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





Mention has been made before of the trapper, Morris Markham, who lived at the house of J. M. Thatcher. It so happened that in the spring of 1857 Markham received word that some cattle which he had lost late in the fall of 1856 had strayed as far as Mud Lake in Emmet County. Thither he went and obtained his cattle. On March the 9th he started for the lakes again, the same day on which the murders took place at the Howe and Thatcher cabins.

En route to his home Markham met one of the severe storms so common that winter and in fighting his way blindly through the snow and wind was driven southward from his intended course. Near midnight of the 9th he reached the Gardner cabin and undoubtedly would have stayed there the remainder of the night. In B. F. Gue's History of Iowa is the following: "Returning on the evening of the 9th, cold, hungry, exhausted, he reached the Gardner cabin near midnight. It was very dark and cold, and Markham was surprised to find the doors open and the house deserted. Upon examination he found the bodies of the family, some lying on the floor and others about the yard." R. A. Smith writes that Markham did not discover any bodies at the Gardner home; in fact, different writers have given different versions. It would seem logical that he would find the murdered bodies there, but again the fact that the night was intensely dark and cold might have prevented him from seeing them.

Surmising that something was wrong ‐ the thought of Indians probably the first conjecture ‐ he started down the footpath for the Mattock


cabin. He had covered perhaps two-thirds of the distance when he was startled by the barking of a dog and the low voices of people. He halted and listened intently. Suddenly he conceived the fact that he had walked into the vicinity of the Indian camp, the teepees having been erected on both sides of the path which he had taken. His predicament was an extremely dangerous one, for any strange noise would have aroused the Indians and resulted in his certain death. As cautiously and quietly as only a trained woodsman could move he left the spot and detoured, going up and across East Okoboji Lake to the cabin of Mr. Howe. Here he found another scene of desolation and the mutilated bodies of the settlers scattered around. From here he went on north to the Thatcher home, where he lived, and again discovered the bloody work of the Indians. Knowing that further traveling that night was out of the question and that rest must be had, he went into a ravine nearby and made himself as comfortable as the bitter cold would allow. He could not build a fire as the light would possibly attract the attention of the enemy.

When dawn came Markham's feet were partially frozen and painful, but despite this handicap he started for the Des Moines River, which he reached at the George Granger place. Here he met with a company of trappers, to whom he related the story of the massacre at the lakes. Two of the band immediately started for Fort Dodge, there to give the alarm and seek aid. The people at Fort Dodge, however, were dubious of the trappers' story, as many a similar false alarm had been given that winter. Markham himself turned north from the Granger place and proceeded to Springfield, where he warned the settlers there that they might expect an attack from the Indians soon. Morris Markham died in Clark County, Wisconsin, on December 4, 1902, at the age of seventy‐ nine years. He left a widow and several children.

The party consisting of 0. C. Howe, R. U. Wheelock and B. F. Parmenter, from Jasper County, had come to the lakes in November, 1856, but did not stay during the winter, preferring the return in the spring and make a permanent settlement. About the first of March they left Newton, went to Fort Dodge and then came north along the west side of the Des Moines River. En route they heard nothing of the massacre which had just occurred. By the 15th they had reached a point in what is now Lloyd Township, where they camped. The following morning, before sunrise, they were on their way again, intending to reach the Gardner cabin before nightfall. However, another storm arose and they missed their path. By the time they had reached a slough near Gar Lake their slow-going oxen and heavy load proved too much of a burden and they were abandoned and the three pushed on alone to the settlements, which they reached about midnight. The Thatcher cabin was first encountered, where they found everything deserted, but did not


perceive any bodies. The three men then went to Howe's and there stopped for the night. The morning brought the intelligence of the murders to them and with this news they started for Fort Dodge again, arriving on March 22d.


The citizens of Fort Dodge were now thoroughly aroused and immediately began preparations for succoring any possible survivors and if possible to punish the guilty Indians. Everyone realized the handicap of the season for an organized expedition ‐ the snow having begun to melt and the streams to rise, but the plans were formulated notwithstanding and on the 23d, the day after the confirmation of the news, a meeting was held. Major Williams presented a commission from Governor Grimes which gave him the authority to assume the initiative when emergency demanded. He called for volunteers and shortly a force of nearly seventy men was raised. The volunteers were formed into two companies ‐ A and B ‐ under the command of C. B. Richards and J. F. Duncombe respectively. Another company, C, was raised at Webster City. In all there were nearly one hundred men ready to start north. The force was under the command of Major William Williams, with George B. Sherman as quartermaster.

The hardships and privations which lay before this brave band of men were unnumbered. To meet them they were very poorly equipped. No tents were to be had and each man was allotted just one blanket. Thus prepared they were to encounter snow from three to four feet deep, snow filled ravines, slush, water and sloughs. It was no child's play, but the men were all hardy frontiersmen and inured to such dangers, so did not shirk the duty which laid before them.


On March 24, 1857, the expeditionary force left Fort Dodge. R. A. Smith says of the trip: "They started on the 24th and were nine days in reaching what was then known as the Granger place, in Emmet County, the point where the command divided and the main body turned back. Nine days of rougher campaigning it would be difficult to imagine. The snow had so filled in around the groves and along the streams that at times it was impossible to reach them. It was no uncommon experience to wade through snow and water waist deep during the day, and at night to lie down in their wet clothing, without fire and without tents, ' and on short rations of food. The only way the men could keep from freezing was by lying so close together that they could only turn over by


platoons. The ravines were all filled level with snow and it was often necessary to detach the teams, rigging a cable to the wagons for the whole party to take hold and make their way through. As the expedition neared the state line and settlements became sparser and smaller, it was deemed prudent to send a force of scouts out in advance of the main body. Accordingly, on the morning of the 30th of March, Major Williams made a detail of ten men to act as scouts, under the command of William L. Church, who, by the way, was a veteran of the Mexican War. Mr. Church with his family, consisting of wife, his wife's sister, and two small children, had settled at Springfield the fall before, and in February Church had made a trip to Webster City for supplies, leaving his family in the settlement at Springfield during his absence. He had reached McKnight's Point, on the West Fork of the Des Moines in Humboldt County on his return when he heard of the massacre at the lakes, and also that a relief party was being organized at Fort Dodge and would be up in a few days. He accordingly awaited their arrival, when he enrolled himself as a member of Company C. He had heard nothing of his family since he left home nearly a month before, and was continually in a state of feverish anxiety. Some of the accounts say that Lieutenant Maxwell had command of the scouting party, but this is a mistake. Church had charge of the scouts up to the time they fell in with the Springfield refugees, when he went down the river with them and the scouts were then turned over to Maxwell."


The scouting expedition once started, nothing was encountered of undue nature until they had about entered the boundaries of the present Emmet County. A band of strangers was then seen some distance away, but whether it consisted of Indians or white people could not be determined. The scouts prepared for a fight and then advanced, the other party also coming to meet them ‐ with the same caution. The discovery of an ox team in the band identified the strangers to the scouts as white people. Signals were given and the two parties approached each other, each glad that the other was not the enemy. The newcomers were from the vicinity of Springfield, Minnesota, whence they had fled from the Indians. Church's family formed a part of the band of refugees. Among the score or so of people were: The Churches, Miss Swanger, Mr. Thomas, wife and several children; David Carver, John Bradshaw, Morris Markham, Jareb Palmer, Eliza Gardner, Doctor Strong and wife, and Doctor Skinner. Messrs. Thomas and Carver and Miss Swanger were suffering from wounds received in the fighting in Minnesota.

Camp was made immediately and Frank Mason and R. A. Smith


ordered to return to the main body and hustle up supplies, also to bring the surgeon to dress the wounds of those injured. The camp was pitched in what was later known as Camp Grove, on the line between Palo Alto and Emmet Counties. The remainder of the troops were quickly upon the scene and everything possible was done for the comfort of the refugees. The next day the latter started down the river, while the expeditionary force continued on toward the lakes.

An account of the incident is related by Governor Carpenter as follows: "It the expedition had accomplished nothing more, every man would have felt himself repaid for his share in its toil and suffering by the relief it was able to afford to these suffering refugees. In the haste of their departure from Springfield they had taken but little provisions and scanty clothing. The women in wading through the drifted snow had worn out their shoes, their gowns were worn to fringes at the bottom, and all in all, a more forlorn and needy company of men and women were never succored by the hands of friends. They cried and laughed, and laughed and cried, alternately. A part of one squad then returned to the main command with the information of our discovery and the residue conducted the worn and weary party to the nearest grove on the Des Moines River, where the main body joined them later in the afternoon and where we spent the night. The next morning we divided our scanty rations and blankets with them and they went forward toward safety and friends, whilst, we pushed toward the scene of the massacre."

In the afternoon of April 1, 1857, the expedition arrived at the Granger place. Here they learned that government soldiers from Fort Rigley had arrived at Springfield for the protection of the settlers there, that another group of the soldiers had visited Marble's place on Spirit Lake and buried the unfortunate settler, and that the Indians had escaped over the Big Sioux River.

The pursuit of the Indians was rendered almost hopeless, that is, pursuit by the expeditionary force. Also, it was believed that it was unnecessary for the entire hundred men to continue on to the north. Major Williams decided to return to Fort Dodge with the larger part of the command and detailed a party of twenty-three men under Captain Johnson and Lieutenant Maxwell to go on to the lakes and bury the dead there. The names of the detachment ordered to continue, as given by Smith, were: Captain J. C. Johnson, Lieutenant John N. Maxwell, Henry Carse, William E. Burkholder, William Ford, H. E. Dalley, 0. C. Howe, George P. Smith, 0. S. Spencer, C. Stebbins, S. Van Cleve, R. U. Wheelock, R. A. Smith, William A. De Foe, B. F. Parmenter, Jesse Addington, R. McCormick, J. M. Thatcher, William R. Wilson, Jonas Murray, A. Burtch, William K. Laughlin, E. D. Kellogg.



Having started on the morning of the 2d of April the party at three o'clock in the afternoon arrived at the Thatcher cabin. The remains of Noble and Ryan were first discovered in the rear of the cabin and were the first buried. The night was spent at the Thatcher home; the cook stove inside used for preparing the hot supper.

A small number of the men walked over to the Howe cabin before dark and there found the bodies of the Howe family, also the Thatcher and Noble children. They carried the body of the Thatcher child back and buried it at the head of the ravine west of the house. It is believed that the Indians took the children named as far as the Howe cabin with their mothers who were prisoners, and there dispatched them.

After breakfast the following morning the men started for the Howe cabin. After reaching there the command was divided into three parties, under the command, respectively, of Captain Johnson, Lieutenant Maxwell and R. U. Wheelock. One detachment was ordered to remain and bury the bodies at the Howe cabin, another was to go to the Mattock place and inter the bodies found there, and the other was to go in search of the supply wagon Howe and Wheelock had abandoned the night they reached the lakes.

At the Howe cabin a grave was dug, thirty inches deep and six by seven feet, and in this were buried the bodies of nine victims: Mrs. Millie Howe; Jonathan Howe, a son, Sardis Howe, five younger children of Mr. Howe, and the Noble child. Mr. Smith says in regard to this burial: "There is a discrepancy between the actual facts and all accounts so far published relative to the number massacred at the Howe cabin. The number given by Mrs. Sharp in her book, as well as other published accounts, give it as 'Mrs. Howe, a grown up son, a grown up daughter, and four younger children.' When the bodies were disinterred for burial at the time of the erection of the monument, there were certainly nine bodies found in that grave, and they can be accounted for only as above stated. There were no children found at the Thatcher cabin, and Thatcher himself identified his child found at the Howe cabin, and the men with him assisted him in carrying it back to his own place, where it was buried as before stated, near the head of the ravine west of the house."

The burial party commanded by Maxwell before reaching the Mattock cabin, found the decapitated body of Joel Howe lying on the ice. "Here is another discrepancy in which ascertained facts differ from the usually accepted accounts. Henry Daley, of Webster City, who is the only member of that party whose whereabouts is now known, insists that when they found the body, of Mr. Howe they carried it to the Mattock


place and buried it in the same grave with the Mattock family and the others that were found there. He says the recollection of that circumstance is the most vivid and distinct of anything that transpired on the trip and that he cannot be mistaken about it. The usually accepted account is that Mr. Mattock's body was taken to the shore by those who found it, and buried on a bluff some distance southwest of his house.

"It will be remembered that the party had no provisions except the lunch they brought with them from their camp the morning before, and that was now exhausted. The party under Wheelock, consisting of five men, started at once in search of the abandoned wagon, which they found without difficulty among the sloughs that form the source of Spring Run, together with the supplies, all safe as they had left them three weeks before. They took what they could conveniently carry of flour, pork, coffee and sugar, and started back, joining the other parties at the Mattock place, reaching there just as they had finished digging the grave and were gathering up the bodies for burial. As has been stated, here was the only place that showed signs of any resistance having been made, and that has already been described. There were eleven bodies found here and buried. As identified by Thatcher and Wilson at the time, they were as follows: James Mattock, his wife and three oldest children, Robert Madison, Doctor Harriott, Bert Snyder and Joseph Harshman. Right here comes in a discrepancy that has never been explained, and probably never will. Mrs. Sharp maintains that the bodies of Luce and Clark were found later and buried near the outlet of East Okoboji, they having been waylaid in their attempt to warn the other settlers. All accounts agree that eleven bodies were buried here. The writer found one body, that of a twelve year old boy, about a month later and assisted in burying it, and if one perished in the flames this makes thirteen to be accounted for. Who were they? Seven of the Mattock family, Madison, Harriott, Snyder, Harshman and two others. Even on the theory that none perished in the burning cabin, there is one more than can be accounted for. Was there one or two strangers stopping at either the Mattock or Granger cabin of whom no account was ever given? It is not strange that an occasional discrepancy is found. The only wonder is that they are not far more numerous."

The party next went to the Granger cabin where the body of Carl Granger was discovered and buried near the lake east of the cabin. Their next destination was the Gardner cabin, where six bodies were found &dashy; Mr. and Mrs. Gardner, Mrs. Luce, the young son of Mr. Gardner and two Luce children. All of them were interred in a single grave southeast of the house, their casket a covering of prairie hay. Mr. Smith is authority for the statement that none of the bodies discovered at the lakes was scalped, thus refuting numerous accounts to the contrary.


After the work of burying the massacre victims was accomplished, supper was prepared for the men, the meal consisting of potatoes taken from the Gardner cabin and a portion of the supplies brought up from the abandoned wagon. The next question was the return to their starting point, and upon this there arose a difference of opinion. Part of the force was in favor of retracing their steps by the same route as they had come ‐ by Estherville and Emmet County, but others wished to strike directly in a southeasterly direction for the Irish colony. The weather indicated stormy days ahead and the ones in favor of the Estherville route debated that their way was the safest, that there was less chance of the men becoming separated.


Seeing that no agreement was possible among the men, Captain Johnson ordered the men into line, and told those who favored starting at once across the prairie to step to the front and the others to stand fast. Sixteen men walked forward, including Captain Johnson, Lieutenant Maxwell, Burkholder. Seven remained standing: 0. C. Howe, R. U. Wheelock, B. F. Parmenter, William R. Wilson, Joseph M. Thatcher, Asa Burtch and R. A. Smith.

Those left at the lakes immediately returned to the abandoned wagon and laid in another stock of provisions, about four days' supply. They were overtaken by the storm before reaching their camp again, but managed to arrive safely and quarter themselves in the cabin. Fuel was laid in in sufficient quantity to withstand the siege by the elements and in all they made themselves very comfortable, a far better fate than that which overtook the other portion of the command that had left, which is described later.

Monday morning came. The storm had ceased and the party soon started for home. They reached the Des Moines River without difficulty, the hard snow crust and frozen ground providing good walking, and there met Jareb Palmer at the Granger place. After a day's rest they started down the river, employing the team which had been left there previously to carry the baggage. After undergoing many difficulties and severe exposure the men arrived at Fort Dodge.


Following is a portion of the official account of the expedition, written by Lieutenant Maxwell:

"We left Fort Dodge March 24th, but owing to our commissary being hindered in procuring transportation, we were obliged to camp


at Badger Creek, not more than four or five miles north. We now began to realize that we were soldiers. Cold, wet and hungry, we built up large campfires, provided a hasty meal, dried our clothes as well as we could, and without tents lay down and slept soundly.

"On the morning of the 25th we resumed our march, crossing the east branch of the Des Moines without difficulty, and camped at Dakota City. The 26th the road became more and more difficult. In some places the snow was so deep that it was necessary to break our road before teams could pass through. In other places it had drifted in the ravines to the depth of eight or ten feet. The only way to proceed was to wade through, stack arms, return and unhitch the teams, attach ropes to them and draw them through; then perform a similar operation with the wagons. This performance took place every mile or two, and by such progress we were two days in reaching McKnight's Point on the east bank of the west branch of the Des Moines River, twelve miles from Dakota City. On the 27th we camped at McKnight's Point.

"On the night of the 26th the command camped out on the prairie, but a detail under Captain Duncombe had gone ahead to look out the road to the Point. Duncombe had been ill during the day, and he became so exhausted that he had to be carried into camp, running a very close risk of losing his life.

"Resuming our march on the 28th, we camped that night at Shippey's, on Cylinder Creek. Sunday, the 29th, we reached the Irish colony, Emmet County, and were all cared for by the inhabitants who had assembled for protection in case of an attack, but were greatly relieved when we came in sight. The morning of the 30th found the command greatly refreshed, having butchered a cow that had been wintered on prairie hay. The beef was not exactly porterhouse steak, but it was food for hungry men. We left our teams, which were nearly exhausted, and impressed fresh ones. We camped that night near Big Island Grove. At this place the Indians had kept a lookout in a big cedar tree that grew on an island in the middle of the lake, and their campfires were still burning. A platform had been built in this tree, forty feet from the ground, from which one could easily see twenty miles. The place had probably been deserted several days, but the fire was still burning. One Indian doubtless kept watch here alone, leaving in a northwesterly direction when he abandoned the place.

"The morning of the 31st the command moved out early. Ten men were sent forward as scouts. When about eight miles out we met the Springfield refugees, the Churches, Thomases, Carver and others. We went into camp and our surgeon dressed the wounds of the fleeing party. On the morning of April 1st Major Williams sent an escort with the Springfield people back to the Irish colony, and proceeded northwest


with an advance guard ahead. We camped that night at Granger's Point, near the Minnesota line. Here we learned that the United States troops from Fort Ridgley were camped at the head of Spirit Lake and that the Indians had fled to Owl Lake, some eighteen miles away. As we were on foot and the Indians supposed to be mounted, there would not be any chance of overtaking them.

"A council was held and it was decided to return the main part of the command to the Irish colony and wait for the rest to come in. Twenty-six men were selected, including those having friends at the lake, to cross the river, proceed to that point to bury the dead, reconnoiter, and see if there were any who had escaped the Indians. I was one of the party. On the morning of the second of April, under Captain J. C. Johnson, we crossed the Des Moines River and took a south and west direction. The traveling was much better than it had been since we left Fort Dodge. It was warm and clear. About two o'clock we struck East Okoboji Lake on the sotuheast [sic] shore. The first cabin we came to was that of Mr. Thatcher. Here we found the yard and prairie covered with feathers. Two dead men were lying at the rear of the house, both bodies being numerously shot in the breast. They evidently had been unarmed and everything indicated that they had been surprised. The rest of the family had been killed in the house or taken prisoners, and everything indicated that there had been no defense. From here we went to Mr. Howe's, where we found seven dead bodies. There were one old and one middle aged woman, one man and four children ‐ all brutally murdered.' It seemed that the man had been killed by placing the muzzle of a gun against his nose and blowing his head to pieces. The other adults had been simply shot. The children had been knocked in the head.

"We divided into parties to bury the dead, camping for the night near the residence of the Howe family. Old Mr. Howe was found on the third of April, some distance from the house on the ice, shot through the head. We buried him on a bluff southwest of the place, some eighty rods from the house. The next place was Mr. Mattock's. Here we found eleven dead bodies and buried them all in one grave, men, women and children. The ground was frozen and we could only make a grave about eighteen inches deep. It was a ghastly sight. The adults had been shot, but the childrens' brains had been knocked out, apparently by striking them across the foreheads with heavy clubs or sticks of wood. The brains of one boy about ten years of age, had been completely let out of his head, and lay upon the ground. Every one else shrank from touching them. I was in command and feeling that I would not ask another to do a thing from which myself revolted, I gathered up the poor scattered fragments upon the spade and placed them all together


in the grave. About forty head of cattle had been shot at this place, the carcasses split open on the backs and the tenderloins removed ‐ all that the Indians cared to carry off. The house had been burned with one one dead body in it at the time. At this place it seems to me that the only man who fought the Indians was Doctor Harriott, who had formerly lived at Waterloo. He made heroic defense, probably killing or wounding two or three Indians. He was falling back toward Granger's, evidently defending the women and children, when he was finally shot himself. He still grasped his Sharp's rifle, which was empty and broken off at the breech, showing that he had fallen in a hand to hand fight. I have little idea that any other man about the lakes fired a gun at the Indians. It was simply a surprise and a butchery.

"From here we went to Granger's and found the dead body of one of the brothers of that name. He had been first shot and his head had been split open with a broad axe. He and his brother had kept a small store and the Indians had taken everything away excepting some dozen bottles of strychnine. We buried him near his own house. The next house was Gardner's. Here were the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Gardner, one grown up daughter, and two small children in the yard and a baby in the house. We buried the family all in one grave about two rods from the house. Tired and hungry we went into camp in a small grove at the rear of the house, with nothing to eat but potatoes.

"Some of the party had visited the lake in the fall and had seen Mr. Gardner bury two bushels of potatoes in a box under his stove. These we found and roasted in the campfire. They lasted two days. On the morning of the 4th, we completed our sad task, and without any food, turned our faces homeward, taking a southeast course, hoping to reach the Irish colony the same day. In the forenoon it was quite warm, melting the snow, and consequently traveling was very difficult. We were obliged to wade sloughs waist deep or go miles around and run the risk of losing the course. We were wet to the shoulders and while in this fearful condition the wind changed. About four o'clock a blizzard was upon us. In a short time our clothes were frozen stiff. Many of us cut holes in our boots to let the water out and several pulled their boots off and were unable to get them on again. Up to this time the detachment had kept together. About sundown we came to a township corner placed there the year before. Laughlin and I wanted to be governed by the pit. While we were talking, part of the detachment came up and passed us some distance to the right. Those who happened to be with Laughlin and me stopped on a piece of dry ground close to township corner, determined to remain near it all night, lest in the night we should lose our course as shown by the comer.


We marched back and forth all night long. When a comrade would fall others would help him to his feet, encourage and force him to keep moving as the only hope, for no living being could survive an hour in such a storm without hard exercise. Captain Johnson's party, led by a trapper, became a little separated from us by a slough, where they found a dry place and commenced pacing back and forth as we were doing. They were within speaking distance of us. They stayed there all night, but in the morning took a southeast direction, while we went east. They seemed to have perfect confidence in the old trapper's knowledge of the country.

"During the night some of our men begged to lie down, claiming that it was useless to try to keep up any longer as the ice on their clothes gave them fearful annoyance. But the more hopeful would not consent to anyone giving up. In this distressed condition we traveled up and down that path all night.

"One man by the name of Henry Carse from Princeton, Illinois, had taken his boots off in the evening and wrapped his feet in pieces of blankets. He succeeded in getting along as well as the rest during the night, but in the morning when we went on the ice to break a road, his feet got wet and the wraps wore out. I stayed with him until within three or four miles of the Des Moines River, when I became satisfied that he could not get there, as his mind had failed. Every time I would bring him up he would turn away in any direction. Finally, Henry Dalley came along and succeeded in getting him to the river. The river was about three miles from the Irish colony. We had no matches, but some of the party knew how to strike a fire by saturating a damp wad with powder and shooting it into the weeds. In this way we succeeded in striking a fire. Henry Carse was now unconscious and the blood was running from his mouth. We cut the rags from his feet and the skin came off the soles of his feet with the rags.

"As soon as the fire was well going Laughlin and I, being the least frozen, determined to try and cross the river and reach the settlement for help. We walked to the middle of the river, laid poles over the weak ice and crawled over. We reached the Irish colony and sent back help to the rest of the party. I went to sleep soon after entering a warm room and did not awaken until the next day, when I took some nourishment and started on to overtake the command under Major Williams which had been detained on Cylinder Creek. In the morning C. C. Carpenter tried to get a guide to go and help search for Johnson and his friend Burkholder, but failed. As we left the colony I looked back and saw Carpenter going down the river to see if they had struck the river below. At Cylinder Creek the party broke up into squads, each reaching his home the best he could, and all of us more or less demoralized.


Laughlin and I came by the way of Fort Dodge, while Frank Mason and some of the others came across north of here. Most of us had our ears and feet frozen, but we only lamented the loss of the slain settlers, and our comrades Johnson and Burkholder, whose precious lives had been given for the relief of the helpless. But it was always a wonder to me that we did not leave the bones of more of our comrades to bleach with these on those wild and trackless prairies."


"The third day after commencing our return march, we left Medium Lake, in a hazy, cloudy atmosphere, and a drizzling rain. By the time we had reached Cylinder Creek, beneath the descending rain overhead and the melting snow beneath our feet, the prairies were a flood of water. On arriving at Cylinder Creek we found the channel not only full, but the water covering the entire bottom bordering the creek to a depth of from three to four feet. When we found that it would be impossible to cross at a point where the road intersected the creek, we resolved to send a party up the stream to see if a better crossing could not be found. But in less time than I have occupied in telling this story the wind began blowing from the north, the rain turned to snow and every thread of clothing on the entire command was saturated with water and our clothing began to freeze to our limbs. I had not given up the hope of either crossing the stream or finding a more comfortable place to camp, and await the result of the now freezing and blinding storm. So with one or two others I followed down the creek a mile or more, until we came to the bluffs overfooking the bottoms bordering the Des Moines. I had hopes we might discover some elevated ridge through the bottom, over which we could pass and reach the timber that fringed the river. But on reaching the bluffs, and looking out over the bottom which fell back from the river from one to two miles on either side to their base, it was a wide waste of water. So we concluded our only hope was to remain right where we were until the storm abated.

"On getting back to the road we found our comrades improvising a cover by taking the wagon sheet and one or two tents which we had along, and stretching them over the wagon wheels and staking them down as best they could to the frozen ground, leaving a small opening on the south side for a doorway. This done, we moved the animals to the south side of our tent, on ground sloping to the south, in order to afford them all the protection possible. Then we put all our blankets together, made a common bed upon the ground, and all crawled into it without removing our clothes, every thread of which was wet, and most of which was frozen as stiff as boards. There we lay through that long


Saturday night. The air outside was full of fine snow. At different times during the night three or four of us crept out of our nests and went around our tents, banking it with snow on the north, east and west sides. And when the fierce winds would blow the banking away so as to open a new air hole we would repeat the operation. To add to the horrors of the situation during this more than thirty-six hours of absolute imprisonment, we were without food.

"By daylight, on Monday morning, we were on the move, and to our joy found the ice, which had formed on Cylinder Creek the day before, would bear us up. The severity of the weather cannot be better attested than by stating the fact that all of the men, our wagon, loaded with the little baggage of the camp, and the few horses belonging to the command, were crossed upon this bridge of ice with perfect ease and safety. Since that experience upon Cylinder Creek I have marched with armies engaged in actual war. During three and a half years' service, the army with which I was connected marched from Cairo to Chattanooga, from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to the sea, from the sea through the Carolinas to Richmond. These campaigns were made under southern suns and in the cold rains and not infrequent snow storms of southern winters. They were sometimes continued without intermission three or four days and nights in succession with only an occasional halt to give weary, foot‐ sore soldiers a chance to boil a cup of coffee. But I never in those weary years experienced a conflict with the elements that could be compared with the two nights and one day on the bank of Cylinder Creek.

"After crossing the creek on Monday morning we went to the Shippey house, some two miles south, where we cooked our breakfast. From this time forward no order of march was observed, but each man found his way home to suit himself. I followed down the river, in company with several comrades, to McKnight's Point, where we got our dinner. After dinner Lieutenant Stratton, Smith E. Stevens and myself determined we would go to Dakota, in Humboldt County, that afternoon and evening, and accordingly we started. We had gone but a short distance when George W. Brizee came on after us. We tried as delicately as possible to dissuade him from attempting to go farther that evening. But go he would, so we pushed on. Night found us on the wide prairie some eight or ten miles southeast of McKnight's Point and at least eight miles from Dakota.

It became very dark, so that it was difficult to follow the track. Soon Brizee began to complain, declaring he could go no farther and would have to take his chances on the prairie. As I had been over the road several times, Stratton and Stevens suggested that they would depend upon me to guide them through; so I kept ahead, looking and feeling out the path. I could hear them encouraging Brizee, while he persistently declared his inability to go any further. Stevens finally took his blanket


and carried it for him, and soon after Stratton was carrying his gun. I now told them that Henry Cramer and Judge Hutchinson lived about a mile south of our road, and some three miles west of Dakota, and that we would go in there and spend the night. Brizee thought he could pull through that far. At last I thought we had arrived at a point nearly opposite of Cramer's and we left the road and struck across the prairie. We had scarcely started before Brizee began to aver that we were lost; that I, like a fool, was leading them a wild goose chase, and that we would all have to lie upon the prairie. I kept on, however, fixing my course as well as possible, and shouting back to 'come on, that we were all right.' Finally we were greeted by the barking of a dog, and in a few minutes were in Mr. Cramer's house. After Cramer and his wife had gotten out of bed and made us a bunk on the floor, and Cramer had pulled off Brizee's boots, Brizee began to repeat in various forms the adventures of the evening, emphasizing the persistency and pluck it had required in us to pull through; and the hearty manner in which he commended my skill as a guide, over a trackless prairie, was hardly consistent with the upbraiding whilst we were plodding along in the darkness. The next morning Mrs. Cramer prepared the best breakfast I ever ate. My mouth waters today in memory of the biscuits which were piled up on that breakfast table. I have often thought since that there could have been but little for the family dinner. That evening found us in Fort Dodge and our connection with the expedition had ended.

"I have frequently thought in later years of the good discipline preserved in a command where there was absolutely no legal power to enforce authority. The fact is really the highest compliment that could be paid the officers. Had they not possessed the characteristics which secured and maintained the respect of these men no shadow of discipline could have been enforced. On the contrary, during those trying days, on the march and in the bivouac, there was complete order. Of the three captains, two are living ‐ Messrs. Richards and Duncombe. Their subsequent careers in civil life have been but a fulfillment of the prophecy of the men who followed them through the snow banks of northwestern Iowa in 1857."


The following is the account of the second division of the expedition at Mud Creek on its return. "About noon we came to a large stream and had to follow up and down for some time before finding a crossing. Two of our men, Robert McCormick and Owen Spencer, went far above and crossed and separated from us but finally succeeded in getting through to the colony in safety....Late in the afternoon we came to some small lakes with some scattering trees upon the opposite side. By this


time the wind changed suddenly and it began to grow colder. . . . The lake was apparently between us and the course we ought to take and we followed close around the shore. Off to the west side lay a large marsh covered with tall grass. Those in advance passed between marsh and lake and succeeded in getting around, when we discovered that Captain Johnson, Burkholder, Addington, George Smith and one other (Jonas Murray) , five in all, had dropped off in our rear and were going around the marsh. We expected they would return to us when they got around, but as it was growing dark and we could still see them on high ground beyond, we thought best to try to go to them, as Major Williams' parting advice was, 'stick together boys,' but they soon passed out of our sight into the darkness. We then retraced our steps, passed the south end of the lake, and traveled directly east. . . . We traveled until about nine o'clock, when we halted, finding that we were making but little headway, having to meander ponds and wade streams that were fast freezing, and decided to go no farther until morning. Soon the most of us were tumbled down in a promiscuous heap, lying close together to keep one another warm, on the naked, burned prairie. Our pants were a sheet of ice. Some had blankets, but many only their wet clothes.

"Lieutenant Maxwell and myself did not lie down during that terrible night, but kept tramping around and occasionally arousing the sleepers and making them stir around to keep from freezing. I expected that we all would be frozen before morning. I had taken my socks off the day before and wrung them out and carried them in my pocket and as soon as we halted I pulled off my boots, replaced my socks and put on my boots again. I thus saved my feet and I got through without freezing any part. The following morning the sun was clear and we were in sight of timber directly east, eight or ten miles away. I was among the last to leave our camping ground. I remember picking up one empty provision sack and following on. I soon overtook Mr. Carse, the oldest and best clad man in our party, having double mackinaw blankets and a fur overcoat. He was on the sunny side of a gopher hill trying to put on his boots which he had pulled off at night. I passed him without a thought that they were frozen so that he could not get them on. The ponds and also the streams where there was not much current were frozen, so they bore our weight. Most of the men made a bee line, wading streams, running slush ice, but I was more fortunate, being long and light; by seeking places that were iced over and crawling at full length I got over without getting wet. Elias Kellogg and myself were the first getting to the timber. I immediately went about starting a fire. I had no matches and neither had the others. My gun was empty and my powder dry, so I put a charge of powder in my gun and loaded it with some cotton from out of my vest lining. I discharged it into some rotten wood, which caught


and by pouring on more powder and with vigorous blowing I succeeded in starting a fire.

"Lieutenant Maxwell was among the first to get to the timber, and by the time we got our fire to going well most of the boys had straggled in. Mr. Carse came in last, led by Henry Dalley, a mere boy poorly clad, whom Mr. Carse had befriended by taking him under his double blankets that night. . Carse had his boots in his hands and was ill and delirious. The soles of his feet were worn out walking on the frozen ground. Kellogg was the next object of attention. He had seated himself by a tree and was almost helpless and unconscious of his misery. We had to arouse him and cut his frozen overalls away. Has he been left alone he probably would never have arisen from his condition. With a good fire we were soon warmed. . . . The river had to be crossed. It was high and full of floating ice, but we got some long poles and with this help crossed from one cake of ice to another and reached the other side. No sooner was the advance party over than the others all followed, and when we gained the open ground upon the other side we could see the colony as conjectured, and footsore and weary as we were, we soon made the distance. We found Major Williams and a part of the men there waiting for us with much anxiety. Major Williams had made preparations for us. Fresh beef from the poor settlers' poorer oxen was cooked and ready. . . . The next morning Smith, Addington and Murray came. They had been to another cabin farther on, and finding some provisions, had stayed all night. They stated that they had separated from Captain Johnson and Burkholder early the previous morning; that they had taken their boots off at night and they were frozen so they could not get them on, and while they were cutting up their blankets and getting them on their feet they had disagreed as to the course to be taken. Pulling off their boots was a fatal mistake. To reach the place where their bones were found eleven years afterwards, they must have traveled all that day and part of the next night, and have laid down together in the sleep that knows no awakening."

It will be understood from the foregoing articles that the original party separated as follows: first, the separation at the lakes; second, Spencer and McCormick left at Mud Creek in Lloyd Township; third, when Johnson, Burkholder, Smith, Addington and Murray left and went to the westward; fourth, when Burkholder and Johnson left the other three.