Another IAGenWeb Project

The Lake Region Blue Book and Club
Directory of Spirit Lake and Vicinity

Published: Circa 1906

Digest Number 2

Index Page

Nature has set her crown on the State of Iowa, not in lofty mountains with ever changing charm of scenic beauty, but in a rich soil, stretching from, the Father of Waters to the Big Muddy, with a less proportion of waste land than any other state of the Union. In this crown she has set rare gems, not hard, unyielding stones, but lakes of laughing waters, waters, whose wooded shores, sandy beaches, tinted waves and clear depths are as charming as the sun ever kissed.

From the heat and noise of our prosperous cities, with large contributions from adjacent states, in answer to the call of cooling waters, they come. See them come! The business man, worked out in the whirl of Nineteenth Century rush; the professional man, to drop for a time the perplexing problem of trying to please the petulant public; the tired mother, whose unselfish heart has made her unmindful of weary feet; teacher and pupil, alike glad to escape the tyranny of appointed hours; and the tiny tot and the pet pug.

Form and fashion are left behind. There are smiling faces, cheerful greetings, shouts of joy and laughter unrestrained. Whether the visitor is sheltered under the roof of one of our fine hotels, or in a cozy cottage, or, on the tented beach, his is characterized by simplicity. In dress, comfort rather than fashion rules; for food substantial meals (and plenty of them) are preferred to dainty dishes, books, are leisurely read under the luxuriant shade of native tree, the children become acquainted with the birds and squirrels; all day long the lakes are dotted with boats and the patience of the occupants is generally rewarded with bass or pike, or pickerel or perch; sail boats are wafted in all directions; launches dart in and out; picnic parties crowd the steamers and the serf is filled with bathers who seem intent on making people believe that they are the happiest people in all the world. through the long hours rebuilds the tissues of the body, giving beauty and mental power and strength for the ardous task that must soon be taken up again.

Pastor Presbyterian Church,
Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Among the many incidents of early days, none are more strongly impressed on my memory than the experiences of my first day in Dickinson County. I was a member of the relief expedition from Fort Dodge at the time of the massacre in 1857. We arrived at Emmet, four miles above Estherville on the first day of April, where we were met by messengers from the force of the U. S. troops at Springfield (now Jackson), who informed us that the Indians had made good their escape to the northwest and that it would be useless for our entire force to go to the lakes. Accordingly Major Williams made a detail of twenty-three men to proceed to the lakes for the purpose of burying the victims of the massacre. I was one of the number so detailed. We were limited to one blanket apiece and two days' rations, which we carried on our shoulders. We reached the vicinity of the lakes about the middle of the afternoon and immediately set to work on our grusome task. We buried three bodies that night and then went into camp in the Thatcher cabin. We were on the move early next morning, going first to the Howe cabin, where the force was divided into three parties, the first under Captain Johnson staying there to bury the Howe family, the second under Lieut. Maxwell going to the Mattock place and working there and the third under Wheelock was sent out on the prairie in search of an abondoned wagon that was known to have provisions aboard. I was a member of this party. We found the abandoned wagon all right and taking such supplies as we could carry, we turned back and rejoined the main body at the Mattock place. The entire command then went up through the grove to the Gardner place, where we finished our work, having buried thirty bodies in all.

So much for my first day in Dickinson County.


It is perhaps by reason of the contrast with the gracious hostelries that today welcome the traveler to the lake region that the rude hospitalities of "Old Man Peters" and the memory of my first night in Dick-inson come back to me so vividly.

I had made my way on foot across the prairie from Blue Earth City, staying over night at Tuttle's lake and stopping for dinner at a trapper's cabin on the Des Moines. Here I met a young frontiersman named Leary, who, when he learned that I was trying to makejny way to the Spirit Lake settlement where my brother was, with the ready will to lend a hand, ever characteristic of the frontiersman, volunteered to guide me to the settlement, a distance of fifteen miles. We reached the north shore of Spirit Lake at dusk and from there made our way through increasing darkness down the shore of the lake. I enquired where we would spend the night and my guide replied that he "reckoned we would stay with Old Man Peters." About ten o'clock we reached the isthmus between Spirit and Okoboji lakes, where Old Peters lived, his home being a hole in the ground with some logs across the top, the whole covered with prairie hay and sand. All was dark within and without. My guide shouted to Peters that "Smith's brother has come and wants to stay all night." "All right," replied the sleepy voice of mine host. "Tell him to crawl in with Brown. Just feel along the wall till you come to the bed." Groping my way along the wall I found a pole bed covered with prairie hay containing the sleepy form of a man. Not knowing whether Brown was black or white, I crept in by his side and slept till morning. When I awoke Brown was gone and I arose and made my way to the Okoboji cabin, where I found my brother. I afterwards made the acquaintance of Walter Brown, my bedfellow, and he and I were neighbors and friends for over thirty years.

Okoboji, Iowa.


Peter Ladoux, Jolin Loomis and myself composed a party of emigrants seeking a home in the wilderness where the Indians had but recently left their trail of blood and carnage, a heritage of horrible memories. We had three yoke of oxen in our outfit and stopped at Blue Earth City, laying in our winter's supply of flour. At Chain Lakes, near Estherville, we purchased a fat hog, doing our butchering. Thus provisioned we arrived at Spirit Lake and I settled on the land which has ever since been known as "The Arthur Homestead." We chopped and hauled logs from the head of Spirit Lake to build a bridge across "the narrows". The weather was fine the 1st of January, the, frost was all out of the ground, so I did my spring plowing during the month. We passed an easy winter and I often think of those old days when we little band of pioneers were like one family, with feelings of regret for they are-constantly going thence to the land beyond the river of time.


Adair, Iowa, August 10, 1905.
I took charge of the Presbyterian church work at Spirit Lake in September, 1884. There had been a partial organization of a church, and some Presbyterian services. The church was reorganized and Elders and Trustees elected at a meeting in my house. When I came the people had been some time without services. We rented the "Old Beacon Hall." This hall was used for almost everything during the week, frequently by shows on Saturday evening and in a very unsuitable condition on Sabbath morning. Those interested came early and prepared it for services before the audience arrived. Had I space, I'd mention the many specially helpful in this pioneer work, many of them living, some having gone to their reward. I shall cherish their names in happy memory — God bless them all.

We used the hall two and one-half years, favored by providence we built the beautiful little church where services are still held. The Lord wonderfully blessed us in the building. We wondered how we could raise the money, committed the matter to God and were astonished at our success. The people subscribed liberally for the building, all paid promptly. Most of the money was raised from the citizens of Spirit Lake. The paper was headed by ten fifty dollars gifts, the work went on rapidly "for the people had a mind of work." The young people raised about $71.00 for a chandalier, through, an offering box kept at the Barren House, by the way, one of the popular places about the Lakes. The pulpit was bought by Dr. Bailey's synodical missionary, $5.00 of the money being given by a little boy on his dying bed to Dr. Bailey for the aid of some new church in Iowa.

I look back to Spirit Lake as an Oasis in my life's work. I preached to intelligent, refined and appreciative audiences. Our membership increased — God blessed us. We are parting on Earth — may we all meet in Heaven.

Pastor First Presbyterian Church,
Adair, Iowa.

Early in the fall of 1860 I went to Detroit, Mich., when father received a letter from Uncle Schuneman, who was then living at Spirit Lake, urging him to come and take up a homestead. Father made up his mind while on the way home to go and we started on our way. Reaching Twelve Mile Lake and camping for dinner we discovered large clouds of smoke coming over the prairie. While mother, grandmother and the children were getting into the wagon, Thomas Doughty, a frontiersman, who was living with uncle, overtook us. He was on his way back to Spirit Lake trom a trip to Fort Dodge. He was of very material aid as he understood the necessity of immediate action. Those who never have seen billows of leaping flames rushing with the fury of the wind and clouds of blinding, stifling smoke can form no conception of the situation from a written description. The horses were dumb with fright and couldn't be induced to move. Father tried in vain to coax them, holding them by the bits and talking to them. The flames rolled on and over us. Thomas Doughty and I holding the other team, saw father fall to the ground. When the smoke cleared again he was up and still trying to get the horses on the burnt ground. Like firey waves they rolled over him, falling. We rushed to his aid, he said "I'm cold won't you bring a quilt?" Mother had seen him fall but the fire and smoke was stifling and she couldn't get through it. We wrapped him up making him as comfortable as possible, put him on a feather bed and brought him to my uncles, guided by Mr. Doughty. My father lived nine days and is buried in Lake View.


It was in the year 1856 that the hills and groves about these lovely lakes first echoed the sound of the woodman's ax. Seldom ere this had their numerous beauties greeted eyes of a white man, their waters had slept for centuries, unknown to the turmoils of civilization, disturbed only by their finny inhabitants, flocks of wild fowls or the rippling oar of the Indian's canoe.

Rowland Gardner and Harvey Luce, his son-in-law, were the first white men to bring their families for settlement. Our family consisted of father, mother, two sisters and one brother. The eldest sister was the wife of Mr. Luce, Eliza, aged seventeen, still survives, Rowland Jr., aged six and Abigail, the writer, then a girl of thirteen summers. The family the reports of guns amid the groves around us, but whether it came from the rifles of white men or Indian we knew not. We went into camp at the edge of the grove, west of the present site of the monument. The next morning father, Mr. Luce and W. R. Wilson, a young man who had accompanied our family from Clear Lake, started out to reconnoiter. On their return they brought the glad news that they had found four white men encamped on the north side of West Okoboji, near where now may be seen Mr. W.S. Wilson's residence. The men spent several days looking about the lake region, when they decided that no more beautiful or desirable location in which to establish a home could be found than where we were encamped. Hence a log cabin to shelter the family was soon erected, where it still stands, and is seen today as a memorial to these brave pioneers who first essayed to establish homes of civilized life on the shores of these beautiful lakes.

My father turned over the first sod with his ox teams for cultivation of the soil in Diekinson county. Mr. Luce laid claim to 160 acres of land adjoining father's on the east and erected a log cabin. W. R. Wilson took up a claim of 160 acres east of that of Mr. Luce, a portion of which now embraces the site of Arnolds Park property. After the massacre by the Indians of the first settlers, Mr. Wm. Wilson and my sister sold their interests in these three claims of 160 acres each for the nominal sum of five hundred dollars. In the year 1891, some thirteen acres of father's original homestead sold for five thousand dollars and city lots were staked for sale surrounding the old log cabin home, including the one on which it stands. From the proceeds of the sale of my history of the Okoboji and Spirit Lake massacre and my captivity among the Indians, I was enabled to purchase this to me sacred spot, paying for eighty by one hundred and eighty feet of land three hundred and fifty dollars. I bought it just in time to save the old log cabin home from ruins, as it was ready to fall down from undermining. During the winter of 1893-4 I went before the Iowa legislature in behalf of a bill for an appropriation of $5,000 to erect on this historical ground the beautiful granite monument to the memory of a little band of brave pioneers who fell victims to the vengeance of the red man.

This is said to be the most prominent historical site in the state of Iowa and is one of the greatest points of interest to tourists about the lakes.


We moved from Hamilton County in company with Mr. Wycoff. The outfit consisted of Wycoff, his wife, myself, wife and baby, two cows tied behind some pigs following, with myself in the rear. We traveled in this order until we reached Spirit Lake.

It was in the Spring of 1860, and the cows were wandering far in search of food. While looking for them one evening I found the barrel of an old gun. The stock had been broken off at the breech. About five yards away I found the stock. It was of curled maple with two rows of brass rivets at the guard. As it was getting late I looked no farther until the next day when I found part of a pair of Scotch plaid pantaloons. I carried the barrel over to G. D. Howe's blacksmith shop but could secure no information on the subject.


I arrived at Spirit Lake in 1870 with three loads of merchandisers, my stock in trade. It was against my own inclination to begin on Friday. Necessity required the wheels of business to revolve at once. In the meantime we have been discouraged. The hope and courage of young manhood overcame them all. My life has been so busy and the years have flown swiftly. Looking across the vista it, seems a little while since October, 1870. Retracing my steps, counting the events of the intervening period, the changes time has brought I can hardly realize 36 years have flown by. Spirit Lake was then an outpost of civilization. The Indian had recently abandoned his native haunts. Fur bearing animals practically extinct were almost the chief dependence of the people. Babes then unborn have grown to .manhood and womanhood, now having children of their own. It has been my purpose to serve faithfully and well the public with whom I have business relations. I endeavored to manifest an interest, public and private. .In return I have enjoyed the confidence and patronage of the people to a generous extent having an abiding attachment for Dickinson County and its people. I trust the future may be bright for all of us.


Essie Atkins.

Long ago, before the white man crossed the trackless Western prairies, a tribe of Sioux Indians dwelt peacefully in a sheltered ravine, from whence, at frequent intervals, bands of warriors rode, on the warpath .against the hostile Crows.

One of the Sioux maidens, Otana (Jewel,) loved a Crow warrior, and when her father, the chief, led a war party against them, she betrayed the warriors into the hands of the Crows. From the score of braves who rode fearlessly out of the valley, but ten returned and soon Otana's treachery became known.

The council of the head men decreed that she must suffer torture and be burned alive at the stake the next day, so forthwith she was bound and a slow fire was kindled at her feet. Bravely, with eyes fixed westward toward the land of the Crows, she sang her death song and endured her torture unflinchingly.

The heart of Manitou, the Great Spirit who loved the Sioux better than any of his children, was filled with wrath when he saw the beautiful Indian maiden, whose love overcame her loyalty, dying at the stake.

With a sweep of his mighty arm, he flung wide the gates of the heavens, and a torrent of water plunged down upon the valley and its inhabitants.

With wails of terror the frightened Indians flung themselves prostrate, crying to Manitou to save them, but in vain.

Two only, of all the tribe, escaped, and these the parents of Otana, at a distance watched the scene with horror, as the ravine filled with foaming water and the very trees sunk from view.

They christened the lake Otanawah, "Diamond water", in memory of Otana, the "Jewel" daughter of the lost tribe.

'Tis said and is believed by the Indians, that in the August moon at midnight the spirits of the drowned Indians rise and walk on the waters of the lake, and that, if any traveler should chance to be out on its surface, they are seized by ghostly hands and snatched to the icy depths.

Thus runs the legend of Otana, the Indian maid.

Miss Lettie Condiff.

In the wigwam of her father, on the shores of lake attraction, lived an Indian maid, Monota. Loved the trees and bright blue water, lived contentedly and happy; 'till one day an old war chieftain wished to marry bright Monota. Brought rich gifts to be paid for her. When the old chief had departed Monota cried she could not wed him, but the father said "We cannot break the custom of our fathers to give back his furs and presents." Then Monota knew it must be, quickly leaped into her canoe, pushed it out upon the water, and returned not; for the lake god, the god who is called Mianto, called her, took her, kept her always. Every spring the Indians tell us each night in the Moon of Flowers you may see upon the waters the shadow of lost Monota.

In giving the early history of the medical profession it will be necesary to render credit where credit is due to my "Brethren of the Cloth" in adjoining counties. Dr. Baxter was the first to locate in Dickinson for the practice of his profession. He acquired quite an extensive practice, and there are still people residing in the county who tell many laughable stories regarding the old man. Dr. Beers located here about the same time, and established the first drug store, which was a nulcous of the stock which was carried by George Baxter in '75 or '76. Dr. H. McCrarey located at the old town of Milford about the same time. A capable physician, Dr. Charles McAlister, located in Spencer in the early '70, coming from Massachusetts. Dr. McAlister still lives and bids fair to practice many years to come. In 1870 Dr. D. H. Niel located in Sibley, coming from St. James, Minnesota. He has had a long and successful practice.

When I located in Jackson, Minn., in June 1870, Dr. Moville of Maine had but recently returned to his native state. Dr. Foster was then quite an old gentleman who cared more for his drug business than he did for his medical practice. In '72 he moved from Jackson to Heron Lake, opening a drug store and was the "pioneer physician" of that section.

Dr. Ballard located in Estherville in 1869, dying some years since. I doubt if any physician ever had a more faithful and trusting clientage.

The county officers kindly gave me the office of County Superintendent for which I received the munificient sum of $200. This and what little I received from my practice I made out to live. In the Spring of '77 I came to Spirit Lake establishing the first permanent drug store in '78. I have ridden many hundred miles when mercury was 30 degrees below zero. Often had rides of 20 to 30 miles when it was 40 below zero. Over the boundless snow with nothing but the twinkling stars above as my guide. I have seen so much suffering and sorrow that if I had my life to live over, the last career I would choose would be a medical one. At the same time the friendships I have found, is a satisfaction when I think I have a right to believe I have been of some use in alleviating pain and restoration to health. These things have been more satisfactory than money could be. Think of it! In those early days we knew almost nothing of antiseptics when the terrible diphtheria scourge made mourning in every home. We fought it with nothing but chlorate of potash, carbolic acid, whiskey and quinine, Finding my stock short I sent Leslie Lemon on a pony to Jackson after more, but the roads were so bad he left the horse at the head of the lake and went on afoot.


Worthy Matron Mrs. Clara Davis, Homer Lovesee, W. P. Mrs. Maude Smith, Secretary. Miss Mamie Blakey, Treasurer. Miss Katie Uhley, Conductress. Floe Hemenway, Assistant Cond. Miss Marie Chisholm, Warder. Mrs. Mary Lambert, Sentinel. Vernon Smith, Chaplain. Mrs. Margaret Snow, Marshal. Mrs. Hattie Thornton, Organist. Mrs. Anna Harvey.

Officers of Star. Ada — Mrs. May Fitz. Ruth — Mrs. Mae Blackert. Esther — Mrs. Clara Stoddard. Martha — Mrs. Fannie Pickett. Electa — Mrs. Martha Smith. Members.

Mrs. Mary Austin, Mrs. Ella Arnold, Mrs. V. A. Arnold, Miss. Nellie Anderson.

Miss Mamie Blakey, Mrs. Mary Blakey, Mrs. Elizabeth Brandorn, Mrs. Alice Brandorn, Mrs. Mae C. Blackert, Mrs. Naome Beebe, Mrs. Lydia Booth, Mrs. Myra Brown, Mrs. Eunice Brownell, Mrs. Lillian Brown, Mr. Thomas Burt.

Mr. A. R. Carter, Miss Jennie Coulthurst, Mrs. Grace Crandall, Miss Mary Chrisholm, Mrs. Anna Chrisholm, Mrs. Cornelia Cooper. Mrs. Blanche Corson.

Mr. J. C. Davis, Mrs. Edith Daley, Mrs. Clara Davis, Mrs. Esther Doughty.

L. H. Farnham, Mrs. Hattie Farnham, Mrs. May Fitz, Miss Vie Francis, Miss Margaret Fowells, Mrs. Pearl Ferguson, Mrs. Minnie Francis, Mrs. Dena Funk

Mrs. Julia Greatrax, Mr. Harry Green, Mrs. Annie Green, Miss Merindy Groom.

Mrs. Royianna Hemenway, Mr. V. C. Hemenway, Miss Floe Hemenway, Mrs. Fannie Hope.

Mrs. Ella Johnson, Mrs. Clara Jones, Mr. A. M. Johnson, Mr. O. S. Jones.

Mrs. Edith Kidd, Mrs. Estella Kieser, Miss Lura Kieser.

Mr. Homer Lovesee, Mrs. Mary Lambert, Mr. W. S. Lambert, Miss Belle Lambert, Miss Maude Lambert.

Miss Effie Morse, Mrs. Amma Miller, Mrs. Agnus Mitchell, Mrs. Emma Myers.

Mr. C. E. Narey, Mrs. Anna Narey, Miss Tillie Nelston

Mr. S. L. Pillsbury, Mr. A. B. Palmer, Mrs. Frances Pillsbury, Mrs. Anna Palmer, Mr. E. D. Putnam, Mrs. Adelaide Putnam, Mrs. Fannie Pickett.

Mr. A. E. Rector, Mrs. Emma Rector, Mr. C. I. Reigard, Mrs. Fannie Riegard.

Mr. Fred Crego Smith, Mrs. Maude Smith, Mrs. Martha Smith, Mr. Vernon Smith, Mrs. Rebeccah Snow, Mrs. Margaret Snow, Miss Katie Smith, Mr. Howard Stillwell, Mrs. Emma Stilwell, Mrs. Clara Stoddard, Mr. Charles L. Stoddard, Mrs. E. M. Siddal, Mrs. Emma Stowe, Mrs. Nellie Sperbeck.

Mrs. Ann Taylor, Mrs. Hattie Thornton.

Miss Katie Uhley.

Mr. J. T. Webb, Mrs. Anna Webb, Miss Ethel Webb.

MAMIE BLAKEY, Secretary.

Was organized at Spirit Lake Dec. 1, 1903, with twenty charter members. The Degree Staff of Ft. Defiance of Estherville, No. 134, exemplifying the work in a masterly manner.

Grand Patriarch J. C. Milner of Belle Plaine instituted the encampment, electing the following officers: C. P., A. D. Gray; H. P., W. F. Wright; S. W., L. M. Slagle; J. W., C. Bibow; Scribe, W. A. Price.

At eleven o'clock the Rebekahs served supper, which is a guarantee that of all good things to eat we received the best.

The following are the list of officers and members to date: W. F. Wright, C. P.; Luther Slagle, H. P.; Dr. Schofield, S. Warden; C. C. Hamilton, Scribe.

Was organized in 1899. Many of the strongest and best women of Spirit Lake have enrolled as members. Here, as elsewhere, our object is to "specially aid and assist the Grand Army of the Republic and to perpetuate the memory of then- heroic dead, to maintain allegiance to the United States of America, and to encourage the spread of universal liberty and equal rights to all."

Our first president was Mrs. Eunice Brownell, who is now deceased, serving us faithfully in this position several years. Time has brought many changes in our membership, three removals and other causes.

All loyal women are eligible to membership and to such we extend a cordial invitation to join us in the work.

The following is a list of our working members, April 1, 1906: Mrs. Anna Wood, Mrs. Mary Farmer, Mrs. Anna Copley, Mrs. Sarah Klein, Mrs. Eunice Brownell, Mrs. Eliza Mosher, Mrs. Johana Yarnes, Mrs. Cynthia Campbell, Miss Effie Smee, Mrs. Elizabeth McKinney, Mrs. Sarah Betts, Mrs. Price, Sr., Mrs. M. M. Snow.

Court Street,
Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Illustration on page 39—1 Lalive Brownell, 2 Ruth Brownell, 3 Leontine Sperbeck, 3 Bessie Stapleton, 5 Francis Carlton, 6 Bell Grealtrax.

1 Mesdames Emma Rolf, 2 Eunice Arnold, 3 Emma Hallet, 4 Fannie Butler, 5 Jennie Alien, 6 Lucy Hall, 7 Nettie Smith, 8 Mae O'Farrell, 9 Annie O'Farrell, 10 Margaret Broyious, 11 Susie Bascomb, 12 Ella O'Farrell.

THE L. L. C.
The Ladies' Lakeside Club was organized in 1893. Its origin was due to a suggestion for a club made by Mrs. Ada Sharp to her neighbors, and she invited them to meet at her home for the purpose of organizing. The result of the meeting is that from that time we have miantained a nice little club of twelve members, meeting every two weeks for the purpose of friendship and sociability. We organized with a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer and our membership was limited to twelve members. If a member is absent three months without sending a quotation or attending one regular meeting her place is declared vacant and a name is suggested and voted on to fill the vacancy. The hostess has the privilege of inviting in friends if she chooses. Each member is taxed the small sum of five cents for our little teas, and in looking back over the years, the club is surprised at the good that has been done with our mites. I mention one or two things that "the money has been spent for. We purchased the bell that now hangs in our little church, contributed twenty-eight dollars toward the Jews and expended ten dollars in another direction, besides many other benefits that cannot be mentioned. On New Year's eve the ladies entertain their husbands and families at a banquet, the expenses of which are paid out of the treasury. Once annually when the busy season is over we have our club picnic, inviting our friends, taking steamer for some one of the best hotels about the lake, where we have our dinner, always spending the day at West Okoboji. Our little beginnings have met with great success and gone beyond all expectations. We have continued to meet regularly through all these years and many of our most pleasant memories are associated with the L. L. C. of Arnold's Park.

Arnold's Park, Iowa.

Contributed by Sheryl McClure

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