Allamakee co. IAGenWeb

Chapter 2


Past & Present of Allamakee County
, 1913



The forgoing reference to Mr. Giard at Prairie du Chien leads naturally to a notice of the “Giard Tract” just west of McGregor. Although it lies just outside our borders it is interesting to us to know that this was the second parcel of land granted to an individual, in the state of Iowa, that of Julien Dubuque being the first, in 1788. In 1795 the lieutenant governor of the Spanish province of Upper Louisiana granted to Basil Giard this tract of 5,760 acres. In fact it seems that this was really the first of the Spanish grants, as that of Dubuque in 1788 was only a cession from the Fox Indians, and was not confirmed by the Spanish governor until 1796. It is possible that the grant to Louis Honori Tesson, at Montrose, in the southeast corner of the state, was made in the same year with that of Giard, but it is generally stated to have been in 1796. The settlements at Giard and Montrose did not then become permanent, as did that at Dubuque. They were abandoned and resettled after the Indians were removed. On the other hand, the grants to Honori and Giard were confirmed by the United States, while that to Dubuque was not confirmed. The first United States patent in Iowa was issued to the creditors of Honori, February 7, 1839; and that to the assigns of Basil Giard (in his own right) July 2, 1844, signed by John Tyler, president.

Giard occupied this farm until Louisiana passed from Spain to France and from France to the United States, and there were three cabins thereon in 1805, when Lieutenant Pike ascended the Mississippi and planted our flag on the bluff at McGregor, since known as “Pike’s Peak.” Running through this tract is a small stream first known as Giard creek; but its name was later changed to “Bloody Run,” the story of the change being as follows:

“In 1823 the commandant at Fort Crawford detailed men to cultivate a public garden on the old Giard farm, under direction of Lieut. Martin Scott of the Fifth Infantry. He was fond of shooting, and took his dogs and gun every morning, got into his little hunting canoe, and spent the day in shooting woodcock, which were plenty about there, and other game, and returning in the evening would boast of the number that had bled that day. After a while this gave the creek the name of Bloody Run, which it still bears. The name suggests to strangers the idea of a sanguinary battle having been fought there, but it was derived from the hunting exploits of this Lieutenant Scott. He later served with distinction in the Mexican war, and, as Brevet Lieut. Col, Martin Scott he was killed in the hard fought battle of Molino del Rey, in 1847.”

Another version of the derivation of Bloody Run is as follows (as related in Fonda’s Recollections):
“It was years ago, before the English were guided to and captured Prairie du Chien, and before the
traitorous guide hid himself in a cave in Mill Coulee, when Prairie du Chien was inhabited by only a few French families and Indian traders, that an event occurred which gave to the coulee wherein North McGregor is now built, the name of Bloody Run. A couple of traders lived on the prairie and as was the custom with those extensively engaged in the fur trade, these two traders had their clerks, or agents, whom they supplied with goods to dispose of to the Indians. Among others were two who had lived with their families in Bloody Run. Their names were Stock and King. The latter’s wife was a squaw of the Sauk tribe, while Stock and his wife were English, and both families lived on a little bench or table land about a mile and a half from the mouth, on the north side of the valley.”

“The clerks had sold a quantity of goods to the Indians on credit, who were backward in paying. Among those who had got in debt was a Sauk chief, Gray Eagle. He had been refused any more credit and would not pay for what he had already obtained. This made King impatient, and he told his wife that he would go to Gray Eagle’ village and if the chief did not pay he would take his horse for the debt. His wife told him it would be dangerous to treat a chief in that way and urged him not to go; but he said he had traded too long with the Indians to be afraid of them, and started to collect the debt. On his way to the village he met the chief, unarmed, riding the very horse he had threatened to take. Approaching him he dragged the chief off, gave him a beating, rode the horse home and tied it before the shanty door. Soon after his wife rushed into the cabin and said Gray Eagle was near at hand with some of his people. King went out to meet them but had scarcely passed the door when a bullet from the rifle of Gray Eagle pierced his brain. Mr. Stock, the
remaining trader, persisted in refusing the Indians further credit, which so enraged them that they shot him also shortly after. After this last tragedy the survivors of these two families removed from the old claim and for years no other white man lived in the valley.”

In 1805 Lieut. Zebulon Montgomery Pike, U.S.A. was ordered by Gen. James Wilkinson, then commanding
at St. Louis to make an exploration of the head-waters of the Mississippi. He sailed from St. Louis August 9th, with one sergeant, two corporals, and seventeen privates, in a keel boat seventy feet long, provisioned for months. From his journal, and letters to General Wilkinson, we learn that on September 4th they passed the “Ouisconsing” (Wisconsin river) after breakfast and “arrived at the prairie des Chiens about 11 o’clock, took quarters at Fisher’s (captain of militia and justice of the peace) and were politely received by him and Mr. Frazer.” On the 5th, looking for a suitable location for a fort, “ascended a hill on the west side of the Mississippi, and made choice of a spot which I thought most eligible, being level on top, having a spring in the rear, and commanding a view of the country around.” This hill has since been known as Pike’s Peak, at the present city of McGregor. Sunday, September 8th, “we sailed well, came 18 miles and encamped on the west bank.” September 9th, “embarked early; dined at Cape Garlic, or Garlic river, after which we came to an island on the east side, about give miles below the river Iowa (Upper Iowa), and encamped. Distance
28 miles.”

The expedition spent the winter exploring the sources of the Mississippi, and was from April 16th to the 27th on the return voyage along the eastern shore of Iowa. April 17, 1806, “arrived at Wabasha’s band at 11 o’clock.” April 18th, “Departed from our encampment very early; stopped to breakfast at the Painted Rock; arrived at the Prairie du Chiens at 2 o’clock, and were received by crowds on the bank.”

Lieutenant Pike noted the settlements of Giard, Dubuque, and Tesson, “the only white people then in Iowa.”

The location of “Cape Garlic, or Garlic river,” mentioned in Pike’s journal, has not been identified; but old settlers say there were several places along the river where so much garlic grew that butter made there was unfit to eat because of the garlic taint, notably so at a distance above Harper’s Ferry, say about Ryan Creek. But from the time, and distance traveled, as mentioned in the journal, Pike’s Garlic river must have been further north, perhaps Village creek or Clear creek.

In the observations, in the appendix to the journal, Pike says; “From the village (Prairie des Chines) we have on the west side, first, Yellow river, of about 20 yards wide, bearing from the Mississippi nearly due west; second, the Iowa river (Upper Iowa) about 100 yards wide bearing from the Mississippi about northwest. From the Upper Iowa river to the head of Lake Pepin the elk are the prevailing species of wild game, with some deer, and a few bear. They Reynards are engaged in the same wars and have the same alliances as the Sauks. They hunt on both sides of the Mississippi from the Iowa river of that name above Prairie des Chines. They raise a great quantity of corn, beans, melons, the former in such quantities as to sell many hundred bushels per annum.”

Early in 1814 the government authorities at St. Louis fitted out a large boat, having on board all the men that could be mustered, and dispatched it up the Mississippi to protect the upper country from the British. Upon reaching Prairie du Chien the men commenced putting the old fort in a condition for defense. Not long after Colonel McKay descended the Wisconsin with a large force of British and Indians, and captured the fort after a determined resistance. It is said his utmost exertions were required to prevent an indiscriminate massacre of the Americans by the Indians. Upon the establishment of peace in 1815 the fort was evacuated by the British. In 1816 the United States troops took possession again, and the old fort was rebuilt.

In 1817 Major Stephen H. Long, U. S. topographical engineer, kept a journal of a voyage to the falls of St. Anthony from Prairie du Chien, afterwards printed in the Minn. Hist. Collection, Vol. 2, 1889, in which he says:

“Wednesday, July 9. – Passed Yellow river on our left, about two miles above. It is navigable for pirogues, in high water, about fifty miles (!) from its mouth. About a mile further up, of considerable size, called Painted Rock. Passed a prominent part of the bluffs called Cape Puant. The circumstance from which it derived its name was as follows: The Sioux and Puants (Winnebagoes) were about to commence hostilities against each other; and a large party of the latter set out to invade the territory of the Sioux and attack them by surprise. But the Sioux, gaining intelligence of their design, assembled a superior force and laid in ambush, waiting for the Puants to land on this side.

Immediately after their landing the Sioux rushed down from the bluffs, attacked the Puants in a small recess between the two promontories, drove them into the river and massacred the whole party. Just above this is Garlic Cape, remarkable from the singularity of its appearance. In shape it resembles a cone, cut by a perpendicular plane passing through its apex and base. Its height is about four hundred and fifty feet. A little east of its base is a fine spring. The valley of the river in this part is almost entirely occupied by the river which spreads in some places to the width of three or four miles, giving place to numerous islands, some of which are very large. The bluffs are generally between four and five hundred feet high, cut with numerous ravines, and exhibiting other signs of being the commencement of a very hilly country. The wind failed
about 11 A.M., and we had to row the rest of the day. Encamped on the head of an island about sunset. Distance 28 miles.

“Thursday, July 10. – Our companions in the birch canoe encamped on the same island about four miles below. The weather was calm this morning. Got under way at sunrise, and came six miles before breakfast, during which we caught five catfish and one drum. A favorable wind rising, we set sail. Passed Little Ioway river coming in from the west. There is a small village of the Foxes about three miles up this river, consisting of five or six wigwams. The river is navigable in time of high water about fifty miles, and at all times a little above the Indian village. Its current is generally rapid, but not precipitate. Passed several Sioux lodges or
wigwams on our left, at which there was a small war party of ten or twelve. As soon as they saw our flag they hoisted the American colors, and we returned the compliment by discharging a blunderbuss, upon which they fired two guns ahead of us. Finding we were not disposed to call upon them (for we had a very fine wind), six of the young warriors, very fine looking fellows, took a canoe and waited on us. We slackened sail to enable them to overtake us. When they came up, their chief warrior gave me his hand, and a few commonplace remarks passed between us. I gave him some tobacco and a pint of whiskey, and they left us apparently well satisfied.”

Major Long reached St. Anthony’s Falls on the 17th, and started on the return trip the same day. Reaching the northeastern point of Iowa, the journal continues:

“Monday, July 21. – Floated last night; made very little progress on account of bad winds. Met twelve canoes of Fox Indians on a hunting tour from the Upper Ioway river. There were three very aged squaws with them, one of whom was entirely blind. She was busily engaged in twisting slips of bark for the purpose of making rush mates. This labor, notwithstanding her blindness and great age, she performed with much expedition. Passed Painted Rock on the right of the river, nine miles above Prairie du Chien. It has obtained this name from having numerous hieroglyphics upon it, painted by the Indians. These figures are painted on a cliff nearly perpendicular, at the height of about twenty-five feet from its base. Whenever the Indians pass this cliff they are in the habit of performing certain ceremonies, which their superstition leads them to believe
efficacious in rendering any enterprise in which they may be engaged successful.”

The trip was made from Prairie du Chien to St. Anthony’s Falls and back in thirteen days.

In 1820 an expedition under government authority was dispatched to explore the head-waters of the Mississippi, proceeding by way of Lake Superior and returning down the Mississippi to Prairie du Chien. Henry R. Schoolcraft, a scientist who by this and other explorations became famous, was attached to this expedition, and from his narrative we quote the following regarding the homeward journey:

“At four o’clock in the afternoon (August 4th) we reached and landed at Wabashaw’s village (near Winona). It is eligibly situated on the west shore, and consists of four of the large elongated Sioux lodges, containing a population of about sixty.

“At the rapids of Black river, which enters opposite our encampment, a sawmill, we were informed, had been erected by an inhabitant of Prairie du Chien. By the hour of three o’clock the next morning the expedition was again in motion descending the river. It halted for breakfast at Painted Rock, on the west shore. While this matter was being accomplished, I found an abundant locality of unios in a curve of the shore which produced an eddy. With the increased spirit and animation which the whole part felt on the prospect of arriving at Prairie du Chien, we proceeded unremittingly on our descent, and reached that place at six o’clock in the evening.”

This would indicate that Mr. Schoolcraft either found another Painted Rock way up above the Minnesota line, or he got his notes mixed as to where they breakfasted, as they made eighty or ninety miles that day if they traveled from the Black river to Prairie du Chien. In two or three other places he speaks of Painted Rock, but only in connection with its many large and fine specimens of unios and other fresh water shells, not definitely locating it. Upon a very early map we find a “Painted Rock creek” laid down in Minnesota, but apparently put on at random as to relative position with other streams.

In the same year, 1820, three Mackinaw boats loaded with wheat, oats, and peas, passed up the river for the Selkirk colony. And in 1821 Lord Selkirk purchased a number of cattle of the Prairie, and hired men to drive them to the Red River of the North, under the charge of J. B. Loyer. After looking at a map of the country, Loyer “proceeded west to the high lands, and by taking frequent notice of the north star succeeded in striking within five miles of the point of destination.”

This route taken by Loyer may have been pointed out to him by the Indians. At any rate it appears likely it was along the ridge on which the military road was opened twenty years later by Monona and Postville, or possibly to the north of Yellow river, in either case a course which would lead to the avoidance of large streams. This seems to have been a usual route of travel in later years, as in the case of an early mail carrier in 1832. In May of that year James Halpin, a solider in the United States army, was detailed to carry the mails between Prairie du Chien and Fort Snelling, by order of Col. Zachary Taylor, then in command at Fort Crawford. He traveled most of the time on foot, and continued the duty for one year. The time spent in going and returning was fourteen days, the distance between the two posts being near three hundred miles, he said. He crossed the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien, and traveled on the western side, doubtless far inland, as he says there was no stream of any consequence to cross except the Upper Iowa, until he reached the St.
Peter’s river near Fort Snelling. There was no shelter, cabin, or tent for him on the route, but sometimes he
would come across an Indian encampment, where he was always well treated; but he seldom found the
encampment a second time in the same place.

To go back to Loyer. He was said to be a natural pilot, and became skilled in guiding the early steamboats on the upper river. The first steamboat in these waters, according to D. S. Durrie, Wisconsin State Librarian, writing in 1872, was the Virginia, which appeared in 1821. It was a small stern-wheeler, and a man with a pole was stationed on the bow to aid in steering. It proceeded to St. Peter’s, or Fort Snelling, with Loyer as pilot. There is some disagreement as to the year, but Colonel Brisbois says it was in 1821. Judge Lockwood wrote in 1856: “Until the year 1824 it was believed that a steamboat could not come up the Des Moines and Rock river rapids. But in the spring of that year David G. Bates brought to Prairie du Chien a very small boat called the Putnam, and proceeded to Fort Snelling. In June following, boats of a much larger class came
over the rapids, and went to Fort Snelling with supplies for the troops.” Mr. Durrie says: “In 1823 Count Beltrami came up the river on the steamer Virginia (118 feet long and 22 feet wide) in the month of May, and stopped at Prairie du Chien.” Another writer declares that the Virginia was the first boat, in 1823, and the Putnam the second, in 1824.

In 1823 J. C. Beltrami, a judge of a royal court in Italy at an earlier date, made a journey to the sources of the Mississippi, and in 1828 published an account of the journey, with a map of the river. With him was William Clark, of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-6, afterwards governor of Missouri territory, and Lawrence Taliaferro, Indian agent among the Sioux. The account says of that portion of the voyage pertaining to the borders of our county, and vicinity:

“The Owisconsin river is the principal channel of the fur trade carried on by the savage countries by way of Michilimackinak and the lakes with Canada and New York, of which Prairie du Chien is a considerable entrepot. Nine miles above the Prairie, at a point where the savages pay their adoration to a rock which they annually paint with red and yellow, the Mississippi presents scenes of peculiar novelty. The hills disappear, the number of islands, increases, the waters divide into various branches, and the river extends in some places to a breadth of nearly three miles. The vigorous fertility of these countries imparts strength to the grass and brushwood. Once a year the Indians set fire to the brushwood, so that the surface of the vast regions they traverse is successively consumed by the flames. It was dark, and we were at the mouth of the river Yawoha (Upper Iowa), the second of that name, when we saw at a distance all the images of the infernal
regions. The trees were on fire, which communicated to the grass and brushwood, and was blown by a violent northwest wind to the plains and valleys. The flames towering above the hills gave them the appearance of volcanoes, and the fire winding in its descent through places covered with grass, exhibited a resemblance of the undulating lava of Vesuvius. This fire accompanied u with some variation for fifteen miles.”

He gives a “table of short distances” as they were then estimated, some of which are as follows:

River Owisconsin to Prairie du Chien ......6 miles
To Painted Rock ........................................9 miles
To Cape Winnebagos………………… 18 miles
To Cape a Tale Sauvage………………10 miles
To Upper River Yawoha.……………… 19 miles

These estimates are evidently made from the windings of small boats, propelled by sail or human
muscle against the current.

In Schoolcraft’s “Mississippi River” he gives a table with somewhat short estimates:

Prairie du Chien, American Fur Co.’s house, to Cap-a-l’ail
(the summit, height 355 ft. above the Mississippi)………..…32 miles
To Upper Iowa River, island at the mouth …………………...14 miles
To Hoka River (Root River), the mouth..……………………..23 miles

The Cap-a-l’ail of these and other early travelers is supposed to have become the Capoli Bluff of later times. And cape Garlic, and Cape Puant, previously mentioned, somewhere between Harper’s and Heytman’s.

In 1826 the troops at Fort Crawford were transferred to Fort Snelling, leaving the former undefended. The Winnebagoes became very insolent, and in the following spring and summer frequent murders were
committed by them, so that the settlers took refuge in the old fort. In March, 1827, as narrated by Judge Lockwood, a halfbreed by the name of Methode, with his wife and five children, “went up the Yellow river or Painted Rock creek, about twelve miles above the Prairie, on the Iowa side, to make maple sugar. The sugar season being over and he not returning, and hearing nothing from him, a party of his friends went to look for him and found his camp consumed, and himself, wife and children burned nearly to cinders, and she at the time enciente. They were so crisped and cindered that it was impossible to determine whether they had been murdered and then burned, or whether their camp had accidentally caught fire and consumed them. It was generally believed that the Winnebagoes had murdered them, and Red Bird was suspected to have been concerned in it.” From the above statement of the distance from the Prairie, and other evidence, it seems that the locality of this murder was on Paint creek rather than Yellow river. The situation throughout the region became so alarming that J. B. Loyer, the guide before mentioned, was furnished with a horse and went across the Mississippi and through the back country to inform the commander at Fort Snelling of the conditions, and in due time two companies of the Fifth Infantry were sent to their relief, and the Winnebago outbreak was quelled. Some of them were brought to trial in 1828 for the murders, and two sentenced to be hung, but all were finally discharged, the supposed instigator of the crimes, Red Bird, having meanwhile
died in jail, of smallpox.

An anecdote presenting the Indian character in a more favorable light should be appropriate here. The Winnebago chief De-kau-ray had been held as a hostage for the delivery of the young men suspected of the murders. He disclaimed the responsibility of his nation for the behavior of the “foolish young men, over whom I and the other wise men have no control:” and charged it to the authorities themselves, who had supplied them with unlimited whisky. He was ready, however, to receive the punishment himself if need be for the honor of his people, being assured that if Red Bird was not given up he was to die in his stead.

Finding that confinement injured his health he requested permission to range the country on his parole. He was given liberty to go where he pleased during the day, but at sunset he was to return to the fort on pain of being considered an old woman. His friends urged him privately to flee, but he spurned their advice. At the first tap of the retreat De-kau-ray, or the Eldest De-kau-ray, who died on the Wisconsin river April 20, 1836, in his ninetieth year.

The building of the new Fort Crawford was begun in 1830, and completed in 1832. This was located about midway between the old French fort to the south and the fort to the north near the Dousman residence.

~transcribed by Lisa Henry

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