In view of the events which followed the camping of the Indians at Skunk Lake, it may be well to take note of the attempts made by the Indian agent and by the Territory of Minnesota to rescue the captives and punish the Indians. When the news of the massacre reached St. Paul and other Minnesota towns it created no little excitement. The Sioux were blamed as a nation, and this gave rise to a demand for their punishment without just regard for the identification of the actual perpetrators of the deed. Charles E. Flandrau, the agent of the Mississippi Sioux who was then located at the agency on the Yellow Medicine, solved the problem of the identity of the murderers to his own satisfaction, and late in April began the publication of articles in a number of the most widely circulated newspapers in Minnesota in which he explained to the people of the Territory the real identity of the Indians concerned.

While doing this he was also conferring with Colonel E. B. Alexander, commander of the Tenth United States Infantry then stationed at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, concerning the best course to be pursued in the attempt to rescue the captives and apprehend the Indians. It was very clear to both that only such a course could be adopted and followed as would be reasonably sure to guarantee the safety of the white women who presumably were still held in captivity by Inkpaduta's band. It was felt by both Agent Flandrau and Colonel Alexander that the release of the captives must be secured by resort to some means other than force; but neither of these men was able to devise the proper means. While they were seeking a solution of the difficulty, news was brought of the ransoming of Mrs. Marble.

It seems that two Indian brothers from the Yellow Medicine Agency, who had been Christianized by the Rev. Stephen R. Riggs, had gone into the district beyond the Big Sioux to take part in the spring hunt along with other members of their tribe. While in the vicinity of Skunk Lake, the brothers, Ma-kpeya- ka-ho-ton (Sounding Heavens) and Se-ha-ho-ta (Gray foot) by name, sons of Spirit Walker, Chief of the Lac qui Parle Wahpetons, heard that Inkpaduta had lately passed through the region. They were also told that his band held as captives three white women who had been taken in a raid which they had but lately made upon the settlements at the lakes. The first feeling of the brothers was one of pity for the captives, since they well knew the ferocious character of the Inkpaduta band. Discussing the matter between themselves, they decided to visit the camp of Inkpaduta for the purpose of securing the release of the captives. The plan met with disapproval when it was submitted to their companions who feared the consequences. But the brothers were so strongly convinced that they could secure the release of at least one of the prisoners, and possibly of all, that they refused the advice of their fellows and set out on the trail of Inkpaduta.

Anticipating that the release of the captives might only be secured through ransom, the brothers had collected from their companions as much in the way of personal belongings as could be spared. Adding this to their own supply they thought they had sufficient property to accomplish their purpose. Being Indians themselves, and therefore well acquainted with the Indian attitude of mind, they did not take their possessions with them when they went to Inkpaduta's camp to negotiate. Instead they concealed the property in the brush on the lake shore not far distant. At first they were not received with any show of cordiality, for they were known to be Christian Indians: Inkpaduta suspected them as spies, and they were constantly watched, since they were supposed to be in direct communication with United States soldiers. Frequently, as they would move about the camp, an alarm would be raised that soldiers were coming.

The first night spent by the brothers in the camp was wholly taken up with the recital of the well‐worn tale of the massacre. At daybreak the brothers broached the reason for their coming. All forenoon the proposition was argued. Grayfoot, acting in the capacity of spokesman of the brothers, did not hesitate to tell Inkpaduta the enormity of the crime he had committed. But Inkpaduta remained unimpressed; and not until mid‐afternoon did he give any sign of wavering. Finally he proposed that the brothers take only one of the captives. This, he added, would show his good faith in the matter. It was also quite evident that this proposition was made for the purpose of getting rid of his unwelcome and tenacious visitors as soon as possible. The price demanded for the release of even one of the captives was so high that there was nothing to do but accept the offer‐especially since it was clear that a longer parley was useless. The price for the one was to be "one gun, a lot of blankets, a keg of powder, and a small supply of Indian trinkets.

It appears that Inkpaduta did not value any one of the captives more highly than the other, and so he was willing that the brothers should exercise the privilege of choice. In a tepee only a short distance away the white women were engaged in some of the menial tasks of the afternoon. Grayfoot walked over to the tent and looked in. At first he decided upon Mrs. Noble, being touched by her appearance of unhappiness. But when he beckoned her to follow him from the tent, she became angry and refused to comply. This apparently did not discourage Grayfoot, for he turned to Mrs. Marble and repeated the signal. Mrs. Marble, having resolved upon ready compliance with the demands of the Indians, at once followed him from the tepee. It should be said that there was little thought of selecting Miss Gardner for she was regarded as relatively safe from harsh treatment by her captors on account of her youth. With Mrs. Marble, Grayfoot and Sounding Heavens, accompanied by two of Inkpaduta's Indians, returned to the camp upon the Big Sioux.

Upon reaching this camp Mrs. Marble was informed by a Frenchman, who happened to be in the camp, of the real purpose of the Indian brothers. The brothers now hastened to the tepee of Spirit Walker at Lac qui Parle where they arrived on May twentieth, the journey having occupied ten days. Here Mrs. Marble was given clothing and as good care as the means of Spirit Walker and his squaw would permit. Word was taken in a few days to the missionaries, Riggs and Williamson, at the upper agency that one of the Spirit Lake captives was at the tepee of Spirit Walker. They at once hastened to the chief's lodge where they found Mrs. Marble happily situated and somewhat reluctant to leave her newfound and kind friends. Upon leaving the lodge she was placed in the care of Agent Flandrau who started with her at once for St. Paul where they arrived on May thirtieth.

In writing of Mrs. Marble's arrival in St. Paul the St. Paul Pioneer describes her as being "about twenty‐five years of age; of medium size, and very pleasant looking. She is a native of Darke county, Ohio, and moved to Michigan about ten years ago. She has been twice married. Her first husband's name was Phips. After his death, she married Mr. Marble, with whom she removed to Linn county, Iowa, and ultimately to Spirit Lake in Dick [in] son county. Mrs. M. is in a very destitute condition, her husband has been murdered and as to whether her parents are alive or not, she is ignorant. We trust those who are blessed with a supply of this world's goods will contribute liberally in aid of this unfortunate woman. The privations she has undergone, and her present destitute condition commend her to the consideration of the benevolent."

The Indian brothers in notifying Agent Flandrau of their ransom of Mrs. Marble took occasion to remind him that they deemed the act worthy of a somewhat liberal reward, for, quoting the language of their letter, "it was perilous business, which we think should be liberally rewarded. We claim for our services $500 each. We do not want it in horses, they would be killed by jealous young men. We do not wish it in ammunition and goods, these we should be obliged to divide with others. The laborer is worthy of his own reward. We want it in money, which we can make more serviceable to ourselves than it could be in any other form. This is what we have to say."

To the agent this claim presented a problem difficult to handle, since he could see no way in which to secure the amount demanded. At the same time he did not for a moment consider the demand unjust‐ indeed he was surprised at its reasonableness. Having no public money at his disposal, if he met the demand it would necessarily be from private funds of his own or from the generosity of others. His own private funds amounted to but little more than five hundred dollars; and so an equal amount had to be secured from other sources. But where should he go to solicit funds! When his own ingenuity failed to solve the problem he called missionary Riggs into conference. They decided upon a bold stroke of finance, which was nothing less than the issuance of a Territorial bond for the amount required. This proved a happy solution of the difficulty, and although they acted without legal authority they issued the paper in good faith.

Dickinson County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project