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An Indian Scare

The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Page 359, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



When the settlers of 1836 came to exercise dominion in the territory now included in Jefferson County, the Indians had disappeared as a body. Occasionally, however, some straggling ones would come along to frighten the women and children with their presence, and annoy the heads of households with their begging propensities. But very few of the settlers had ever seen an Indian, but they had heard and read of many of their bloody and cruel acts of atrocity toward frontier settlers. A goodly number of these pioneers were either born in Kentucky, the "dark and bloody ground," or were descendants of parents of that grand old commonwealth, and it would be strange indeed if, when the women came to consider the fact that they were on the frontier, on the grounds the Indians had recently occupied, and that they might come back some time and massacre the settlers, they did not sometimes almost tremble with apprehension. But the Indians came not, only as occasional stragglers and beggars. One of these came to the Lambirth claim in February, 1837; an account of which is thus renedered by Mrs. Lambirth:

"My husband had eaten his breakfast and gone to work about a mile and a half from the house. I was doing up my morning work, when my attention was attracted to the fierce and savage barking of our dog. I went out of the door and looked in that direction and found the dog had an Indian 'treed' on the ash-hopper. I was scared, expecting that the others were concealed near by, but I managed to pacify the dog, and get him away. The Indian got down from the ash-hopper and followed me into the house, where he gave me to understand that he was hungry, and that he wanted something to eat. I gave him some bread, which he stowed away in the folds of his blanket, and then he told me the Indians were coming to kill us. I told him that as I had fed him, he ought to be a good Indian, and that they ought not to kill us for we had never injured them. At last, I got him to go out of the house and to start away. He had hardly got out of sight of the house till our horse and cattle came running up out of the stock-field like they were mad, and believing that they had been scared by the Indians who were coming in force to kill us, I commenced calling at the top of my voice for Thomas and the other men, never thinking but that I could make them hear me, although they were a mile and a half away. But I took a second thought, and catching the horse I mounted him and started for where my husband was at work, screaming at every jump the horse took. At last Thomas heard me and came running to meet me, and wanted to know what the matter was -- if the house was on fire. I told him no, but that were a hundred Indians at the house and that they had come to kill us. We hurried back to the house, but no Indians were in sight. Thomas wanted to know where my hundred Indians were. I told him I didn't know, but that I was certain there had been one, for I had given him something to eat. Husband laughed at my fright which was the first and last Indian scare I ever experienced."

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