My native state is Maine where children were taught economy and to use their wits in business. My parents' ancestry dates back, historically, through all the generations of the northern colonies of the United States and they fought in all their wars. Both of my grandfathers were in the War of 1812.
I was born in the noted college town of Bowdoin on the hoodoo date of the month, the 13th of January in 1855. They named me George, no doubt thinking that I would be brave and truthful. As to the first, however, I went far short of the standard of the illustrious man of that name. As to the later, when I had thoughtlessly hacked a bad place in the nice little oak tree near our wilderness home, I daubed the place up with mud and threw the hatchet in the brush where it was not found until several weeks later.
One frost morning, when I was a year old, the family was startled with the crackling sound made by fire and, on looking, saw that the top of the house was in flames. I was bundled up and carried out some distance and laid on the chip pile where I watched the bright leaping flames with wide open eyes and, no doubt, pleasure, not knowing it would be more than four long years before the family would truly call any place hom Everyone that could help hurried to save all that was possible without themselves getting burned. Then our Maine home was only a memory of the past.
An older sister living in Iowa, then sparsely settled, was very homesick for us. A short time after the fire, the family started on their journey to the wilds of the middle west. We went by railroad to the Mississippi River and crossed over on the ice with a horse team to Iowa, for no bridges spanned the great waterway at that early date. Here began a real story of pioneer life which I will relate as I remember it, and the environments indelibly impressed on my mind.
When the warm weather of spring came, a yoke of oxen and a lynch-pin wagon were bought so that the family might continue their journey out into the wilds in quest of the best location that they could find for a home. They went down across the southern edge of Iowa, then back up through the western part of Iowa to Minnesota. After stopping at a number of places, many months having passed, we finally arrived at the Spirit Lake country in northwest Iowa. It was a beautiful, unsettled country with abundant grass covering the vast rolling prairie. Numbers of beautiful groves stood along the shores of a few of the largr of these most wonderful lakes of the world. For many years, these lakes were not prized very highly, but now their worth can hardly be estimated. They attract thousands of tourists every summer to stay a while by their bright sandy or pebble shores and to enjoy boating on their sparkling waters.
There were at this time a great number of smaller lakes but many of them have been drained and the places have become among our richest productive areas. Here lived thousands of muskrats and many of their houses could be seen in most of the shallow lakes or sloughs. Many other fur-bearing animals could be caught most anywhere. Great flocks of ducks and geese would stay a while in their long flight, both in the spring and in the fall. A few would nest here. Even the swan has been known to summer in this region.
In the big lakes, there were a great number of fish of different kinds. It is thought to be a great sport to fish here to this day. Many flocks of prairie chickens were seen here and there and it was pleasant to hear the booming, or the call, of the male in the spring time.
Some elk and deer and a few buffalo were still in the country. Many bones of buffalo were found in miry places, showing that large herds had roamed over these prairies. No jack rabbits were here then and did not come into these parts until more than twenty years later. A few of the smaller kind were found in the different groves. The prairie fires and so many wild animals had kept them killed off. Many song birds were on the prairie and in the woods. Many blackbirds nested around the sloughs. Flowers could be seen in all directions.
When the water was high in the spring, many fish in the big lakes would work their way up the little streams into the sloughs or down stream into little outlets. Sometimes a person could get a wagon load of them with a pitchfork. Pickerel would run first and then the buffalo fish. A fish trap could be made. Then it was not much trouble to throw them out of the water. My father caught a hundred buffalo fish one night that way.
Arriving in the lake region in August of 1858, we camped for a while on the shore of Spirit Lake. It is the largest of the chain of lakes. It is not round nor hardly oblong. It is about four miles north and south. The Indians called it "Minne- Waukon", meaning Spirit Water. It is said that they thought and talked of it in superstitious awe. East and West Okoboji of the chain of lakes still keeps the old Indian name. Okoboji is thought by some to be the name of an old Chief but the word is more likely to mean 'a place of grass' or 'a place to rest'.
West Okoboji is a deep lake in places and is surrounded by rocky, sandy and gravely shores. The summer tempest may sweep over its surface, heaping the waves much like a jumble of miniature mountain peaks. The fury of the gale will pick up the foaming white pinnacles and hurl them along like the driven snow in the worst of winter storms. For all that, the lake remains as clear as crystal and not even the water along the shore becomes the least bit roily. Spirit lake is the same.
Although Radisson, the French explorer, no doubt was in this part of the country in his long wanderings, about the year 1660, perhaps a little later, there was no effort made toward its settlement. Many thousands of Indians swarmed in all parts of the sheltered country and it would not have been safe for people to try to make a settlement so far from some kind of protection.
It is thought that hunters and trappers were out here long years before any settlement of white people was made. An old gun was fished out with hook and line from one of the lakes. An old-fashioned trap nearly eaten away with rust was also found. Many years after the country was settled, a grave was found where six or seven people had been buried. That may have been done when Nicollet was sent out with an escort in 1838 to make a topographical report of the country and of everything that would interest the government.
Thee was but little known about Northwestern Iowa and Southwestern Minnesota before the final treaty in 1851 with the Indians for any claim that they might have to lands in the two states. Bands of Indians were continually hovering around the country of these charming lakes. During many years of the past ages, they seemed to have met here on neutral ground, always looking upon the waters of Spirit Lake with superstitious awe; hence the name 'Minne-Waukon'.
The two Okoboji's for nearly a half circle with the two points several miles apart. Between East and West Okoboji is another beautiful lake called Center Lake, about a mile long by one-half mile wide. There are several hundred acres of timber circling around the south side of the lake.
Of this wonderful lake country, considered so far to the west, near the head waters of the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers, but little was really known before Nicollet's survey. From that time until the hardy pioneer came to hew himself out a home in the wilderness, this place was only visited by trappers and sportsmen for the abundance of fur animals and game to be found in that whole part of the country.
Trapping was good all up through Minnesota with its more than a thousand lakes. Around many of these lakes are the most picturesque and beautiful sceneries and some of the lakes still retain their significant Indian names. A few have old legendary lore, about which at different times much has been written. Most of it has been pure fiction for effect and to make a good story.
The lakes in northwestern Iowa have their shores varied from steep rocky walls to low sandy or gravely beaches. They are fringed in many places by picturesque groves of various kinds of trees.
Here, where nature has done so much to make the El Dorado of the Middle West on the banks of Spirit and Okoboji Lakes, beneath whose crystal waves myriads of the greatest of all game fishes dart hither and thither was to be enacted one of the most atrocious and pathetic tragedies ever recorded in the annals of Indian warfare. More will be said about this historic event later on.
Here is where, the next year after these horrible deeds, my father took his family; where, though an El Dorado yet roamed wild bands of Indians for hundreds of miles along the western border of the new settlements. Trouble with them at any time haunted the heart of every settler.
Immigration had gone up the Mississippi and other rivers and, in doing so, had gained better protection with better transportation than to be found out in the open out in that beautiful lake country. As a small boy when we arrived, I can scarcely remember when I first saw the shining waters of these lovely lakes, or when I first ran along their shores. I know I have enjoyed many pleasant times along their shady banks. As there were no children for me to play with for a number of years, I loved the things of nature and felt but little loneliness in places of solitude, taking pleasure in many rambles through the leafy groves and by the clear, enchanting lakes, watching the water fowl and the wild life of the creatures about me. They became my friends. The lure of the woodland, perfumed with the fragrance of many wild flowers, fascinated me. There I could listen to the sweet songs of birds and there the shimmering of golden sunbeams sifted through the parted leaves, giving a soothing and quieting touch when I was perplexed with boyhood troubles.
Iowa was a part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the first free state carved from that territory. A few settlers were living along the Mississippi River in that part of the territory at that date. The first school house built in Iowa in 1830, a little log building at Keokuk. Berryman Jennings taught the first term in the winter of 1830-31.About that time, treaties began to be made with the different tribes of Indians that inhabited the country. Emigration began coming fast, following up a number of rivers, especially the Iowa and the Des Moines. Good water was plentiful as well as timber, game and good soil along all these stream. The settlers could carry on commerce and have better protection by the wooded streams than out where the fierce storms swept the wide prairies. A large scope of this country in Western Iowa and Minnesota was nothing but a wilderness for many years, untouched by the plow or grazed by stock.
In the summer of 1856, a few people settled at Jackson on the head waters of the Des Moines river in Minnesota near the southern border. That summer a number of families made their log homes on the banks of Lake Okoboji. One family, a man and wife, made their home on the west shore of Spirit Lake. Getting to their new home so late in the season, they could raise no crops that year. They all had to go from sixty to one hundred miles for supplies. They had to contend with snow-banks in the winter and mud holes in the summer.
Rowland Gardner took up his home on the south shore of West Okoboji Lake and built a log house in a beautiful grove of small oak trees that would give shade in the summer and some protection from the storms in winter. Although a number of changes had come into his life he now having full vigor of manhood and a mature mind thought to make this a model and home for his declining years where he could live in peace and comfort. At the Gardner home were four children of his own and two small grandchildren. The parents of the two small children were living there also until they could finish their own home.
About a mile east of them was another home of five children. Further on east were two more homes with eight children in the three families.
There were two other log cabins built in that summer of '56. the settlement of a few families. Further on south the houses became more numerous. There were no houses to the west of the lakes. What a good time the children had that summer and fall out under the trees listening to the many birds with their sweet songs. The older children had such sport catching fish of different kinds. The lakes seemed to be running over with them.
In the fall and late summer, the wild fruit was gathered and some of it put away for winter use. Then there were great flocks of ducks and honking geese overhead winging their way to the south. Now and then a few deer and elk could be seen. Surely this should be the place of hope and happiness with all these rich blessings that nature had lavished on this spot.
It was easy to tempt men to risk the danger and endure the hardships when dame fortune would beckon with such alluring gestures.
The men from the time they came to the lakes in July were very busy working early and late to get a little sod broken up, houses built, hay cut and shelter for the stock. They failed to make any preparations toward defense against the roving bands of Indians.
Cold weather came far too soon, long before the new home builders had fully prepared for the sever storms of the coming long winter with the privations it would bring to the few scattered snowbound settlers. It proved to be a long cold winter and preventing communication between the widely separated families. They were intelligent and refined people and kept busy through the cold winter days preparing so they might raise a crop the coming season. One who has not done pioneering can hardly realize the hard work to be done on a new place and especially if the tools and implements are crude and poor which they were in those days as compared to those in use in later years. Children were taught their lessons by older ones in the family and thus time slipped by with everyone busy in spite of the discomforts and crudeness that all had to endure.
Some people have the mistaken idea that those who push themselves clear to the front lines in pioneering in such dangerous places are of the ignorant and shiftless classes of people but this is untrue. Many of the settlers coming to those parts in the fifties and sixties were well educated and from their descendants men have been honored by the state and nation.
It was not often, however, that the first settlers would reap the most benefit from the new country. Theirs was the hard struggle to get the raw prairie plowed up, with the fields fenced, stables for the stock and the dwellings to be made homelike.
It is reported he sold large quantities of poor whiskey to the Indians. Finally, the Chief of the Indian band accused Lott of stealing his horse and ordered him to leave the country by a certain time, although the Indians had no claim to that part of the country. At that time, it had passed from their possession.
As Lott had not gone by the appointed time, the Chief and a number of Indians came and destroyed much of his property. They drove Lott and his eldest son from their home. It was winter and a son of Lott who was twelve years old was frozen to death while trying to follow his father. For that, Lott sought cruel revenge. The chance came in a few years whey Lott and his oldest son killed the Indian Chief and most of his family.
At the death of the Indian Chief, his brother Inkpaduta became Chief of the band. He at best was but a savage brute and only waited for a safe opportunity to give vent to this fiendish lust for human slaughter. The death of his brother and family intensified his hatred toward the whites. In a short time, Chief Inkpaduta and a few of his renegade band started on the warpath, showing no mercy to women, children or any of those who had offered them friendship and hospitality.
The facts that I might state could convey by slight conception of conditions as they were in Minnesota and Iowa when my family moved from Maine in the winter of 1855-6. There was but little by forts or troops along the several hundred miles of the thinly settled middle western border.
It was well for us that we didn't go direct to the western part of the state when we first landed at Iowa City from Maine. Otherwise, we might not have escaped the horrible tragedies that came to all the settlers at Spirit Lake and for a few in Minnesota in March of 1857.
In the Indian Treaty of 1830, the Sioux had ceded their rights to the government of all the territory within Iowa territory. Yet, as if they might still have some claim on part of the state, it was included in the treaty of 1851, when they ceded large tracts of land to the government in Minnesota.
Ever after the latter treaty, it was not safe to venture far from a good sized settlement for there were apt to be bands of treacherous Indians in the western part of these two states.
Before the treaty of 1851, there was but little known about the Spirit lake country and Western Minnesota. Therefore the few settlers who moved into these parts in '56 did not fully realize their danger in their desire to improve the golden opportunity extended to many in the rich soil and free stock range that was offered as merely a gift.
The winter following the Spirit Lake settlement was an unusually sever one; cold weather, fierce storms and deep snows visited the district. It found the settlers ill prepared for the sweeping rains and drifting snows such as they had that winter. Then the winter, with all its hardships and privations, was nearly over and the few snowbound settlers were being cheered by the thoughts of soon getting the much needed supplies, from the distance without warning, like lightning from a clear sky, the awful doom of Indian savage ferocity was upon them.
It was a March morning when a small band of Indians was seen coming trailing one by one to the Gardner home. They were offered food which they ate greedily and helped themselves to anything they wanted.
It was soon felt that all the scattered settlement was in the greatest danger. Messengers started out to give warning of the peril that menaced them. The messengers were waylaid and slain before they give an alarm to anyone. Thus it was, the homes being so far apart, that none knew the hideous fate that was lurking with no preparations made for defense.
The horrible massacre soon began and, of all the pages of history on Indian bloody and fiendish crimes, there are none blacker than what the Red savages wrought in the Spirit Lake Massacre. While the Indians had begun their depredations some distance away down on the Little Sioux, the farther they went the worse they became in committing wanton acts of atrocity. They had committed no murder until they came to the defenseless settlement at the lakes. Here this small band of hideous Red renegades, under their Chief Inkpaduta, went from one house to another, meting out their frightful carnage until the whole settlement of men women and children was wiped out except four captives they took with them. These were three young women and one girl who was scarcely fourteen years of age.
The Indians began their horrible work at the home of this girl, Abbie Gardner, where the demons had gone asking for food. As her father turned to comply with their demands, he was shot through the back and instantly killed. In the agony of her heart, Abbie had to witness the slaughter of her father, mother, sister, brother and her sister's two little children. As she witnessed the horrible deeds, she wished that they might hurry and finish their fiendish work with her own death.
No words can portray her feelings of fear, of horror and anguish of heart in that dark hour and they many trying days that followed when they carried her away as a captive.
Let the reader remember that the writer came to the lakes when he was a small boy the year after the awful tragedy and that he grew to manhood in its environments. He had been in and out and around the Gardner log cabin as a boy. The cabin was still standing and well preserve when he was last there many years after the massacre. The writer was also at the Mead place a month one summer near Peterson where the Indians began their raid of crime. My two brothers, in the Civil War with other soldiers, were stationed at Paterson a part of this time in the early sixties.
When the savages had finished their merciless work at the Gardner home and looted the house, they compelled Abbie as their captive to go with them to their camping place. She, with her heart breaking of agony and overcome with terror, was led away to other horrible scenes where other people were slain and their houses set in flames. In the first day's carnage, twenty lives were taken but this did not appease the savage lust to slay. As they went on, their passion to kill became more inflamed. The next day, the Indians went to the other homes and finished up their horrible work around Okoboji Lake and brought two other captive women to their camp, Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thrasher.
From Okoboji, the Indians went to Spirit Lake where they found one family, Mr. and Mrs. Marble. As at other places, they professed friendship until they saw the chance to kill him when he could not make any defense. They then took Mrs. Marble as a fourth captive.
From there, they continued traveling some distance in a northerly direction where they went into camp for several days. Here the captives were left and guarded by the squaws while the braves painted for war and donned their fighting feathers in preparation to attack Springfield (now Jackson) on the upper Des Moines River in Minnesota. By this time, meager news had gone out of the massacre at Okoboji and some of the people at Springfield had been made up for defense. Even then, the people there were taken by surprise and were fired upon before the presence of the wily foe was known to be near.
More than half of the people there were forted up in a log house. Here a good fight was made by the defendants. It is said that a woman helped to fire the guns. It was thought she hit an Indian and killed him. When the ambushed attack was made, two men and a woman were severely wounded and a boy was killed. Of the twenty that were besieged, five were men. Only three of them were able-bodies but even the wounded helped a little. The women ran bullets, loaded guns and looked after the needs of the wounded. A hospital and asylum was in one of the homes of the pioneer settlers.
The defenders gave the savages such a warm and lively reception on this occasion that, after several hours of continuous firing, they gave up trying to take the fortified house and went to plundering where there would be no danger.
The brothers that kept the store had traded some with the Indians and thought they were on friendly terms with them and would be spared even if they did come in their war paint. This confidence in the Red man's friendship proved to be their death for they were murdered. The Indians packed away the goods from the store on stolen horses. It was nearly sundown when the ceased firing on the fortified house and turned all their attention to looting other dwellings. When the firing ceased, the defenders were suspicious that some trick was to be tried on them. As nothing was heard or seen of the wily foe, careful reconnoitering showed that the Indians had left the settlement. While those who had fought so bravely felt greatly relieved, they knew that the savages might return in a day or two and utterly destroy them. Considering the situation, they decided it would be best to leave the place as soon as possible.
A yoke of oxen was found that had been spared. They were hitched to a sled, a few articles and provisions were hastily gathered, then the wounded and the children were loaded in. The men and women had to walk most of the way. By midnight, they were ready to start their long, painful and perilous journey following down the Des Moines River. It proved to be a long, slow, wearisome journey.
After several days of untold hardships of wallowing through the trackless snow and suffering for provisions, they were met by delayed volunteers who were marching to defend the scattered settlers. A hundred armed men had been sent out from Fort Dodge to relieve the living, bury the dead and render all assistance possible, but the deep snow had made the traveling very slow.
Because of the conditions at that time when traveling was done so slowly and the distances so far from Fort Dodge to the seat of the trouble, it was several days before the first meager report of the massacre could be verified. It may be in trying to portray frontier life that we linger too long with the darkest shadows of the picture, but the many thousands of people living in happy homes now where there was but a wilderness then, should know something of the enormous price it cost in lives and privations to make the wilds of our great domain a fit dwelling place for a refined and happy people. If you live in the West or Middle West, what I relate comes close to home.
With all the hindering causes, it was nearly a month before a detachment of the Company of Volunteers reached the lakes where the relentless Savages had left nothing but lifeless forms. A ghostly and shocking sight met their gaze as they went from cabin to cabin. The same scene was everywhere. These brave men who had gone so far, daring to face the dangers of the trackless wilderness and winter storms, through so many miles of deep snow for humanity's sake, now performed the last sad rites with reverence and sympathy for the relatives of the victims of savage ferocity; sacred by the memory of those brave pioneers who gave the supreme sacrifice to the forward march of civilization into the great uninhabited regions of the west.
A day or two after the Indians made their attack on Springfield, a company of regular soldiers arrived from Fort Ridgley. After staying one day in Springfield, they followed the trail of the Savages some distance but did not overtake the. It was learned later that they had nearly reached the Indian camp when the Commanding Officer decided to give up the chase and return to Springfield.
It proved to be well that they did so because the Savages knew of the coming of the soldiers. If they had overtaken the Indians, the Indians were prepared to kill the captives and ambush the soldiers. When the Indians had learned by their sentries that the troops had turned back, they quickly prepared for flight and did not stop long enough at any one place to camp for two days.
Although the soldiers had turned back the Indians were afraid that they would be pursued so they kept up their flight day after day. The four women had to wallow through the slushy snow and wade the ice cold water in the streams in their long journey of weeks. Each one had a heavy pack to carry. Pen cannot picture nor tongue fully describe the suffering that the captives had to endure. No mercy was shown in their suffering. It does not seem possible that one of Abbie Gardner's tender years, who until now lived under the protection of a good home and the loving care of Christian parents, could possibly endure the hardships that her tormenters made her go through. She lived many years after deliverance but suffered much through the years from the effects of seeing her family murdered and of her awful experiences while in captivity.
One of the captives in their long journey became ill and the Indians pushed her into a river that they were crossing and she was drowned. Another woman was slain just as deliverance was nearly in sight.
After two months of agony and suffering, some friendly Agency Indians came to their camp and bought the other woman, Mrs. Marble. They took her to their agency many miles away where they received pay for their services and what she had cost them in trade.
Soon after the deliverance of Mrs. Marble to the Agency, plans were set in motion to rescue Abbie and bring her back to civilization. This was accomplished a little later that year.
The writer's eldest sister, Mrs. Mary Grover, lived with her family in Marble Grover for many years after the massacre. Mr. and Mrs. Marble were the ones who lived at Spirit Lake. He was slain when she was taken captive. She lived many years after her deliverance from the cruel hands of her tormentors but the scene at their home on the shore of Spirit Lake was too horrible for her to ever wish living there again. The people slain in the bloody raid under Chief Inkpaduta at the lakes and at Springfield numbered more than forty individuals. Let not the happy and prosperous dwellers of the middle northwest forget the deeds of sacrifice by the pioneers whose blood has consecrated the soil of this vast commonwealth to the coming generations and their descendants forever.
After the Volunteers from Fort Dodge had completed their sad task, they started their long dangerous journey homeward over the wide stretches of trackless prairie. There had been a few days of warm weather that made the whole prairie a bed of slush and they had to cross streams running full of water. Before they had gone half the distance on their return trip, a cold wind came sweeping down from the north that penetrated and chilled the very marrow of their being. In a short time, a fierce snow storm, a blizzard, began that caught the men out in the open wilderness without shelter.
Two of the volunteers, disagreeing as to the direction of the nearest settlement, started off by themselves and were never seen again. Then the main body of men found the friendly shelter of a settler. When nothing was heard from the missing men, parties went out looking for them but their search was fruitless. No trace of them could be found. Some twelve years later, their skeletons were found together where they had laid down in their last long sleep. They had wandered many miles from the place where they were last seen.
Those who had stayed together, after severe suffering and nearly frozen, reached the settlement in safety although some of them had become so exhausted that they had to have help in reaching shelter.
As provisions were so very scarce in this part of the country, we did not make our sojourn at the lakes very long. From there we went to South Bend near Mankato, Minnesota where a crop was planted and raised. After this, we returned to the lakes.
During the first of our four and a half years wandering, I was too young to notice things very much. As time went by, I saw much that interested me such as the song birds of the prairie as well as the many kinds of birds in the woods. Many striped gophers were running all over the prairie and would stand up so straight and look with curiosity. Then they would make their little chattering noises and dart into their holes. I was amused to watch how wonderfully the many ducks could float around on the water of the sloughs and lakes that we passed almost every day. Some of the ducks had broods of little ones. It was a mystery to me how they could float around on the water all the time when chickens would never try it. What I did like to see was the bob-o-link in its short flights and hear its sweet song as it flew.
What interested me so much were the many apparently hay shocks in the water of nearly all the little lakes that we passed. I was told they were rat houses made by a water rat about the size of a cat with sharp teeth and a long smooth tail. When I was seven years old, I began trapping these fur-bearing animals. Through the years while living there, I caught many of them . By the sale of the fur, I was able to buy most of my clothes and school books.
Where we lived for a year in Minnesota was also a pleasant place. The Blue Earth River ran near by where there was some fishing done. I would go sometimes with my older brothers. One day brother Martin let me pull a little fish out. It excited me and I soon tried it alone but it did not work. I fell in headfirst and had a hard time getting out. I did manage to crawl up the bank where my brother Martin luckily found me.
There was also a little falls Called Minneopa (water falling over) near where we lived in Minnesota that summer. I returned to the spot thirty-five years later and saw where one of my brothers had carved his name in the high sandstone wall.
That summer Indians would often be seen and sometimes they would loiter around and act a little queer. I was told they had been 'drinking' but, at that time, I hardly knew what that meant. One day an Indian just walked right into the house. How his ugly old face did scare me! I hid behind my mother. As he did nothing and said but little, I soon got courage to come and ask "Is you Injun?" I was made to keep still because no one felt like giving offence in any way. Even then they were getting a little sulky and well I might be afraid. Three years later, they did many horrible deeds and spread terror all along the middle northwestern border.
In July, my father and my oldest brother went back to Center Grove to cut hay for winter feed and also to do some improvements on our claim. That fall of '59. we moved back to Center Grove but not onto our own place until the next spring.
I remember the journey well. The first load was mother, the smaller children and the household goods. The team of oxen was driven part of the way by mother. Most of the way, however, brother Frank, now 18, drove when he could be spared from helping to drive the small bunch of cattle and hogs we took with us. Brother Martin, now eleven, looked after the stock most of the time. Father and brother Tom stayed at the farm at South Bend to husk the corn and gather other crops.
One night we camped by a steam. When crossing the stream, the hogs just would not go in the water. Frank thought that, by taking the smaller ones over, the others would follow. The effort was a failure because, as soon as the little pigs were release, they would go back to their mother. A half circle of fire was made in the tall grass around the whole bunch. With the help of everybody, all the pigs were started together and the crossing was successful.
When we had gone some fifty miles and were half way to our destination, the front Axle of the wagon broke at the hub of the wheel which delayed us for several days. A log cabin was found among a few trees on the bank of a lake near where the accident occurred. There we stayed and were very comfortable.
The day after this accident, mother left to go to the wagon some distance away for a few needed things. I was given strict orders to stay at the cabin with my two sisters. Thinking I could find the wagon, I decided to go but went in the wrong direction and could not find my way back to the cabin. I was lost. At first, I was very interested in watching the ducks on the water, the birds in the bushes and the many ground squirrels running all over the prairie. Noon came and still I wandered from one little lake to another. Soon the sun was going down in the west but, fortunately, I was found by my brother Martin. That was a pretty hard experience for a disobedient four year old boy.
Brother Frank went on to the next little village a day's travel away to try to get a wagon to help us on our journey. However, it could not be found so we travelled on with the old broken wagon. This was done by making a pole fast to the axle and having the wheel chained fast to it. In that way we got through to our journey's end all right but it made hard pulling for the oxen because the wheel would not turn around. It made such a deep mark that, in places, it could be seen for a year.
In travelling, the scene was one of vast rolling prairies with not a house to be seen except the few houses by timbered streams and lakes. There were many dangers and hardships in traveling over such an expanse of almost trackless country. So many times the wagon would mire down and then it would be hard to get out. At times, most of the items in the wagon would have to be unloaded and carried to solid ground. In places, mosquitoes were so bad that smudges would have to be made to protect ourselves and the stock from swarms of the little pests. The stock soon learned to stand around in the smoke of the several smothered fires.
At times, thunder storms would come up. Then things would have to be tied fast and braced the best that could be done. At least part of the stock would be chained to wagon wheels or to something solid, because lightning would flash, the thunder would roar, the wind would blow a gale, and the rain would pour down in torrents. Once two immigrant children were killed by lightning near where we were in such a storm.
One day we had quite a time making the cattle swim a river. The first ones came out and then, in the middle of the stream, they began milling and swimming in a circle. Frank, who was herding them, had to get out of their way and let them come to the side from which they had started. Frank once saved a young fellow from drowning in this way.
In the fall of the year there was danger from the fires that swept the prairies at times with great speed. Woe to the person caught by such a fire when the grass was heavy and dry. Once Brother Tom, while on a journey, saw from a hill an emigrant family of two wagons about to be caught in such a fire. He ran to them and succeeded in getting the wagon with the women and children to safety. When he looked around, he saw that the wall of flames had struck the other wagon. The man and the team were so badly burned that they soon died. Tom had severe burns from getting the man out of the fire. All such hardships have been the lot of those who traveled much in those pioneer days.
We kept plodding on with the broken wagon towards our new home. The many weary days with the slow-moving oxen had tried the patience and strength of the family. Provisions had run low and thankfully we were when we came at last to the beautiful Center Grove which was the end of our journey. How thankful we were that we had passed safely through the dangers and hardships of the four and a half years wandering to have a home of our own. As no house had been built yet on our claim, we spent the winter in a log cabin where soldiers were stationed the year before. No one was living near the Grove of several hundred acres except for a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, who had taken up a claim and were living in a log cabin in the heavy timber. The cabin we lived in that winter hardly had a nail in its construction. It had split logs for a floor, split sticks and mud for a fireplace.
As soon as the wagon could be repaired, Frank went back with brother Martin after a load of corn. When they had gone about a third of the way to South Bend, the oxen were turned out that night to feed. The next morning they could not be seen anywhere. Frank, thinking they might have wandered back home, went in that direction and was gone three days before he found them. Martin, eleven years old, was left alone all that time out on the bleak prairie with no one in sight. Youth today is fine but no finer than the pioneer lad. They were undaunted by fear and were brave and resolute. They had no more trouble on their journey. On their return trip, father came with them. Tom and Frank went back after the last load. It was getting late in the fall and one of those sudden cold storms came up. Both of the boys were frostbitten and this condition stayed with them all their lives.
That winter of 1859-60 we suffered for the right kinds of food and from the cold. The corn was placed up in the loft over the fireplace. It became so badly smoked that the flavor of it was spoiled for meals or for hominy. We had to eat it and make the best of it. We seldom saw anyone during the whole winter except for Mr. and Mrs. Brown who lived a half a mile away. There were no other families within three miles of us but for a few in the county or in the counties to the east and south. There was no one to the west of us.
Wolves and foxes would bark and howl at night but would slink away in the early morning. I only remember seeing three foxes at different times except for those caught in traps. There were many fur-bearing animals but only a few traps could be bought. Thus the catch that winter was small.
When the cold, bitter winter was finally past and the warm sun made the flowers and the leaves of the trees come out, it gave joy to all kinds of life. The chipmunks were very numerous all through the timber. How I did like to watch the pretty little animals in their quick movements as they scampered up and down the trees or run along the crooked rail fences.
In the bright sunshine of the warm summer days, so many song birds came that the woods sounded like a paradise. The brown thrush chose some high, bare limbs to pour out its indescribably sweet notes. The cat-bird would find a thicket in which to do its singing. The blackbirds would come in big flocks of different kinds and would spread all over a tree or several trees. They would have a well-organized orchestra of their own. The chirruping frogs and the lazy buzzing of water flies could be heard. Snakes were everywhere, big and little, single and in bunches. We children took long sticks and killed a great number of them which made a bigger pile than you would believe if I would tell you of its size. Sister Caroline, coming home from Mankato a hundred miles away where she had been going to school, helped to pile up dead snakes. She and Mrs. Brown then gathered wood and burned them.
That winter, and for several winters, extra care had to be taken of our few hens. The foxes, skunks, mink and weasels were read much of the time to take one or more of them. A mink killed a whole flock one night. We thought the hen-house was animal-proof. The mink dug a hole under the bottom log. Getting in the hen-house, he bit the hens in the throat and sucked their blood. In the morning, there the hens lay dead, bled and ready for picking. We did not think for a moment of not utilizing them for food.
The food varied but little during the winter from the poor corn bread with milk. How I longed for something green! When the springtime had brought its verdure of green, how I did relish eating the little tender shoots of raspberries and other greens that were gathered and cooked. They made a meal fit for a king. With ducks and geese so plentiful because they came in great flocks and the many fish going up the little streams, we had food in abundance when the season was broken.
In 1860, sister Caroline was married to Abel Keene of Mankato, Minnesota. He had large holdings in that part of the state. This was the first marriage in Dickinson County. A little later that same year, my youngest brother, Abel Lester, was born. He was one of the first, if not the first white children, born in Dickinson County, Iowa.
Just back of the building was a grove of three hundred acres of timber. Scattered here and there were various kinds of forest trees such as oak, elm, ironwood, linden, wild cherries, plums and thorn-apples. Our view in front of the house was a gem-like lake of several acres on which many flocks of ducks and geese would light during the fall and spring seasons. When the fair breeze from the south was stirring the surface of the lake, waving the tall grass that grew around its shores, the brown thrush and other songsters make the woods ring with their sweet melody of song, it made an ideal wilderness home
No sound came from any direction save the rustling of the leaves in the tops of the trees and the music of the birds. The sweet scent of the wild-wood and the fragrance of the flowers lent a charm that lingers with me yet, although many picturesque scenes have been enjoyed since those of my boyhood days. Later, when the flowers were all gone and the songs of the birds had ceased, how the early frosts of autumn would come to color the woodland leaves with gorgeous bright tintings! Then it was alluring to wander among the trees and trailing vines. From the top of the hill three beautiful lakes could be seen. Beyond them was the rolling prairie as far as the eye could reach, but no house was in sight. The few houses that were built would be hidden in the timber of which several groves could be seen that surrounded them.
As I was a small boy when we moved to the homestead, in the first few years, I do not remember much that was taking place a few miles from our home. I do remember that it was a number of years before any boys of my age lived in the area. Thus it was that I grew up a child of nature itself and feeling but slight loneliness in the places of solitude. I took pleasure in my many rambles through the leafy groves and by the clear enchanting lakes while watching the water fowl and the wild life of the little creatures about me.
The lure of the woodland, perfumed with fragrance of many wild flowers fascinated me the most. There I could listen to the sweet song of birds and there the shimmering of golden sunbeams sifted through the parted leaves. That gave me a soothing and quieting touch when I was perplexed by boyhood troubles. Later in life, how I enjoyed journeying through the great forests of the far west, camping beneath their spreading branches and even taking pleasure while inhaling the sweet smoke from the burning twigs of the campfire, all being stimulated by my early environment. We lived less than a mile from the noted historic Okoboji Lake. For many years, its bordering land was not thought to be of much value. Now the lake has become a noted resort. In places, its shore is valued at a very high price. The first year on our place a garden was planted, a little seed corn was put in, and did very well. How eagerly we children did watch the garden plants come up and then develop into good cooking vegetables.
It is pretty hard to go to a new place and get all the work needed to be done and to be comfortable and the stock cared for the first year. While things were not as comfortable as we would have liked to have them, yet we got through the year very well. That first winter was a cold, stormy one. One blizzard lasted three days. During that time, it was not safe to be out on the prairie because a person would soon lose which direction to go. The storm made many deep drifts of snow. The big hill and the timber gave us protection but bushels of snow sifted through the roof of our house. This first long winter at our new home with all the privations and with its bitter cold finally passed.
How glad we pioneers were when we saw the first flock of geese flying north. Then we knew that the ocean of countless snow would soon disappear and that nature would soon spread before us her beautiful carpet of velvety green. Later the flowers would burst forth in marvelous freshness and filling the air with their fragrance. Birds of the prairie and forest would begin to sing their sweetest carols. All of this would bring courage and hope. More crops were planted in the summer of '61 and a bigger garden was planted. The wilderness was slowly and patiently being reclaimed for future generations. We children again watched the little plants push their way up from the soil, then grow and develop to all we could desire. How we did enjoy the nice, tender vegetables from the virgin soil!
The second summer there, a heavy thunder storm came up. The vivid lightning, the loud thunder rolled and a tornado struck the house. The whole top of the house was torn off and scattered it to the four winds of heaven. Our house was made with but few nails and the roof was of split shakes and was kept in place by long poles. The torrent of rain poured down, soaking most of our clothes and bedding. By this time, we had become inured to such incidents and did not mind it very much. All damage was soon repaired and a good roof was put on.
Being poorly clothed for cold weather, the winters of my early life were dreary days to me but, in the warmer seasons, all nature had a fascinating charm that was hard for me to resist in keeping me near home. I was five years old and, during that first summer, would wander around nearby through the brush and edge of the timber while gathering flowers and watching the wild life all around me. As the years went by, my wanderings would be in a bigger circle. In the course of time, I would go a mile away and find my way home with no problem. I was very much afraid of the dark so I was sure to be home before sundown. Sometimes I went to Center Lake which was a mile away. I liked it there very much because the shore at the place I chose was shallow and nice and sandy for wading.
In years past, there was an island some distance from the shore but, in my boyhood days, it was about two feet under water. One old stub of a tree and several stumps were still there. On any good summer day, black loons could be seen resting on the old tree. In a big tree just up from the shore of the lake was an eagle's nest and near the head of Okoboji Lake was another nest. There were six to eight eagle nests around the lake.
Some day buffalo fish could be seen flopping on the surface of the water in Center Lake. The fishing was not very good in this lake but a few of these fish were caught. Sometimes in the spring a fish trap was installed between Center Lake and a large slough. A whole wagon load of buffalo fish could be caught in one night. In the course of years, many raccoons and mink were caught in the area of Center Lake.
The second year the crops did very well and the herd and the flock increased but, for all of that, for a number of years we had to do without many things that we would have liked very much to have. Once we did not have any kind of bread for two weeks. That flour was brought in from Mankato, a hundred miles away. It cost twenty-two collars a barrel. However, we did have plenty of potatoes and milk so we did very well. Most of the people of this time, although having very little, kept cheery and hopeful while having to make a habitation in the wilderness.
In the fall of '61, my two oldest brothers, Tom and Frank, joined the army and served in the Seventh Iowa Cavalry for three years. Many other strong young arms nearby also went away to war. They with others were stationed at various points along the border and were in action under General Sully in Dakota where they gained a victory over the Indians. Then the boys were mustered out at the end of three years. Tom re-enlisted and was sent south where he served until the end of the Civil War.
When I was ten years old, there was built on my father's place, with contributions of material and labor, a little, log school house. My thoughts often turn to that little log cabin where I attended school a few months each year until I was grown. It has been more than three score years since that cabin was built.
Although I have been many years in the far west and have seen the grandeur of the mountains, the greatness of many forests, and looked on the majestic waters of the Pacific Ocean as the crested waves came racing in and their shining spray dashing high on the rocky shore, yet, for all that and the many activities of life, my thoughts ever and anon go back to my early log-built house and the little log school-house by the hill. These have a fascination one can never banish or forget. There, nestled by its natural protection of the timber and the mound, was the home where my early years were spent and where the heart and memory remain.
While the first few summers were fraught with strenuous labor, yet it cheered the hearts of the home builders because it brought food for the hungry, seed for the sower and an increase in flocks and herds. Then after the growing season and summer heat came the frosts of autumn that turned the forest leaves to hues and tintings of delicate touch that artists cannot reproduce. The sun would often set in glorious splendor, its rays touching the clouds with golden luster, which would be reflected by our lake as its rippling waters reflected the tinted glories from above and stirred by the gentle evening breeze.
Sometimes in the pleasant summer evenings we would linger outside, sitting around our humble log-house door, listening to the often repeated pipings of several whip-poor-wills and other sounds of the night that would come drifting on the gentle breezes.
When the frosty nights of autumn advanced, the hundreds of miles of luxuriant prairie grass would become dead and dry. Then nearly all the whole prairie would be swept by fire. Often the fire would go by leaps and bounds racing along with an almost incredible rate of speed. Sad has been the lot of those who have been caught far out on the prairie and did not know how to protect themselves from the oncoming sheets of flame. Early settlers would make firebreaks by plowing around their buildings in two places some distance apart. Then they would burn the grass between the plowed places. Even then, the wind would sometimes hurl firebrands over the firebreak and crops and buildings would be destroyed. I remember seeing long lines of fire at night as it flickered or raced over the prairie many miles away.
One of the men who was besieged in the log house at Springfield (now Jackson) by the Indians took an adjoining claim to ours and became our neighbor for a while. Another neighbor was one of the expedition that buried the people who were murdered by the Indians in the spring of 1857.
The earliest settlers were able to get claims with some timber but later they began going further and further from the timber. When wood was not obtainable, they used hay from fuel. When twisted up, it did better than one would suppose. A machine was invented to twist the hay. Then it would be cut the right length for burning and piled up like stove wood. After a few years. many burned corn when it was cheap.
A large portion of the early settlers of the Spirit Lake country were educated and refined people, far more so than the lot of new settlements. Some of them had gone to college and soon small schools were started. These were usually in private homes when other buildings were not obtainable. A barn was used in one location.
A library association was formed and, among the papers, one is still preserved in which appeared the poem by Mrs. A. L. Buckland titled, "LEGEND OF SPIRIT LAKE". It compares favorably with the best poems available and no doubt will be available for a long time. A library association was organized and a small circulating library was in use to bring the everyday needs and the daily paper long before the railroad had come.
As stated before, the first school house in the county was built on my father's property at the foot of the big hill. At one time the building was the place where the Methodists were holding a big six-week revival meeting. Members became so zealous in their devotions that large crowds attended the meeting nightly. They came for miles around and filled the building to its capacity. Two converts had what was called 'the power'. They apparently went into a trance and seemed to be unconscious much of the time for two or three days. The Indians practice this which is known as gonglee. Some of the converts from that little log school house kept their faith and worked for righteousness the rest of their long lives.
Again we cannot over-estimate the contributions to humanity of the hardy pioneers who made the wilderness a fit dwelling place for a cultured and thinking people, nor can we pay too big a tribute to their memory. They not only devoted a lifetime to the tasks before them but they have handed down to their descendents traits of character that have made their influence felt the world over. Their voices are heard in legislative halls, They are successful in professional and business circles. They are honored as tillers of the soil where, by scientific farming, their labors have been richly rewarded with bountiful crops. By intelligent breeding, their herds of stock have become the pride of the country.
In western Iowa, during the early seventies, many emigrant trains of ox teams could be seen plodding along the dusty trail headed in westerly and northwesterly directions. Some of them were going to the prairie lands of Nebraska. Some were bound for the Red River of the North where they would find extensive rich wheat lands. The experiences that they had were much the same, privations, hardships and trouble with the Indians. Undaunted, they pushed on and have won out, have subdued the wilderness and, with their hands, made it bring forth bountiful harvests of rich products. All honor to the brave pioneers who lived such a noble character and who have left the vast domain subdued for coming generations.
Many times I saw the ox teams and wrote the following of them:
Lines of prairie schooners are seen along the roads.
Teams of many oxen are pulling heavy loads.
The journey is a trying one. The days are very long.
Here and there is heard the stanza of a song.
The teamsters of the oxen are in a whirl of sand,
But guide their plodding oxen by whip they have in hand.
Some will cross the British line to raise large fields of grain,
While others on their journey would cross the Western plain.
In spirit, they are Spartan bred but go to till the soil.
They hope no call comes to arms. They want no victor spoils.
Though heroes in the battle may get the honors due,
Who will crown the pioneer? He fought hard battles too.
He looks for few bare needs of life, yet does his very best
To bring about the changes so much needed in the west.
To subdue the savage men and break the virgin soil,
To do all that is needed takes a life of care and soil.
The gophers were destructive to the corn when it was coming up and when it was in the shock. When I was a small boy, I learned to catch them in traps and by snaring them with a long string by putting a loop over the hole. When the little pest stuck his head out of the hole, I would give the line a jerk and the gopher would be snared. The chipmunk bothered the crops some but they did no go far from the timber. They are smaller and have brighter stripes than the gopher has. Sometimes, when trapping for gophers, I would get bigger game. Once, a badger was caught and, pulling up the little stake, both the badger and trap were found over a mile away.
Anyone who has not seen the blackbird get busy with corn just coming up would be surprised to know what a great amount of damage they can do in just a few hours. To destroy a small field of corn would be a day's stint. Then they would be ready for another field the next day. As no field of corn the first few years was more than twenty acres, and all of them near timber, it was a hard job to keep the birds off and get a crop to grow. Corn was often replanted once or twice a season.
There were four species of these black bird pests. One was the big kind and wholly black that nested in small trees. While not very numerous, they were the most destructive. We children destroyed all of their nests that we could find. The yellow heads, the red wings and the smaller wholly black ones nested in rushes and cane-break in swamps and sloughs. Here they increased in untold numbers of flocks. They were most numerous in the spring and the utmost care was spent to keep the birds away while the blades were small and tender. Then it was that the birds pulled at the blades and scratched in the hull until they got at the kernel. The settlers used various means to protect their crops from these black birds such as poison, scarecrows and shooting. One man was known to have killed over forty birds with one shot.
When the kernel began forming in the ear, the war on the birds had to be renewed. They would come in great flocks and would soon have many ears partly destroyed by their scratching and pecking. When they were scared away, they would fly to the nearby trees and there let out such a melody of song that it would entertain anybody who did not know that they were such a detriment to the struggling pioneer. When they were scared from the cornfield, they would have an orchestra of a short duration in nearby trees. Then the tormenting songsters would swoop down on some other part of the field and there continue the work of destruction to the growing field of corn. As very little wheat was raised the first few years, the loss in the corn crop was felt very much.
The Egyptians had their plague of locusts so we, the pioneers in the prairie countries, had our plague of grass-hoppers. We had an invasion of them in the sixties, myriads of them, but they did not do very much damage. They came again in the seventies in much greater numbers than before and were with us three years that time. Untold damage was done to growing crops.
On one summer day, the sunlight was suddenly dimmed. Looking above, great clouds of grass-hoppers could be seen far overhead glistening in the sky. They were going in a north-easterly direction. At first, we were in hopes they might keep on going and be destroyed by the elements. We did not have long to wait before they began to land everywhere, myriads of them, with enormous appetites. Unlike any other insect, they had a taste for tobacco but their indulgence was their finish. In some fields of wheat and corn, every leaf and stalk was eaten to the ground until the fields looked as bare as the desert. A few ripening fields of grain were saved by men going back and forth over them and switching long ropes as they went to cause the grass-hoppers to start flying again with the wind.
The loss of crops and scarcity of money brought a state of depression all over this part of the country. Some of the settlers left their homesteads and others sold out for a small sum. Most of the energetic ones stayed on their places and became in course of time well to do. Minnesota gave a bounty for the destruction of grass-hoppers. Many thousands of bushels of grass-hoppers were captured by different devices, bringing the reward offered. In this way, a few received a little money for the great amount of damage the hoppers did.
In a raging blizzard, objects can be seen but a few feet away and sense of direction is soon lost. People have been caught out in a blizzard but a short distance from home and have frozen to death trying to get back through the fierce blast of cutting snow. There was such danger for the teamster, if caught while crossing one of the broad unmarked prairies in one of these terrifying blizzards, when the boundless area of snow is take up and its icy particles hurled through the air with such force that neither man nor beast can live long in the fury of the storm. It is enough to bring terror to the heart of any luckless traveler overtaken by such an ocean of whirling, cutting snow that soon obliterates the road and shuts off the vision in all directions. It was quite common in early days after a fierce blizzard to hear of one or more persons who had perished in the perilous storm.
My oldest brother Tom, while carrying the mail from Sioux City one hundred and twenty miles to Spirit Lake, was caught in one of the dreaded storms. Before the road was entirely hidden from view by the storm, he came to a bridge. By digging part of the drifted snow from beneath it, he was able to get himself and his team partly sheltered. There he stayed until the worst of the storm was over. By careful driving, he was able to get home safely. My father was caught out in a storm and, after wandering for a long time, he found shelter in a trapper's cabin. An acquaintance was lost in a bad storm. He came to a haystack and stayed there until he knew which way to go. He kept pm exercising and even going up on the stack to jump off.
As late as 1888, there were terrible blizzards which raged over several states. Several hundred people lost their lives and a great number of cattle perished. As years passed, the blizzards were less frequent and lost much of their violence. After all these years, the storm that stands out most clearly in my mind is one that began 0n January 11th, 1873. The storm continued that day and the next and on into the following night and it was bitterly cold. Then the sun rose bright that day and it was a beautiful morning for that time of the year. The weather continued fine until about noon when the storm broke with untold fury.
My home and the school house nearby, being in a sheltered place, did not feel near the force of the storm that they did on the open prairie. A lot of children were attending the Center Grove school and it was thought best not to have the children try to get home in such a terrifying storm. One man came to the school house with a team of horses and a sled. He took his children and some others with him.
The smaller children that were left at the school house were taken to my home, while I stayed at the school house with the larger ones. On the second day, we heard what we thought was a call out in the storm. It must have been only the sound of the gale. I thought it might be possible that someone might need help, I went out into the storm. I looked around for a while and even went over the big hill. No sound could be heard except that of the roaring demon storm king. None of the children suffered much and not even a frost bit was felt by anyone in our whole neighborhood.
When the cold weather of late autumn would come, most of the farm work for those early pioneers would be over. Later, when they had good tools and implements, corn husking would often last up to Christmas. Some of the farmers would spend much of the winter working in the timber and cutting stove wood for the coming year or splitting rails and hauling them out for fencing. When the first hard freeze came, the bigger boys and girls would have a grand time skating. After the snow would come, some of the young people would have a fine time sleighing.
By the early seventies, railroads came near enough so grain could be hauled to them and then that would be part of the winter's work. When they began building homes out on the bleak prairie, many settlers, especially the foreigners, made sod houses. They could be made much warmer than a frame house. It too courageous men to go out into the great tireless wilds to break up a few furrows of the tough prairie sod and turn it into a dwelling place that they might be protected from the biting cold of winter and the heat and storms of summer.
It was a dreary scene to look over the vast deep ocean of white in winter with nothing to break the monotony of the never ending scene except for a few humps that could be seen here and there in the snow where sod houses and other buildings had been made. All lay blanketed in one white robe. At night could be heard the howl of the wolf. Smart young people have gone out from these same sod houses and their descendants have been honored by their state and nation. No more is the howl of the wolf heard on cold winter nights in all that land.
Some fishing was done through the ice on Okoboji. Later, when there was sale for fish, quite a number of fish houses were taken out on the ice and a regular fish business was done on the two lakes. Sometimes a whole load could be gathered up and taken away to market.
Not many of the earliest settlers were able to improve their places and buy the needs for the home from the products of the farm for several years. As there were but few ways to earn money, it was not unusual for farmers to be trappers in the fall and early winter or in the early spring when the ice broke up on the lakes. Generally, when the trappers would go far from home, one or more would go together. When more than two went to a place it did not prove to be very satisfactory for all involved. It would be hard to find a better country for furs from muskrats to foxes and wolves than in the Spirit Lake area in the early sixties. There was some trapping near all the farms. In some places a person would not have to go far to get all the trapping he would like to do.
Spirit Lake was a noted place for its large collection of furs and also as an outfitting station for trappers. There were a great number of lakes and sloughs in that country extending far to the north and west. Muskrats were in most of the lakes and in the sloughs with three or four feet of water. They made their homes in the water some distance from shore with places to go in under the water. They also had holes going up into the bank of the lakes beginning at least two feet under water.
Many mink, skunks, coons and badgers were around the lakes. The fur of the muskrat was the first to get in condition for trapping. Trapping for these began the last of September but this was too early because many of them were not grown yet and the fur was not at its best.. in the seventies, laws began to be passed that placed some restrictions on trapping. In pleasant weather if environments were favorable, trapping was a very good and agreeable occupation although often a lazy man's job. At times, it became disagreeable and dangerous. Quite a number of trappers in those early days lost their lives in the storms of winter and the floods of the spring. The mode of living was next to savagery. Some had little tents. Others dug in the side of a hill and covered it with brush and slough grass. A few made comfortable little cabins. It was common to have little shanties made that could be moved from one trapping ground to another.
I as a boy sold many muskrat skins and received from five to fifteen cents a skin. This would not be much of an inducement now but a good catch then was thought to be a small fortune. When I was twenty-one years old, a school mate and I went about twenty miles from home. We made a dugout by a little stream and had a pleasant time hunting and trapping. This was about the last time I was a trapper. I had caught furs from the muskrat to the fox and beaver. In my mature years, I took no delight in that kind of port or business. I cannot see how some refined people can have love for rich furs when they could know the suffering and death of the beautiful animal that wore the fur before they did. Most of the best fur-bearing animals now are far in the north where they can do but little harm to man or farm flocks in that barren region where they make their home.
The population then increased very fast but it was well-scattered over the country. A large number of the settlers were foreigners and many of those could not speak English. They knew but little of the Indian danger or how to prepare for their own safety amongst them.
The Spirit Lake massacre put a check on the most exposed parts of Minnesota and some of the settlers left their claims in terror. No doubt it was well for those who never did return to subdue the wilds and make it a fit place for the white man's habitation. Had they done so, they might have met the same dreadful fate that so many did who lost their lives in 1862 by the cruel vengeance of the Red Man.
As most of Inkpaduta's band escaped punishment for the Spirit Lake massacre, it had its demoralizing influence on the Indians of the whole country, those at the agencies as well as the wild ones to the west. Inkpaduta was living, although nearly blind, at the time of the Custer massacre and he went with other Indians, after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, up into Canada.
As we lived near the Minnesota border, one or more of the family was in that state through the troublesome times. Most of the large family knew something of the conditions of the pioneering settlements in the southwestern part of the state.
The Minnesota Indian outbreak of 1862 came like the brightest flash of lightning and a deep roll of thunder on a clear day. While the Indians were nourishing rancor over unnecessary delays of annuities and many of them were resentful over other matters, all of that was not the primary cause of the outbreak where more people lost their lives than were lost in any other Indian massacre in America. It was over a trivial incident much like that which drove the world war-mad a few years ago.
A few young Indian men had gone hunting some distance away and, going by a farm, saw a hen's nest in a corner of a fence. One of them began to take the eggs when one of the group said to do so might get them in trouble for taking a white man's property. The young fellow, for his good intentions, was laughed at, jeered at and called a coward. He became very angry and said he not only dared to take the eggs but he dared to kill the owner. He taunted his tormenters by saying, "Come on and I will see who is a coward." After making this statement, he started off with his three companions. They soon began their fiendish work. After shooting a number of people, they hastened to their people. When they reported what they had done, most of the Indians became very excited and prepared for an immediate attack on the whites which they did on August 18.
Traveling was so slow in those days and there being no quick way to send messages, it took some time to get the news spread through the country of the four Indians beginning war on the whites on Sunday, August 17. It was early Monday morning, August 18, when the large band of Indians started on the warpath. They met no resistance and the fiendish work they did was appalling. The horrible acts went on all day as the savages went from place to place until hundreds of white settlers were slain but not one Indian was injured. Toward night on that day, August 18, a large band of the Indians made an attack on New Ulm, Minnesota, the biggest town on the Minnesota River valley. About that time, a few armed men from further down the river came to their assistance and the defense of the town held for the day.
The savages kept at their ghastly deeds in other parts but did not attack New Ulm again until Saturday morning, August 23rd. By that time reinforcements had come, the barricades had been strengthened and the defenders were well organized. The Indians came, about six hundred and fifty strong. and made a bold and determined attack, driving the outside defenders within the barricaded area. So fierce was the attack that, within two hours, ten of the defenders were killed and fifty were wounded. Many refugees had gone into the barricade for refuge. The Red Men had the town surrounded and in the afternoon set some of the houses on fire with the intent that the wind would sweep the fire through the fortified part of the town. They were wily, not making oversight of the elements but turning them to their advantage. Part of the defenders made a charge on the savages that were occupying the scattered houses and drove them out of town. Then the nearby houses were burned so they would not give protection to the Indians again.
A young fellow, Alonzo Wood Pike, who later married my sister Marcia, was living further down the Minnesota River and saw the great smoke of the burning buildings while he, his sister, his mother and others were fleeing from the horrible things that were being done along the Minnesota River.
The Indians kept up their attack on New Ulm until sometime the next day on Sunday. They were not being able to take it while it was so bravely defended by the pioneers and a few soldiers. While more than a hundred and fifty houses were burned, the lives of twelve to fifteen hundred men, women and children were saved from these demons of savagery. In the two attacks on New Ulm, thirty-four whiles were killed and many more wounded. After the Indians had withdrawn and the way was open, the non-combatants were sent to Mankato under military escort. The different attacks on Fort Ridgely were successfully repulsed with little loss of life. Had the Indians been able to take Fort Ridgely and New Ulm, it would have opened a large scope of country to the raids of the savages.
One of the troopers in the raid at Birch Coulee, where the troops suffered so much for two days, was a neighbor of mine in Oregon a number of years later.
It has been stated that there was a loss of about one thousand lives in this Indian outbreak of 1862 but only four savages were killed. The fiendish work of the Red Men was not checked very much until they were defeated at the Battle of Wood Lake. After that engagement, there was no further organized effort to continue the conflict and most of them soon surrendered and gave up their two hundred and forty prisoners.
It is not my intention to enter into the horrible details during these five weeks of terror but to try to tell a little of the main facts and to make something of the picture as things actually were on the frontier so many years ago. At that time, two of my sisters were living in Mankato and one near Jackson, Minnesota when a small band of savages made a raid of depredations south nearly to the Iowa border that brought terror to the Spirit Lake settlement.
Chief Little Crow, the main leader of the Indian bands, fled with a few followers to Dakota but, when he came back to Minnesota the next summer on a small raid of depredation, he was shot and killed by a farmer. When the troops had the main part of the Indians well under control, a Militia Commission was organized to try the Indians who had taken an active part in the great outbreak. The Commission gave the death sentence to over three hundred of the savages and prison sentences to quite a number of others.
By requests of eastern humane societies, President Lincoln went over the evidence given in the trials very carefully and commuted the death sentences of two hundred and sixty-four to imprisonment. He gave his consent to the execution of thirty-nine but one of them at the last moment was determined to be a friend of the whites and was not executed. The other thirty-eight were executed by hanging at Mankato December 26, 1862, a scaffold and all preparations being made for the occasion.
The timbers of which the scaffold was made for the hangings were from the combination sawmill and gristmill of my brother-in-law Abel Keene. This mill was located on the edge of Mankato. The mill had been burned one night during the outbreak but much of the lumber was saved. At the time, it was thought the Indians had started the fire so that, when the crowd came, the Indians would make an attack. The people were very cautious about exposing themselves and nothing happened.
As the prisoners were brought up to the scaffold for hanging, an armed Infantry was formed in a square, "All Attention", just out and around from the scaffold. Out from there was a square formation of mounted Cavalry men. Two of my sisters and a brother-in-law were there in preparation for the hanging of the thirty-eight Indians. When all the preparations had been made for the execution, it was an imposing sight with the large, gathering crowd, the infantry and the cavalry drown up in battle lines, the condemned prisoners standing in their places, their spiritual advisor looking after their last desires and giving them the little comfort that they could in their last moments.
The signal was given and the drop was made. Nearly every thing worked out much as it was planned and the thirty-eight renegade Indians condemned for horrible murders suffered the penalty of death by hanging on the one scaffold.
The timbers of the scaffold stood, much as it was left after the execution, until the next summer. While attending school a short time near it, I "cooned" up the braces a number of times and walked around on the big main timbers. It was thought by some that the influence of it all on the blood-thirsty wild tribes of that region had much to do in bringing on more Indian troubles. There is no doubt that there were some of these very Minnesota criminals who helped to destroy to a man General Custer's command in the summer of 1876. it has been a wonder that the settlers in the defenseless condition were not all wiped out along the border from the agencies in Minnesota to Sioux City in Iowa, a distance of three hundred miles. There were more or less depredations committed in eighteen counties in Minnesota where there were so many homes and other property destroyed reaching up into the millions of dollars worth. There were two Indian agencies on the Minnesota River called the upper and lower agencies. On August 22, 1876, the savages began their main outbreak and, on the same day, the savages annihilated a small command sent out from Fort Ridgely against them.
The Spirit Lake Massacre, really Okoboji Massacre, of 1857 was a great drawback to the settlement of that whole region. It was several years before many men cared to risk taking their families so far out in the danger zone. A few places were taken up soon after the massacre by some of the volunteers who helped bury the dead at the lakes. Each year the number of pioneers increased slowly and most of them were making some success toward getting their places improved and their homes comfortable when, again, the tocsin of Indian war was once more heard along the many miles of the frontier, coming down from the Minnesota savages who had gone mad to shed human blood, and were now satisfying their lust to slaughter the helpless women and children.
While the main force of the Indians, eight hundred strong, were trying to take Fort Ridgely on August 22, a small band of them was on the way to repeat Inkpaduta's deeds at Spirit Lake. As the way was open and tempting to them, they began to kill and plunder near Jackson, about fifteen miles from our village of Spirit Lake. A military force was sent out to protect the settlers and the Indians soon returned to their people.
The first we knew of their near approach was when a Norwegian came to the Spirit Lake settlement, bringing with him two small children that the Indians had left in absence for dead. The father, coming home soon after the savages had gone, found there was life in the little ones and, taking them in his arms, he hastened away in the darkness of night. By early morning, he had reach the Spirit Lake settlement some fifteen miles away. One of the children died soon after his arrival but the other one recovered from its injuries. Within a week, all the settlers had left Jackson County. This was the first news that the people of Spirit Lake had of their immediate danger from the Redskins. Word was then hastily sent out for every one to meet at the Court House which was not yet finished but the brick walls were up and a good roof covered the building. Here preparations were made for defense but no attack was made. No one was harmed at the lakes or in Dickinson County.
The settlers waited here a week in readiness for a stubborn fight if the worst should come. They could not have stood off a big force very long but they were going to sell their lives as dearly as possible. In about a week, the expected troops arrived from Sioux City and soon scouts were sent out in all directions. As they found no late signs of Indians, the farmers were advised to return to their homes but to be in readiness to gather again at the Court House on short notice.
I remember well the day the news came of our danger and the haste that was made to gather up a few articles and some food. Then I remember how we hurried away for a safer place, one where some defense could be made. I remember seeing the soldiers come riding into our little town and seeing them shoot off their guns. Then they cleaned their guns to be ready for action. Two of my brothers were with them in Company 'I' Seventh Iowa Cavalry. They were with General Sully's command the next year in Dakota when the savages were defeated at the Battle of White Stone Hill. How glad I was when they said we could leave the fortified place and go back to our homes. All such memories sear themselves into the very soul of one's being and I write of it as if it were but yesterday.
For all of that, nothing appealed to me like the things did around our wilderness home – the lakes, the trees, the birds, and the squirrels. War seemed a bad business.
Getting back home, we found things much as expected. The calves had been turned out to roam at will with their mothers, and the stock had grown more or less wild in our absence. It took some time to get the cattle tamed and back to normal. My kitty was missing but came home in a couple of days. I followed her out in the woods. She climbed a little way up in a big oak tree and went into a hollow place. I soon found a way to get up there. Imagine my surprise when I saw two little kittens with her. I was seven years old then but many little incidents remain fresh in my memory.
Even before we had fled to the Court House three miles away, father unbeknown to the family had been doing some scouting work because he had heard that a few Indians had been seen near our settlement. The time lost put the farm work behind. As things had to be done in such a primitive manner, frosty weather came before we were ready for it. The hay was short of the usual amount we put up and the stock had to suffer for it during the long, cold winter. The poor animals looked pretty thin by the time green grass appeared in the latter part of May. With thousands of Indians west of us in Dakota Territory, mother lived in terror lest at any time they would swoop down upon us and do what Inkpaduta's band did just a few years before when they wiped out the whole settlement. Her fears were typical of all the other pioneer women and men. When considering the danger we might be in, a move was made to Mankato a hundred miles away that spring and to stay there until there would be no danger of another outbreak. On our way there, I saw turkeys and guinea-fowl for the first time and thought they were funny looking chickens.
That fall while living at South Bend near Mankato, I came down with inflammatory rheumatism. Oh! How I did suffer with it for a long time but, when the warm days of spring came, I recovered rapidly and finally was able to get around a little bit. At first, I used crutches and then a cane. After a short time, I could run around as much as the other kids but I did have a limp that was hard for me to overcome. Many of the people suffered from inflammatory rheumatism.
One evening, when I had become quite strong, an older brother started out to look for the cows in the timber. I went a short distance with him but, when he couldn't find the cows, he told me I'd better go back to the house as a longer walk would be too much for me. When going back, I did not go in the right direction toward home but wandered further into the timber. It soon began to get dark and I kept trudging on for some time. I heard in the distance the sound of whoo-whoo-whoo. Thinking it might be some wild animal after me, I climbed up a tree and hallooed with all my might. No answer came back. There I was, a lonely little boy, up in a tree in a dark forest, trembling with fear and not knowing what might happen at any moment. I had never heard a hoot-owl before but I remembered what one of my brothers had said about them and the sound they made. I concluded it must be a big owl that had made the sound. In the following years, I heard them often in the woods at night.
After waiting some time in the tree and no wild animal coming near it, I summoned all my courage and came down. Finding a heavy stick for defense, I was ready once more to extricate myself from the dark recesses of the tangled forest. Trudging on in the darkness through the brush that scratched my face and tripping over the low vines, I made slow progress. Finally, I heard a faint hacking sound as of an axe being used and, going in that direction, I came to the Minnesota River. Knowing that I lived up-stream and following the bank that way, in the course of time I came to my home, a tired, sleepy, hungry boy.
At Christmas time that winter at Mankato, my two brothers in the service came home on a furlough from Sioux City to see us. They told us it would be perfectly safe for us to go back to our claim in Iowa because they had been with a big command the summer before fighting the Indians. They had been driven far to the west and the frontier was well guarded by troops.
Word had come that a family was living on our claim and might try to hold it, so we were anxious to return to our frontier home. When traveling became good that spring of 1863, father, mother, Marcia and I went back to our claim at Center Grove with a load of goods. The team got stuck once while crossing a little stream and it was hard to get out. Marcia was eleven and I was nine. I still limped from the effects of the rheumatism. The walking did me good which I did part of the time because I was able to keep up with the slow plodding oxen. The way we went was a hundred and twenty miles. As we rested on Sunday, it took us a week to make the journey. The last day, Marcia and I went on ahead of the team. When we got in sight of the old mound just west of the house, how it did thrill us with pleasure to think that we were nearing our home that we had left a year before. There was a family in the house but they moved out in a couple of days giving us back our possessions.
After a few days, father started on his return trip to Mankato and told Marcia and me to stay on the place most of the time except at night when we were to sleep at a neighbor Brown's home. With a few traps I caught some muskrats and, selling the fur, I bought a pound of butter and some other needed things, so we two children got along alone just nicely during the two weeks before mother and the rest of the family came. I would catch a duck once in a while in the rat traps and Marcia would do the cooking. Part of it would have to be done at the neighbor's as we had no oven in our stove.
Because it was so late in the season when the planting took place, there was not much of a crop that year and most of the potatoes were kept for seed. We had another hard winter with a scarcity of food to face. During these privations, we lost a span of horses, several cattle and two crops. Others in the area lost much more. That fall of 1863, we had nothing from the farm to sell, not even a pig to kill for food. Our prospects for the winter supplies did not look very bright. With the losses, our finances were at a low ebb. About the only way we could raise enough for expenses was by trapping. Father spent a part of each day in the late fall catching fur-bearing animals. In the winter, he made a camp some forty miles from home and spent his whole time trapping. He did well for a time but was taken severely ill. For about a week, he did not expect to see his home again but his strong constitution brought him through all right. In a few days, a fur buyer came that way and, selling his catch, he came home. A brother and I did some trapping and, by selling the furs, we were able to buy our winter's clothes.
That cold long season was a dreary time with no vegetables and but little wheat flour all winter. In the spring, a much bigger crop of corn and a garden were put in than the year before, a pig was in the pen and a brood of chickens was doing fine, so we were cheered with the prospects ahead of us. The few acres of corn did well and brought a good price. We began to prosper again. The following summer, both father and mother came down at the same time with typhoid fever. For a while, it was doubtful that either would get well but, in the course of time, they began gaining strength and recovered entirely. During most of the time our parents were in bed, my sister Marcia, now thirteen, had to take charge of the house-work we got along very well for such is the life on the frontier.
We six boys were taught to work and look after things while were small. The three oldest ones were not at home very much after we moved to the wilderness farm. Tom and Frank soon joined the army and Jesse in 1860 drove a team across the plains in an ox train as a guide to California. Of we three at home, brother Martin grew tall with broad shoulders and filled the place of a man in his early teens. He was always at hand to look after the stock and anything that had to be done. He was six and a half years older than me; hence we were not much company for each other.
I was short and plump, disliked the hoeing and all kinds of farm work until I was able to handle a team myself, first oxen and then horses. After that, farm work had a new interest for me. I did a little trapping nearly every fall. As I grew older, I caught more and bigger game. By the time I was old enough to trap for foxes, there were not many in the area.
How it would make a fur buyer's eyes glisten to see the furs on hand in the late fall of the early sixties. At some of the homes, nearly every tree near the house would have some kind of a skin tacked on it for drying. The lofts of houses would be well-filled with strings of pelts already dried and in shape for a buyer. I don't see how the women stood the odor of the pelts around the house, especially those women who came from good home in eastern towns, for some of them knew better times, were well-educated and were used to cultured surroundings. Most of them came to the wilds with the intention of making the best of it. If they could not do as they liked to do, they would do what they could and do it cheerfully. During the long winter evenings, the house could not be lighted very well. The best light was with the tallow dip. Even that was not always available. Many times a little twisted strip of cloth was placed in a little shallow dish of grease with a nail or some other small piece of metal on the wick for a light. This made a poor light but it was the best service available in many frontier homes .
In the early seventies, many of the settlers had their coal-oil lamps and other improved ways and means of living. No screen doors were available to keep out the flies so they were a bother every summer. Some evening smudges were made about the house to keep the pesky 'skeeters' away so that the inmates might sleep in peace.
The early settlers did very well raising stock because the cattle were able to roam at will and there was plenty of wild grass to make hay for any size of herd a man might keep. In the early seventies, the herd law was passed and then the farmers turned most of their attention to raising wheat. The demand becoming less, the price went down and down. Then the grasshoppers came in countless millions. There were so man that most of the wheat fields, nearly ready to cut, were devoured, stalks and all, in just a few days, leaving the newcomers almost penniless. After that, not many of the settlers depended on one kind of a crop and put their energies and resources into diversified farming. They soon began making gains in finances and improvements on their places. The stock raiser, on whom the herd law worked a hardship, soon adapted himself to the new conditions. Changing the mode of business in some respects, he prospered as before.
When I was ten years old, I began helping my older brother take care of the corn crop when it was ready for harvest. We would cut it and put it in the shock. After it had dried, we would haul it to the barn yard for husking and later for fodder for the cattle. Sometimes we would go out to husk the corn in bright moonlight evenings. Then we could hear the foxes and wolves with the yap-yap-yapping of foxes and the coarser howl of the wolves. I was out late one night getting the cows when a wolf gave me a big scare. I hurried home as fast as I could go.
There was a little red grist mill about five miles away at the foot of Spirit Lake where we went to get our grinding done. The pay for the grinding at the mill was toll taken out of the grist. Settlers from all around the country would go there to get their grinding done. They would have to stay a day or so to get their meal or flour; or they would have to come back later because it was a very slow grinder. I was a little acquainted with a fleshy young fellow, not overly bright, who went there after his grist. It was not ready for him because it was being ground. The young fellow waited, waited and waited. He finally remarked, "I can eat the flour faster than your old rattle-trap of a coffee mill can grind it." "How long can you keep it up?", he was asked. "Till I starve to death,"he said. When I became old enough to drive a team on the road, I took a grist to mill with a yoke of oxen and went after it the next week. In the course of years, a much bigger and better mill was put up in the county. Even then, people had to wait days for their turn to get their grist ground. At one time, we did our own grinding at home with a big coffee mill fastened to a bench.
The pioneers of the Spirit Lake country were very peaceable and industrious as a class of people. They never indulged in any of the rough stuff that is so often seen in western town. There was seldom the need for a lock as there were no thieves in the country. Horse stealing or cattle rustling was not known. Neighborhood strife was not encouraged and fussing over property lines was left to another generation. The great conflict in the South during the early sixties took the attention of the people so much that papers often neglected local news such as the Indian troubles. As years went by, times slowly changed along the frontier.
When I was getting along pretty well in my eleventh year, our first term of three months of schooling was taught in our new school house. I learned my A B C's from the old Webster spelling book. For me, who had run wild like a little Indian, the task of learning how to read was almost beyond me to imagine. It is beyond me to tell how I hated books. I wanted to get out among the flowers, where squirrels were frisking in the trees, and where nature would beckon to come and be as free as the birds that sang so sweetly overhead. Children, a little more than half my age, could learn much faster than me. That made me feel humiliated and decidedly out of place. I attended nearly every school day of both summer and winter short terms for three years but I did not take much interest in my studies.
The seats in the school house were benches around the walls and two or three near the center of the room. The boys sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other. They seldom had recess together. After I was fifteen, I only attended the winter three-month term but was taking a lively interest in my studies. I did not make the progress with my books that I should have done so I had much to make up for in the following years. There were spelling bees, debating times and other gatherings of amusement. Many months and seasons passed on their way and, at the close of the term when I was twenty, I bade goodbye to the old log school house where I had spent so many days of my young life. The school building was sold for a small sum and a new one was built and furnished with modern seats. I went to one three-month term in a two-room school in the little town and kept up with my classes very well.
During my late teens, I drove to the various railroad sidings from forty to sixty miles away hauling grain there and bringing back goods, lumber, etc. Sometimes the wagon would get stuck in the mud and I would have a hard time unloading and getting it out. The last load that I hauled in was through the soft spring mud with a yoke of oxen to a store where I was working. There was no railroad through the Spirit Lake country yet in 1877 when went to the Pacific Coast. When I went back after twenty years absence, they had a railroad and I found a great change in the country and in the people.
One fall night, when I was fourteen, while coming from town three miles away, two big wolves circled around me a little too close for me to feel perfectly at ease, our big dog was with me and after he had a little set-to with one of them, they kept their distance. A little later that same fall when the lakes were frozen over, I started out one afternoon on a trip of a few days trapping among some lakes eight to ten miles away. Part of the way I went on the ice of a big lake and night was coming on before I reached my destination. I could not see the dangerous places in the ice. After several narrow escapes by getting on cracked ice, I finally broke through and had a hard scramble getting out. I left the lake hoping I might find a habitation to spend the night for I was still two or three miles from where I wanted to go. The cold north wind was freezing my outer garments and I scarcely knew what to do because I was getting chilled through and through.
I began hallooing and kept it up every now and then. I was beginning to feel very blue over my predicament when I heard off in the distance a faint answer to my call. In a few moments I was joined by a young man who, a few months before this, had stayed overnight at my home. When the man saw my condition, he hurriedly helped me to a neighboring residence where they kindly cared for my needs. By the next morning, I felt but little worse for my ducking and was able to go on my way. I felt thankful I had escaped sickness and even death. The small cracks that would be made all through the ice on the larger lakes in those days would make it spread. Along the shores and out from the land points of the lake, there would be ridges of ice thrown up several feet during the winter. Two brothers, who had been school-mates of mine, skated into an open place out from a land point and were drowned. Two or three years later, two sisters met the same fate.
Shortly after going back on the farm from Mankato, improvements were begun. Another yoke of oxen were bought. More ground was put under cultivation and some wheat was raised. The amount increased as time went by. When I was fifteen, I bought a long barrel muzzle-loading shotgun. I would hunt rats and ducks around home. One day I went out toward evening. I shot four times and killed twenty-four ducks. The most I ever killed at one shot was nine but a number of wounded got away.
In the course of time, gains had been made so that a good frame house was built across the road from the log school house. At first, a number of pupils came from every direction to attend school but, in a few years, a number of school houses were built in the county. A number of pupils who attended school at this old log school house have filled good positions. One of them is Edgar James Helms, the greatest worker in the Methodist Church and the father of the Goodwill Industries.
Among the few children who attended the first term at the log school house were two orphan sisters, Ada and Josephine Brown, who were living with their aunt. After that term of school, I only saw them occasionally. Finally they moved away and I lost tract of them. A few years ago while coming out of Los Angeles on a bus, I met a friendly stranger who, during our conversation, said he had lived in Iowa and had married Ada Brown. I soon met her and found her to be one of my school- mates of sixty years ago. A little later, I met her sister at her home in Vancouver, Washington. I have met two other school-mates of the old log house in San Diego where I now reside.
Preparations were made to go and goodbyes were said to friends, lakes and woods. We then went to Mankato to take the train. Other members of the family joined us there. We went down through the prairie country of western Minnesota and Iowa to Council Bluffs, Iowa. A great transformation has been wrought in those parts in the few years since the railroad was put through up to the time of which I write. Many houses dot the prairie and vigorous activities are seen on every hand. It was no long "The Frontier".
At Council Bluffs, we took an overland emigrant train across the plains and the American desert. Our train was a slow and primitive affair that took nine days to reach Sacramento. From there we went by boat to San Francisco. On our journey from Council Bluffs, there was much to be seen and much to interest us like the monotonous plain reaching on and ever on and the treeless tract of a thousand miles. After days of jolting, we were told that we had reached the summit of the Rockies. The ascent had been so gradual that we were surprised to learn of our altitude. It had taken a giant locomotive to pull up to some of the steepest places. To the south, we could see a huge snow-capped mountain in its majestic grandeur, a marvel to us of the prairies. When we were told who far away that mountain was, it seemed impossible that it would be so far away. A snow-capped mountain a hundred miles in the distance does not look very far away on a clear day.
Our descent was much more rapid. We went down steep, rocky canyons where upheavals had split the thick crusts of rocks and stood them up on either side. In one place where there was a long, wide seam, it was called 'The Devil's Slide'. Coming to Ogden, Utah, we made a short stop and looked over the city. The Mormon buildings and other objects interested us. We again took the train and traveled on toward our destination. The next morning we were at the northern point of the Great Salt Lake where I dipped water from that wonderful inland sea.
We passed through the desert in Nevada. The first white man to visit these wilds and journey through this part of the country is said to be Peter Ogden who came on a trapping excursion for the Hudson Bay Company. We stopped over-night on the side track at Truckee. Some of us kept watch until morning because it was a rough place and we were a little afraid that some ruffian might try to get into our car. From there we went at a rapid speed until we reached Sacramento where we left the train and took a river boat to complete our journey to the Golden Gate city of San Francisco. On the way down the river, the boat made many stops to take on passengers and to load up with salmon. Visiting Sacramento many years after this during the time of high water, I saw as it were the broad expanse of a shallow sea a short distance from the city where the spring freshet had caused the overflow of the river banks. The muddy waters covered many miles of the low bottom lands. These were called mud flats and became very rich with the silt washed from the gold diggings up the sides of the mountains.
My sojourn of five days in the city of San Francisco was an interesting time for me. This great city was fast growing in wealth from the rich mines and its immense commerce and tourism. It was and is the Mecca of the West. Bidding the big city and all of its allurements goodbye, we took and ocean steamer to the Columbia River. The first day out, the water was calm and we got a good view of two whales floating on the water. The second day the wind began blowing. Soon the waves were rolling high and the spray came dashing over the lower deck until some protection had to be made to keep the water from running down the hatch-way to where the steerage passengers were located. The pitching of the boat caused most of the passengers to become seasick who, after the trip was ended, affirmed that all their traveling in the future would be done on TERRA FIRMA.
The sea-gulls followed the ship and picked up from the water a part of the refuse thrown from the ship. A large school of fish of the porpoise species followed the ship. They seemed to play and leap from wave to wave. They also are after food thrown from the steamer. While others were unwillingly feeding the fish, I went up on the forward part of the big ship to the forecastle. Up and up I went. In fact, it is the place where a person can get to the highest place on the ship. Down we went as if the ship was going to pitch into the depths of the sea. It gives a queer feeling as if the boat was leaving one in space and the breakfast is apt to hardly stay in place. I did not stay there very long to enjoy the sight of the great expanse of rolling billows.
We arrived opposite the mighty Columbia whose entrance was so delusive to discover by early navigators. Time after time, experienced mariners and made no report of finding a river in this latitude. Finally Captain Gray in 1792 was the lucky sailor to make the entrance and then sailed up the river for some distance on its expansive waters. While passing through the entrance which is rough and dangerous, one can see where the sand bar extended far out into the river and where fisher-men sometimes met disaster when the strong wind and current drove their boats into the breakers.
We passed the bar in safety and sailed in quiet waters up the Columbia. The charm of the river and the lure of the wilds fascinated me so that, in the years after, I made many journeys along this great water-way of the Columbia River. I sometimes go on its wide expanse of waters and sometimes along its banks. Both have their charms. The changing panorama of the verdant banks, rocky declivities and fir-clad heights with many a waterfall is a delight to lovers of nature. In every curve of the river, there is something that breaks on the view, most interesting and beautiful. If Longfellow had visited these scenes, what a treat it would have been for him! Nature will produce some genius in the future who will be able to touch in description on the edges of what can be written of our great poetic and romantic northwest.
We landed at Astoria. We rested a few days when brother Tom, who was not there, and I left the other members of the family to meet somewhere soon in the Willamette Valley. We took a long journey on foot and went by the ocean and Tillamook Bay through a great evergreen forest over the Coast Range of mountains and many miles into the Willamette Valley. We joined the family at Forest Grove, a noted college town twenty-five miles west of Portland. Most of this journey was through heavy forests of immense timbers. We passed where people are living in a primitive way, the pioneers of the wooded hills. Much of the best prairie land of the Willamette Valley had been settled thirty and forty years ago. I met a number of people who have been there since the early forties. I found that here was a great difference in the far northwest to that of the middle west.
In starting out from Astoria on our long hike, my brother and I were first taken across Young's Bay in a boat. From there it was walking mile after mile with heavy packs on our backs. The way led us by the sandy shore, up rocky heights and across little streams many times. Although I got weary and footsore not being used to mountain climbing, for all of that every mile had something of interest to see. As we walked near the water, we saw great waves come rolling in with the resulting spray dashing high upon the shore. We also saw out on a point of big rocks a number of sea-lions and heard one old fellow make his peculiar bellowing noise. It sounded more like a bull than a lion. We came to the mouth of the Nehalem River where we were ferried across in a small boat. Here the ocean beach is low and sandy.
There is a tradition that many years ago a ship laden with great wealth of gold and silver was wrecked here and that the treasure was buried a short distance from the shore. At different times, my people have looked for the treasure but no trace of it has ever been found. From time to time, chunks of bees-wax have been picked up from the drifting sands at the sea shore. Some of the pieces have letters stamped on them. This wax is supposed to have been taken by pirates from churches of South America early in its history. Tradition also says that one of the sailors was killed where the treasure was buried. Indians regard the place with superstitious fear and dare not talk to the white people of the hidden gold. Indians 'no savvy' when they wish to. After a short stop we continued on our way along the shore and over rocky points. We passed several Indian shacks. They were fish and clam eaters. My brother could converse with them in their jargon but as yet I did not understand a word of it.
In Tillamook Bay there is an abundance of clams of several kinds. In some places where the banks of the bay have caved in, we saw several strata of clam shells in the earth where the Indians, no doubt, formerly had their camping places in different periods of the past. The Indians there now as not as active or as intelligent as most of the tribes of the interior parts of this country. Their food is obtained much easier on the coast than inland. We remained several days at the bay and then continued on our journey. Passing through the forest, we saw giant trees of fir, cedar, spruce and larch. Following up a small river, we came to the Coast Range of mountains. Here we found that climbing up the steep winding trails was slow and tedious work. As we descended, they eyes swept the distant beautiful valley with its river through the center, a bright silver ribbon flashing the rays of the western sun as it stretched along far in the distance and then lost to view in the dark green forest. The several grand old mountains, monarchs of the Cascade Range, we scanned with interest as their snow-capped peaks reflected the dazzling light of the bright sunshine. I wish the gift was mine to express something of the feeling I had as I took deep breaths of the mountain air, so fragrant of balsam from the verdant forest, so redolent of memories of my childhood.
We reached the feet of the mountain range and had not seen a house in the fifteen or twenty miles, nor had we seen anyone except some hunters who had shot two deer. This was in the seventies in Oregon. Getting food and shelter at one of the first houses we came to, we got fully rested by the next morning and continued on our way. We passed by comfortable homes, many fields of grain, and orchards of apples, pears and prunes. As stated before, we joined the folks at Forest Grove and, after a few day, we continued our travels to Portland where we stopped over-night. Portland has a population of some fifteen thousand people. The city has one little one-horse street-car line. Railroads went up the Willamette Valley some sixty miles on both sides of the river. No passenger trains ran on Sundays until many years later. From there we took a river boat down to the mouth of the Willamette River and then up the Columbia.
The history of the mighty Columbia River and a knowledge of the ever-changing panorama that comes into view as one ascends this sea of water is fascinating. No brush or pen can fully portray the picture that is presented, the towering peaks flushed with the splendor of bright sunlight, the verdant hills with their evergreen forests, and the wild tangle of leafy dells on either bank. From the mouth of the Columbia River to its source, Lake Columbia, is more than fourteen hundred miles. It is one of America's magnificent waterways. On its deviating course to the sea, it goes through different climates and by grand old rugged mountains, some of them capped with perpetual snow extending far down their rough and rocky sides that glisten in the sun of bright harvest weather. In places along the upper course were seen volcanic desolation, sandy deserts and lonely wastes. Irrigation of today is bringing about a wonderful transformation of that great Inland Empire. There are great possibilities in the near future for much of this part of the country. The tide reaches a hundred and sixty miles up-stream to the Cascade Locks. Here is located a portage by a railroad of a few miles around the rapid, foaming waters. A few years later, locks were installed and boats could travel clear up through this range of mountains and on for a thousand miles.
The picturesque scenes through this mighty gorge are said to be among the best in the world. The towering steep cliffs, the fir-clad heights, the cataracts and the solid walls of basalt rock all combine to make scenes of grandeur unsurpassed. Descending the quiet waters from the Cascades, the great river broadens out as each tributary pours its waters into the swelling current. The value of the low alluvial land on either side would be hard to estimate. Further back, when autumn's frost has lightly touched the verdant hills with tintings of brilliant colors making a picture highly prized by artists but beyond skill to fully reproduce on canvas, the same must be seen to be appreciated in its lavish beauty.
After the portage around the Cascades, we took another boat and completed our journey through the cleft in the mountains. When we got beyond the timber region, we left the boat and started on foot up a high mountain to our destination. As we ascended the rugged mountain side and reached one view point after another, each one more beautiful than the one just passed, I was more and more impressed with the vastness and great wealth of the undeveloped resources in the country of our sunset coast.
Yonder, extending on and on, farther than the eye can reach, are fir and pine-clad ranges of mountains. The apparently endless chain of mountains that traverse the western coast country is awe-inspiring. One beholds the numerous snow-capped peaks and the dark green of the mighty forests that extend from the foot of the mountains far up to where the melting snows of summer send down moisture to the thirsty roots of the countless giant forest trees. The immensity of it all brings the thought of the littleness of man and what is he that a divine being is mindful of his every need. This mountain-height experience was far different than the monotonous journey over the vast expanse of the plains of the middle west.
The extensive level of some parts of our plains country becomes oppressive with no sense of protection in times of danger, but here in the mountains is a feeling as if a helping hand were extended for every emergency. In those years I camped alone in the mountains and had little fear while my fire was burning, though it might be small. As I scanned the country from my elevated position there was seen many variations in the surface of the country, the hills, canyons, valleys and streams. Then my thoughts turned to how recently this great domain had been settled by the white man and what few decades he had ruled the people coming to the fertile valleys and pine-clad hills. The wonder was how comparatively few people had come to enjoy the mild climate and the great variety of abundant productions grown in the region of the western coast from the far north to the Mexican border. There were many opportunities just to be taken advantage of in developing industries by the rivers and in the mountainous sections of the coast country.
Looking from the mountain height and scanning the course of a mighty river, I saw on its banks in the far distance a number of Indian wigwams. They had come to their fishing grounds and were catching some of the many thousand salmon making their way up through the narrow rapids of the river. It had been but a few score years ago when this race of people owned and enjoyed all the resources that they could use of the whole country. Now they are restricted to small tracts of lands or reservations. By treaties, they have relinquished their rights to most of the ancestral hunting and fishing grounds. Here along the rivers, the sea shore and other favorable places, they have lived for ages by the process of the chase and the products of the rivers and sea. Here, by the music of the waters and beneath the whispering pines, it has been part of the darkened religious duties to nourish tribe hatred also and to seek revenge for a wrong or an imaginary wrong. They under-took daring deeds in facing the beasts of the forest or an enemy of their people, all in obedience to the will of nature's spirit whom they worship. They saw the power of the Great Spirit in the heavens above and were guided by superstitious fear when they heard mysterious rumblings and felt the earth tremble beneath their feet. Here, by the murmuring waters from the mountains or where the crested waves surge along the ocean shore, was where the dusky tribes sensed the least approach of a stealthy foe as they sat around their council fires or slept peacefully with no guards at the doors of the wigwams. Were not all their needs abundantly supplied by the Great Spirit from the many waters and from the mighty forests of the mountains? From the bosoms of these primitive children of the forest went intensified worship to the Great spirit that cannot be expressed in any speech as they listened to the swaying boughs above them or when they saw the lightning flashes play around the mountain peaks.
We had been lingering for some time far up the heights where a cool spring of sparkling water gushed from the mountain side. When rested and refreshed, we quit our musing and to this wonderful view point to continue our journey up over the summit of the mountain and down to a beautiful valley with its miles of munch-grass. Fat herds of cattle were roaming here and there but the stock range was being taken up rapidly by settlers. In places, we could see new homes dotting the prairie. Here again, pioneering could be found in a number of other sections of the country.
After a sojourn of several weeks among the new settlers, I returned to Forest Grove in the Willamette Valley where my parents were living. I enrolled at the Academy there for three winter quarters with good teachers and free access to the library. I felt as a door had suddenly opened for me and I looked out upon a world I had not seen before. With all these privileges and opportunities came a vision of higher ambition beckoning to the longing of my better self and day-dreams came into by being of knowledge that would take me above the sordid things of life.
The exhilarating thought that I might know something of the planets in the heavens and learn something of the history of the nations that have lived in the past ages gave buoyancy to my spirit. I took a delight in my studies but felt the lack of mental training and discipline in the former years. I tried to prepare myself for a pioneer school. The call was for many teachers near and far. I began my first school the following spring. I walked many miles, much of the way through dense timber, and meeting no one through the lonely places, until I had nearly reached my destination. It took me three days to make the journey. One day I took a wrong trail that led me from my course and I saw many bear tracks along the way. The day was drawing near its close and I was anxious to find shelter for the night. Just before dark, I came to an empty shack with a wood fire-place and a bench. Here I gladly stayed and built a fire. I slept on the bench because the floor looked too filthy to try resting there. The next morning I changed my course and, in a few hours, I cam to the little frame school. I boarded around at different homes during the three-month period and I received sixty-five dollars for my labor. When the term of school was out, I returned home but, in going the long distance over the mountains, I had to stay in the forest during the night because I was too late to reach the settled part of the country.
One term in the fir-clad hills I had a big school attendance with a number of grown pupils in a small school-house. While extra good people lived in the neighborhood and the pupils were fully as good as common, it took a watchful eye and strict discipline to keep control in that school. One noon, two grown boys were in a fight. After one of them was knocked down, he drew his knife. The other had possession of an axe. It looked much like a pitched battle was going to take place. Just then I came on the scene and called all the pupils into the school room. After a few questions as to who saw the beginning of the fight, I took a hand. Those two young fellows got such a dressing that they never forgot. Yet, for all of that, I kept their good will. Some time after this, two other big boys had a little set-to and one got a black eye. They had to take their medicine like the others had. After that, things moved on very well to the end of the term.
Here I also boarded around with different families, as was the custom, and found agreeable people. Occasionally, we had venison on the table, there being plenty of deer in the nearby woods. I went out with a hunter one day and saw a deer but it looked to pretty and graceful to shoot. It was said of me, "He was no good in the woods for letting a deer go without a shot at it." One night, I heard a little thumping noise somewhere in the house at a place I stayed for a week. The next morning, on asking about it, I was told it was a skunk that came into the kitchen at night after mice. I taught in the same district fifteen years later when there was a larger and a much better school house. Much of the timber had been cleared away and good homes had been built.
The first few terms of school that I taught in were in small, poor buildings, but better ones were built as the years went by and the farmers prospered with their fields, flocks and herds. Some of the people lived in merely box houses with but few conveniences and but little to beautify the home. I was to stay a week at one of these box homes with a board fire-place but the house burned down the first night I was there. We were awakened by the crackling of the flames. It was too late to save the house. The best that could be done was to get the children out. They had no mother and what few things they did have were handy. A person suddenly awakened from a sound sleep does not generally have a very active mind and none of us were at our best. As the father and children were standing a short distance away watching the flames complete the home destruction, asked the oldest girl, sixteen years old, if any clothes were saved. She looked at herself and had not thought about her scanty raiment. She need not have blushed for young ladies are seen on the streets every day these times with far less coverings than she or her fourteen year old sister were wearing. My remark brought to her mind a few clothes for all the children which were waiting in a barrel for the wash near the burning building. They were saved. At one school, a big boy came in drunk and I had to put him out. He was not in a fighting mood, just stupid. In these times, school houses are good and well-equipped. Country children are taken to and from school and teachers are well-trained for their work. I taught two terms in schools in Washington when it was still a Territory in a newly settled part and in empty dwelling homes.
After being in the far west for a number of years, I married Miss Eliza Cother who had gone to the same log school house that I did on the frontier in Iowa although she, being somewhat younger, thought of me then as being one of the big boys. Her parents were from England but soon after their marriage they came to America and went iout to the frontier of Iowa. Soon after our marriage, I sold my farm and bought a few acres near town and built our house near a big fir tree that was standing at the side of where the new road was to be. The road was lightly traveled for many years and made a turn at the tree to go through the town. In the course of time, improvements had to be made on the road for automobiles. It was decided that this road should the paved highway and the old landmark was cut down. The road builders said it must go because it was a source of danger and all possible should be done to prevent accidents. A friend of thirty years has fallen but will not go out of memory. Where there was but little travel through the years, now there is nearly a continuous hum of motors as automobiles go whizzing by on the highway.
I had the opportunity to see many phases of life, and some poor drivers, as some of them had troubles at the turn of the road. I was now in business in the little city at my own home as the town had grown out my way. The city took me in, in more ways than one. All of our lively activities today are surely a great contrast to the way our teams used to have to wallow through the mud during the long winters in Oregon of long ago.
After living in the west coast country some twenty years, I had a desire to see again the places of my boyhood and to visit a few of the old friends I knew as a child. As my wife's people all lived in Iowa, we planned to make an extended visit with her people and with mine, and possibly make us a home near there. With that in mind, we started out from our Oregon home one warm day before Christmas and went on the Northern Pacific. I know had two little boys of my own. We arrived in Iowa in zero weather and I thought it a cold reception for a web-footer. As many have experienced who make this experiment, there had been so many changes and it did not seem like home any more. I did not get the pleasure I anticipated but I enjoyed the skating and swimming, of which I had forgotten but little. I brought down my duck in the first wing-shot after being out of practice for twenty years with that kind of hunting. After a sojourn of a year and a little more, we returned to our web-foot home and began the battles of life with renewed energy. We grew up with the west.
During the strenuous struggle of the hard times of the nineties, I went out to the chicken house early one morning and found it empty. A thief had broken in and had taken every hen that I had. There was nothing to show on the place which way the thief had gone for most of it was in meadow. I examined the two roads going by the place. In one of them, I saw where a man had crossed in a diagonal way. Following in that direction, I came to an unused lane that showed recent light tracks of a horse. Going along the grassy lane to the traveled road, I saw where a wobbly cart had been driven into the road. Following it four miles, I located the place where my hens had been taken. I soon found a constable who went with me. We found my hens and other people's property that had been taken from time to time. That man tried to make a get-away but was caught. He had to do some settling up or go to the pen by act of the authorities. Once some boys tried to rob my melon patch but were caught to nicely and felt so cheap over it that boys did not try it again.
One dark night, I heard a slight noise in my truck garden patch. Going quietly near the place, I dimly saw a man helping himself to my vegetables. I asked him why he was there and he scurried away with me after him. He soon was kicking the dirt pretty lively. Overtaking him, I gave him such a punch that he will never forget it. The wind was knocked out of him and he went on his back in the dirt. After these incidents, I had but little bother with light-fingered people.
In 1880, when they began to build the western end of the Northern Pacific railroad, I became public spirited and went miles up the Columbia River just above the great gorge. Sometimes the sand storms would be so bad that the work gangs would have to quit their work and wait for the wind to go down. Sand would drift like snow in banks fifteen to twenty feet deep. Men would get sick on the job and have to be taken away. It was a hard life. It is too bad that men in the past had to work so hard and go through such hardships for so little pay. Little we think as we ride over a smooth railroad track in a Pullman car that the building of it has cost lives in sickness and accidents. Sometimes a blast will play havoc. I have seen rocks fly seven ways for Sunday and go a long way. Then it was a scramble for life and the nearest place for safety.
Years ago, I was out with a friend on the sheep range a few days. He had two thousand sheep and twenty-seven hundred acres of land of his own, besides the public range, of his sheep. The home ranch was for winter use and shearing time. Some time after that the sheep would be driven away many miles to their summer range. It would be difficult to describe the lonely life of these herders as they hear the constant bleat of sheep in their ears. It is no wonder that, when the herder's summer work is done, his mind is so often out of balance. He has been on the watch all the time, day and night, for coyotes, the greatest foe for stock and sheep. Although there are thousands of coyotes caught each year, for all of that their decrease is not as rapid as one would suppose it would be. They increase fast and the damage they do runs up around the million dollar mark every year.
One afternoon, I caught the two horses, packed the camping kit on one of them, and rode the other on toward another grazing area where the sheep were going for the summer range. I dropped the herder's roll of blankets on a butte where the sheep were to be bedded for the night. A herder has to stay with his flock out on the range unless they can be put in a good corral. For myself, I went on to a lonely valley where the horses would have good care and there I made my camp with nothing to disturb me except the prolonged yapping of the coyotes. The herder was down for his breakfast before sunrise the next morning in order to be back to his flock before they started to spread out too much. The sheep are driven far up into the mountains for the summer. The herder generally has someone with him, at least part of the time, to move camp and to bring in supplies.
I also have had a ranch for several year in a grain section in Idaho where they do what they call 'dry farming'. They summer fallow one year and raise a crop of grain the next because the rainfall is only about enough for one crop in two years. I have plowed with nine horses and it took eight horses to pull the big harrow and I rode the other horse. Most of the harvesting was done with combines that cut and threshed the grain as it was pulled along in the field. Then they were pulled by horses, from twenty-two to thirty-six, depending on the size of the combine. Now many motor-driven tractors are used instead of horses and more work can be done. The combines were run by three men on each machine and it took hours each day to take care of so many horses. In going around the field, the straw was left in bunches and the filled sacks of grain were dumped in little piles. A small field of grain could be standing in the morning and by night the wheat would be ready for market.
One year, I went about seventy-five miles from home and bough a bunch of five-month-old calves. I drove them along the road through the mountains. I had to camp where night over-took me. As some of them were not very strong, I could not hurry them. Soon after getting down in the valley, I sold the calves at a very good profit. In a few days, I went back to the same settlement and bought a drove of heifers. I sure had a bunch of grief getting them through the mountains and even the next year. Four of them got away and went back near their old home. It took me weeks to learn which way they had gone and to locate them. After that, I never tried buying cattle so far from home.
(Last two chapters missing)
Copied by John Ellingson
Great grandson of George's sister
November 21, 2012
Contributed by Juliana Sandahl 2015