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Tegarden Massacure
"Stories of Early Fayette County History",
The Tegarden Massacre
In 1842, two roving Indian traders, Mr. Atwood and Mr. Tegarden, built a small log cabin about two miles south of Fayette in the northwest corner of Smithfield Township. This was a splendid place for a home, for there was rich prairie soil on one side and a small grove of timber on the other. Near the edge of the grove was a clear spring of rippling water. When the cabin was finished Mr. Tegarden went to Dubuque for his wife, his two sons, aged three and thirteen,
and his daughter, Marie, who was about eleven years of age. While he was gone Mr. Atwood stayed with the Beatty family who lived about a mile east of this new cabin.

In February of the next year the Tegarden family and Mr. Atwood moved into their log cabin and the men began selling whiskey to the Indians. Now it was against the law to sell whiskey to the Indians, for, like the white men, most Indians had a bad disposition when they were drunk. Later in the spring, Mr. Atwood went to Dubuque for more whiskey. On March 25, 1843, while he was gone, some. Indians came and demanded a gun which one of them had traded to Mr. Atwood for whiskey. When the Indians were told that he was away, they became angry and quarrelsome. This frightened Mrs. Tegarden so much that she decided to go to the home of a neighbor, Mr. Wilcox. She tried to take the children with her, but Mr. Tegarden would not let them go.

Soon after she had gone Mr. Atwood came home with a barrel of whiskey and the white men and Indians began to drink the "fire water". They continued to drink and to make a great deal of noise until about 9 o'clock. Then the Indians and the white men and boys went to sleep on the floor. Marie climbed in bed, but was so frightened she did not go to sleep.

Along in the night the three Indians, Ho-gew-hee-kaw, Wan-okaw-daw, and Haw-kaw-kaw, awoke, and moving softly about, bound the white men who were still sound asleep. Then they butchered Mr. Atwood with a tomahawk, shot Mr. Teagarden, killed the younger boy, and attempted to kill the older boy and Marie with their tomahawks. The girl escaped death by lying so still that the Indians supposed she was dead.

When the Red Men thought that all the white people were killed they went out in the barn to steal the horse and sleigh. As it took them some time to harness the horse, Marie had time to plan an escape. She found all were dead but one brother, and that he was severely wounded. Without waiting to dress fully, she helped him to limp from the cabin, and the two crept out to the grove near the house. They were not a moment too soon, for when they were a few yards from the door the Indians returned to steal the most valuable articles in the home. You may be sure that they took whiskey with them. In order to conceal their terrible crime they set fire to the cabin and drove away.

You may well imagine that the boy and girl were terribly frightened and scarcely knew what to do. They did not have on many clothes; the night was dark and cold. Although it was late in March, there was still about fifteen inches of snow on the ground. The boy had a deep cut on his thigh which made it impossible for him to walk without help, and the girl had severe wounds on her body and cuts on her face. These children knew that the closest neighbor was Mr.
Beatty who lived a mile away. They were frightened and suffering so much from their cuts and bruises that it is little wonder they lost their way. They wandered in the woods and on the prairie. When daylight came at last they discovered they were near a fence which was about one-quarter of a mile from the Beatty cabin. Climbing upon the fence they called for help. The kind hearted neighbor ran to give them aid, and soon they were inside the warm cabin.
Although they were given all possible care, Marie's feet were so badly frozen that she lost all her toes on one foot. You may be sure that their mother hurried to them as soon as she found out where they were. In a few weeks after this terrible night, Mr. Wilcox took these children and their mother back to their relatives in Dubuque.

Although Marie lived to be an old woman, she carried the scars of the Indians' tomahawk all her life.

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