|"Stories of Early Fayette
|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
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
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
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
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.
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.