A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement
Volume 1
Chicago, Illinois
The Pioneer Publishing Company





The crowning figure in the famous Spirit Lake massacre was undoubtedly Inkpadutah, the Wahpekutah Sioux Chieftain. In him was combined all the bravery, revenge, cruelty and arrogance of the Sioux tribe; he was an Indian in every sense of the word. Before narrating the part he played in the tragedy of Dickinson County something shall be told of the events leading up to the murderous raid upon the settlements in 1857.

It is related elsewhere in this book there were four bands of Sioux on the Minnesota River, following the treaty of 1851. There were two agencies ‐ known as the Upper and the Lower ‐ the former on the Yellow Medicine River, about three miles from the mouth, and the latter on the Minnesota River, five miles below the Redwood and thirteen miles above old Fort Ridgley. The four tribes, or bands, were divided equally between the two.

The Wahpekutah band was identified with the Lower Agency. Wamdisappi was one of their principal chiefs and he, with a small portion of the band, afterward deserted the main body and his tribe became Nomads. They were outlaws. In this band was Sidominadotah, a brother of Inkpadutah. In Harvey Ingham's "Scraps of Early History" the following is said of him: "Fort Dodge was established as the frontier outpost of northern Iowa in 1850, just four years after Fort Des Moines was abandoned. Fort Des Moines was located in 1843 and occupied by troops until 1846, the years during which the Sacs and Foxes were being removed from the state. Between the occupancy of the two forts the Sioux came promi‐


nently into notice, driving out every white man who attempted to push into their territory and trying to stem the tide of emigration to the Northwest. The event which, more than any other, led to the establishment of the fort, was old Sidominadotah's attack upon March, a government surveyor, in 1848. Sidominadotah is one of the conspicuous figures in our pioneer history. He was a brother of Inkpadutah and leader of a band of Wahpekutah outlaws. He was commonly called Chief Two Fingers, having lost the remainder of his right hand in battle. Major Williams knew him well and has left an accurate description of him. He says: 'Sidominadotah was a man about five feet ten in height, stout and well formed, very active, had a piercing black eye, broad face and high cheek bones.' The major adds an item to the description which certainly entitles Sidominadotah to be called the man with the iron jaws: 'Both rows of teeth were double all around.' A dentist could have paid off all the old scores of the white race at one sitting. When killed he was forty‐ five or fifty years of age. He evidently was the leader of all the bands of the northern Sioux at that time, or, at least, held a prominent place among the leaders, for nearly all the attacks upon the whites who began to invade the territory north and west of Des Moines were led by him."

Mr. Ingham continues: "During the years of the occupancy of the fort (Dodge), Major Williams became acquainted with the various Sioux bands and their leaders. He has left very Interesting descriptions of the latter. His estimate of the character of the outfit tallies with that before given of the Wahpekutahs. 'The Sioux Indians,' he says, 'who inhabited this district of country, were the most desperate characters, made up of renegades from all bands.' They were generally very active, stout Indians and great horsemen. The majority of them were well armed with guns. They always had in their possession horses and mules with white men's brands. They generally encamped on high ground where they could not be easily surprised, and when any number of them were together, they encamped in a circle. They were very expert hunters. Their famous leaders, Sidominadotah and Inkpadutah, were very stout, active men, also Titonka and Umpashota; in fact, all of them. Of Inkpadutah, who led in the Spirit Lake massacre, and who was present in person at the raid on Mr. Call and the settlers south of Algona in 1855, he says : 'Inkpadutah was about fifty‐ five years old, about five feet eleven inches in height, stoutly built, broad shouldered, high cheek bones, sunken and very black sparkling eyes, big mouth, light copper color and pockmarked in the face.' "

Regarding Inkpadutah's sons the following is said by the same authority: "Besides these there were Cosomeneh, dark, silent, stealthy; Wahkonsa, Umpashota's son, a dude, painting his cheeks, forehead and chin with stars; Modocaquemon, Inkpadutah's oldest son, who was shot for his part in the Spirit Lake massacre, with low forehead, scowling


face and thick lips; Mocopoco, Inkpadutah's second son, sullen and ill‐ favored."

When Sidominadotah was killed Inkpadutah stepped into his place as chief of the band. The latter was known as "Scarlet Point" or "Red End." Judge Flandrau writes of them as follows: "By 1857 all that remained of Wamdisappi's band was under the chieftainship of Inkpadutah. In August, 1856, I received the appointment of United States Indian Agent for the Sioux of the Mississippi. The agencies for these Indians were on the Minnesota River at Redwood and on the Yellow Medicine River a few miles from its mouth. Having been on the frontier some time previous to such appointment, I had become quite familiar with the Sioux and knew in a general way of Inkpadutah and his band, its habits and whereabouts. They ranged the country far and wide and were considered a bad lot of vagabonds. In 1856 they came to the payment and demanded a share of the money of the Wahpekutahs, and made a great deal of trouble, but were forced to return to their haunts on the Big Sioux and adjoining country. To this Mrs. Sharp adds: 'According to the most authentic testimony collected by Major Pritchette, Inkpadutah came to the Sioux Agency in the fall of 1855 and received annuities for eleven persons, although he was not identified with any band.' "

Of the movements of Inkpadutah and his band of ruffians little is known, as the natural hostility between the Sioux and the early settlers prevented any intercourse. In an article in the Midland Monthly, Harvey Ingham writes: "Major Williams expressed the opinion that but for the rapid influx of settlers an attack would have been made on Fort Dodge in 1855. As it was, Inkpadutah and his followers contented themselves with stripping trappers and surveyors, stealing horses, and foraging on scattered settlers, always maintaining a hostile and threatening attitude. Many pages of the Midland would be required for a brief enumeration of the petty annoyances, pilferings and more serious assaults which occurred. At Dakota City, in Humboldt County, the cabin of E. McKnight was rifled in the spring of 1855. Farther north, within a few miles of Algona, the cabin of Malachi Clark was entered, and the settlers gathered in great alarm to drive out the Indians ‐ a band of eighty braves led by Inkpadutah in person. Still farther north, near where Bancroft stands, W. H. Ingham was captured by Umpashota, a leader under Inkpadutah in the massacre, and was held a prisoner for three days."

Judge Fulton writes: "During the same summer (1855) Chief Inkpadutah and his band, comprising about fifty lodges, encamped in the timber near where Algona now stands. They occasionally pillaged the cabins of the white settlers in that vicinity. At last the whites notified


them to leave, which they did reluctantly. They returned no more to that vicinity except in small hunting parties."

Further characterization may be presented by the narration of Inkpadutah's acts in the massacre.


When Henry Lott murdered Sidominadotah in January, 1854, at Bloody Run, in Humboldt County, he furnished Inkpadutah a motive for the horrible revenge the latter took in Dickinson County three years later. It is an admitted fact that this was the cause of the Spirit Lake massacre ‐ a burning desire on Inkpadutah's part to avenge the murder of his brother and family.

First a word as to Lott. He was a typical border desperado. He was of the type for whose depredations the honest settlers had to pay. He settled at the mouth of Boone River in Webster County in 1846. He gained notoriety first by selling cheap whisky to the Indians which in itself was a practice heartily condemned by the better class of white men. Whisky invariably made a bad Indian out of a good one. Later Lott began to steal horses from the Indians and soon they decided to expel him from the country as a punishment. A chief and a number of braves called upon him one day and gave him a certain time in which to gather his belongings and move. He did not heed the warning, however, and when his time limit had expired the Indians came again and destroyed his property. They killed his live stock, robbed his bee hives, and drove him and his step-son from the house. A younger lad, Milton Lott, twelve years of age, in attempting to follow them was frozen to death. A short time later Lott returned to his home here and stayed until his wife's death, all the time planning revenge upon the Indians. In 1853 he and his step-son located a new home on Lott's Creek, in Humboldt County, on the east branch of the Des Moines River. Near here Sidominadotah and his family encamped one day. Here was his chance.

Lott and his step-son went to the chiefs tepee and told him that an elk herd was feeding near and requested him to go with them to get one. He accepted the invitation. After they had reached a point some distance from the camp the Lotts turned their guns upon Sidominadotah and killed him. After night had come they returned to the camp and murdered the rest of the Indian's family, except two of the children, a boy and girl, each about ten years old. The girl had concealed herself in the underbrush and the boy was left for dead, but recovered. It is said that this boy afterward lived with a family named Carter on the West Fork of the Des Moines in Palo Alto County, and was known as "Indian Josh."


Lott and his step-son loaded a wagon immediately after their crime, burned their cabin with everything which could not be transported, and left. They traveled south until they reached the overland trail to California and there joining an emigrant party went to the coast It is reported that Lott was shortly afterward killed in a row. The crime which they committed was not discovered for a fortnight and then the guilty ones were safe from capture. Like Inkpadutah himself the Lotts escaped the fate which they deserved ‐ the justice of the settlers in Northwestern Iowa. Had either been captured their sentence would have been death. It is improbable that the Spirit Lake massacre would have occurred had it not been for the ruthless murder of Sidominadotah. The Indians were in the right when they persecuted Lott first. This, however, does not mitigate the cruelty and heartlessness of Inkpadutah's revenge in 1857.


In November, 1856, Inkpadutah and his followers were encamped at the south end of Black Loon Lake in Minnesota. They were considered by both the other bands of Indians and the settlers as renegades. Governor Grimes of Iowa made repeated appeals to Congress and to President Pierce for adequate protection of the territory in northwestern Iowa, but each appeal was unheeded, and as a result the Indians gained a confidence which they would not otherwise have had. Charles Aldrich, in the Annals of Iowa, writes: "Governor James W. Grimes wrote letters to our United States senators and to the authorities at Washington some time before the outbreak of hostilities, asking that the general government take immediate steps for the protection of our exposed frontiers. Little or no attention was paid to his reiterated requests, and so when the Indians resorted to hostilities our Iowa border was wholly without protection. Had the earnest appeals of Governor Grimes been heeded, the Spirit Lake massacre would not have occurred. What makes this neglect appear more stupidly and wickedly cruel was the fact that in those days the catching of a run‐ away negro under the infamous 'Fugitive Slave Law' was rife in the land, and detachments of the Federal Army or vessels of the United States Navy could be readily secured to return a slave to his master." The reader of 1917 can well compare this condition with the present "preparedness" of the country and thereby draw a parallel.

The winter of 1856-7 was one of the most severe ever experienced in Iowa. The snow at one time reached a depth of four feet and the cold was intense. High winds prevailed upon the prairies. These conditions made the settlers in Dickinson County suffer and endure hardships unknown to us of the present day. Provisions were scarce and difficult to obtain and the cabins were in no way constructed to keep out the cold.



In December Inkpadutah and his band departed from Loon Lake and went down the Little Sioux as far south as Smithland. They detoured around the settlements, it is believed, as no record was made of any settlers seeing them en route. Here at Smithland the first troubles of the year occurred between the Indians and the settlers. Judge Fulton writes of this as follows:

"One day while a party of them (the Indians) were in pursuit of an elk in the vicinity of Smithland, they had a difficulty with some white settlers. It is difficult to state with certainty the nature of the trouble, as different and conflicting accounts of it have been given. The Indians, however, claimed that their pursuit of the elk was intercepted by the whites who forced them to give up their arms and availed themselves of the use of their guns in the pursuit of the game. This aroused the indignation of the Indians and they demanded provisions of the settlers. They c ontinued encamped in the vicinity of Smithland for several days, during which time the whites became more and more annoyed by their presence. Finally the settlers resorted to strategy to get rid of them. At that time the name of General Harney was a terror to the Indians of the Northwest, owing to a recent severe chastisement some of them had received at his hands. One of the settlers donning the old uniform of an army officer, made his appearance on the opposite side of the Little Sioux from the Indian encampment, while some of the other whites pointed him out to the Indians as General Harney and told them he was in pursuit of them. The ruse had the desired effect and the Indians hastily moved up the river with their savage nature aroused to a desire for revenge."

R. A. Smith explains the trouble as follows: "Large numbers of elk had been driven in from the prairie by the deep snows and terrific storms. These the Indians surrounded, slaughtering large numbers of them. This created excitement and indignation among the settlers, and some of them conceived the idea of driving the Indians away. To accomplish this they got up a drunken frolic and invited the Indians in. They represented themselves as soldiers sent out by General Harney to drive them out of the country. At that time the operations of General Harney at Ash Hollow and other places had made his name a perfect terror to the Sioux, and they became very much alarmed and excited, so much so that they started at once on their return, leaving a portion of their guns and equipage in the hands of the supposed soldiers. When this transaction became known, the more level-headed citizens denounced it and did what they could to counteract what they feared would be the result They gathered up the guns and other property which the Indians had left behind and sent them forward to them, and did what else they could to


appease their indignation, but as will soon appear, however, all to no purpose."


So it can be understood that the Indians were angered by the trick played upon them and resolved to take revenge upon the settlements not so well defended. They followed up the Little Sioux after leaving Smithland, robbing settlers' cabins, killing stock and intimidating the women and children. Having reached the point where Clay County now is, they became doubly ferocious and committed many deeds of cruelty. W. C. Gilbraith, in the history of Clay County, thus describes their depredations:

"The Clay County settlers had heard of the depredations they were committing and were thoroughly alarmed for the safety of themselves and their property. When they came to the home of Mr. Bicknell and finding no one there, he with his family having gone to Mr. Kirchner's, across the river, they immediately appropriated everything which met their fancy. The next day they made their appearance at the Kirchner house, where they found the terror-stricken settlers huddled together. Without any ceremony they captured all the arms to be found, killed the cattle and took what they wanted. After remaining in the Peterson settlement a day and a night, they pushed on, leaving the whites badly frightened but thankful that they had escaped with their lives. This band of bloodthirsty Sioux then proceeded to the home of Ambrose Mead, who was absent at the time in Cedar Falls. Previous to leaving for this place, he had arranged to have a Mr. Taylor and family remain with Mrs. Mead and children during his stay. When the Indians came, Mr. Taylor protested against their taking the property or disturbing the premises. Becoming angry at Taylor for his interference they threatened to kill him if he did not keep out of the way. Fearing that they would carry out their threats Taylor left the women and children and set out to secure assistance. The Indians killed the stock, drove off the ponies and carried the women with them. But, fearing they would be pursued and overtaken, they decided to allow the women to return after taking such liberties as the helpless women could not prevent. They then directed their steps toward Linn Grove and Sioux Rapids, where they subjected the settlers to the same treatment they had given the Mead and Taylor families."

Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp describes the same occurrence as follows: "After remaining a few days in Cherokee, where they busied themselves with wantonly shooting cattle, hogs and fowls and destroying property generally, sometimes severely beating those who resisted, they proceeded up the Little Sioux to the little settlement in Clay County, now


called Peterson. Here they tarried two or three days, committing acts of atrocity as usual. At the house of A. S. Mead (Mr. Mead being away) they not only killed his cattle and destroyed his property but knocked down his wife and carried off to camp his daughter Hattie (seventeen years old) and started away with a younger sister, Emma, but she resisted so hard and cried so loud that an Indian picked up a stick and whipped her all the way back to the house and left her. At the same house they knocked down Mr. E. Taylor, kicked his body into the fireplace, burning him so badly that he still carries the scar on his leg, and took his wife off to their camp, but as yet they had committed no murder. After one night in an Indian camp, Mrs. Taylor and Hattie Mead were permitted to return home."


From Peterson the Indians went to Sioux Rapids, where they committed similar deeds. From Sioux Rapids they went to Gillett's Grove and their actions there are described by Gilbraith in the history of Clay County as follows: "Mr. Gillett, one of the earliest settlers of the county, and for whom Gillett's Grove was named, recently visited friends in this county and the scene of his former home. During his visit he related an event which he had hitherto never made public. The story is substantially as follows: He with his brother came to Clay County in the fall of 1856 and located at what is now known as Gillett's Grove

Everything passed along quietly for several months, until one day a tribe under Chief Inkpadutah came and set up their teepees upon the bank of Lost Island Lake. The settlers upon learning of their arrival and location feared that the Indians would discover the location of their houses and visit them. Their fears were well founded, for in a few days several of the redskins paid them a visit. The white settlers treated them kindly and gave them provisions, and they left for their camping grounds expressing their friendship and thanks for the food given them. In a few days another lot of them came, headed by a stalwart brave who had been with the others a few days before. After saying their usual 'How' they were supplied by the whites and returned to the lakes. During both visits it was noticeable that one of them, the one who led the second group, had his eyes constantly fixed in admiration upon Mrs. Gillett. Wherever she went and whenever she moved his eye was upon her. In a few days he returned; this time alone. He was given a seat and provided with a meal. He went away, but every two or three days he came, and although saying nothing, his looks indicated his admiration for Mrs. Gillett. His visits grew so constant and frequent that they became annoying, not only to Mrs. Gillett, but to the two families. He was con‐


stantly prowling around and appearing before them at the most unexpected moments, until he became a great nuisance. He was given to understand that his visits were not desired, but to these reminders he paid not the least attention. He was always fed and well treated, for the reason that the settlers did not wish to give any offense to the tribe or incur their enmity. But, becoming emboldened by the kind treatment that had been extended to him, one day in the absence of Mr. Gillett, and mastering all the English language he possessed, he made certain proposals to Mrs. Gillett, which she indignantly rejected, and warned him to leave. He left the house in a short time, but had not gone a great distance when Mr. Gillett returned home. His wife immediately informed him of the Indian's conduct. The husband took down his rifle and learning the direction the Indian had taken, set out after him. After a few minutes' walk he caught sight of him and drew up his rifle and fired. He did not wait to ascertain the result of his shot, but returned to his cabin and ate his supper. In the morning, in company with his brother, he visited the spot and there found a dead Indian. The brothers, after severing the head from the body ‐ which they subsequently sent to an eastern medical college ‐ placed it in a hollow tree. They at once packed up their belongings and started for Fort Dodge, knowing full well that the Indians would discover the absence of the buck, and knowing his fondness for Mrs. Gillett, would come there in search of him, and finding no trace of him, would suspect they had killed him, and would revenge themselves upon the white settlers. They, therefore, deemed it prudent to make their escape before the arrival of the searching party, which they did.


Mr. Duncombe, in writing of the Spirit Lake expedition, says of the conditions at this time: "In January, 1857, word was brought to Fort Dodge that a large band of Indians, under the lead of Inkpadutah, had followed down the Little Sioux River to a point near Smithland; that this band was composed of Sioux half-breeds and straggling renegades of the Sioux tribe, and that they had become exceedingly insolent and ugly. The next information received at Fort Dodge was in the latter part of February, when Abner Bell, a Mr. Weaver and a Mr. Wilcox came to Fort Dodge and gave Major Williams and myself the startling intelligence of acts and depredations of these scoundrels, said to be about seventy in number, including thirty warriors. These three men had left the Little Sioux River, and coming through the awful storms and almost impassable snows for sixty miles without a house or landmark on the way, sought aid from our people. They gave a sad and vivid descrip‐


tion of the shooting down of their cattle and horses, of the abuse of their children, the violation of their women and other acts of brutishness and cruelty too savage to be repeated. They pictured in simple but eloquent words the exposures of the dear wife, mother and children, their starving condition and their utter helplessness. These reports were repeated from day to day by other settlers from the Little Sioux who from time to time came straggling into Fort Dodge. These repeated accounts of the acts of the Indians led everyone familiar with the Indian character to become fully satisfied that they were determined on some purpose of revenge against the exposed frontier settlements, and this caused much alarm among the people. Among the number giving this information were: Ambrose S. Mead, L. F. Finch, G. M. and W. S. Gillett and John A. Kirchner, father of John C. and Jacob Kirchner, who are now citizens of Fort Dodge. These depredations commenced at the house of Abner Bell, on the 21st day of February, 1857. On the 24th of February, 1857, the house occupied by James Gillett was suddenly attacked by ten or more armed warriors and the two families living under the same roof, consisting of the heads of each family and five small children, were terrorized and most villainously abused. After enduring outrages there, they managed to escape at midnight and late the following evening arrived at the residence of Bell, poorly clad, and having been without food for over thirty-six hours. The sufferings of these people and their little children will be appreciated by those who remember the driving storms, piercing winds and intense cold of the unparalleled winter of 1856 and 1857, to my knowledge the longest and the most severe of any winter for the last forty-three years. From Gillett's Grove, near the present beautiful and prosperous city of Spencer, the Indians proceeded to Spirit Lake and the lakes nearby. No preparation could be made for resistance on account of the sparsity of the population and the scattered homes. In fact, it is improbable that any family knew that depredations were being committed by these red devils until they were themselves attacked when wholly unprepared for any such event."

A company of men was made up at Sac City and along the Coon River and dispatched to Peterson, but too late to be of any assistance.


Near March 7, 1857, the Indians arrived in the timber bordering upon the lakes and pitched their teepees on each side of the road leading from the Gardner to the Mattock cabin. One authority places their camp at fifteen rods from the latter home. This was about a fortnight after the disturbance near Sioux Rapids, this time having been spent probably at Lost Island. It is also known that only a portion of the band which


caused the trouble along the Little Sioux came to the lakes and participated in the massacre. The inhabitants at that time living at the lakes had no intimation of impending trouble, as they had heard nothing from the southern settlements and perceived nothing especially out of the way among the Indians. A letter left in the Granger cabin by Dr. Harriott, written on the 6th, refers to the Indians but mentioned no fear of their purpose. This, of course, was the Indians' strategy ‐ to gain the confidence of the settlers and catch them off their guard. Mr. R. A. Smith places the number of warriors at the lakes as fifteen. Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp gives, as well as memory permits, the names of the Indians who attacked the Gardner cabin as follows:

Ink-pa-du-tah, or Scarlet Point.
Mak-pe-a-ho-to-man, or Roaring Cloud.
Mak-pi-op-e-ta, or Fire Cloud, twin brother of Roaring Cloud.
Taw-a-che-ha-wa-kan, or His Mysterious Father.
Ba-ha-ta, or Old Man.
Ke-cho-mon, or Putting On As He Walks.
Ka-ha-dat, or Ratling, son-in-law of Inkpadutah.
Fe-to-a-ton-ka, or Big Face.
Ta-te-li-da-shink-sha-man-i, or One Who Makes a Crooked Wind As He Walks.
Ta-chan-che-ga-ho-ta, or His Great Gun.
Hu-san, or One Leg.

J. M. Thatcher and Asa Burtch were absent from the lakes at the time of the massacre, as was also Eliza Gardner. Harvey Luce and Thatcher had previously gone to Waterloo, Iowa, and other points for supplies and were accompanied upon their return by Enoch Ryan, a brother-in-law of Noble; Robert Clark, of Waterloo; Jonathan Howe, a son of Joel Howe; and Asa Burtch, a brother of Mrs. Thatcher. They were traveling by ox-team and when they reached a point in Palo Alto County it was found necessary to stop for a time and rest their animals. Burtch and Thatcher were chosen to stay with the teams while the remainder of the party came on foot to the lakes, arriving on the 6th of March, just in time to suffer their fate at the hands of the Indians. Burtch and Thatcher, by waiting with the oxen, saved their own lives. Eliza Gardner had gone to Springfield the previous autumn to visit the family of Doctor Strong, and was prevented by the severity of the winter from returning home. Hence her absence in March, 1857.


The morning of March 8, 1857 dawned ‐ a crisp, early-spring morning. The brilliant sun, the fresh odors in the air and the promises of


early leaves and green grass formed an inappropriate setting for the day of tragedy. The elder Gardner rose earlier than usual, contemplating an early start for Fort Dodge to obtain provisions. Luce had returned on the 6th and was to remain at the cabin during Mr. Gardner's absence. Breakfast was prepared and set upon the table and the family were just about to take their places around the board. Just then a solitary Indian stalked in and demanded food. He was given room at the table with the others. He was shortly followed by Inkpadutah and fourteen other warriors, with their squaws and papooses. This crowd of Indians soon consumed all the food left and then became insulting, asking for everything they fancied, particularly ammunition. Gardner took a box of caps and was in the act of giving a portion of them to the Indians, when a young brave grabbed the whole box from his hand. Mr. Luce was just in time to prevent another from getting a powder horn from the wall. This enraged the Indian and he attempted to put a bullet into Luce, but was prevented by the latter seizing the barrel.

Just at this time Doctor Harriott and Bertel E. Snyder came to the cabin with some letters for Gardner to carry to Fort Dodge. By this time Gardner had decided that something dangerous was afoot and that his trip must be postponed and so informed Harriott and Snyder, adding that the settlers had better get together somewhere for defense. The two young men derided this statement, not believing that the Indians were that hostile. After trading with some of the redskins, they returned to their own cabin.

The Indians remained in the Gardner cabin until about noon, then started back to their camp, driving Gardner's cattle ahead of them and shooting some of them on the way. The white people then realized that some sort of warning had to be sent to the other settlers and finally Luce and Clark agreed to undertake the task and return in time to be of assistance to the family.


Mrs. Sharp, in her book, describes the murder of her family as follows: "About three o'clock we heard the report of guns in rapid succession from the house of Mr. Mattock. (Luce and Clark had left the Gardner cabin about two o'clock.) We were then no longer in doubt as to the awful reality that was hanging over us. Two long hours we passed in this fearful anxiety and suspense, waiting and watching with conflicting hopes and fears for Mr. Luce and Mr. Clark to return. At length, just as the sun was sinking behind the western horizon and shedding its brilliancy over the snowy landscape, father, whose anxiety would no longer allow him to remain within doors, went out to reconnoiter. He, however, hastily returned, saying: 'Nine Indians are coming now only


a short distance from the house and we are all doomed to die.' His first thought was to barricade the door and fight till the last, saying, 'While they are killing all of us I will kill a few of them with the two loaded guns left in the house.' But to this mother protested, having not yet lost all faith in the savage monsters and still hoping they would appreciate our kindness and spare our lives. She said, 'If we have to die, let us die innocent of shedding blood.' Alas for the faith placed in these inhuman monsters! They entered the house and demanded more flour, and as father turned to get them what remained of our scanty store, they shot him through the heart. He fell upon his right side and died without a struggle. When first the Indian raised his gun to fire, mother or Mrs. Luce seized the gun and drew it down, but the other Indians instantly turned upon them, seized them by their arms and beat them over their heads with the butts of their guns; then dragged them out of doors and killed them in the most cruel and shocking manner. They next seized the children, tearing them from me one by one while they reached their little arms out to me, crying piteously for protection that I was powerless to give. Heedless of their cries, they dragged them out of doors and beat them to death with sticks of stove wood."


Abigail Gardner, expecting them to kill her as they did her family, was spared and dragged to the Mattock cabin. Night had fallen when they reached that place, but the trees and snow were lighted by the flames which were consuming the Mattock home. The lurid light also revealed the bodies of the brave defenders scattered upon the snow in front of the house. Nothing is known for certain of the killings here, for no one was left to describe it, but it is known that some resistance was made at this point. The bodies of Doctor Harriott, Snyder and young Harshman were found here. In the doctor's hand was a revolver, one shell discharged. Also a couple of Sharp's rifles were found nearby. The indications were that the attack was in the nature of a surprise, but the settlers found time to make a partial defense of their lives.

That night occurred a war dance ‐ an experience nearly as terrifying to the young captive as the murder of her family. Until far into the night the excited warriors danced their hideous frenzy of motion and gave vent to their blood-chilling howls.


The next morning the bloody work on hand was resumed. They started for the Thatcher and Howe cabins, about four miles distant. Howe met the party about a quarter of a mile from his cabin, as he was


on his way to some other settler's home for meal or flour. He was dispatched immediately by the Indians and his head severed from his body. The head was discovered some time after this on the shore of the lake.

They then went to the house of Mr. Howe, where they brutally killed Mrs. Howe, a daughter and son, and five younger children, also a child of Mrs. Noble.


From Howe's the band proceeded to the Thatcher cabin. In this abode were: Mr. Noble, his wife and one child, Mrs. Thatcher and a child, and Enoch Ryan. All were murdered except Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher, who were taken prisoner and taken back to the camp. On the return trip the party again halted at the Howe cabin, and here Mrs. Noble found the dead body of her mother lying under the bed and her brother, Jacob, thirteen years old, sitting up in the yard, so seriously wounded that he could not speak. She cautioned him to wait until the savages had gone and then to crawl into the house to wait until help came, but such could not be ‐ the savages found that he was still living and then completed their work, before Mrs. Noble's eyes. The Indians, with their captives, returned to the camp near the Mattock cabin. This was the night of the 9th.


The next morning they rolled their teepees and crossed the ice of West Okoboji Lake to Madison Grove, where they spent one night. The following day, the 11th, they traveled north to Marble Grove, on the west side of Spirit Lake, where they again encamped to the north of Marble's home.

William Marble and wife, newly married, had come to Spirit Lake from Linn County in the fall of 1856. Mrs. Marble afterward became Mrs. S. M. Silbaugh, of California, dying in that state October 19, 1911. In February, 1885, she described the tragedy at their home in a letter to Mrs. Abbie Gardner Sharp, a part of which is quoted as being the best description available of the murder of her husband. "It was just after breakfast, and my husband and I had partaken of our cheerful meal in our sunny little cabin. Little did we dream of danger, or that the stealthy and murderous savages were then nearing our happy home. But, being attracted by noise outside, we looked through the window and saw, with fearful forebodings, a band of painted warriors nearing the door. Knowing nothing of the massacre, though the outbreak had commenced five days before, my husband stepped to the door, spoke to the leader of the band, and welcomed them to the house. A number came and one of them perceived my husband's rifle, a handsome one. The Indian immediately


offered to trade; the trade was made on his own terms. My husband gave him $2.50 extra. The Indian then proposed to shoot at a mark and signaled to my husband to put up the target. It was then that the fearful work began, for while putting up the target, the fiendish savage leveled his gun and shot my noble husband through the heart. With a scream I rushed for the door to go to him, but two brawny savages barred my passage and held fast the door. But love and agony were stronger than brute force and with frantic energy I burst the door open and was soon kneeling by the side of him who a few minutes before was my loving and beloved husband. But before I reached him a merciful God had released his spirit from mortal agony."


So the Indians completed their murderous work in what is now Dickinson County. Mrs. Marble was held captive with Mrs. Noble, Mrs. Thatcher and Abbie Gardner. Another war dance was held that night in celebration of their day's work. Before leaving the Indians tore the bark from the side of an ash tree and on that space drew signs and characters to represent the number of people they had killed and the location of the cabins. The tree was first discovered by 0. C. Howe, R. U. Wheelock and R. A. Smith, who were the first to visit the west side of Spirit Lake after the massacre. Mr. Smith writes as follows in regard to this record: "The tree was first noticed by Mr. Howe and he called the attention of the rest of the party to it. It was a white ash standing a little way to the southeast of the door of the Marble cabin. It was about eight inches in diameter, not over ten at the most. The rough outside bark had been hewed off for a distance of some twelve or fifteen inches up and down the tree. Upon the smoothed surface made were the representations. The number of cabins (six) was correctly given, the largest of which was represented as being in flames. There were also representations of human figures and with the help of the imagination it was possible to distinguish which were meant for the whites and which the Indians. There were not over ten or a dozen all told, and except for the hint contained in the cabins, the largest one being in flames, we could not figure any meaning out of it. This talk of the victims being pierced with arrows and their number and position given, is all nonsense. Mr. Howe and the writer spent some time studying it, and while they came to the conclusion that it would convey a definite meaning to those understanding it, they could not make much out of it."

After the Indians had packed up their belongings, they left the vicinity of the Marble home, and traveled slowly to the northwest, taking their four captives with them. About the 25th of March they arrived at Heron Lake, thirty-five miles northwest of Spirit Lake.