Chickasaw County Encounters with Indians

Source: The text of this interview is taken from some miscellaneous papers found by frequent contributer Leonard Granger. Its author is unknown. Narrative transcribed by Leonard Granger. Email Leonard

Interview by Chickasaw woman with lady rescued from Indians that used to pass through Chickasaw Co.

Bands of several tribes of Indians used to camp here, and above and below town -- Pottawatomies, Winnebagoes, and Musguakies. One of the bands has an old man who was said by the tribe to have proofs that he was over a hundred years old. He boasted that he had shot at George Washington. He wore some kind of a uniform, and it was that his was cocked hat. He had to be lifted on and off his pony.

Once a band passed thru the town and a white woman's scalp was found on the bridge after they were gone. The Spirit Lake massacre in March 1857, sent a wave of fear over the country, and for several nights the last thing father did was to see that his rifle and revolver were in order.

I was at Lake Okoboji a few years ago and had a visit with Mrs Abbie Gardner Sharp, who as a girl of 12 had seen her whole family killed by the Indians in that massacre, and she gave me the full details.

She had red hair which might have accounted for the sparing her life, as their is a superstition that such are a favored people, and then she fought them so they called her a "brave squaw." A neighbor woman was also taken, but gave out after a day or two and they killed her.

Two young men from the settlement had gone down as far as Waterloo for provisions and there met a young man who worked at the grist mill, named Robert Clark, who decided to return with them. They got home one after noon and the Indians came the next day and killed them all. When I told her I was living in Waterloo at that time she was interested and talked intimately to me.

Her cabin home stood a few feet away, enclosed by a wooden sheathing for protection, and filled with Indian relics. She lived in a frame house by the cabin and derived an income from the quarters asked for admission to it. A short distance away was the granite shaft erected by the state as a memorial, surrounded by the graves of the slain, poor Robert Clark among them.

It was not at Spirit Lake that the main massacre occurred, but at Lake Okoboji. She was rescued from the Indians by the government in a few years, and she was a bright, keen-eyed old lady when I saw her.