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June 4, 1921

   The first night out we camped on the headwaters of Rush river, a stream that has its outlet in Lake Pepin near Maiden Rock.  I happened to find the head of a recently killed elk which I stood up the tips of the horns resting on the ground, and I could stand upright under the head and between the horns.  At that time I was twenty years old and must have been at least five feet nine or ten inches high.  Here were hundreds of rushes and the cattle were in abundant feed, the rushes being exceedingly nutritious. Later this section was used for many years thereafter by McKinstry’s of Stillwater as a cattle range.  The guide pointed out an interesting object, enroute, known as “Hat Rock,” it being a large rock resembling a man’s hat and not far from Lake St. Croix.  The most of the time on this trip from Menomonie we were on the finest forest of hard wood timber I ever saw. 

  We struck the lake at Cat Fish bar and some of the people on the other side came over in canoes to meet us, the village or settlement on the other side being the home of our guide.  The stock was driven out on the dry bar and they were ale to wade most of the distance across the water being quite low, and we were soon all safely on what is now the Minnesota shore but it was all Wisconsin at that time.  We had a meal at this half breed camp, whether dinner or supper, I do not remember.  They had a big dish of shovel nosed sturgeon put up in first class Indian style.  I tried it for curiosity, but I was not very hungry.

  Next day we went up the west bank of the lake to what is now Stillwater and there we spent the night with a Mr. Carley, the first white settler there.  It was a great comfort to me to sleep in a house and be with white people once more, Shortly before reaching here a most dastardly outrage had occurred of which we could see plenty of evidence.

  The Chippewa and Sioux Indians had long been at variance, but the chiefs had come to an understanding and made a treaty of peace.  The night after the treaty was made a party of Sioux came over from the vicinity of Fort Snelling and surprised the Chippewa in horse Shoe coulec, about a mile or so above the present Stillwater, and massacred the entire part, men women and children, except two or three men who escaped.  In all some seventy-five, of all ages were killed and their bodies mutilated in every possible manner, all of course being scalped.  The condition of some of the bodies we saw will not bear the telling about.

  The first settler at this point, Stillwater, then called Brown Creek, was a man by that name, and son after his sister, who had been married to Mr. Carley in Chicago, came to join her brother.  This Carley was afterward drowned while hunting and the widow married a brother of his for her second husband.  This latter Carley was  physician.  Mrs. Carley is now (1905) living in Stilllwater.

We went on our way after one days rest.  About twelve miles above Stillwater we came to Marine Mills.  This mill was built about 1839 and from it was sent the first lumber out of the St. Croix river, I think in 1840.  We camped that night at Copperas creek and arrived at the falls of the St. Croix the next night.  When we delivered our stock to the Company’s representatives we were short one ox.  Another day, the guide and myself were sent back to find him.   The guide by some means, had secured a bottle of whiskey and as we traveled he was unable to keep the track and finally sat down by a tree and went into a drunken stupor.  We left him there and soon found we were lost in the woods.  It was a dark misty day and we had completely lost our sense of direction and discovered that for some time we had been traveling in a circle.  So after some dispute as to the way to go and deciding that we must keep together even though we did not agree as to directions, we started out again this time breaking twigs to show our route.  After a little while we came around to the place we commenced to break the twigs.  I then recalled my previous knowledge of the woods; the finding of the moss on the side of the tree etc., and after consulting a pocket compass we decided upon a north and south direction.  Then remembering we were on the east side of the trail when last we saw it, we started west and soon came to the trail, which we followed south and before long we came to our last camp.  Here we found the lost ox.  He was lame and had lain down in the bushes and we did not miss him when we commenced our last day’s march.  It was too late to think of getting back to camp so we tied our ox and put in the night the best we could and got the ox back to St. Croix the next day.


Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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