|On the date after father’s funeral, October 14,
1844, a man brought a load of flour father had bought in Iowa
City, piling it up under the porch where also two barrels of
salt were stored as father had been making arrangements for a
stock ranch. An Indian Runner stopped and talked to Peter
Kramer. From what I could learn, he had been sent by Big Chief
to the settlement at Paris, now called Valley post office to
see if they could buy some salt and flour. Ponies tired, we camp
at German Creek. The Indian produced a pair of fine moccasins.
Swap? J. Peter wanted them bad, to put on his wooden shoes in
place of socks while working in a shop during the winter. He
gave a pint of whiskey and 25 cents for them. The Indian never
let up tasting it till the bottle was empty. Kramer tried to
stop him, saying, "Indian heap far to go." It was then near
sundown. To show his agility, he leaped up to make heap run,
imitating the deer by an upward spring, in a good 200 yard run,
he soon disappeared out of sight over the prairie.
J. Peter Kramer and John Schuster went to bed "up
stairs" that is, up under the roof – at about 9 o’clock. John
Joseph Kramer arrived from Burlington, sitting by the chimney,
he was relating the latest news; three Mormons having attacked a
German family, had killed the old man; his son-in-law had then
brained one of the Mormons with an old musket. It had been
rumored that the German family has some 200 to 300 dollars in
the house. Kramer had two big watch dogs, one of them he had
bought from an Indian. It was a large and savage beast. Mother
and Anna Marie were listening to this tragic story,
congratulating themselves on having watchful dogs and three
trusty men to protect them. I had just gone to bed too, and
John Joe was also about to climb up the ladder to turn in, when
a knock at the door was heard, he returned to listen; another
knock, this time louder. John Joseph called Han Peter to hurry
and come down, there are some people outside, and no barking
from the always watchful and fierce dogs. Everyone in the house
was greatly alarmed. In the mean time I had taken down fathers
gun, which was hanging on the wall in easy reach of my bed.
After replacing the cap I put a little fowling piece under the
bed cover, aside of me with my hand under the lock awaiting
further development. Han Peter came down the ladder double
quick reaching up for an old gun that had refused to go off,
having been loaded for more than six months and well rusted up,
threateningly holding it up in his right hand he demanded, "Who
is out there?" A strong guttural voice replied, "aha."
We all felt pretty relieved when we found that it
was only Indians. Han Peter partly opened the door. A very
large Indian with a long barreled rifle before him, tried to
enter, but Han Peter, assisted by John Joe, pushed the door
against the Indian, fastening him for a moment in the entrance,
saying to him, Indian man can come in but not with gun." To
this the Indian replied, pointing to his gun: "Only one gun, you
have gun, boy has gun too." Like a flash of lightening it
dawned upon my comprehension as the chief’s eyes pierced into
mine, that some of his "braves" must have been guilty of a
violation of the rules of refined society, by looking in the
only window. I shoved my hands above the bed cover, he then
placed his long barreled rifle near the door and came in and with
him eleven others all unarmed, one of them, a fine young boy of
about 15 years, who brought in his bow and arrow.
The chief seemed very much surprised to see mother and Anna
Marie, a regular family in there, as Peter Kramer and myself
were the only ones the Indians could see in the afternoon while
making his moccasin swap, evidently seeing the pile of flour,
the barrels of salt and a barrel of whiskey in a cave, had come
to the conclusion, that this was a regular trading post and had
so reported to the chief, which we understood was Keokuk, but we
thought that he claimed to own Keokuk County.
As soon as the chief’s eyes rested on mother, he
said, "Bonjour madame! Parlez avous francais?" She replying in
french, asking them to sit down on long benches.
Peter Kramer handed the chief his long German
porcelain pipe, the chief looked with apparent interest at the
long stem and then told mother that he wanted to buy some salt
and a hundred pounds of flour. She let him have it at cost; he
paid 50 cents in silver and a two dollar bill for the flour.
The bill proved afterwards to be a counterfeit but the Indians
Motioning to him, mother said: Allons Monsieurs!"
but they hesitated, they wanted some whiskey. It was explained
to them that we did not keep a store. The chief then requested
to give each a petite glassful, so mother instructed Han Peter
to give each a little whiskey glass full. Then they filed out,
the boy first and the chief, who bid mother goodbye like a
French gentleman, last.
On the next day the 15th of October six
inches of snow fell, the following day these same Indians passed
by riding single file. The chief, a grand looking man, was
mounted on a Kentucky bred animal; the rest rode common Indian
ponies. The chief only dismounted, apologizing to mother for
coming that night, she shook hands with him and learned from him
that he was bound for St. Louis.