not filed with the Governor until the sixteenth of October. The time set for dedicating the monument and turning it over to the state was the twenty-fifth of July. The commissioners were all present on that occasion except Mr. Duncombe, who was in Europe. The following description of the dedication_ of the monument is from the Spirit Lake 'Beacon of July 26, 1895:












"The lake region witnessed yesterday a most unique and interesting ceremony. It was a ceremony which brought face to face with history over five thousand people who flocked by excursion train, ,and wagon, and boat, and bike from the country within a radius of fifty miles to monument place, near Arnold's Park. In Massachusetts, where trod the armies of the Revolution and where lived the great patriots of those stirring times, it is not strange to see shafts of marble to commemorate the achievements of the patriots of that day. Somehow we feel that because a century or more has removed them from us that only there can we reach out and touch with our very hand heroic history. But yesterday, on the shore of beautiful West Okoboji, sun-kissed and breeze-fanned, a shining pearl in the great heart of the waving green and sheaved gold of the agricultural Northwest, although but thirty-eight years have wrought out their drama of life, history stood forth in its crystallization and granite and bronze and five thousand people reached out their hands and touched the hem of her garment.




"And it was not only a large crowd of people who gathered to witness the ceremonies of dedication of the monument. It was a historic gathering. On the stage were Ex-Governor Carpenter, who marched with the relief expedition from Fort Dodge, and who in that short campaign endured more actual suffering and privation than in all his four years' experience in camp and march during the Rebellion; Judge Hendershott, of Ottumwa, one of the first district judges in the new state of Iowa; Mrs. I. A. Thomas, one of the survivors of the Springfield attack, whose eight-year-old son, Willie, was killed, and whose husband lost an arm in the repulse of the reds; Jareb Palmer, who was in the Thomas cabin and assisted in repulsing the Indians, and who now lives at Lakefield, in Minnesota; Hon. R. A. Smith, president of the day, who is the oldest pioneer here, one of the relief party to bury the dead; Hon. Charles Aldrich, who was then in the east for his printing outfit for the Hamilton Freeman, the Webster City paper founded by him, and who now is bending all his energies to the preservation of historic records of Iowa; Hon. Charles E. Flandrau, the Indian agent who rescued Abide Gardner; Chetanmaza, the Dacotah brave, whose shrewdness accomplished the redemption of the girl Abbie Gardner; Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp, the girl of 13, the sole survivor of the Spirit Lake massacre, who was taken captive and who now lives in the original cabin of her father, in which he and the rest of his family were killed; Col. Warren S. Dungan, lieutenant governor of Iowa; W. S. Richards, Governor Jackson's private secretary; State Auditor McCarthy, Senator Rowen, of Clarion; Judge Given, of the supreme court ; Senator Henderson of Pocahontas, and a number of others.




"On the platform a little northwest of the monument these historic characters, state officials, speakers and musicians had their places. The crowd was comfortably seated—all who could secure seats when the exercises began—when Chairman Smith's watch said two o'clock, with a few preliminary announcements, he asked Rev. John E. Rowen, a member of the last senate, to offer invocation, who breathed a beautiful benediction upon the great assembly. The president then gave the preliminary address of the exercises, as follows:


"Ladies and Gentlemen: It is unnecessary for me to recapitulate the circumstances or enumerate the reasons for our assembling here today. All are more or less familiar with the history of the events we have met to commemorate and it is not necessary at this time to enter into a detailed account of the bloody tragedy which thirty-eight years ago was enacted on this very spot. It has pleased the state of Iowa, through her legally chosen representatives, to provide for the erection of a suitable monument to commemorate the labors, sufferings and sacrifices of the devoted band of pioneers who in an early day pushed out far beyond the confines of civilization and endeavored to build homes for themselves and their posterity in this land of romance and this region of mystery, and who, after suffering incredible hardships, fell victims to governmental stupidity and stubbornness on the one hand and savage ferocity on the other.


"It is difficult now to comprehend the circumstances or divine the motives which induced these early pioneers to thus turn their backs upon civilization and put so many miles of trackless prairie between themselves and the settled portions of the country. But such has ever been the story of the American pioneer.


"There seems to have arisen at this time all over the country an awakened interest in the history of important events and a desire to perpetuate and transmit that history to coming generations. This spirit is manifesting itself in different places by the erection of memorials and monuments upon historic spots made memorable by deeds of noble daring, of patient endurance and heroic suffering.


" Many of the states are erecting monuments upon the principal battle grounds of the late war wherever their own brave regiments fought hardest or lost heaviest, and it is but meet and proper that the state of Iowa, while she is spending her hundreds of thousands of dollars in giving fitting recognition to the glorious deeds of her brave soldiers and sailors who fought and bled on so many battlefields, should also in her sovereign capacity give recognition to the smaller and less pretentious, though not less deserving, band of patriots and heroes who, taking their lives in their hands, struck far out on her northwestern border and after braving dangers such as fall to the lot of but few, finally gave their lives as a sacrifice to their intrepidity and courage.


"It is meet and fitting that to the pioneer the same as the soldier should be accorded the meed of praise and recognition, and the erection on this spot of this beautiful column is a just, though long delayed, tribute to the memory of the brave and hardy, though unpretentious and unpretending, band of settlers who sacrificed their lives in their attempts to build them homes on this then far away northwestern frontier.


"Where is the good, it may be asked, of these memorial services ? We can do nothing for the dust and ashes smouldering there. 'Tis true, and yet we have high authority for memorial services. When the great Creator finished his work and saw that it was good, he decreed that as a memorial of that event one day in seven should be set apart as a perpetual reminder of the great achievement. When the waters of the flood receded from the base of Mount Ararat, God made a covenant with man as a memorial or reminder of that event, and said: 'I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth and it shall come to pass when I bring a cloud over the earth that the bow shall be seen in the cloud and the bow shall be in the cloud.'


"So in His dealings with His chosen people many and significant are the memorial occasions established by divine authority. The feast of the Passover, the feast of Pentacost, the feast of the Tabernacles and many other festival occasions were memorials commemorating the interposition of the Almighty Power for the deliverance of His people. When the greatest of all earthly tragedies was nearing completion, and the Savior of men gave to his disciples the emblems of His broken body and spilled blood, and admonished them `Do this in remembrance of Me,' He established a memorial occasion that has been faithfully observed by His followers in all parts of the world for near two thousand years.


"Also in our time we have our memorial occasions, established by state or government authority, or the common consent and usage of our people. Only two years ago we witnessed at the White City the wonderful spectacle of all civilized nations bringing together their choicest treasures and placing them on exhibition as a memorial commemorating the trials and triumphs of the great Admiral whose genius, courage and fortitude opened the way for the development of the American continent The general observance of our national birthday as a memorial occasion is but a fulfillment of the prophecy of old John Adams on the floor of Congress when he said, `We will make this a glorious and immortal day.'


"Another memorial occasion in which our people manifest deep interest is our soldiers' memorial day, the day on which by common consent our people meet to strew the garlands of affection and grateful remembrance on the graves of our fallen heroes. Thus have I noticed a few of the memorial occasions which have come to be generally recognized and observed. Courage and hardihood, intrepidity and self-denial, suffering and sacrifice, all these have in all ages been deemed worthy the limed of praise and recognition, and whether exhibited by the victorious general at the head of his army on the field of battle, or the humble and unpretentious settler on the northwestern border, are equally worthy the respect and admiration of a grateful people.


"When we contemplate the dangers braved, the hardships and privations endured, and the final suffering and sacrifice which fell to the lot of the victims whose dust and ashes have been gathered together and interred in this historic spot, we can but feel that at the best the ceremonies and memorial exercises of the present occasion would he but a lame and imperfect tribute to the brave deeds they are intended to perpetuate, were it not for the fact that in paying the last sad tribute of respect to the memory of the victims of savage hate and barbarity, we are paying a deserved tribute to courage and self-denial, endurance and self-sacrifice wherever found, and our exercises on this occasion would be little better than hollow mockery.


"But we have reason to congratulate ourselves that there is a growing interest felt by the people of Iowa in the history and destiny of her early pioneers, and the building of this beautiful monument on this spot made historic by the blood of the victims, who here risked their lives and lost them, is but the logical expression of that awakened interest. Let us hope that this awakening is not ephemeral or temporary, hut that it may, result in rescuing from oblivion much in the history of our state that has been neglected or forgotten. The story told by this memorial shaft is but a faint expression of the toils endured, the dangers braved and the sacrifices made by the unfortunate victims whose remains lie buried here, but it points toward heaven and fitly expresses the hopes and aspirations of untold generations yet to come.


"The Harker family rendered a selection of music and then the president introduced Judge Charles E. Flandrau, the Indian agent who rescued Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp. Chairman Smith introduced him as the man who did more to defend the frontier than any other man, living or dead. Judge Flandrau


said he did not propose to make a speech, but would give a simple narrative of the events which were commemorated today. He gave a trenchant pen picture of the pioneer and then narrated the part he took in the rescuing of Mrs. Sharp. He recounted the facts of the massacre, the flight of the Indians with their captives, the fruitless expedition of the Fort Dodge relief regiment, and the ransom of Mrs. Sharp for $1,000 in blankets, etc., which Indians needed. Perhaps the most interesting part of his address, because it answered an oft asked question, was concerning the immunity of the Indians. It has been often asked, said Judge Flandrau, `why the government never did anything to punish these marauding savages. The answer is plain: Colonel Alexander and myself had a well matured plan to attack Inkpadutah the instant we learned the fate of the captive women. We had five companies of the Tenth infantry at our disposal and could easily have destroyed his entire band, but, unfortunately, just before we were ready to move on the enemy, the whole garrison was ordered to Fort Bridger, Utah, to aid General Albert Sydney Johnson's command in the suppression of an anticipated Mormon outbreak, and before any available troops came to our frontier to replace them, Inkpadutah and his people had passed out of recollection. These malefactors did not, however, go entirely unwhipped of justice. About the latter days of June of the same year of the massacre, I learned of the presence of some of Inkpadutah's people at the Yellow Medicine River, who had come over with a large force of Missouri River Sioux. I at once fitted out a volunteer force of young fellows about the Agency, got fifteen soldiers and a lieutenant from the fort, and attacked the came where they were located, and succeeded in killing Inkpadutah's eldest son, who had been active in all the mischief ; and so ended a very interesting episode in the early history of Iowa and Minnesota. It is safe to say that our Indian troubles are now over, and while we may find cause for rejoicing in this fact, we are compelled to recognize that the advance of civilization, which has annihilated the frontier and disposed of the savages, has also removed the active theater of the pioneer, and thus 'destroyed the most adventurous, interesting and picturesque character in American history.'




"Chairman Smith announced that Hon. 0. C. Howe, one of the first men to spread a report of the massacre, who was on the program, could not be present, but that his paper would be published. He then introduced Lieutenant Governor Dungan, who, on behalf of Governor Jackson, was present to accept the monument with Mr. Richards, the governor's private secretary. He congratulated the commission on giving to the state such an elegant shaft at so remarkably small cost; praised the heroism of the pioneer, dwelt with considerable eloquence upon the scenery about the spot, and commended the spirit of appreciation of heroic services of the pioneer.




was announced to present the monument to the state, represented by Colonel Dungan and Private Secretary Richards. In diction, appropriateness for the occasion and rugged thought, it was the gem of the day. It was a resume of the work of the commission. In their plans and construction of the shaft, Minnesota granite was chosen, both for the historic sentiment of Minnesota's good offices and because it was better and cheaper than eastern granite. He thanked God that Judge Flandrau and Chetanmaza could be here to participate in the celebration of the occasion which makes them certain characters in history. He accredited the design of the tablets, the collection of the names and data to Mr. Aldrich, paying him a glowing tribute for his efficient work. Closing he said: `And now the monument passes into the custody of the state to be cared for and protected as an object lesson in history for the generations to come. It not only commemorates the great tragedy which crimsoned the waters of these lakes, but it will keep alive the memory of a species of American character which will soon become extinct. As we look away to the west, we are impressed that there is no longer an American frontier; and when the frontier shall have faded away, the pioneer will live only in history, and in the monuments which will preserve his memory.'




`"Governor Jackson's private secretary, Hon. W. S. Richards, was presented and accepted the monument in behalf of the state. He spoke of the act of the Twenty-fifth General Assembly as follows:


" `This bill,' continued Mr. Richards, `was approved by his excellency, Governor Jackson, March 30, 1894, and on April 10th he appointed Cyrus C. Carpenter of Fort Dodge, R. A. Smith of Okoboji, Charles Aldrich of Des Moines, John F. Duncombe of Fort Dodge, and Abbie Gardner Sharp of Okoboji, a commission to carry out the provisions of this act. How faithfully they have performed the duties assigned them this beautiful shaft and its surroundings speak for themselves. The successful completion of this monument is due to the fact that every member of the commission was identified with the early settlement and growth of this part of Iowa, and that some of them were actual participants in the stirring events of which this monument is commemorative. Hon. C. C. Carpenter, twice governor of his state, twice elected to congress, and who has held many other positions of trust and confidence, but of all his public services I believe there is none of which he is prouder today than that he carried a gun in the Spirit Lake expedition of 1857.


" 'Rodney A. Smith, a pioneer of Spirit Lake; a member of his state legislature, a man of character and ability who bore the burdens and hardships of the pioneer settler; a man favorably known and highly esteemed by all; a gentleman who has done much to preserve the history of the event; also a member of the expedition that went to the rescue of the settlers.


'Charles Aldrich, a pioneer settler of Hamilton County, the founder and editor of the Hamilton Freeman, chief clerk of the Iowa house of representatives in the years 1860, 1862, 1866 and 1870; a member of his state legislature in 1882; founder of the Iowa Historical Department and its present curator, and who is now devoting all the energies of a trained mind and zealous heart to the work of preserving for future generations the glorious annals of a glorious state, which is to be the monument he will leave to those who shall come after him.


" `John F. Duncombe, another early pioneer of Webster County who commanded Company B, which was one of the companies that hastened to the defense and relief of the sorely pressed settlers of this community, and who came near losing his life through exposure during that campaign, and who since that time both as a legislator and citizen lags left his impress bison the laws and institutions of his state.


" `Abbie Gardner Sharp, the sole survivor of that terrible massacre, whose presence here today, together with her friend, Chetanmaza, who was her rescuer and defender during the darkest and most terrible hours of her life, adds a living interest to this occasion.


"'This commission needs no words of commendation at my hands. To say they have discharged each and every duty well is only faintly expressing that which is due them. The labor they have performed and the time that they have given planning and erecting this monument has been a labor of love to the memories of those who were so cruelly massacred by Inkpadutah's savage band.


"`In accordance with the act passed by the General Assembly, they are to receive no compensation for their services. They will, however, in the years to come receive from those who dwell here and from those who visit this beautiful lake country each returning year, the benediction, 'Well done, good and faithful servants."


One of the pleasant things of the event was a telegram from Hon. John F. Duncombe, who could not get over from London, England, yesterday to attend the ceremonies. It was as follows:




" `To Hon. C. C. Carpenter, President of Spirit Lake Monument Commission:


" `I congratulate you and my colleagues of the commission on the final act of dedication and unveiling of the monument which commemorates the most important and saddest event in the history of our beloved Iowa. All glory and honor to the noble pioneers who died; to those who lost their lives in the effort to rescue the survivors, and to the great-hearted and happy people who have commemorated these worthy deeds. God bless Iowa. My wife joins me in every sentiment.


" 'John F. Duncombe'




"Mrs. C. H. Bennett, of Pipestone, Minn., then recited a beautiful poem, historic in incident and lofty in patriotism. While the choir was rendering more music the two Indians Chetanmaza and Marpiyandinape were escorted to the platform by Mrs. Sharp and a photograph was taken of the whole scene, monument, Indians, commissioners, etc. Short speeches were then made by Hon. A. V. Stout of Grundy County and Sam G. Sloane, of Charles City. Mrs. Thomas, her son and Mr. Palmer, survivors of the Springfield fight, were introduced and applauded, and the exercises which commemorates the first state monument were at a successful end."