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



In that the geological history of Dickinson County appears in another chapter, also the formation of the many lakes in the county, something of the origin of the names of the lakes may be given here. Spirit Lake is, of course, the largest and, in the early days, the most important of the Dickinson County waters. It was known by the Indians as Minnie-Waukon, or Minnie-Mocoehe-Waukon and by the French as Lac D'Esprit. The pronunciation of the name led to many oddities of spelling, one of them being in the language of General Clarke: "The Ceuoux River passes through Lake Despree." The spelling was truly phonetic. It is said that the Granger party attempted to give the body of water the name of Green Lake, but were unsuccessful.

The Dacotah Sioux knew Okoboji, the east lake, as Okoboozhy and West Okoboji as Minnietonka, the latter meaning Big Water. Granger wished to name West Okoboji Lake Harriott in honor of the doctor who gave up his life during the massacre and East Okoboji, Rice Lake, in honor of Sen. Henry M. Rice, senator from Minnesota, but again he failed to persuade the inhabitants to adopt his titles.

It is thought by many people, including several writers, that Okoboji was the name of a celebrated Sioux chieftain. This is not true, as no chief by that name ever lived according to the best information. It is an Indian name, however, and means "rushes."

Center Lake was known by the early settlers before the massacre as Snyder's Lake, as Bertel Snyder held a claim on the east side of it. Then it was called Sylvan Lake, and finally by common consent it was named Center Lake.

Gar Lake was first called Carl Lake in honor of Carl Granger. The name thus given by Bill Granger did not last, however, and the lake probably took its name from Gar Outlet, which was known as that for several years previous. R. A. Smith writes as follows about Gar Outlet: "Gar Lake was first designated by Granger as Carl Lake in honor of Carl


Granger. Whether the name of Gar Lake is a corruption of that cannot be positively stated, but the presumption is that it is not, as the outlet was known by the name of Gar Outlet long before anyone knew anything about Granger's name for the lake. It had its origin in a little incident which, though not important, may be worth telling. On the evening of the day of the arrival of the first party of settlers subsequent to the massacre, as a small party of the boys were cruising around on a voyage of discovery, they brought up at the outlet in which were a school of gars working their way upstream. The boys had never heard of such a fish and thought them pickerel and became much excited. One of them ran to the cabin where he procured a spear which they had brought along, and for two hours they waded up and down the outlet spearing and throwing out the worthless gars. When they tired of that they strung what they could carry on some poles and started for a cabin with their wonderful catch. Upon arriving there a young fellow from Illinois saw what they were and exclaimed, "Boys, those are gars and are no earthly good." When the boys became convinced that they had had all their work and wetting for nothing, and that their fish were indeed worthless, they were somewhat crestfallen. They took the guying they received from the others in good part, but it was some time before they heard the last of their wonderful exploits. And this is how Gar Outlet first received its name and Gar Lake soon followed."

First there were three Gar Lakes, known as the Upper, Middle and Lower Gar Lakes. The Upper and Lower retain their names, but the middle one has been named Minnie Washta.

The name of Silver Lake is known to have been given by trappers long before any permanent settlement was made in Dickinson County. The true origin of the name is in doubt.


Something has been said before of the severity of the storms and blizzards in Northwestern Iowa in the early days, and the difficulty of living and traveling during these trying times. Several accounts and personal experiences have been written regarding the terrible weather here, one of them being that of Zina Henderson, who trapped in this vicinity prior to the first coming of the settlers. His story follows in part: "In the month of February, 1865, a party consisting of E. V. Osborn, Clayton Tompkins, Richard Long, George Barr and myself were trapping on the Rock River, our camp lieing situated at the forks of the Rock, near where the town of Doon has since been located. There was another party in camp on the Big Sioux some twenty miles to the northwest of us. We used to cross back and forth from one camp to the other as occasion might


require. At this time there were a few soldiers stationed at Sioux Falls, but as yet there were no settlers there. Our camp at the forks of the Rock was a kind of general headquarters or supply station for the smaller trapping stations in that locality. The trappers used to have their supplies sent out there by the load, from which point they were distributed to the smaller camps as needed by such means as were available, the little handsled being the most common, although some of the trappers had Indian ponies with which they moved their camps.

"On the 14th of February, 1865, a party consisting of Osborn, Tompkins, Long and Barr left the main camp on the Rock to take some supplies over to the camp on the Big Sioux. Barr was a member of the camp on the Big Sioux, although he had been with us at that time, waiting until some of our party could return with him. The party had a pair of ponies and a light wagon and were loaded with flour and provisions. I remained behind to look after the camp in their absence. They left camp not far from nine o'clock in the morning. The day was remarkably fine and pleasant, and the boys, seeing no occasion for hurrying, took things very leisurely, never doubting their ability to reach camp that afternoon, or at least, early in the evening.

"About four o'clock, or when the party was within three miles of their destination, the wind suddenly whipped around into the northwest and the most violent blizzard recorded in the annals of Northwestern Iowa broke upon them in all its blinding, bewildering force and fury. Now many people seem to think that if it was to save their lives they could make their way for three miles against any storm that ever blew. Such people have not met the genuine blizzard. These trappers were experienced frontiersmen and they knew the country. They were not lost, but to make any headway whatever against that terrific storm they found to be utterly impossible.

"What was to be done? This was a very pressing question. They were among the bluffs along the Big Sioux, and the snow was deep in the ravines. They went to work and dug a hole in the snow, packed up their flour on the windward side of it, and then taking their robes and blankets and huddling together so far succeeded in making themselves comfortable, that had they been contented to stay where they were, they would without doubt have been all right in the morning. But some of them conceived the idea that if they allowed the snow to drift in over them they would be smothered, and the balance gave in to this foolish notion, and so after remaining there between two and three hours, they determined to take their back track and if possible reach the camp they had left that morning. So digging out from under the snow they hitched one pony to the wagon and turned the other loose, and then placing the wind to their backs and with no other guide than the storm, started on their return trip.


"The wind howled so that it was impossible to hear each other talk at all, and it required the utmost care and skill on the part of all to keep near each other. They formed in single file, with Barr in the rear, walking: with their heads down, and before they were aware, of the difficulties of keeping together, Barr had fallen behind. How long he kept up with them or how far he traveled, they never knew. They only knew he perished in that fearful storm and his remains were never found. The balance of the party pressed on and reached the Rock several miles below the camp they left the morning before. Here they found timber and succeeded in getting a fire. The wind had abated somewhat, so as to make surrounding objects discernible. Two of the party had been there before and thought they knew the country pretty well. They knew there was another camp near where they were but whether it was up or down the river, they did not know. Osborn insisted that it was down the river, while Tompkins was just as certain that it was up the river, and declared that he would not go down the river until he was more sure upon this point. Accordingly he started out to look around and satisfy himself. Up to this time none of the party was frozen. They had stood their night tramp through the storm without suffering anything more serious than fatigue.

"Osborn was so sure that the camp they were seeking was down the river that he and Long started at once in that direction. They were right in their surmise, and struck the camp inside of an hour. After two or three hours the Quaker wandered into camp in a sad plight. Both of his feet were so badly frozen that eventually they had to be amputated. After remaining in camp here a couple of days, they brought him up to our camp at the forks of the Rock, where everything was done for him that could be done. It was about two weeks before he could be taken to Spirit Lake where the amputation was performed."

The 1902 history of Dickinson County places the origin of the word blizzard in this county, but this statement is open to severe question. The term blizzard, as applied to storms, wind and snow, was used in the eastern states many years before Dickinson County was a fact or any white settlement had been made in this part of Iowa. The same work gives the dates of the principal storms in the early days here as: December 1, 1856; January 1, 1864; February 14, 1865; March 5, 1870; January 7, 1873. The blizzard of 1873 was the last, which could be properly called an old-fashioned blizzard. In the history of Osceola County by D. A. W. Perkins is the following in regard to this: "There was then a postoffice on the Spirit Lake and Worthington route, about a mile south of where the town of Round Lake now is. It was kept by William Mosier. Mr. Wheeler was at the postoffice in Mosier's house when the storm came. Wheeler started for home, and unable to find his house, he wandered with


the storm and at last, exhausted and benumbed with cold, lay down and died. He got nearly to West Okoboji Lake in Dickinson County. He was found after the storm cleared up by Mr. Tuttle, whose home was not far from where Wheeler perished."


One of the notable features of the history of Iowa and Nebraska, and portions of other Middle Western States, is the grasshopper invasion in the '70s. These invasions are unparalleled, either before or since, in the history of the country.

The insects first made their appearance in the summer of 1873. About 1867, it is true, grasshoppers had made their appearance in considerable numbers in Northwestern Iowa, but did not do sufficient harm to be classed as a plague. The army grasshopper bore another name ‐ the Rocky Mountain locust ‐ and in regard to its habits and life D. A. W. Perkins wrote the following: "In Wyoming, western Nebraska, Texas, the Indian Territory and New Mexico, the broods are annually hatched. In their native haunts they attained an enormous size, many specimens being three inches in length. Scientific men who have studied the habits of the grasshoppers state that each succeeding brood degenerates in size and after three or four generations the weaker are obliged to swarm and seek other quarters, being driven out by the larger and stronger insects. These exiles rise and go with the wind, keeping the direction in which they first started, stopping in their flight for subsistence and depositing eggs in a prolific manner during the incubating season, which lasted from the middle of June to the middle of September."

The grasshoppers came into Dickinson County from the southwest in June, 1873. Their first appearance resembled the approach of a storm cloud, so dense and numerous were the droves. An ominous buzz and the darkening of the sun's rays heightened the weird aspect of the scene. They settled down upon the fields of growing grain and completely devastated the green leaves, stripping the ground bare. Billion upon billion of eggs were deposited in the ground, about a half inch below the surface, where they lay until the warm winds of the spring and the sun hatched them. J. A. Smith writes of this as follows: "Early in the spring of 1874 the eggs deposited the season before commenced hatching and the soil looked literally alive with insignificant looking insects a quarter of an inch in length and possessing great vitality and surprising appetites. As if by instinct their first movements were toward the fields where tender shoots of grain were making their modest appearance. Sometimes the first intimation a farmer would have of what was going on would be from noticing along one side of his field a narrow strip where the grain was


missing. At first perhaps he would attribute it to a balk in sowing, but each day it grew wider and a closer examination would reveal the presence of myriads of young grasshoppers. As spring advanced it became evident that comparatively few eggs had been deposited in the territory that had suffered the worst in 1873. They had been laid farther East. In Kossuth, Emmet, Dickinson and Palo Alto Counties in Iowa, and in Martin and Jackson Counties, Minnesota, the young ones were hatched out in far greater numbers than elsewhere.

"The early part of the season was extremely dry; no rain fell until the middle of June. Grain did not grow, but the grasshoppers did, and before the drouth ended the crops in the counties named were eaten and parched beyond all hope of recovery. About the middle of June, however, a considerable rain fell and outside of the before mentioned counties, the prospects were generally favorable for good crops. The young grasshoppers commenced to get wings about the middle of June and in a few days they began to rise and fly. The prospect seemed good for a speedy riddance of the pests, but Providence had ordained otherwise. The perverse insects were waiting for an eastern wind and the perverse wind blew from the southwest for nearly three weeks, a phenomenon of rare occurrence in this region, as it very seldom blows from one quarter more than three days at a time. During this time the grasshoppers were almost constantly on the move. Straggling swarms found their way to central Iowa, doing, however, but little damage.

"About the tenth or twelfth of July the wind changed to the East and as by common consent the countless multitude took their departure westward. Up to this time the crops had been damaged but slightly in the western counties, but during the two or three days of their flight the grain fields in these counties were injured to quite an extent. After the date above mentioned with one or two unimportant exceptions, no grasshoppers were seen.

"There is no evidence that this region was visited in 1874 by foreign swarms, though it has been stated that such was the fact. On the contrary there is every reason for believing that they were all hatched here. According to the most reliable information the grasshoppers hatched here produced no eggs and the inference is that they were incapable of so doing. They were much smaller than their predecessors and besides they were covered with parasites in the shape of little red bugs which made sad havoc in their ranks. What became of them after leaving here seems a mystery, but probably their enfeebled constitutions succumbed to the attacks of the parasites and the depleting effects of general debility."

After the first raid the situation was a critical one. As a class the pioneer settlers were poor and the destruction of their crops meant the destruction of their means of livelihood. Many of them were destitute


and were compelled to seek aid. The Legislature took hold of the matter and appropriated $50,000, to buy seed grain to supply the settlers in need. A conmiittee composed of Tasker of Jones County, Dr. Levi Fuller of Fayette and O. B, Brown of Van Buren was appointed to superintendent the distribution of the seed grain, seed com and garden seeds. The Department of the Interior at Washington also assisted in giving seeds to the settlers in Northwestern Iowa. Dickinson County did not require so much aid as other counties, principally Osceola, Sioux, Lyon and O'Brien, but about one hundred farmers from Dickinson received a new supply of grain from the nearest distributing point, Sibley.

In the summer of 1876 another raid occurred, this time from the northwest instead of the southwest. The county suffered severely this time, particularly so as no outside relief was forthcoming. Lakeville settlement was the hardest hit of any place in the county. The year 1877 brought another raid, the last one of any prominence.

Many methods were advocated to combat the ravages of the insect hordes, but none proved adequate. A Sioux City newspaper said: "The grasshopper deposits its eggs at the roots of the grass in the latter part of summer or early autumn. The eggs hatch out early in spring and during the months of April, May and June, according as the season is early or late; they are wingless, their sole power of locomotion being the hop. To destroy them, all that is needed is for each county, town or district to organize itself into a fire brigade throughout the district where their eggs are known to be deposited. This fire brigade shall see that the prairies are not burned over in the fall, and thus they will have the grass for the next spring and to be employed upon the pests while they are yet hoppers ‐ the means of sure death. To apply it let all agree upon a certain day, say in April or May, or at any time when they are sure all the hoppers are hatched and none are yet winged. All being ready, let every person, man, woman and boy, turn out with torches and simultaneously fire the whole prairie, and the work, if well done, will destroy the whole crop of grasshoppers for that year and none will be left to 'soar their gossamer wings' or lay eggs for another year."

C. C. Carpenter, in the Annals of Iowa, Volume 4. Number 6, writes of the grasshopper invasion. A portion of this follows:

"One of the most serious of the pioneer experiences of Northwestern Iowa was the grasshopper invasion. The reader who did not see the destruction wrought by the grasshoppers and the strange phenomena of their coming and going will be very apt to regard the story of an eye witness as incredible. They made their first appearance in 1867. The Hon. Charles Richards, at that time a citizen of Fort Dodge, gives the following account of their coming :

" 'The first appearance of these pests was on the 8th of September,


1867, when about noon the air was discovered to be filled with grasshoppers coming from the West, settling about as fast as the flakes of an ordinary snow storm. In fact, it appeared like a snow storm, when the larger flakes of snow fall slowly and perpendicularly, there being no wind. They immediately began to deposit their eggs, choosing new breaking and hard ground along the roads, but not confining themselves to such places and being the worst where the soil was sandy. They continued to cover the ground, fences and buildings, eating everything, and in many places eating the bark from the young growth of the apple, cherry and other trees, and nearly destroying currant, gooseberries and shrubs, generally eating the fruit buds for the next year. They disappeared with the first frost, not flying away, but hid themselves and died.

" 'No amount of cultivating the soil and disturbing the eggs seemed to injure or destroy them. I had two hundred acres of new breaking and as soon as the frost was out commenced dragging the ground, exposing the eggs. The ground looked as if rice had been sown very thickly. I thought the dragging, while it was still freezing at night, thus exposing the eggs, breakin up the shell or case in which the eggs, some twenty or thirty in each shell, would destroy them, but I believe that every egg hatched.

" 'As the wheat began to sprout and grow the grasshoppers began to hatch, and seemed to literally cover the ground, being about an eighth of an inch long when hatched. They fed on all young and tender plants, but seemed to prefer barley and wheat in the fields and tender vegetables in the garden. Many kept the wheat trimmed, and if it is a dry season it will not grow fast enough to head. But generally here in 1868 the wheat headed out and the stalk was trimmed bare, not a leaflet, and then they went up on the head and ate or destroyed it. Within ten days from the time the wheat heads were out they moult. Prior to this time they have no wings, but within a period of five or six days they entirely changed their appearance and habits, and from an ordinary grasshopper became a winged insect, capable of flying thousands of miles.'

" 'In moulting they shed the entire outer skin or covering even to the bottom of their feet and over their eyes. I have caught them when fully developed and ready to moult, or shed their outside covering, and pulled it off, developing their wings, neatly folded, almost white in color and so frail that the least touch destroys them. But in two days they begin to fly. First short flights across the fields where they are feeding, and then longer flights, and within ten days after they moult, all the grasshoppers seem instinctively to rise very high and make a long flight, those of 1867 never having been heard of after leaving here any all leaving within ten days after they had their wings.'

"Further on in the same article Mr. Richards writes of the invasion


of 1873 and 1874. He first refers to the fact that they were not nearly as destructive in Webster and the adjoining counties as in those farther to the northwest, and then continues as follows:

" 'This time they were early enough in the season to destroy all the crops in those counties, evidently having hatched farther South and having attained maturity much earlier than those of 1867. They went through exactly the same process of depositing and hatching eggs, and destroying crops as before and were identical in every respect. The only difference was in their mode of leaving. They made many attempts to leave, rising en masse for a long flight, when adverse winds would bring them down. It is a fact well demonstrated that their instinct teaches them in what direction to fly, and if the wind is adverse they will settle down in a few hours, when if the wind was in the direction they wished to go, they never would be heard of again within hundreds of miles.'

"I have copied this article as it was written by Mr. Richards, at the time, because it not only gives a description of the ruin wrought, but goes with particularity into the habits and characteristics of the itinerary grasshopper. Persons who were not conversant with this invasion can hardly realize with what anxiety the people scanned the heavens for several years after each return of the season when they had put in an appearance on the occasion of their previous visit. The great body of the invaders were generally preceded a day or two by scattering grasshoppers.

"In a clear day, by looking far away towards the sun, you would see every now and then a white winged forerunner of the swarm which was to follow. Years after they had gone there was a lurking fear that they would return. And if there were any indications of their appearance, especially when during two or three days the prevailing winds had been from the southwest, people would be seen on a clear day standing with their hands above their eyes to protect them from the vertical rays of the sun, peering into the heavens, almost trembling lest they should discover the forerunners of the white winged messengers of destruction. To illustrate the absolute fearfulness of the grasshopper scourge, I have recalled a few of the incidents of their visitation. And fearing the reader who has had no personal experience with grasshoppers might be inclined to regard the story as 'fishy,' I have taken pains to fortify myself with documents. I have a letter from J. M. Brainard, editor of the Boone Standard, relating the incidents of his own experience during these years : He says:

" 'That fall I made frequent trips over the Northwestern road from my home to Council Bluffs, and the road was not a very perfect one at that time, either in roadbed or grades. One day, it was well along in the afternoon, I was going westward, and by the time we had reached Tiptop (now Arcadia) the sun had got low and the air slightly cool, so that the 404 EMMET AND DICKINSON COUNTIES

hoppers clustered on the rails the warmth being grateful to them. The grade at Tiptop was pretty stiff, and our train actually came to a standstill on the rails greased by the crushed bodies of the insects. This occurred more than once, necessitating the engineer to back for a distance and then make a rush for the summit, liberally sanding the track as he did so. I think I made a note of it for my paper, The Story County Aegis, for in 1876, on visiting my old Pennsylvania home, a revered uncle took me to task for the improbable statement, and when I assured him of its truthfulness, he dryly remarked, "Ah, John, you have lived so long in the West that I fear you have grown to be as big a liar as any of them." '

"The fact that railroad trains were impeded may seem a strange phenomenon. But there was a cause for the great number of grasshoppers that drifted to the railroad track hinted at by Mr. Brainard. Those who studied their habits observed that they were fond of warmth, even heat. The fence enclosing a field where they were 'getting in their work indicated the disposition of the grasshopper. Toward evening the bottom boards on the south side of the fence would be covered with them, hanging: upon them like swarms of bees. When the suggestion of the autumn frosts began to cool the atmosphere the grasshoppers would assemble at the railroad track and hang in swarms on the iron rails which had heen warmed by the rays of the sun. The effect of this invasion upon the business of Northwestern Iowa was most appalling. . . Nothing could be more dreary and disheartening than a wheat field with the bare stalks standing stripped of every leaf and even the heads entirely devoured. People tried all sorts of experiments to drive the pests from the fields. I remember my brother, R. E. Carpenter, had a fine piece of wheat, and he bought a long rope, a hundred feet long, and hitching a horse at each end, he mounted one and his hired man the other, and with horses a hundred feet apart and abreast they rode back and forth over the field three or four times a day, the rope swinging along between them, sweeping a strip a hundred feet wide. They would always ride their horses in the same paths so that they destroyed but little grain and kept the grasshoppers so constantly disturbed that they did little damage."

The History of Osceola County says: "As the grasshopper years went on the people themselves, scientific men and even the halls of legislation, were discussing the question of how to drive the 'hoppers' from the country. Many and varied were the experiments. They tried smudging, burning the prairie, burning tar, digging ditches and every conceivable thing that the ingenuity of man could suggest, even to a huge trap in which to snare and catch them. Minnesota offered a bounty of a certain amount per bushel for them, and actually paid out quite a sum, which helped the people along, but the idea of delivering a crop of grasshoppers for a consideration strikes us now as bordering on the ridiculous.

"The grasshopper business, too, had its humorous side, and there was

EMMET AND DICKINSON COUNTIES 405 much wit grew out of it and the eastern papers made much fun of us, and not only that, but seriously charged us with being a country liable to such things and hence unfit to live in. The county papers in Northwestern Iowa would each claim that the other county was the worst. The Gazette said in one issue they were motsly[sic] in Dickinson County, and the Beacon gives the assertion the lie and says they are on the border of Osceola 'peeking over.' Some agricultural house printed a card bearing the picture of an enormous grasshopper sitting on a board fence, gazing at a wheat field, and underneath the words, 'In the s (wheat) bye and bye.'

The poet was also at work and the following is one of the numerous productions:


" 'Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
Right from the West they came
More than six hundred.

" 'Out from forest and glade,
"Charge for the corn," they said.
Then for the fields they made
More than six hundred.

" 'Fields to the right of them.
Fields to the left of them,
Fields in front of them
Pillaged and plundered;
Naught could their numbers tell,
Down on the crop they fell.
Nor left a stalk or shell,
More than six hundred.

" 'Flashed all their red legs bare.
Flashed as they turned in air,
Robbing the farmers there,
Charging an orchard while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in the smudge and smoke
Right through the corn they broke.
Hopper and locust;
Peeled they the stalks all bare,
Shattered and sundered.
Then they went onward b‐ but
More than six hundred.' "



In regard to the game in Dickinson County in the early days R. A. Smith writes: "Aside from the fur bearing animals the more common were badgers, coyotes, foxes and prairie wolves. In addition to these the timber wolf and the lynx, or bob-cat as the trappers called it, were occasionally met with. Raccoons were common enough in the groves, but did not venture out much on the prairie, and since the groves were limited they were not plenty. There is no account of any bear ever having been seen here. The larger game were deer, elk and buffalo. It is an open question whether buffalo were ever so plenty here as has been popularly supposed or as they are known to have been in the 'buffalo grass' region of the Dakotas and beyond. Fabulous stories were early told of the hunting grounds of Northwestern Iowa and it is possible many have formed extravagant ideas of the richness of it.

"So far as relates to the fur bearing animals, no description of them had ever exceeded the truth, and the same is true of the birds, but when it comes to the larger game such statements need to be taken with some degree of allowance. It was held by some the lakes being the favorite headquarters of certain bands of Sioux Indians, they kept the game hunted down closer than was done in other localities. This was doubtless true to some extent. Be that as it may, the buffalo had practically disappeared at the time of the first attempt to settle the county in 1856. So far as now can be ascertained there are no accounts or traditions of any having been seen in the vicinity of the lakes for three or four years along about that time. Trappers and others coming across the Big Sioux and beyond, occasionally reported having seen buffalo sometimes in large droves and then again in small numbers. But that was contiguous to the buffalo grass region. None came about the lakes at that time.

"Along about 1861 or 1862 there used to be occasional reports of stragglers being sighted on the prairie, but so far as is known none were killed at that time, although some reports are going the rounds of the papers that one was killed in Osceola County in 1860. One was killed in this county in the latter part of 1861 or 1862. He was evidently a two year old. He must have straggled in around the north end of Lake Okoboji, for the first seen of him he was coming down along what is now known as Des Moines Beach, and on reaching Given's Point he took a course, swimming straight across the bay. He landed at the mouth of a ditch, which had been dug from the lake inland to supply a steam mill, located there, with water. The ditch was nearly a hundred and fifty feet long, and although shallow where it entered the lake, it gradually increased in depth as it neared.the mill until at the upper end it was about twelve feet deep. The buffalo entered this ditch without hesitation, and as he


made his way toward the upper end he soon found himself in a trap. He couldn't go ahead, but he couldn't climb up the sides and he could not back out, and the mill hands putting in an appearance about that time soon dispatched him."

While en route to Sioux City in August, 1863, J. S. Prescott, E. V. Osborn, Aaron Rogers, John Burrill and R. A. Smith discovered two buffalo in the southwest corner of Okoboji Township. At first the men thought the animals to be cattle, but with the aid of a glass found them to be bison. A plan of encircling the animals was evolved, two of them to guard against the escape of the quarry and the other three to shoot them. The first volley had little effect and the animals started to the southwest, but the wounded one was driven back by Smith until again within good range of the guns. A second fusilade failed to down him, but so far checked him as to enable Osborn to send a bullet through his brain, killing him. The second animal escaped. At other times buffalo in numbers from one to three were seen in Northwestern Iowa and in Dickinson County, but hardly a year elapsed before the reports ceased. It is probable that all the buffalos seen in this county were stragglers. Iowa was never a natural habitat of the buffalo.

As to the elk, it is another question. The prairies of Iowa once abounded in this picturesque animal. Until 1871 elk were plentiful. J. A. Smith, in an article written for the Midland Monthly for August, 1895, writes: "Until midsummer of 1871 a considerable drove of elk had found feeding grounds and comparative security for rearing their young in the then unsettled region of Northwestern Iowa, where the trend of drainage is toward the Little Sioux and Rock rivers and near their headquarters. A colony of settlers planted by Captain May in Lyon County in 1869, the railroad surveyors and advance guard of pioneers in Southwestern Minnesota in the same year and the influx of homesteaders into Dickinson, O'Brien, Clay and Sioux Counties at that period, compelled this herd of elk to take refuge in the valley of the Ocheyedan River, a tributary of the Little Sioux. There they remained undisturbed, except by an occasional band of hunters, until a memorable July morning in 1871, when the writer at a distance of some two miles saw them pass southwestward down the further border of a small stream that emptied its waters into the Ocheyedan River. The coign of vantage was a lone house on a homestead claim in the extreme southwestern comer of Dickinson County, miles away from any habitation to the East and many more miles away from any on the West. The herd passed down on the East bank of the stream, while the homesteader's cabin was on the West bank with the wide valley between. To the northwest the view was unobstructed for half a dozen miles, and it was from this quarter that the elk were moving from their violated jungle homes amid the tall rushes and willows of the Ocheyedan Valley.


"Peering through the vista of pink and yellow shades of a rising summer sun, the first thought of the early sunmier dwellers in the cabin was that some emigrant's cattle had stampeded ‐ a not unusual occurrence. A few minutes later and the use of a field glass disclosed the identity of the swiftly galloping animals. Ere they reached the nearest point on the eastern range, we were able to classify them as a drove of elk consisting of four old bulls, ten full grown cows, twelve yearlings and four calves. Judging by the peculiar articulate movements which were plainly visible through the glass, the pace did not seem to be fast, but the conclusion arrived at from the distance covered in a given time, led us to believe that it would be useless to intercept them without swift horses. Some weeks later (for news traveled slowly in those days) we learned that the entire drove in its hegira was scattered and killed before reaching the Missouri River. They took refuge in the larger bodies of timber that skirt the lower waters of the Little Sioux River, and relays of hunters slew to the very last one this fleeing remnant of noble game

And this in brief is the story of the exodus from Iowa of the American elk. ... It is quite probable that the remnant the fate of which these pages record, was the last vestige of the American elk east of the great Rocky Sierras and south of the unsalted seas."

Deer were never plentiful in Dickinson County, due to the absence of any large tracts of timber, the favorite habitat of the animal. Deer in scattering numbers were seen from time to time, but were transient, never staying for any length of time. The last time any number was seen in the northwestern part of the state was in the winter of 1881-2.

Animals such as the fox, the prairie wolf and the coyote were numerous until about 1875, when their species disappeared from the land in Dickinson County. Occasionally the timber wolf made his presence known in this county ‐ usually through his thieving propensities. The lynx, or bob-cat, as it was known by the trappers, was found occasionally in this territory. "One of these animals was killed in the winter of 1869 and 1870 northwest of Spirit Lake by a young man by the name of Fenton, who lived at Marble Grove. Either that winter or a year later one was killed by Frank Mead out west of West Okoboji. Frank and a young man by the name of Hogle were together out there trapping muskrats. It was their custom to make the rounds of their traps during the day, bringing their game in and taking care of the furs in the evening, and they were not very particular about throwing the carcasses far away from the tent. One night Frank heard something prowling around and crunching the carcasses that had been thrown out the preceding day, and crawling out of bed he went to the door of the tent, and cautiously putting aside the curtain that served as a door he, was suddenly startled by the hideous countenance of an enormous bob-cat within six inches of his face. Dodging back


into the tent he seized his revolver and finished the animal there and then. He brought the hide in next day and was quite proud of his trophy." The prevalence of fur-bearing animals and the extent of the fur business at one time is detailed in another chapter of this volume.


The catching of fish is now a popular pursuit of dwellers among the lakes of Dickinson County, but the "catch" today cannot be compared to the useless hauls made in other days, when parties came to the lakes and seined the fish by the barrelful. Also many thousands of fish were lost during the high waters of 1874 to 1885. They were carried down stream and never returned. The state legislature passed an act compelling owners of the different water powers to construct fishways in their dams, but two mills at the outlet in this county were constructed before this act was passed and consequently had no contrivance of that kind. This act was passed in 1878. The building of these fishways would have allowed the fish to pass up and down the stream while water was pouring over the dam.

In the spring of 1880 the legislature passed a law establishing an additional fish hatchery at Spirit Lake and the appointment of a fish commissioner. A. A. Mosher of Spirit Lake was named as assistant commissioner. He erected on the isthmus a structure to assist the state hatchery, and also secured from there the spawn and young fish, afterward placing the young fish in the lakes. In 1886 the legislature decided to abolish the hatchery which had been previously established at Anamosa in Jones County, and moved the whole to Spirit Lake. E. D. Carlton of Spirit Lake was appointed fish commissioner by Governor William Larrabee, and the office of assistant commissioner abolished. Carlton changed the site of the hatchery. R. K. Soper of Emmet County was the next commissioner appointed to the position. He was succeeded by Jut Griggs of O'Brien County in 1892.

In 1873 the legislature put an end to the catching of fish "with any net, seine, wire basket, trap, or any other device whatsoever, except with a hook and line, snare, gun, or spear." In 1884 the legislature imposed further restrictions, preventing the use of a spear and gaff between the first of November and the last of May. In 1890 an act was passed repealing the former restrictions and making the law read: "It shall be unlawful for any person to take from any waters of the state any fish in any manner except by hook and line, except minnows for bait. Also that it shall be lawful to spear buffalo fish and suckers between the first of November and the first day of March following." The latter clause was repealed in the year 1894. Various other acts have been passed since


by the state legislature regulating the fishing in the Dickinson County lakes.

The office of Fish and Game Warden was created in 1896, and in 1898 the legislature passed a law prohibiting winter fishing alltogether. The closed season is now from November 1st to May 15th.


The census of Dickinson County from 1859 until the present time may be presented as follows: In 1859 the county contained 121 people; in 1860 there were 180 people here; in 1863, 189; in 1865, 300; in 1867, 509; in 1869, 582; in 1870, 1,389; in 1873, 1,743; in 1875, 1,748; in 1880, 1,901; in 1885, 3,215; in 1890, 4,328; in 1895, 6,025; in 1900, 7,995; in 1910, 8,137.

The tabulated census list for the years 1900 and 1910 follows:


When I was eight years old my parents lived in Winnebago County, Wisconsin. This was in the spring of 1860. My father had decided to emigrate west. We traveled by team, crossed the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, came through the north tier of the counties of this State, and landed one evening in May and camped in the edge of the timber on


East Okoboji Lake, the place which proved to be our future home. After leaving the Mississippi we did not see any cars or even one piece of railroad iron. We traveled day after day across the bare prairie, at one time two days of continuous travel without seeing any sign of human habitation. I remember hearing my parents remark, "This country will never be settled up. There is too much prairie."

It was a beautiful panorama to stand on the naked, bare prairie, with nothing but the waving prairie grass and look yonder fifteen to twenty miles and see that strip of green native timber that lined the rivers and lakes. It was a magnificent scene, something that the eye of man can never behold again.

The summer of 1860 I attended school in Spirit Lake, which was the first school in town, if not in the county. It [sic] walked from the farm and for a time had to go around the lake near where the Hotel Orleans now stands, as the bridge down at the foot of Lake Street was not yet completed. The schoolhouse was a one-room garret over a residence. It had two windows, one in each gable. The building stood on the present site of E. D. Carleton's residence and the teacher was Miss Mary Howe.

In the early spring of 1862 my father enlisted and joined the western army. I was then the man about the farm.

I distinctly remember one morning in September. I had just yoked the oxen on the wagon and was ready to go after hay, when a man came swiftly passing on horseback and without stopping shouted, "Go to town, the Indians are coming." Mother lost no time in getting the children and a few necessary things loaded in the wagon. When we arrived in town we found the Indians had murdered the settlers on the Des Moines River, north of us, the day before and the last of their murderous work was less than twenty miles from us. Two of the victims had been brought to Spirit Lake. During the night one had died and the other was still living.

The messenger that I spoke of notified all of the people in the county, which were those that then lived around the lakes. In a few hours every person in the county was in town and the most of them in one building, that was the new courthouse then under construction. The roof was not shingled and there was where I did my first carpenter work.

A messenger was sent to Sioux City to call for soldiers. In the meantime all was excitement. Someone had a small spy glass and a lookout was kept on top of the court house, looking for Indians. Sometimes he would imagine he saw something moving in the distance and the news would go out among the people faster than by a country telephone. The women would scream and all was confusion. This continued for three or four days and then a company of soldiers came. It was a grand sight and such a joyous demonstration as was then made I 'have never since witnessed.


My mother soon decided that it would be impossible to live here through the coming winter, and she would take the family and go back to her parents in Wisconsin, which was a distance of five hundred miles. Our only way of transportation was with that yoke of oxen and the lumber wagon. And those oxen had to be led by a rope fastened to their horns. This lot fell to me. We started from here with several families who wanted to leave the country until it was safe to return. Today there are only three persons living in the county who were in that party. They are Mrs. L. H. Farnham, Mrs. A. F. Bergman and myself. After a number of days' travel the party was separated, some going in other directions and we were alone. I still handled the rope and walked near the head of the oxen. My mother had no money to buy shoes, so I was barefoot.

I will never forget one afternoon late in October when we came to a small town not far this side of the Mississippi River. I was plodding along the street in about three or four inches of mud just on the point of freezing. A man standing in front of a store called to me to drive in and tie the team. He then took me into the store and bought me a pair of shoes and stockings. He also bought some groceries and carried them out to the wagon. I would today travel a long distance to see that man and take him by the hand.

Our journey was completed about November 1st. I secured a job the next day husking corn. We remained there until the spring of 1864. In the meantime mother had secured a span of horses ‐ nowadays they would call them pelters. However, I had the satisfaction of sitting up in the front seat and driving them back to Spirit Lake.

In the '60s people were very sociable. There was no better or select class. One person was just as good as another. It was not unusual at a public ball in this town to sell one hundred numbers at $2 each, including supper for one couple. Parties would come twenty miles and some even farther. Dancing would commence at sundown and continue until sunrise. When I was sixteen years of age I thought I was as big as my dad ‐ my feet were ‐ I wore a number eleven boot. This, however, did not hinder my going to and enjoying dancing parties.

I once had the promise of a lady's company to attend a dance in Spirit Lake. The lady lived on the bank of Silver Lake, near what is now the town of Lake Park. There being no liveries or autos at that time the best I could do was to take an ox team and lumber wagon and go after her, which I did and then took her home after the dance. But soon after this occurrence a fellow more swift than I came along and took her away from me and in time they were married.

Most of the houses the pioneers lived in would not be considered as a residence. Our house was a one-room log house, with one room above


that was used for sleeping. The roof was porous. We could look up and see the stars. In a bad snow storm everything in the room would be buried under snow. I never wore underclothes, never had an overcoat, and never saw a pair of overshoes until I was over eighteen years old. Strange as it may seem, I never knew what it was to have a cold or be sick.

The county had a famine in the spring of 1866. There was no flour or provisions for sale. If a man had been possessed of one million dollars there was a time he could not have bought a sack of flour any place. We were fortunate enough to have a few bushels of corn and a coffee-mill, which was put in operation.

We also had fish. At that time you could go fishing any time of the year and catch any kind or any number you pleased. This continued over one month, until the high water in streams and rivers had gone down so as to make it possible for teams to haul in goods. In that day there were no bridges except the two here at the lakes. The value of the first load of flour that came in was one sack even exchange for a cow. I will never forget one afternoon, about three o'clock, when father came home with some flour. Mother proceeded at once to make some biscuit. These lone biscuits were placed in the center of the table, and I have never since tasted anything that was so good. In my judgment it was great joy and satisfaction to have a grist-mill in the house and three good square meals a day of buffalo fish.


The following article by Mrs. Cooper was published in the Spirit Lake Beacon and is quoted from that publication. At the time of the experiences related Mrs. Cooper was Mrs. William Schuneman.

In 1860 my husband and myself determined to seek a new home for our growing family in the West. Relatives in Dickinson County, Iowa, had urged us many times by letter to go there and see the beauties of the prairie country and the advantages that could be developed in a few years by economy and industry. In October we left our home at Detroit, Michigan, traveling by water to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and taking our horses and light wagon with us, as we had planned to travel in prairie schooners the rest of the way.

Arriving at Milwaukee, our real journey began. My husband's mother and sister accompanied us on the trip. When we could find room to sleep at night, the women and children occupied it, but the boys always slept in the wagons. Passing through Wisconsin in a few days, we crossed the Mississippi river at Prairie du Chien on a ferry and entered the Promised Prairie Land of Iowa with many pleasant anticipations concerning our arrival at Spirit Lake. It was the month


for prairie fires to be abroad in the land, with ruthless ruin in their wake, but we were inexperienced and not much worried at the seemingly distant red lights during the nights, and much admired the panorama on every side of us; but we were destined to learn one of the saddest and most serious lessons imaginable, no such experiences having ever entered our lives. In the vicinity of Algona, a town of a half‐ dozen small houses or shelters, we followed a prairie fire for miles before daring to pass through, finally doing so safely. Seeing a light near, we drove there, finding an elderly couple and asked for shelter, which was at first refused, but later we were permitted to sleep in a part of the house.

As always, the wagon was slept in at night by my husband and boys. When we had retired to our field-bed on the floor, not very cozy you can imagine, the old lady passed through our room with a large butcher-knife in her hand; this much disconcerted us, and little sleep visited our eyes, although we greatly needed rest. In the morning she told us they were always afraid of strangers ‐ and who could blame them, living so far from human habitation, with rumors sometimes reaching them of murderous assaults being committed within their range.

During that day we forded the Des Moines river, not far from where Emmetsburg has since been located, and slept that night at Miles Mahans, the last house we would find until we reached the settlement of Spirit Lake, a distance of thirty miles.

When leaving Mahans in the morning, we expected to reach our new home that night, and we were not sorry, for our long ride had become monotonous; the end so near, we cheerfully climbed in the wagons, stopping a short time at noon for luncheon. As we returned to our places in the wagon, a thick smoke came up the hill, dividing at the summit and surrounding us so quickly we hardly realized our precarious position, the heavy, hot smoke half-blinding us. My husband made an unsuccessful attempt to turn the team around, but all was confusion, with smoke and flames upon us, we could not discern one from another. At this critical moment a strange gentleman, Tom Dougherty, a citizen of Spirit Lake, came to us and begun starting fire in our midst to burn a space for our safety. When this was accomplished and the fire had passed, my husband was found several rods from us fatally burned, with only his boots and the seams of his clothing remaining on his body. He was unconscious and never again regained consciousness.

One of the horses had to be put out of his misery there the next day. We drove on toward Spirit Lake as fast as possible while I held Mr. Schuneman in my arms the rest of the way that he might be as comfortable as possible. When we got as far as the old Jenkins place a messenger was sent to town to tell them to be prepared with a doctor


when we got there. Friends and a doctor did all things possible for us. We went to the home of my husband's brother Henry, and the already tired horse with rider were dispatched to Mankato for medicine; he lived nine days and his remains now rest in Lake View cemetery. I was then a widow with six children and empty hands and six months later a little son arrived at my home whom we named "William", whose father, William Schuneman, lost his life trying to save his family from perishing in the fire.

All were kind and helpful as possible, so it did not take long to locate the few but worthy neighbors and I soon began to care for my family the best way I could under the circumstances. My friends thought best for me to enter the Government eighty acres located between the Milwaukee railway on the west. Forest street east and George street ‐ named for George Schuneman ‐ the north line. Afterward I left it go back to the government when I became the wife of Mr. Giese Blackert. He had taken a government eighty where he built a frame house, on the site of Ed Carleton's happy home, previously owned by the Howe brothers. We lived there several years and many a good time was enjoyed by the people, "tripping the lightt fantastic toe," ‐ I nearly said "tango" but am right glad I did not make the mistake. Many years later the young people met there for a well-spent evening, among them Ex-Senator A. B. Funk, Miss Dena Barkman and others.

After Mr. Blackert died I sold the farm to a Land Company, on which many people in good homes now live.

Thinking the readers of the Herald will be further interested in some of the old landmarks of "ye olden time," I think I have the exact knowledge of their whereabouts and will proceed to tell. The building owned by Uncle Henry Schuneman and where my husband died, and where he kept the first store, was on the site and is now a part of the Presbyterian Manse. The small house east of the original Chandler residence was owned by Dr. Ball. The building remains there. Orlando Howe owned and lived on the present site of Senator Francis' palatial residence, which is the pride of many citizens of the town. B. F. Carpenter owned the site where John Deibner and happy wife now entertain well and often, but the old house is a part of Prof. Tompkins' house where his small active urchins circle around the hearthstone and are bright stars indeed. Where Ed Carleton's delightful cool home is in the north part of the city was owned in early times by G. P. and G. M. Howe, the first school being presided over by Miss Mary Howe as first teacher and held in their attic. She died less than two years ago at Lake Park known as Mrs. Henry Kitts.

The cottage commonly known as the Van Burens, near the bridge, was erected and occupied by Henry Barkman near the McMahon home in


the northwest part of town, afterwards moved on the Gruhlke home site, then to its present location.

Going back to the summer of 1861 I will endeavor to collect correctly some of the incidents. Alarming reports of Indian troubles in adjoining counties were brought in by different ways, did not stop the erection of a new brick courthouse, that was well on the way of being some protection from the untutored Indian. The present one stands on nearly the same site. A cupola had been built at the top for several reasons. The second story had the windows in place, also a large share of the floor laid. A tramway where workmen took up the material was the only stairway. The windows and doors were not put in below, so even there we had very little protection.

The settlers becoming anxious about the safety of their families decided that all grown men that could be spared should leave immediately for Sioux City and enlist as soldiers. The Indians must have learned of their going away and planned to execute their well-laid scheme of killing all the white people through to Minnesota. Ere any returned from Soiux [sic] City our fears were realized, when twenty-five Indians appeared in a body, pretending they were going to Ocheyedan River to hunt elk. Providentially two of our men, who had left their families to enlist, were returning home and met the Indians near town, and forced them to return, taking them to the place where the Lake Park Hotel stands, since built. Blazing trees in a circle, men stood guard, with orders to "shoot them on the spot" if they attempted to escape. Early the next morning they were released on promising to leave the country; men escorted them toward Estherville, the few settlers being warned of their movements. Afterwards were found signs of their murderous intentions painted on stones and trees, probably for the other sixty that passed west and north of Spirit Lake, going to Belmont, four miles north of Jackson, where the massacre followed, which has been printed in several historical books.

I then lived with my small children in a log house, in after years known as the D'Arcy homestead. The only door was placed in the opening at night and taken down during the day, a poor, if any protection, had the Indians attacked us. My step-sons, Frank, Henry and George, had found light employmient among the neighbors.

As I remember, the third morning after the going away of the Indians, a man came to Luther Stimpson (a settler living a few miles north) at 3 o'clock in the morning, and told him of the massacre. At dawn of day Mr. Stimpson arrived, and he, with others, set out on horseback to urge the settlers to come in as quickly as possible. I think Mr. Stimpson had not yet arrived when I was doing my morning chores, when a passing stranger stopped and said, "Why don't you come in? The Indians are coming!" I was so stunned and frightened at the news and the thought of my helpless condition that I scarcely did anything really sane, and it


seems now an eternity of torture as I think of the fright I received. The man returned to the mill at the Isthmus, now Orleans, bringing back with him a small child that was unconscious, he having carried it all the way from Belmont, walking through the night, hiding from fear of the enemy. I took care of them at a place somewhere near the courthouse guarded by soldiers. I think the child survived less than two days; I prepared it for burial and it was laid to rest in the first burying place in the northeast part of town, then the father went away and I never saw him again.

I then went into the courthouse; I distinctly remember Mrs. Daniel Bennett, (residing at Dixon's beach) relating to myself and others the horror of the ride behind the oxen as the family came to town that day with a cook stove, some clothing and pieces of bedding. The settlers brought to the courthouse old muskets, shotguns and several rifles, having enough ammunition to last but an hour in battle with the Red Men, but that was one secret the enemy had not fathomed.

We all slept on beds arranged on the floor, placed lower than the windows to be more safe from a night attack and always getting them prepared during the day, as lights were not allowed, nor speaking above a whisper. All the cooking was done out of doors during the day.

One day the watchman on the cupola described a long line of supposed Indians coming from the east, which caused quite a panic among us but proved to be people coming for protection and bringing their cattle with them.

The problem and necessity of building a stockade to protect both settlers and soldiers who had now all returned with horses to scour the country every day that we might not be surprised &dash was before us, and the good work begun. Brave men and women gave their aid, with brawn and brain all helpful. While the men sawed the timbers at Okoboji sawmill, women nerved themselves to bravery, and men and boys drove the ox-teams after material. My boys, Henry and George, went, and when we parted with our children in the morning we were not assured we would see each other alive again. George was only ten years of age, and one day his ox-team ran into Lake Okoboji to swimming depth, then went out; George expected to be drowned, and this reminiscence still lingers with him.

The stockade was finished in due time and occupied by the cavalry horses. After several weeks the Red Rascals were caught and thirty-two executed at Mankato at one drop of the machine. Thus ended the Indian troubles in Dickinson county. The families went to their several homes; I went to the old Rice house, of which Senator Francis recently acquired title. I boarded twenty-one soldiers for a long time, in fact, until I entered a home in reality.

For the fifty-five years I have spent among you, I think there is not a


spot of ground over which my feet have not trod; I love it all and have always felt interested in everyone comilig and going. There is a tender closeness for me that I think few people here feel as I have, heartaches I have realized, but through it all the silver lining shines over the many happy days I spend with you or thinking of you, and understand that my last are my best days, with goodwill toward all and malice toward none. Here I now live and here will I be buried, and as I pass over the Divide looking forward to the meeting beyond with those who suffered so much,

"I hope again some where, some time.
To fondly clasp your hands in mine,
And fear, companionship not mar.
When all have passed the Gates ajar."