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1880 History
Sletches of Black Hawk and Other Chiefs, Keokuk and Wapello

Black Hawk

This renowned chief, the "noblest Roman of them all," was bom at the Sac village on Rock river, about the year 1767. His first introduction to the notice of the whites seems to have been in 1804, when William Henry Harrison, then the Governor of Indiana Territory, concluded his treaty with the Sac and Fox nation for the lands bordering on Rock river. Black Hawk was then simply a chief, though not by election or inheritance, of his own band of Sac warriors, but from that time he was the most prominent man in the Sac and Fox nation. He considered the action of the four chiefs who represented the Indians in making this treaty as unjust and refused to consider  it binding. The territory ceded embraced over fifty-one millions of acres, extending almost from opposite St. Louis to the Wisconsin river. He claimed that the chiefs or braves who made the treaty had no authority to make it, and that they had been sent to St. Louis, where the treaty was negotiated, for quite a different purpose, namely: to procure the release of one of their people who was held there as a prisoner on charge of killing a white man. The United States regarded this treaty as a bona fide transaction, claiming that the lands were sold by responsible men of the tribes, and that it was further ratified by a part of the tribes with Gov. Edwards and Auguste Choteau, in September, 1815, and again with the same commissioners in 1816. They claimed that the Indians were only to occupy the lands at the Sac village on Kock river until they were surveyed and sold by the government, when they were to vacate them. The treaty of St. Louis was signed by five chiefs instead of four, although Black Hawk claimed that the latter number only were sent to St. Louis for a different purpose. One of these was Pash-e-pa-ho, a head chief among the Sacs. Black Hawk himself thus describes the return of the chiefs to Rock Island after the treaty:

"Quash-qua-me and party remained a long time absent. They at length returned, and encamped a short distance below the village, but did not come up that day, nor did any person approach their camp. They appeared to be dressed in fine coats, and had medals. From these circumstances we were in hopes that they had brought good news. Early the next morning the council lodge was crowded. Quash-qua-me came up and said that on their arrival in St. Louis they met their American father, and explained to him their business, and urged the release of their friend. The American chief told them he wanted land, and that they had agreed to give him some on the west side of the Mississippi, and some on the Illinois side, opposite the Jeffreon; that when the business was all arranged, they expected their friend released to come home with them. But about the time they were ready to start, their friend was let out of prison, who ran a short distance, amd was shot dead! This was all myself or nation knew of the treaty of 1804. It has been explained to me since. I find, by that treaty, that all our country east of the Mississippi, and south of the Jeffreon, was ceded to the United States for one thousand dollars a year!"

The treaty was doubtless made in good faith on the part of the commissioners, and with the full conviction that it was by authority of the tribes. From this time forward Black Hawk seems to have entertained a distrust of the Americans.

Although Spain had ceded the country west of the Mississippi to France in 1801, the former power still held possession until its transfer to the United States by France. Black Hawk and his band were at St. Louis at this time, and he was invited to be present at the ceremonies connected with the change qi authorities. He refused the invitation; and in giving an account of the transaction, said:

"I found many sad and gloomy faces, because the United States were about to take possession of the town and country. Soon after the Americans came, I took my band and went to take leave of our Spanish father. The Americans came to see him also. Seeing them approach, we passed out of one door as they entered another, and immediately started in our canoes for our village on Rock river, not liking the change any more than our friends appeared to at St. Louis. On arriving at our village, we gave the news that strange people had arrived at St. Louis, and that we should never see our Spanish father again. The information made all our people sorry."

In August, 1805, Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike ascended the river from St. Louis, for the purpose of holding councils with the Indians, and selecting sites for military posts within the coimtry recently acquired from France. At the mouth of Rock river he had a personal interview with Black Hawk, the latter being favorably impressed with the young lieutenant. Speaking of this interview. Black Hawk himself said:

"A boat came up the river with a young American chief, and a small party of soldiers. We heard of them soon after they passed Salt river. Some of our young braves watched them every day, to see what sort of people he had on board. The boat at length arrived at Rock Island, and the young chief came on shore with his interpreter, and made a speech, and gave us some presents. We, in turn, presented them with meat and such other provisions as we had to spare. We were well pleased with the young chief. He gave us good advice, and said our American father would treat us well."

Lieut. Pike's expedition was soon followed by the erection of Fort Edwards and Fort Madison, the former on the site of the present town of Warsaw, Illinois, and the latter on the site of the present town of Fort Madison, Iowa. When these forts were being erected, the Indians sent down delegations, headed by some of their chiefs, to have an interview with the Americans. Those who visited Fort Edwards returned apparently satisfied with what was being done. The erection of Fort Madison they claimed was a violation of the treaty of 1804. In that treaty the United States had agreed that if "any white persons should form a settlement on their lands, such intruders should forthwith be removed." Fort Madison was erected within the territory reserved for the Indians, and this they considered an intrusion. Some time afterward a party under the leadership of Black Hawk and Pash-e-pa-ho attempted its destruction. They sent spies to watch the movements of the garrison. Five soldiers who came out were fired upon hy the Indians, and two of the soldiers were killed. They kept up the attack for several days. Their efforts to destroy the fort being unsuccessful, they returned to Eock river.

When the war of 1812 broke out, Black Hawk and his band allied themselves with the British, which was the origin of his party, at a later date, being known as the "British Band." In narrating the circumstances which induced him to join the British, he says:

"Several of the chiefs and head men of the Sacs and Foxes were called upon to go to Washington to see the Great Father. On their return they related what had been said and done. They said the Great Father wished them, in the event of a war taking place with England, not to interfere on either side, but to remain neutral. He did not want our help, but wished us to hunt and support our families and live in peace. He said that British traders would not be permitted to come on the Mississippi to furnish us with goods, but that we should be supplied by an American trader. Our chiefs then told him that the British traders always gave them credit in the fall for guns, powder and goods to enable us to hunt and clothe our families. He replied that the trader at Fort Madison would have plenty of goods; that we should go there in the fall, and he would supply us on credit, as the British traders had done."

According to Black Hawk, this proposition pleased his people, and they went to Fort Madison to receive their promised outfit for the winter's hunt, but notwithstanding the promise of the Great Father, at Washington, the trader would not give them credit. In reference to their disappointment, Black Hawk says:

"Few of us slept that night; all was gloom and discontent. In the morning a canoe was seen descending the river; it soon arrived, bearing an express, who brought intelligence that a British trader had landed at Rock Island, with two boats loaded with goods, and requested us to come up immediately, because he had good news for us, and a variety of presents. The express presented us with tobacco, pipes and wampum. The news ran tlirough our camp like fire on a prairie. Our lodges were soon taken down, and all started for Rock Island. Here ended all hopes of our remaining at peace, having been forced into the war by being deceived."

Black Hawk and his band then espoused the cause of the British, who, as in the case of Tecumseh, gave him the title of "Gen. Black Hawk." But a large portion of the Sacs and Foxes, at the head of whom was Keokuk, chose to remain neutral, as well as to abide by the treaty of 1804. Of this party Keokuk was the recognized chief. The nation was divided into the "war party" and "peace party." Black Hawk maintained his fidelity to the British until the end of the war, and was the intimate friend and supporter of Tecumseh, until the death of the latter at the battle of the Thames.

At the close of the war of 1812, Black Hawk returned to his village on Rock river, to find Keokuk still the friend of the Americans, and the recognized war chief of that portion of the Sac and Fox nation which had remained neutral. As stated elsewhere, a new treaty was concluded in September, 1815, in which, among other matters, the treaty of St. Louis was ratified. This treaty was not signed by Black Hawk, or any one representing his band, but was signed by chiefs of both the Sacs and Foxes,who were fully authorized to do so. This treaty was held at Portage des Sioux,and was a result of the war of 1812, with England. In May, 1816, another treaty was held at St. Louis, in which the St. Louis treaty of 1804 was recognized. This treaty was signed by Black Hawk and twenty other chiefs ana braves. The same year Fort Armstrong was erected upon Kock Island, a proceeding very distasteful to the Indians. Of this Black Hawk says:

"We did not, however, object to their building the fort on the island, but we were very sorry, as this was the best island on the Mississippi, and had long been the resort of our young people during the summer. It was our garden, like the white people have near their big villages, which supplied us with strawberries, blackberries, plums, apples and nuts of various kinds; and its waters supplied us with pure fish, being situated in the rapids of the river. In my early life, I spent many happy days on this island. A good spirit had care of it, who lived in a cave in the rocks, immediately under the place where the fort now stands, and has often been seen by our people. He was white, with large wings like a swan's, but ten times larger. We were particular not to make much noise in that part of the island which he inliabited, for fear of disturbing him. But the noise of the fort has since driven him away, and no doubt a bad spirit has since taken his place."

The expedition which was sent up the river to erect a fort at or near Rock Island consisted at first of the Eighth United States Infantry, and started from St. Louis in September, 1815, under the command Col. R. C. Nichols. They reached the mouth of the Des Moines, where they wintered. In April, 1816, Gen. Thomas A. Smith arrived and took command of the expedition. They reached Rock Island on the 10th of May, and, after a careful examination, the site for the fort was selected. The regiment being left under the command of Col. Lawrence, the work on the fort immediately commenced. It was named in honor of John Armstrong of New York, who had recently been Secretary of War.

After the establishment of the fort and garrison at Rock Island, settlements began to be made at and near the mouth of Rock river, on the east side of the Mississippi. Keokuk, as the head chief of the Foxes, with his tribe, in accordance with the treaties they had made with the United States, left in 1828 and established themselves on Iowa river, but Black Hawk and his "British Band" of about 500 warriors remained in their village and persistently refused to leave. The settlers began to complain of frequent depredations at the hands of Black Hawk's people, and feared that the neighboring tribes of Kickapoos, Pottawattamies, and Winnebagoes might be induced to join Black Hawk in a war of extermination. Finally, in the spring of 1831, Black Hawk warned the settlers to leave. These troubles culminated in the "Black Hawk War" and the final capture of the chief and some of his principal men, as related elsewhere. The Black Hawk War ended hostilities with the Indians at or near Rock Island. A garrison, however, was maintained there until 1836, when the troops were sent to Fort Snelling. The fort was left in charge of Lieut. John Beach, with a few men to take care of the property.

After his capture. Black Hawk and several of his principal men were taken to Jefferson Barracks, where they were kept until the the spring of 1833. They were then sent to Washington, where they arrived on the 22d of April, and on the 26th were confined in Fortress Monroe. On the 4th of June, 1833, they were set at liberty by order of the government and permitted to return to their own country.

In the fall of 1837 Black Hawk, accompanied by Keokuk, Wapello, Poweshiek, and some forty of the principal chiefs and braves of the Sac and Fox nations, again visited Washington, in charge of Col. George Davenport who by his influence with the Indians assisted the government in making anothor large purchase of territory in Iowa. This tract adjoined the "Black Hawk Purchase" and embraced 1,250,000 acres.

After Black Hawk's release from captivity in 1833, he seemed unwilling to reside in any of the villages of the tribe. His band was broken up and dispersed, as stipulated in the treaty of peace, and he seemed to seek seclusion from his people. While the garrison remained at Rock Island, he usually lived near it and often put up his wigwam close to the fort, where his vision could take in the beautiful country on the east bank of the Mississippi, which had been his home for more than half a century. But the time came when he must go with his people to the new reservation on the banks of the Des Moines. He was then in the waning years of his life, and the other chiefs of the nation seemed disposed to pay him but little attention. His family consisted of his wife, two sons and one daughter. He established his lodge on the east bank of the Des Moines, about three miles below the site of the present town of Eldon. Gen. Street presented the family with a cow, which was a piece of property which exacted much solicitude and care at the hands of Madame Black Hawk. His lodge was near the trading post of Wharton McPherson; and James Jordan, who was also at that time connected with the post, had his cabin within a few rods of Black Hawk's lodge. This was in the summer of 1838, and the old chief who had defied the power of the United States and caused the expenditure of millions of treasure to subdue him, was nearing his departure for a final remove beyond thei power of earthly governments. Near his lodge, on the bank of the river, stood a large elm tree, with its spreading branches overhanging the stream, and flowing from its ro ots was a crystal spring of pure water. Here during the sultry summer days of that year Black Hawk was wont to repose and dream over the years of his former greatness and the wrongs that his people had suffered. At last, on the 3d of October, 1838, death came to his relief, and, according to the Indian idea, his Spirit passed away to the happy hunting grounds.

The remains of Black Hawt were interred by his family and friends near his cabin on the prairie, a short distance above the old town of lowaville. The body was placed on a board, or slab, set up in an inclining position, with the feet extending into the ground some fifteen inches and the head elevated above the surface some three feet or more. This was enclosed by placing slabs around it with the ends resting on the ground and meeting at the top, forming a land of vault. The whole was then covered with dirt and neatly sodded. At the head of the grave was placed a flag-staff thirty feet high, from which floated the American flag until it was worn out by the wind. Interred with the body were a number of his prized and long-treasured relics, including a military suit presented by Jackson's cabinet; a sword presented by Jackson himself; a cane presented by Henry Clay, and another by a British officer; and three silver medals - one presented by Jackson, one by John Quincy Adams, and the other by citizens of Boston. Near the grave a large post was set in the ground, on which were inscribed in Indian characters, emblems commemorating many of his heroic deeds. The grave and flag-staff were enclosed by a rude picket fence in circular form, ere the body remained until July, 1839, when it disappeared. On complaint being made by Black Hawk's family, the matter was investigated, and it was finally traced to one Dr. Turner, who then resided at a place called Lexington, in Van Buren county. The remains had been taken to Illinois, but at the earnest request of Black Hawk's relatives, Gov. Lucas interposed and had them sent to Burlington. The sons were informed that the remains were in Burlington and went to that place to obtain them. While there it was suggested to them that if taken away they would only be stolen again, and they concluded to leave them where they thought they might be more safely preserved. They were finally placed in a museum in that city, and years after, with a large collection of other valuable relics, were destroyed by the burning of the building. In the meantime the relatives of the renowned chief removed westward with the rest of the tribe, and were finally lost to all knowledge of the white man.


Keokuk (Watchful Fox) belonged to the Sac branch of the nation, and was bom on Rock river in 1780. He was an orator, but was also entitled to rank as a warrior, for he possessed courage and energy, but at the same time a cool judgment. He had an intelligent appreciation of the power and greatness of the United States, and saw the futility of Black Hawk's hope to contend successfully against the government. In his first battle, while young, he had killed a Sioux, and for this he was honored with a feast by his tribe.

At the beginning of the Black Hawk War an affair transpired which was dignified by the name of the "Battle of Stillman's Run" in which some three hundred volunteers under Maj. Stillman took prisoners five of Black Hawk's men who were approaching with a flag of truce. One of the prisoners was shot by StiUman's men. Black Hawk had also sent five other men to follow the bearers of the flag. The troops came upon these and killed two of them. The other three reached their camp and gave the alarm. Black Hawk's warriors then charged upon Stillman's advancing troops and completely routed them. This failure to respect the flag of truce so exasperated the Indians that it was with great difficulty that Keokuk could restrain his warriors
from espousing the cause of Black Hawk. StiUman's defeat was followed by a war-dance, in whicli Keokuk took part. After the dance he called a council of war, and made a speech in which he admitted the justice of their complaints. The blood of their brethren slain by the white men, while bearing a flag of truce, called loudly for vengeance.

Said he: "I am your chief, and it is my duty to lead you to battle, if, after fully considering the matter, you are determined to go. But before you decide on taking this important step, it is wise to inquire into the chances of success. But if you do determine to go upon the war path, I will agree to lead you on one condition, viz.: that before we go we will kill all our old men and our wives and our children, to save them from a lingering death of starvation, and that every one of us determine to leave our homes on the other side of the Mississippi."

Keokuk so forcibly portrayed in other parts of this speech the great power of the United States, and of the hopeless prospect before them, that his warriors at once abandoned all thought of joining Black Hawk. The name Keokuk signified Watchful Fox. As we have seen, he eventually superseded Black Hawk, and was recognized by the United States as the principal chief of the Sac and Fox nation, which, indeed, had much to do in stinging the pride of the imperious Black Hawk. In person he was strong, graceful and commanding, with fine features and an intelligent countenance. He excelled in horsemanship, dancing, and all athletic exercises, He was courageous and skillful in war, but mild and politic in peace. He had a son, a fine featured, promising boy, who died at Keokuk's village on the Des Moines. Keokuk himself became somewhat dissipated during the later years of his life in Iowa. It was reported that after his removal with his people to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi, he died of delirium tremens, Iowa has honored his memory in the name of one of her counties and one of her principal cities.


Appanoose was a chief who presided over a band of the Sacs. His name, in the language of that tribe, signified "A Chief When a Child," indicating that he inherited his position. It was said he was equal in rank with Keokuk, but he did not possess the influence of the latter. He was one of the "peace chiefs" during the Black Hawk War. During the last occupation of Iowa soil by the Sacs and Foxes, Appanoose had his village near the site of the present city of Ottumwa. His people cultivated a portion of the ground on which that city is located. He was one of the delegation sent to Washington in 1837, at which time he visited with the other chiefs [og] the city of Boston, where they were invited to a meeting in Fanueil Hall, On that occasion he made the most animated speech, both in manner and matter, that was delivered by the chiefs. After Keokuk had spoken, Appanoose arose and said: "You have heard just now what my chief has to say. All our chiefs and warriors are very much gratified by our visit to this town. Last Saturday they were invited to a great house, and now they are in the great council-house. They are very much pleased with so much attention. This we cannot reward you tor now, but shall not forget it, and hope the Great Spirit will reward you for it. This is the place which our forefathers once inhabited. I have often heard my father and grandfather say they lived near the sea-coast where the white man first came. I am glad to hear all this from you. I suppose it is put in a book, where you learn all these things. As far as I can understand the language of the white people, it appears to me that the Americans have attained a very high rank among the white people. It is the same with us, though I say it myself. Where we live beyond the Mississippi, I am respected by all people, and they consider me the tallest among them. 1 am happy that two great men meet and shake hands with each other."

As Appanoose concluded his speech, he suited the action to the word by extending his hand to Gov. Everett, amid the shouts of applause from the audience, who were not a little amused at the self-complacency of the orator. But few of the incidents in the life of this chief have passed into history. His name has been perpetuated in that of one of the Iowa counties.


Wapell, or Waupellow, was one of the minor chiefs of the Sac and Fox Nation. He was born at Prairie du Chien in 1787. At the time of the erection of Fort Armstrong (1816) he presided over one of the three principal villages in that vicinity. His village there was on the east side of the Mississippi, near the foot of Rock Island, and about three miles north of the famous Black Hawk village. In 1829 he removed his village to Muscatine Slough, and then to a place at or near where the town of Wapello, in Louisa county, is now located. Like Keokuk, he was in favor of abiding by the requirements of the treaty of 1804, and opposed the hostilities in which Black Hawk engaged against the whites. He was one of the chiefs that visited Washington in 1837, and his name appears to several treaties relinquishing lands to the United States. He appears to have been a warm personal friend of Gen. Jos. M. Street, of the Sac and Fox agency, and made a request that at his death his remains be interred along side of those of Gen. Street, which request was complied with. He died near the Forks of Skunk river, March 15th, 1842, at the age of 55 years. His remains, with those of Gen. Street, repose near Agency City, in the county which honors his memory with its name. The two graves and the monuments have recently been repaired by parties connected with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, whose line passes within a few rods of them.


Poweshiek was a chief of the same rank with Wapello, and near the same age. He also was one of the chiefs who visited Washington in 1837. When the greater portion of the Sac and Fox nation removed to the Des Moines river, he retained his village on the Iowa river, where he presided over what was known as the Musquawkie band of the Sacs and Foxes. In May, 1838, when Gen. Street organized a party to examine the new purchase made the fall before, with a view of selecting a site for the agency, the expedition was accompanied by about thirty braves, under the command of Poweshiek. At that time the Sacs and Foxes were at war with the Sioux, and after leaving their reservation these men were very fearful that they might be surprised and cut off by the Sioux. A small remnant of his band make theit home on Iowa river, in Tama county, at this time. He also remained the friend of the whites during the Black Hawk war, and the people of Iowa have honored his memory by giving his name to one of their counties.


Pash-e-pa-ho, called also the Stabbing Chief, at the time of the treaty of 1804, and until after the Black Hawk war, was head chief among the Sacs. He was also present in St. Louis at the making of that treaty, and was even then well advanced in years. It has been related that he laid a plan to attack Fort Madison, not long after its erection. His plan was to gain an entrance to the fort with concealed arms under their blankets, under a pretense of holding a council. A squaw, however, had secretly conveyed intelligence to the commandant of the garrison of the intended attack, so that the troops were in readiness for them. When Pash-e-pa-ho and his warriors advanced in a body toward the closed gate, it suddenly opened, revealing to the astonished savages a cannon in the passage-way, and the gunner standing with lighted torch in hand ready to fire. Pash-e-pa-ho deemed "discretion the better part of valor" and retreated.

Some time alter the plot against Fort Madison, Pash-e-pa-ho made an attempt to obtain a lodgement in Fort Armstrong, though in quite a different way. Several of his braves had the year before, while out hunting, fell in with a party of their enemies, the Sioux, and had lifted several of their scalps.

The Sioux complained of this outrage to the Department at Washington, and orders were issued demanding the surrender of the culprits. They were accordingly brought and retained as prisoners in Fort Armstrong, where they had comfortable quarters and plenty to eat during the winter. Having fared sumptuously for several months, without effort on their part, they were released on the payment of a small amount out of the annuities of their tribes, to the Sioux. The next fall Pash-e-pa-ho thought he might avoid the trouble of stocking his larder for the winter. So he voluntarily called on the commandant of Fort Armstrong, and informed him that while on a recent hunt he had unfortunately met a Sioux, and had yielded to the temptation to get liis scalp. He confessed that he had done a very wrongful act, and wished to save the Great Father at Washington the trouble of sending a letter ordering his arrest; therefore he would surrender himself as a prisoner. The commandant saw through his scheme to obtain comfortable quarters and good boarding for the winter, and so told him he was an honorable Indian, and that his voluntary offer to surrender himself was a sufficient guarantee that he would appear when sent for. That was the last that was heard of the matter. Pash-e-pa-ho was never sent for.

During the first quarter of the present century the Sacs and Foxes were frequently at war with the lowas. The latter had one of their principal villages on the Des Moines river, near where Black Hawk died many years afterward. It was here that the last great battle was fought between these tribes. Pash-e-pa-ho was chief in command of the Sacs and Foxes. Black Hawk was also a prominent actor in this engagement, but was subject to his senior, Pash-e-pa-lio. Accounts conflict as to the date, but the evidences of the conflict were plainly visible as late as 1824. The Sacs and Foxes surprised the lowas while the latter were engaged in running their horses on the prairie, and therefore unprepared to defend themselves. The result was that Pash-e-pa-ho achieved a decisive victory over the lowas. Pash-e-pa-ho was among the chiefs present at the making of the treaty of 1832, when the " Black Hawk Purchase " was made. He was very much fiven to intemperf^te habits whenever he could obtain liquor, and it is probable that, like Keokuk, he died a drunkard.


Quite prominent among the Sacs and Foxes, after their removal to Iowa, was a man known by the name of Hardfish, or Wish-e-co-ma-qne, as it is in the Indian tongue. He was not a chief, but a brave who rose almost to the prominence of a chief. He adhered to Black Hawk in his hostility toward the whites, and when Black Hawk died, Hardfish became the leaderof his band, composed mostly of those who had participated in the Black Hawk war. When the Sacs and Foxes occupied their reservation on the Des Moines river, Hardfish had his village where Eddyville is now located. It was quite as respectable in size as any of the other villages of the Sacs and Foxes. Hardfish's band was composed of people from the Sac branch of the Sac and Fox nation. One John Goodell was the interpreter for this band. The name of Hardfish was quite familiar to the frontier settlers of Southeastern Iowa.


When, in 1834, Gen. Henry Dodge made a treaty with the Winnebagoes for the country occupied by them in Wisconsin, they were transferred to a strip of land extending west from the Mississippi, opposite Prairie du Chien, to the Des Moines river, being a tract forty miles in width. The chief of the Winnebagoes at that time was Ohos-chun-ca, or Big Wave. Soon after their removal to this reservation. they were visited by Willard Barrows, one of the pioneers of Davenport, who had an interview with Chos-chun-ca. He found him clothed in a bufialo overcoat, and wearing a high crowned hat. His nose was surmounted by a pair of green spectacles. Mr. Barrows held his interview with the chief just south of the lower boundary of the reservation. Chos-chun-ca was quite reticent as to the affairs of his people, and refused permission to Mr. Barrows to explore the Winnebago reservation, being impressed with the idea that the whites had sent him to seek out all the fine country, and that if their lands were found desirable, then the Indians would be compelled to remove again. Mr. Barrows, however, without the chief's permission, passed safely through their territory.


The greater portion of the territory embraced within the limits of Iowa was once occupied by a tribe or nation of Indians, known in history as the lowas (or loways), who for many years maintained an almost constant warfare with the Sioux, a powerful rival who lived to the north of them. The lowas were originally the Pan-hoo-chee tribe, and lived in the region of the lakes to the northeast, but about the year 1700 they followed their chief, Mau-haw-gaw, to the banks of the Mississippi, and crossing over, settled on the west bank of Iowa river, near its mouth, and there established a village. They called the river on which they established their empire, Ne-o-ho-nee, or "Master of Rivers." For some years they prospered and multiplied, but the Sioux began to envy them the prosperity which they enjoyed, and with no good intentions came down to visit them. Sending to Mau-haw-gaw the pipe of peace, with an invitation to join them in a dog feast, they maide great professions of friendship. The Iowa chief, having confidence in their protestations of good feeling, accepted the invitation. In the midst of the feast, the perfidious Sioux suddenly attacked and killed the unsuspecting Mau-haw-gaw. This outrage was never forgiven by the lowas.


One of the most noted chiefs of the lowas was Ma-has-kah (White Cloud), a descendant of Mau-haw-gaw. He led his warriors in eighteen battles against the Sioux on the north, and the Osages on the south, but never faild to achieve a victory. He made his home on the Des Moines river, about one hundred miles above the mouth, and must have been something of a Mormon, for it is said he had seven wives. In 1824 he was one of a party of chiefs who visited Washington. He left his home on the Des Moines to go down the river on his way to join his party, and when near where the city of Keokuk is now located, he stopped to prepare and eat his venison. He had just commenced his meal when some one struck him on the back. Turning round, he was surprised to see one of his wives, Rant-che-wai-me (Female Flying Pigeon), standing with an uplifted tomahawk in her hand. She aceostedTiim with - "Am I your wife? Are you my husband? If so, I will go with you to Maw-he-hum-ne-che (the American big house), and see and shake the hand of In-co-ho-nee," meaning the Great Father, as they called the President. Ma-has-kah answered: "Yes, you are my wife; I am your husband; I have been a long time from you; I am glad to see you; you are my pretty wife, and a brave man always loves to see a pretty woman." Ma-has-kah went on to Washington accompanied by his "pretty wife," Rant-che-wai-mie, who received many presents, but saw many things of which she disapproved. When she returned, she called together the matrons and maidens of the tribe, and warned them against the vices and follies of their white sisters. This good Indian woman was killed by being thrown from her horse some time after her return from Washington. In 1834  Ma-has-kah was also killed about sixty miles from his home, on the Nodaway, by an enemy who took a cowardly advantage of him. At the time of his death he was fifty years of age. After his death all his surviving wives went into mourning and poverty, according to the custom ol the tnbe, except one named Mis-so-rah-tar-ra-haw (Female Deer that bounds over the prairie), who refused to the end of her life to be comforted, saying that her husband "was a great brave, and was killed by dogs," meaning
low, vulgar fellows.

Soon after the death of Ma-has-kah, his son of the same name, at the age of twenty-four, became the chief of the lowas. His mother was Rant-che-wai-me, whose tragic death is mentioned above. He also visited Washington in the winter of 1836-7 for the purpose of obtaining redress for injustice, which he claimed had been done to his people by the government, in failing to keep intruders from their lands and in disregarding other stipulations of the treaty made with his father in 1825.


When the whites began to make settlements on the upper Des Moines, the region about Fort Dodge and Spirit Lake was inhabited by Sioux Indians made up principally of that division of tlie great Sioux or Dacotah nation known by the name of Sisiton Sioux. When, in 1848, the government surveys ol the lands purchased north of the Raccoon Forks were in progress, Mr. Marsh, of Dubuque, set out with his party to run the correction from a point on the Mississippi, near Dubuque, to the Missouri rivers. In this work he was not molested until he crossed the Des Moines, when on the west bank of the river, he was met by a party of Sioux, under the leadership of their chief, Si-dom-i-na-do-tah, who notified Mr. Marsh and his party that they should proceed no farther, as the country belonged to the Indians. The Sioux then left, and Mr. Marsh concluded to continue his work. He had not proceeded more than a mile when Si-dom-i-na-do-tah and his band returned and surrounded the party, robbing them of everything. They took their horses, destroyed their wagons and surveying instruments, destroyed the land-marks, and drove the surveying party back to the east side of the river. This and other outrages committed on families who, in the fall of 1849, ventured to make claims on the upper Des Moines, led to the establishment of a military post at Fort Dodge in 1850.

In the winter of 1846-7 one Henry Lott, an adventurous border character, had, with his family, taken up his residence at the mouth of Boone river, in what is now Webster county, and within the range of Si-dom-i-nado-tah's band. Lott had provided himself with some goods and a barrel oi whisky, expecting to trade with the Indians, and obtain their furs and robes. In a short time he was waited upon by the chief and six of his braves and informed that he was an intruder and that he must leave within a certain time. The time having expired, and Lott still remaining, the Indians destroyed his property, shooting his stock and robbing his bee-hives. Lott and his step-son made their way to the nearest settlement, at Pea's Point, about 16 miles south, and reported that his family had been murdered by the Indians, as he doubtless thought they would be after he left. John Pea and half a dozen other white men, accompanied by some friendly Indians of another tribe, who happened to be in that vicinity, set out with Lott for the mouth of Boone river. When they arrived they found that the family had not been tomahawked, as he had reported. One little boy, however, aged abont twelve years, had attempted to follow his father in his flight, by gomg down the Des Moines river on the ice. Being thinly clad, the little fellow, froze to death after traveling on the ice a distance of about twenty miles. The body of the child was siibsequently found. The sequel shows that Lott was determined on revenge.

In November, 1853, Lott ventured about thirty miles north of Fort Dodge, where he pretended to make a claim, in what is now Humboldt county. He took with him several barrels of whisky and some goods, and he and his step-son built a cabin near what is now known as Lott's creek in that county. Si-dom-i-na-do-tah had his cabin on the creek about a mile west of Lott's. In January, 1854, Lott and his step-son went to the cabin of the old chief and told him that they had seen, on their way over, a drove of elk feeding on the bottom lands, and induced the old man to mount his pony, with gun in hand, to go in pursuit of the elk. Lott and his step-son followed, and when they had proceeded some distance they shot and killed Si-dom-i-na-do-tah. That same night they attacked and killed six of the chief's family, including his wife and two children, his aged mother, and two young children she had in charge - including, with the chief, seven victims in all. Two children, a boy of twelve, and a girl of ten years of age, escaped by hiding themselves. Some days after, the Indians reported the murders at Fort Dodge, thinking at first that the slaughter had been perpetrated by some of their Indian enemies. Investigation soon revealed the fact that Lott and his step-son had committed the deed. Their cabin was found burned down, and a slight snow on the ground showed the track of their wagon in a circuitous route southward, avoiding Fort Dodge. Intelligence of them was received at various points where they had been trjdng to sell furs and other articles, and where the chief's pony was noticed to be in their possession. Having several days' start, they made their way across the Missouri and took the plains for California, where, it was subsequently learned, Lott was killed in a quarrel. It is believed by many of the old settlers of Northern Iowa that this outrage of Henry Lott was the cause of that other tragedy, or rather series of tragedies, in the history of Northern Iowa, known as the "Spirit Lake Massacre."


Ink-pa-du-tah, it is said, was the brother, and became the successor, of the chief who was murdered by Henry Lott. He is known to the whites chiefly in connection with the horrible outrages committed at Spirit and Okoboji Lakes in Northern Iowa, and at Springfield in Southern Minnesota. He, in connection with U-tan-ka-sa-pa (Black Buflalo), headed a band of about eighteen lodges of Sioux, who, in the spring of 1857, robbed the settlers and committed the most inhuman outrages, culminating in the massacres of the 8th and 9th of March of that year. During the year 1856 a dozen or more families had settled about the lakes, while along the valley of the Little Sioux river at Smithland, Cherokee, and Rock Rapids there were settlements. Ink-pa-du-tah and his band commenced their depredations at Smithland and passing up the Little Sioux made hostile demonstration both at Cherokee and Rock Rapids, killing stock and carrying away whatever they saw proper to take, but committed no murders until they reached the infant settlement at the lakes. There, and at Springfield, a small settlement in Minnesota a few miles northeast, they killed forty-one, wounded three, and took with them as captives four women - Mrs. Howe, Mrs. Thatcher, Mrs. Marble, and Miss Gardner. Twelve persons were missing, some of whose remains were afterward found, having been killed while attempting to escape. Of the four women taken captive, two were killed on their flight, Mrs. Howe and Mrs. Thatcher. The other two, Mrs. Marble and Miss Gardner, were some months after, through the eftbrts of Gov. Madarie, of Minnesota, and the Indian agent at Laqua Parle, purchased from Ink-pa-du-tah by employing friendly Indians to affect the purchase. By this raid and massacre the settlement at the lakes was entirely swept away. All the houses were burned, and all the stock either killed or taken away. At Springfield the settlers were somewhat prepared to defend themselves, having heard of the slaughter at the lakes. Seven or eight persons, however, were Killed at Springfield.

The winter preceding these massacres had been unusually severe, and snow had fallen to the depth of from one to two feet. In March all the ravines were filled with drifted snow, with a thick and heavy crust, so that travel in that region was almost impossible. For this reason those infant settlements were almost cut off from intercourse with the thickly inhabited parts of the country. It was, therefore, some time before the news of the massacres reached Fort Dodge, the nearest settlement. The messengers who conveyed the intelligence were Messrs. Bell and Williams, who lived on Little Sioux river. Messrs. Howe, Snyder and Parmenter, of Newton, who had attempted to relieve the inhabitants at the lakes with provisions, also upon arriving there found all the settlers murdered. They, too, hastened as rapidly as possible to Fort Dodge and reported. Messengers were at once sent to Webster City and Homer to request the citizens to turn out for the relief of the frontier, and they responded promptly. Those two places furnished forty men and Fort Dodge eighty. The force of 120 men was formed into three companies of forty men each, under Captains C. B. Richards, John F. Duncombe, and J. C. Johnston. The battalion was commanded by Major W. Williams. On the 25th of March the battalion started from Fort Dodge, the snow still covering the ground and all the ravines being so gorged with drifted snow that in places it was necessary to cut their way through snow-banks from ten to twenty feet deep. After marching thirty miles ten men had to be sent back, reducing the force to 110 men. In the meantime a force from Fort Eidgely was approaching from the north. The Indians, expecting these movements, had taken their flight across the Big Sioux river to join the Yanktons, in what is now Dakota. The troops, after almost incredible hardships and sufferings for eighteen days and nights, being without tents, failed to get sight of a single hostile Indian. They found and buried the bodies of twenty-nine persons. A. number were burned in the houses by the savages, and their remains were found in the ashes. The expedition lost two valuable citizens, Captain J. C. Johnston, of Webster City, and William Burkholder, of Fort Dodge, the latter being a brother of Mrs. Gov. C. C. Carpenter. They were frozen to death on their return from the lakes. Eighteen others were more or less frozen, and some did not recover for a year after. Several years after his death the remains of young Burkholder were found on the prairie, being recognized by the remains or his gun and clothing. When overcome by the cold he was separated from his companions, and his fate was for sometime unlcnown.

From this brief account of Ink-pa-du-tah, it will be conceded that there is no reason to cherish his memory with any degree of admiration. He was the leader of a band comprising even the worst element of the Sionx nation, the best of which is bad enough, even for savages. The germ of the band of which he was chief was a family of murderers, known as Five Lodges, who, it was said, having murdered an aged chief, wandered away and formed a little tribe of their own, with whom rogues from all the other bands found refuge. At the time of these hostilities against the whites under Ink-pa-du-tah, they numbered probably over 150 lodges. They were constantly roving about in parties, stealing wherever they could from trappers and settlers. The subsequent career of Ink-pa-du-tah has been west of the borders of Iowa and Minnesota.

Keokuk and Wapello

Keokuk belonged to the Sac branch of the nation, and as mentioned in the first part of this work, was born on Rock river, Illinois, in 1810. Accordingly he was sixty-three years old at the time the county was thrown open to the white settler, and fifty-seven when the boundary line of 1837 was established. The best memory of the earliest settlers cannot take them back to a time when Keokuk was not an old man. When in 1833 the impatient feet of the white men first hastened across the Mississippi, eager for new conquests and fortunes, this illustrious chief was already nearing his three-score years, and when with longing eyes he took the last look at the fail lands bordering on the Great Father of Waters, and turned his weary feet toward the west, his sun of life had already crossed the meridian and was rapidly approaching its setting.

Little is known concerning the early life of Keokuk, except that from his first battle, while yet young, he had carried home the scalp of a Sioux, whom he had slain in a hand-to-hand conflict, and between whose tribe and the tribe to which Keokuk belonged there ever existed the most deadly enmity. For this feat Keokuk was honored with a feast by his tribe. He first came into prominence among the whites at the breaking out of the second war with England, commonly known as the war of 1812. Most of the Indians at that time espoused the cause of the English, but Keokuk, at the head of a large number of the Sacs and Foxes, remained faithful to the Americans. In 1828 Keokuk, in accordance with the terms of a treaty, crossed the Mississippi river with his tribe and established himself on the Iowa river. Here he remained in peace, and his tribe flourished till the breaking out of the Black Hawk war in 1832. He seemed to have a much more intelligent insight into the great national questions which were raised during these early Indian difficulties, as well as a more thorough appreciation of the resources of the national government. He opposed the Black Hawk war, and seemed to fully forecast the great disasters which thereby befell his tribe. Although many of his warriors deserted him and followed Black Hawk in his reckless campaign across the Mississippi, Keokuk prevailed upon a majority of his tribe to remain at home. When the news reached Keokuk that Black Hawk's warriors had gained a victory over Stillman's forces in Ogle county, Illinois, the war-spirit broke out among his followers like fire in the dry prairie grass; a war dance was held, and the chief himself took part in it. He seemed for a while to move in sympathy with the rising storm, and at the conclusion of the war dance he called a council to prepare for war. In a work entitled "Annals of Iowa," published in 1865, there is reported the substance of a speech made by Keokuk on this occasion. We quote: "I am your chief, and it is my duty to lead you to battle, if, after fully considering the matter, you are fully determined to go." He then represented to them the great power of the United States, against whom they would have to contend, and that their prospect of success was utterly hopeless. Then continuing, said: "But if you are determined to go upon the warpath, I will lead you on one condition - that before we go we kill all our old men, and our wives, and our children, to save them from a lingering death by starvation, and that every one of you determine to leave his bones on the other side of the Mississippi." This was a strong and truthful picture of the prospect before them, and was presented in such a forcible light, that it caused them to abandon their rash undertaking.

After the Black Hawk war, Keokuk was recognized as the head of the Sac and Fox nation, by the United States government, and in this capacity he was looked upon by his people from that time on. This honor, however, was sometimes disputed by some of the original followers of Black Hawk. A gentleman of some prominence, as a writer, and who is said to have witnessed the affray, says: "A bitter feud existed in the tribe during the time Keokuk resided on the Des Moines river, between what was denominated Keokuk's band and Black Hawk's band." Their distrust, and indeed hatred, were smothered in their common intercourse, when sober; but when their blood was fired with whisky, it sometimes assumed a tragic feature among the leaders of the respective bands. An instance of this character occurred on the lower part of the Des Moines river, on the return of a party making a visit to the 'half-breeds,' at the town of Keokuk, on the Mississippi. In a quarrel incited by whisky, Keokuk received a dangerous stab in the breast by a son of Black Hawk. The writer saw him conveyed by his friends homeward, lying in a canoe, unable to rise. The writer continues: "Hardfish (who was the pretended chief of the rival party), and his coadjutors, lost no occasion to find fault with Keokuk's administration. The payments were made in silver coins, put up in boxes, containing five hundred dollars each, and passed into Keokuk's hand's for distribution. The several traders received each his quota according to the several demands against the tribes admitted by Keokuk, which invariably consumed tile far greater portion of the amount received. The remainder was turned over to the chiefs and distributed among the respective bands. Great complaints were made of these allowances, to the traders, on the ground of exorbitant prices charged on the goods actually furnished, and it was alleged that some of these accounts were spurious. In confirmation of this charge, over and above the character of the items exhibited in these accounts, an affidavit was filed with Governor Lucas, by an individual, to which the governor gave credence, setting forth that Keokuk had proposed to the maker of the affidavit to profer [sic] a purely fictitious account against the tribe for the sum of $10,000, and he would admit its correctness, and when paid, the money should be divided among themselves, share and share alike. To swell the trader's bills, items were introduced -of a character that should brand upon their face, such as a large number of blankets, coats, articles which the Indians never used, and telescopes, of the use of which they had no knowledge. This showed the reckless manner in which these bills were swollen to the exorbitant amounts complained of, in which Keokuk was openly charged with being in league with the traders to defraud the Indians." At this time the nation numbered about two thousand and three hundred, and it is not possible that Keokuk could have carried on an organized system of theft, without the fact becoming apparent to all. As it was, however., Governor Lucas thought best to change the manner in which the annual payments were made. The matter was referred to the Indian bureau, and the mode was changed so that the payments were made to the heads of families, approximating a per capita distribution. This method of payment did not suit the traders, and after a short trial the old plan was again adopted. That the Indians, then as now, were the victims of sharp practice, cannot be doubted, but the fact can be attributed to the superior tact and the unscrupulous character of many of the trade's; this furnishes a more probable explanation, and is more in accord with the character of Keokuk, as known by his intimate friends, still living, than to attribute these swindling operations to a conspiracy in which the illustrious chief was the leading actor.

In person, Keokuk was of commanding appearance. He was tall, straight as an arrow, and of very graceful mien. These personal characteristics, together with his native fervor, and ready command of language, gave him great power over his people as a speaker. If, as a man of energy and courage, he gained the respect and obedience of his tribe, it was more especially as an orator that he was able to wield his people in times of great excitement, and in a measure shape their policy in dealing with the white man. As an orator rather than as a warrior, has Keokuk's claim to greatness been founded.

"He was gifted by nature," says the author of the Annals, "with the elements of an orator in an eminent degree, and as such is entitled to rank with Logan, Red Jacket and Tecumseh; but unfortunately for his fame among the white people, and with posterity, he was never able to obtain an interpreter who could claim even a slight acquaintance with philosophy. With one exception, only, his interpreters were unacquainted with the elements of the mother tongue. Of this serious hindrance to his fame Keokuk was well aware, and retained Frank Labashure, who had received a rudimental education in the French and English languages, until the latter died broken down by exposure and dissipation; but during the meridian of his career among the white people, he was compelled to submit his speeches for translation, to uneducated men, whose range of thoughts fell below the flights of a gifted mind, and the fine imagery, drawn from nature, was beyond their power of reproduction. He had a sufficient knowledge of the English tongue to make him sensible of this bad rendering of ill thoughts, and often a feeling of mortification at the bungling efforts was depicted upon his countenance while he was speaking. The proper place to form a proper estimate of his ability as an orator, was in the Indian council, where he addressed himself exclusively to those who understood his language, and where the electric effects of his eloquence could be plainly noted upon his audience. It was credibly asserted that by the force of his logic he had changed the vote of a council against the strongly predetermined opinions of its members." A striking instance of the influence of his eloquence is that one already related in which he delivered a speech to his followers, who were bent on joining Black Hawk" after the Stillman reverse in Ogle county, Illinois. Mr. James, who has already been mentioned as being present at the council, at Agency City, when the treaty of 1842 was made, says of Keokuk: " We heard him make a speech on the occasion, which, by those who understood his tongue,. was said to be a sensible and eloquent effort. Judging from his voice and gestures, his former standing as an Indian orator and chieftain, we thought his reputation as a dignified yet gentlemanly Aboriginal h&d not been overrated. During the Black Hawk war his voice was for peace with the white man, and his voice added much to the shortening of the war. As an honor to the chief our county bears his name.

 Keokuk, in company with Black Hawk, Poweshiek, Kish-ke-kosh, and some fifteen other chiefs, under the escort of Gen. J. M. Street, visited Washington city and different parts of the East in 1837. The party descended the Mississippi to the mouth of the Ohio by steamer, and thence up the latter to Wheeling, where they took stage across the mountains. When the party arrived in Washington, at the request of some of the government officials, a council was held with some chiefs of the Sioux there present, as the Sacs and Foxes were waging a perpetual war with the Sioux nation. The council was held in the Hall of Representatives. To the great indignation of the Sioux, Kish-ke-kosh appeared dressed in a buffalo hide which he had taken in war from a Sioux chief, and took his position in one of the large windows, with the mane and horns of the buffalo as a sort of a head-dress, and the tail trailing on the floor. The Sioux complained to the officials, claiming that this was an insult to them, but they were informed that the Sacs and Foxes had a right to appear in any kind of costume they chose to wear. The first speech was made by a Sioux, who complained bitterly of the wrongs they had suffered, and how they had been driven from their homes by the Sacs and Foxes, their warriors killed and their villages burned. Then followed Keokuk, the great orator of his tribe, who replied at some length, an interpreter repeating the speech after him. There were those present who had heard Webster, Calhoun, Clay and Benton in the same hall, and they declared that for the manner of delivery, for native eloquence, impassioned expression of countenance, the chief surpassed them all, and this while they could not understand his words, save as they were repeated by the interpreter. From Washington they went to New York, where they were shown little attention, and Gen. Street attempting to show them the city on foot, the people in their anxiety to see Keokuk and Black Hawk, crowded them beyond the point of endurance, and in order to escape the throng they were compelled to make their escape through a store building, and reached their hotel through the back alleys and less frequented streets. At Boston they were met at the depot by a delegation of leading citizens and conveyed in carriages to the hotel. The next day they were taken in open carriages, and with a guard of honor on foot, they were shown the whole city. During their stay in Boston they were the guests of the great American orator, Edward Everett, who made a banquet for them. When the Indians returned and were asked about New York, they only expressed their disgust. Boston was the only place in the United States, in their estimation, and their opinion has been shared in by many white people, who since that time have made a pilgrimage from the West to the famous shrines of the East.

While residing at Ottumwah-nac, Keokuk received a message from the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, in which the latter invited Keokuk, as king of the Sacs and Foxes, to a royal conference at his palace at Nauvoo, on matters of the highest importance to their respective people. The invitation was accepted, and at the appointed time the king of the Sacs and Foxes, accompanied by a stately escort on ponies, wended their way to the appointed interview with the great apostle of the Latter Day Saints. Keokuk, as before remarked, was a man of good judgment and keen insight into the human character. He was not easily misled by sophistry nor beguiled by flattery. The account of this interview with Smith, as given by the author of the "Annals", so well illustrates these traits of his character that we give it in full:

"Notice had been circulated through the country of this diplomatic interview, and quite a number of spectators attended to witness the denouement. The audience was given publicly in the great Mormon temple, and the respective chiefs were attended by their suits, the prophet by the dignitaries of the Mormon church, and the Indian potentate by the high civil and military functionaries of his tribe, and the Gentiles were comfortably seated as auditors."

"The prophet opened the conference in a set speech of some length, giving Keokuk a brief history of the Children of Israel, as detailed in the Bible, and dwelt forcibly upon the history of the lost tribes, and that he, the prophet of God, held a divine commission to gather them together and lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. After the prophet closed his harangue, Keokuk waited for the words of his pale-faced brother to sink deep into his mind, and in making his reply, assumed the gravest attitude and most dignified demeanor. He would not controvert anything his brother had said. about the lost and scattered condition of his race and people, and if his brother was commissioned by the Great Spirit to collect them together and lead them to a new country it was his duty to do so. But he wished to inquire about some particulars his brother had not named, that were of the highest importance to him and his people. The red man were not much used to milk, and he thought they would prefer streams of water and in the country they now were there was a good supply of honey. The points they wished to inquire into were, whether the new government would pay large annuities, and whether there was plenty of whisky. Joe Smith saw at once that he had met his match, and that Keokuk was not the proper material with which to increase his army of dupes, and closed the interview in as amiable and pleasant manner as possible."

Until 1836 Keokuk resided with his tribe on a reservation of 400 square miles, situated on the Iowa river. His headquarters were at a village bearing his name, located on the right bank of the stream. In this year, in accordance with the stipulations of a treaty held at Davenport, Keokuk with his followers removed to this territory, now comprised in the bounds of Keokuk, Mahaska and Wapello counties. The agency for the Indians, was located at a point where is now located Agency City. At this time an effort was made to civilize the red man. Farms were opened up, and two mills were erected, one on Soap creek, and one on Sugar creek. A salaried agent was employed to superintend these farming operations. Keokuk, Wapello and Appanoose, each had a large field improved and cultivated. Keokuk's farm was located upon what is yet known as Keokuk's Prairie, in what is now Wapello county. The Indians did not make much progress in these farming operations, and in the absence of their natural and wanted excitements, became idle and careless. Many of them plunged into dissipation. Keokuk himself became badly dissipated in the latter years of his life. Pathetic as was the condition of these savages at this time, it was but the legitimate result of the treatment which they had received. They were confined to a fixed location, and provided with annuities by the government, sufficient to meet their wants from year to year. They were in this manner prevented from making those extensive excursions, and embarking in those war-like pursuits, which for time immemorial had formed the chief avenues for the employment of those activities, which for centuries had claimed the attention of the savage mind; and the sure and regular means of subsistence furnished by the government, took away from them the incentives for the employment of these activities, even had the means still existed. In addition to this the Indian beheld his lands taken from him, and his tribe growing smaller year by year. Possessed of an ideal and imaginative intellect he could not help fore-casting the future, and thus being impressed with the, thought, that in a few years, all these land would be in the possession of the white man, while his tribe and his name would be swept into oblivion by the tide of emigration, which pressed in upon him from every side. Keokuk saw all this, and seeing it, had neither the power nor inclination to prevent it. Take the best representative of the Anglo-Saxon race, and place him in similar circumstances, and he would do no better. Shut in by restraint from all sides, relieved from all the anxieties comprehended in that practical question, what shall we eat and wherewithal shall we be clothed and deprived of all those incentives springing from, and inspired by a lofty ambition, and the best of us, with all our culture and habits of industry, would fall into idleness and dissipation and our fall would be as great if not as low as was the fall of that unhappy people who formerly inhabited this country, and whose disappearance and gradual extinction we shall now be called upon to contemplate.

Wapello, the cotemporary of Keokuk and the inferior chief, after whom a neighboring county and county-seat were named, died before the Indians were removed the State, and thus escaped the hnmilatiol1 of the scene. He like his superior chief, was a fast friend of the whites and wielded an immense influence among the individuals of his tribe. As is mentioned in a former chapter, he presided over three tribes in the vicinity of Fort Armstrong, during the time that frontier post was being erected. In 1829 he removed his village to Muscatine Swamp, and then to a place near where is now located the town bearing his name. Many of the early settlers Of Keokuk county remember him well, as the southern part of this county was a favorite resort for him and many members of his tribe. It was in the limits of this county that this illustrious chief died. His favorite hunting ground, is that portion of the county which is now within the limits of Jackson township. Although he willingly united in the treaty ceding it to the whites, it was done with the clear conviction that the country would be shortly overrun and his hunting ground ruined by the advance of palefaces. He chose to sell rather than be robbed, and they quietly receded with his band.

Mr. Searcy relates an incident in the life of this chief which we here quote: "Between the Sioux, and the Sacs and the Foxes, a bitter and deadly hatred existed. This enmity was carried to such a bitter extent that it caused the establishment, by the government, of the neutral ground, in the north part of the territory, which was a strip of country about thirty miles in width, over which the tribes were not allowed to pass in order to slay each other. The love of revenge was so strongly marked in the Indian character that it was not to be suppressed by imaginary geographical lines, and consequently it was not a rare occurrence fora Sac or Fox Indian, or a Sioux, to bite the dust, as an atonement for real or imaginary wrongs. In this manner one of the sons of Wapello was cruelly cut down, from an ambush, in the year 1836. When the chief heard of the sad calamity he was on Skunk river, opposite to the mouth of Crooked creek. He immediately plunged into and swam across the stream. Upon arriving at a trading post near by, he gave the best pony he had for a barrel of whisky, and setting it out, invited his people to partake, a very unwise practice, which he doubtless borrowed from the white people, who availed themselves of this medium in which to drown their sorrow.

Wapello's death occurred in Keokuk county, in March, 1844. In accordance with the provisions of the treaty of 1843, he had retired with his tribe, west of Red Rock, and it was during a temporary visit to his old hunting ground on Rock creek, that he breathed his last. We quote from an address of Mr. Romig the following pathetic account of the death of the warrior:

"As the swallow returns to the place where last she had built her nest, cruelly destroyed by the ruthless hands of some rude boy, or as a mother would return to the empty crib where once had reposed her innocent babe, in the sweet embrace of sleep, and weep for the treasure she had once possessed, so Wapello mourned for the hunting grounds he had been forced to leave behind, and longed to roam over the broad expanse again. It was, in the month of March; heavy winter had begun to shed her mantle of snow; the sun peeped forth through the fleeting clouds; the woodchuck emerged from his subterranean retreat to greet the morning breeze, and all nature seemed to rejoice at the prospect of returning spring. The old chief felt the exhilarating influence of reviving nature, and longed again for the sports of his youth. He accordingly assembled a party and started on a hunting excursion to the scenes of his former exploits. But alas, the poor old man was not long destined to mourn over his misfortunes. While traveling over the beautiful prairies, or encamped in the picturesque groves that he was once want to call his own, disease fastened upon his vitals and the chief lay prostrate in his lodge. How long the burning fever raged and racked in his brain, or who it was that applied the cooling draught to his parched lips tradition has failed to inform us; but this we may fairly presume: that his trusty followers were deeply distressed at the sufferings of their chief, whom they loved and administered all the comforts in their power to alleviate his sufferings, but all would not avail. Grim death had crossed his path, and touched her finger upon his brow, and marked him for her own. Human efforts to save could avail nothing. Time passed, and with it the life of Wapello. The last word was spoken, the last wish expressed, the last breath drawn, and his spirit took its flight. The passing breeze in Šolean notes chanted a requiem in the elm tops. The placid creek in its meandering course murmured in chorus over the dead. The squirrel came forth in the bright sunshine to frisk and chirp in frolicsome glee, and the timid fawn approached the brook, and bathed her feet in the waters, but the old man heeded it not, for Manatah, his God, had called him home.

Although it is a matter of regret that we are not in possession of his dying words, and other particulars connected with his death, let us endeavor to be content with knowing that Wapello died some time in the month of March, in the year 1844, in Keokuk county, on Rock creek, in Jackson township, on the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter, section 21, township 74, range 11 west, where a mound still marks the spot; and with knowing also that his remains were thence conveyed by Mr. Samuel Hardesty, now of Lancaster township, accompanied by twenty-two Indians and three squaws, to the Indian burial ground, at Agency City, where sleeps the Indian agent, Gen. Street, and numbers of the Sac and Fox tribe, and where our informant left the remains to await the arrival of Keokuk, and other distinguished chiefs to be present at the interment.

Keokuk, Appanoose, and nearly all the leading men among Indians were present at the funeral, which took place toward evening of the same day upon which the body arrived at Agency. The usual Indian ceremonies preceded the interment, after which the body was buried by the body of Gen. Street, which was in accordance with his oft repeated request to be buried by the side of his honest pale faced friend.

In 1845 in accordance with the stipulations of the treaty, and in obedience to the demand of the white man, whose friend he had ever been and whose home he had defended, both by word and act, in times of great excitement, Keokuk led his tribe west of the Missouri river, and located upon a reservation now comprised in the boundaries of what is now the State of Kansas. What must have been the emotions which swelled the heart of this renowned savage, and what must have been the peculiar thoughts which came thronging from his active brain when he turned his back for the last time upon the bark covered huts of his Iowa village, the graves of his friends, and that portion of country which, but the year before, had been honored by his name. It was leaving everything familiar in life and dear to the heart. To him it was not going West to grow up with the country, but to lose himself and his tribe in oblivion and national annihilation.

Keokuk lived but three years after leaving the Territory of Iowa, and we have no fact at our command in reference to his career at the new home west of the Missouri. The Keokuk Register of June 15, 1848, contained the following notice of his death, together with some additional sketches of his life:

The St. Louis New Era announces the death of this celebrated Indian chief. Poison was administered to him by one of his tribe, from the effects of which he died. The Indian was apprehended, confessed his guilt and was shot."

"Keokuk leaves a son of some prominence, but there is little probability of his succeeding the same station, as he is not looked upon by the tribe as inheriting the disposition and principles of his father."

We close this sketch by appending an extract from a letter recently written by Judge J. M. Casey, of Fort Madison, to Hon. S. A. James, of Sigourney.

"While Keokuk was not a Lee county man, I have often seen him here. He was an individual of distinguished mark; once seen would always be remembered. It was not necessary to be told that he was a chief~ you would at once recognize him as such, and stop to admire his grand deportment. I was quite young when I last saw him, but I yet remember his appearance and every lineament of his face as well as if it had been yesterday, and this impression was left upon every person who saw him, whether old or young. It is hard for us to realize that an Indian could be so great a man. But it is a conceded fact, by all the early settlers who knew him, that Keokuk possessed, in a prominent degree, the elements of greatness."

The Honorable S. A. James
Source: The History of Keokuk County, Iowa, A History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, &c., Illustrated, 1880