COMING OF THE ALGONOUINS AND DAKOTAS — THE ILLINOIS THE MASCOUTINES LOCATION OF
MUSCATINE — THE IOWAS — MEANING OF THE WORD IOWA THE SACS AND FOXES SAUKENUK BLACK
HAWK'S WATCH TOWER THE WINNE- BAGOES ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NEUTRAL GROUND — THE SIOUX
— "LAKE-OF- THE-SPIRITS" SIDOMINADOTAH — BATTLE BETWEEN SIOUX AND POTTAWAT- TAMiES
— AT M'LAUGHLIN'S GROVE — WAHKONSA — HOW THE INDIANS LOST IOWA.
THE RED MAN IN IOWA
The Mound Builders, it appears, were an agricultural or shepherd race, rather than
hunters, hence, during their occupation of this territory, game became very plentiful.
The Indians who relied on the chase of a livelihood, upon learning of this delightful
hunting ground began to press upon them from the north and west.
On the Atlantic coast lived the Algonquins. This had been their ancient home for
generations. The Norsemen found them here in the year looo. The prospect of better
hunting grounds caused them to push westward by way of the St. Lawrence river and
the Great Lakes, overflowing the countrv to the south and into the Mississippi valley.
These Algonquins embraced the Delawares (sometimes called Lenni Lenapi), the Chippewas,
Shawnees, Ottawas, Potta- wattamies, Narragansetts, Illinois, Powhatans (a confederacy
of thirty-three tribes), Sac and Fox and other Indian tribes to the number of thirty
or forty. All of these spoke dialects of the same language.
From the Rocky Mountain region and the Northwest came the savage horde known as
the Sioux or Dakota, including the Dakotas proper, the Assiniboian, the Winnebagoes
who were the parent stock of the lowas, Kansas, Ouappas, Omahas, Osages and other
tribes of the lower Missouri district and others.
These two great streams of savages first came against each other in the valley of
the upper Mississippi and then turned southward. The Algonquins from the east seem
to have outflanked the Sioux, and began to occupy that part of Iowa that lies south
of a line extending from the mouth of the Big Sioux near Sioux City, and the Sioux
occupied the territory north of this line and in Minnesota besides penetrating into
The first Indians seen in what is now Iowa by a white man, were of the Illini or
Illinois tribe. When the French explorers, Marquette and Joliet, in 1673, coming
down the Mississippi, landed in southeastern Iowa, they encountered Indians, who
called themselves Illini, meaning "men." This apparently meant
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
they were very brave and superior to all other people. This name seemed to have
embraced five sub-tribes, Peorias, Cahokias, Kaskaskias, Michigamies and Tamaroas.
These being of the Algonquin race were hereditary enemies of the warlike Iroquois,
or Six Nations, whose seat of government was in the Mohawk valley in New York. During
the generations through which their wars had extended the Illinois had been gradually
driven into the region between Lake Michigan and the Wabash river, and extending
thence west across the Missis- sippi river. More than two hundred years ago, when
visited by Marquette, they had become greatly reduced in numbers and strength from
wars with the Iroquois on the east and the Chickasaws on the south. When Iowa was
next visited by white men the once powerful Illinois Indians had been nearly extermi-
nated by the Sacs and Foxes.
The records of Father Allouez, written in 1670, mention a tribe called Mas- cout-ines,
who had migrated from the Wisconsin river valley into Iowa. These Indians were on
friendly terms with the Illinois and occupied a portion of Iowa west of Muscatine
island. The Algonquin word "Mascoutenck" means a "place having no woods," or "prairie."
The Mascoutines built a village on the island of that name, which was a level prairie
embracing about twenty thousand acres.
Fierce, cruel and treacherous, the Mascoutines were, and generally at war with some
other nation. They were bitter enemies of the Sacs and Foxes, whom they defeated
in a great conflict near the mouth of the Iowa river.
When La Salle descended the Mississippi valley in 1680, he found this tribe still
in that vicinity. The Mascoutines, displeased with the advent of the white men,
sent emissaries to the Illinois to influence them to join in resistance. Ninety-
eight years later they are mentioned as attending a council, when Colonel George
Rogers Clark led a party into that region. Little more is known of them in later
times, except that they lived near where Muscatine now stands, and that the city
derives its name from them.
In the midst of the Algonquins, dwelt for many years, a Dakota tribe, the lowas.
who under their noted chief Man-haw-gaw, migrated westward from the vicinity of
the Great Lakes. They crossed the Mississippi and occupied the ter- ritory about
the lower valley of the Iowa river, giving to that stream its present name, although
it was for a long time called the Ayouas by the earliest French •explorers. Early
records show this name spelled in various ways, Ayouas, Ayouways, Ayoas and Aiouex.
Lewis and Clark, in the journal of their explora- tions in 1804, refer to this tribe
as the Ayouways. In later years the spelling became changed to loway and finally
the y was dropped, and we have the name Iowa, with the accent on the I.
A half-breed of French and Indian parentage, Antoine Le Claire, who was familiar
with several of the Indian languages, defines the word Iowa as "This is the place."
Theodore S. Parvin, a high authority, relates an Indian legend as follows:
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
''This tribe separated from the Sacs and Foxes and wandered off westward in search
of a new home. Crossing the Mississippi river, they turned southward, reaching a
high bkiff near the mouth of the Iowa river. Looking off over the beautiful valley
spread out before them they halted, exclaiming Toway !' or 'This is the place !'
The lowas were worshipers of a Great Spirit, the creator and ruler of the universe.
They had a tradition that a very long time ago a month's rain came, drowning all
living animals and people, excepting a few, who escaped in a great canoe. The Great
Spirit then made from red clay another man and woman and from them all Indians descended.
They regarded rattlesnakes and a certain species of hawks with veneration.
Among themselves the lowas were called Pa-hu-cha, which in English means "dusty
nose." Their tradition is that they once dwelt on a sandbar from which dust and
sand were blown into their faces, giving them dusty noses, and hence their name
Pa-hu-chas. Their language was that of the Dakota group of which they were a part.
They were, however, enemies of the other Dakotas, because an Iowa chief had been
treacherously slain by a band of Sioux. They were divided into eight clans, designated
as Eagle, Wolf, Bear, Pigeon, Elk, Beaver, Buffalo and Snake; each clan having a
totem of the bird or animal they repre- sented. These clans were also distinguished,
one from another, by the fashion in which the hair was cut.
During the Civil war, the lowas were loyal to the Union, many of them enlisting
in the northern army, and making good soldiers. The name of the greatest of the
Iowa war chiefs, ^Mahaska, has been given to one of the counties in the Des Moines
valley, embracing a portion of our state over which this once powerful tribe held
This tribe was so reduced by pestilence and war that it ceased to play an important
part in the state's history after 1823.
SACS AND FOXES
The Sacs and Foxes, who probably held the most prominent place in the story of the
Algonquin family in Iowa, had migrated from the country along the Atlantic coast
now embraced in the state of Rhode Island. They moved along the valley of the St.
Lawrence river and thence to the vicinity of Green bay, where they were found by
Jean Nicollet in 1634. It is reported, that in 1667, Claude Allouez, a French Jesuit,
found on the Wolf river in Wisconsin, a village of ^lusquakies, as the Sacs and
Foxes were sometimes called, which contained a thousand warriors and nearly five
These Indians appeared to realize that the invasion of French trappers and missionaries
threatened the eventual occupation of their lands by the whites, and from the first
they waged war against the intruders, and were nearly the only tribe with whom the
French could not live in peace.
About 1,712 the Sacs and the Foxes became close allies. Each tribe, however, reserved
the right to make war or peace, without the consent of the other. The Foxes had
villages on the west side of the Mississippi, while the Sacs remained on the east
side. The Sacs could muster about three hundred warriors, and the Foxes about three
hundred and twenty. The Sacs had long before occupied the
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
region about Saginaw, in Michigan, calling it Sauk-i-nong. They called them- selves
Saukies, meaning "man-with-a-red-badge." Red was the favorite color used by them
in personal adornment, and it is said that the Sac covered his head with red clay
when he mourned. The Indian name of the Foxes was Mus-qua-kies, signifying "man-with-a-yellow-badge."
The French gave to this tribe the name Reynors or Foxes because of their thieving
habits. The river in Wisconsin, along which these Indians had their home, was called
by the French ''Rio Reynor." When the English obtained the country from France,
they gave the river its English translation Fox.
The Sac village on Rock river was one of the oldest in the upper Mississippi valley.
Black Hawk, in his autobiography, says it was built in 1731. It was named Saukenuk.
This was for fifty years the largest village of the Sacs, and contained in 1825
a population of about eight thousand. The houses were sub- stantially built, and
were made with a frame of poles covered with sheathing of elm bark, fastened on
with thongs of buckskin. Half a mile east of the town is a bold promontory rising
two hundred feet from the bed of Rock river. This was known as "Black Hawk's Watch
Tower," and was a favorite resort of that great Sac chieftain. Here he would sit
smoking his pipe and enjoying the grand scenery spread out before him, the land
which he clung to and fought so desperately to hold.
The Winnebagoes, too, belonged to the Dakota group ; and are mentioned by the French
writers as early as 1669. Early in the seventeenth century the tribes of the Northwest
formed an alliance against the Winnebagoes, and in a battle five hundred of the
latter were slain. It is thought that they and the lowas were the only Dakotas that
migrated to the east. After meeting the Algonquin tribes of Pottawattamies, Chippewas,
Sacs, Foxes, Mascoutines and Ottawas, they finally formed an alliance, which lasted
for more than one hun- dred and fifty years. They were reluctant to come under English
rule, after the French were expelled ; but finally became reconciled, and fought
with the British through the American Revolution. In 1816, they entered into a treaty
of peace with the United States; but in 1832 they joined Black Hawk in his war;
and at its termination were required to relinquish their lands in Wisconsin in exchange
for a tract in Iowa known as the "Neutral Ground." They were not, however, compelled
to remove to their new home until 1841. By the terms of the treaty the Winnebagoes
were to be paid $10,000 annually for twenty-seven years, beginning in 1833. The
government agreed also to supply them with certain farm implements and teams, to
establish schools for the Indian children and to maintain these schools for twenty-seven
years. The Winnebagoes dis- liked to go to the "Neutral Ground," because on the
south were the Sacs and Foxes, and on the north were the hostile Sioux. However,
they grew to love the Iowa reservation; and after they had removed to Minnesota
in 1846, they often returned to hunt and fish along the Iowa rivers.
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
Of the three great Indian nations, occupying the upper Mississippi valley in the
sixteenth century, the most powerful and populous was the Dakota nation. They were
nomadic, wandering northward to latitude 55 degrees in the Rocky mountains, and
eastward to the shores of Green bay. Thus it will be seen that this great Indian
nation early in the sixteenth century occupied a large portion of British America,
Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, more than half of Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas
and Nebraska, the greater part of Minnesota, and the north half of Wisconsin.
The Sioux, who belonged to the Dakota nation, were first known to the French in
1640. In 1680, w^hen Hennepin was sent to explore the valley of the upper Mississippi
and was encamped with his party on the bank of one of the tributaries of the river,
he was captured by a band of Sioux. They took him with them in their wanderings
over Minnesota, from April until September, when he and his companions were rescued
by Greysolon Du Luth.
When the French took possession of that country in 1685, the Dakotas were divided
into seven eastern and nine western tribes. During the wars be- tween the French
and the Indians, the Sioux were forced southward into north- ern Iowa about the
head waters of the Des Moines river and Okoboji and Spirit lakes.
When in 1804, Lewis and Clark explored along the Missouri valley, the Yankton division
of the Sioux occupied the country along the .upper Des Moines and Little Sioux valleys
and about the group of lakes in northern low^a and southern ^Minnesota. While roaming
about in these regions they had named the rivers and lakes. Their principal villages
were along the shores of Okoboji and Spirit Lake. Their name for the latter was
Minne-Mecoehe-Waukon, mean- ing "Lake of the Spirits." It was so named according
to a tradition among the Sioux, because a very long time ago there was an island
in the lake, that the first Indians who sailed to it in their canoes, were seized
and drowned by demons. No Indian again ventured near its shores and it finally disappeared
beneath the waters. Lizard creek they called, "Was-sa-ka-pom-pa," the river with
lizards. The propriety of this name appears at once, when one views the many wind-
ings' of the little stream, like the tortuous trail of a lizard. The Des Moines
river was originally named "Moingonan" by the Algonquins, "Moingona" by Charlevoix,
and "Eah-sha-wa-pa-ta" or "Red Stone" river by the Sioux,
In 1805, Lieutenant Pike estimated the number of Sioux at more than twenty-one thousand.
One of their most noted chiefs in the first half of the nineteenth century was Wa-na-ta
of the Yanktons. When but eighteen years old, he distinguished himself in the War
of 1812, fighting with his tribe for the British at the battle of Sandusky. He was
instrumental in organizing a union of all of the Sioux tribes and became the chief
ot the confederacy of Sioux, often leading them in battle against the lowas and
Chippewas. The Sioux were always more or less hostile to the Americans, and were
only re- strained from open hostilities by the fear of troops stationed in the frontier
forts. They were enemies of the Sac and Fox tribes.
"Si-dom-i-na-do-tah," or "Two Fingers" was the head of a band of renegade
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
Sioux, that hunted and fished along the upper Des Aloines valley. He belonged to
the Sisseton tribe or clan. He was short of stature and of a squatty build, while
his features were coarse and irregular. His name was due to the fact that on one
hand he had but two fingers. Through petty thieving and plunder he and his band
caused the early settlers of Webster county much annoyance. His first followers
were four or five desperadoes who had been exiled from their own people. Then other
joined them, until the party contained five hundred.
Major Williams, in his reminscences of pioneer days, mentions the fact, that with
Sidominadotah's band there was a very stout negro, who was always reported as the
most insolent and daring of the band. He also says, "Every efifort was made to catch
him, but he always managed to keep out of the way. Whenever any outrage was committed,
we could always hear of him, but could never catch him. He still remains one of
the mysteries of the pioneer days of northern Iowa." This band of Sioux increased
their number very much by gathering in renegades and allies from other bands of
Sioux to aid them in fighting and pillaging their common enemies, the Sacs and Foxes
and Pottawat- tamies.
The Sioux Indians would make expeditions, and invade the territory of the Pottawattamies,
who inhabited the southern part of the state, and in turn the Pottawattamies would
attack the Sioux. These two tribes fought two desperate battles in the vicinity
of Fort Dodge. One was fought near Twin Lakes in Cal- houn county and the other
on the South Lizard, near McLaughlin's Grove in Webster county. The Sioux were victorious
in both. These were the last Indian battles in Iowa, as the various tribes soon
after left for their western reservations. The Sioux were the most warlike and treacherous
of all the tribes, which at any time had homes in Iowa. It was a band of this tribe,
who massacred nearly the entire settlement at Spirit Lake and Okoboji in March,
1857; and in 1862, murdered nearly two thousand people in Minnesota.
One of the two Indian names, retained in Webster county, is that of Wah- konsa.
It is the name of a township and of various societies and organizations. The pioneer
inn bore this name, as does also the present fine hotel. One of the early societies,
the "Wahkonsa Library Club," organized in 1859, bore this name. Mr. George W. Brizee,
at one time editor of the Fort Dodge Sentinel, says that Major Williams told him
that Wahkonsa was the son of Umpashota (Smoky Day), that he was very intelligent
and useful to the first settlers; that he would map out the whole country northwest
of the fort, in the sand or dirt, with a stick. Those who best knew Ink-a-pa-do-ta,
say he had but one son, — - a short stout Indian, who was presumed to be above twenty-two
years old at the time of the massacre at Spirit Lake. His name was Com-a-do-ca,
and he was killed near Fort Ridgley, Minnesota, during the summer of 1857. He died
fighting. When the massacre at Spirit Lake occurred, Wahkonsa went to Fort Ridgley
and delivered himself up, a thing very unlikely for him to do if he had been Ink-a-pa-do-ta's
son. Mrs. Marble, in an interview with Mr. Brizee, soon after her release from captivity,
declared most emphatically, that Ink-a-pa-do-ta had but one son in the band, and
that son was Com-a-do-ca. During the winter of 1854-55, Wahkonsa and his sister
accompanied by others of their tribe visited Fort Dodge and at night slept on the
ground floor of the old hotel, which bore
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY  HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
the name of the young chief. In the morning, Cyrus C. Carpenter, than a young surveyor
and school teacher came into the office, and immediately the Indian belle broke
out into laughter. Those present tried to ascertain the cause of her mirth. For
answer, she pointed at the head of Iowa's future governor, and exclaimed: "Hedgehog!
Hedgehog!" Mr. Carpenter at the time wore his hair quite short, and it stood pompadour
over the entire top of his head. It was this that had provoked her laughter and
caused the not entirely compli- mentary comparison. Governor Carpenter enjoyed the
laugh, however, with the rest of the crowd. Wahkonsa was a handsome and attractive
young Indian, and was always 'kindly disposed towards the whites. He was a very
close friend of Mr. Tames B. Williams, who was of about same age. Mr. Williams is
quoted as saying, that the name Wahkonsa meant "fleet-of-foot." Fulton in his "Red
Men of Iowa" however, gives the meaning as "One-Who-Will-Be-Heard- From."
HOW THE INDIANS LOST IOWA
For many years the flood of immigrants that followed the Ohio valley were prevented
from occupying Iowa soil because of the reverence of the Indians for the "Father
of Waters." As early as 1804 the. Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States their
land east of the Mississippi, but it was not until after the defeat of Black Hawk
in 1832, that the most desirable portion of Iowa came into the possession of the
United States. After the Black Hawk Purchase was acquired by the government, for
use by the settlers, not many years passed before the Indians had lost every acre
of the woodlands, hills and prairies they had once owned.
The transfers of land were made through treaties, agreed upon at council meetings,
at which were representatives of the United States and of the Indian tribes interested.
The government paid for the territory, and the amount and all other details were
put in writing.
It is likely that in many cases the promises made by the whites were not carried
out and the redmen were defrauded as a result of the shrewdness of the whites. The
Indians were partly to blame for any cheating, however, because whisky proved too
fascinating, and the price of many an acre of land was paid in this commodity.
The exact amount paid the Indians for the lands of Iowa cannot be deter- mined.
The treaties state the purchase price in terms of money, annuities, mer- chandise
and domestic animals. Upon the merchandise it is impossible to fix a value at the
present time. Sometimes the government promised to lay out farms, establish shops,
and bear the expenses of removal to new reservations. Another element of uncertainty
lies in the overlapping areas of some of the cessions and the extension of several
tracts beyond the present confines of the state.
Owing to the murderous warfare kept up between the Sac and Fox tribes and the Sioux,
the government interfered in 1825, and arranged for a confer- ence at Prairie du
Chien. Here the chiefs representing their respective tribes assembled, all arrayed
in paint and feathers and each trying to outdo the others. A boundary line, to which
all agreed, was fixed. The hunting grounds of the
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
Sioux were to be north of a line passing from the mouth of the upper Iowa river
through the upper fork of the Des Moines river to the fork of the Big Sioux and
down the Big Sioux to the Missouri. The Sacs and Foxes were to hunt south of this
Hne. Permission was given to*the lowas and the Otoes, both of the Dakota family
to live in this territory with them.
The Indians did not, however, recognize these boundary lines, w'hen send- ing out
hunting parties, and in 1830 the United States government established the so-called
Neutral Strip. At the same time, the tribes of the Sacs and Foxes, ceded to the
United States that portion of the territory lying west of the water- shed dividing
the Missouri and Des Moines rivers, eastward to the Neutral Strip, northward to
the present state of Minnesota, and westward to the Alis- souri river, with the
exception of a portion of Lyon county which the Sioux were to possess. This vast
tract of land was granted with the understanding, that it should be used for Indian
purposes. The Neutral Strip might be hunted upon by either of the tribal parties,
and the United States was at liberty to settle, upon any of the lands acquired at
this date, such other tribes as it might see fit. In accordance with this, the Winnebagoes,
after selling their land east of the Mississippi, were settled upon that portion
of the Neutral Strip to the east of the Cedar river in its course through Butler
and Floyd counties, and the Pottawattamies, were given 5,000,000 acres in the southwestern
part of Iowa.
Then followed the Black Hawk Purchase, which went into effect June i, 1833. The
noted warrior Black Hawk had vigorously refused to recognize the treaty of 1804,
and although in 1816 he "touched the goose quill," as he expressed it, to the instrument
affirming the treaty, his reluctance to give up the land in question led to the
conflict of 1832. He was. however, defeated and compelled to sell the land now known
as the Black Hawk Purchase. This was a tract about fifty miles in width, extending
along the Mississippi river from the Neu- tral Strip to the Missouri line, w^ith
the exception of the Keokuk Reserve of four hundred square miles along the Iowa
river in Louisa county. Thus the government secured the eastern portion of the state,
with the exception of a small tract lying between the Des Moines and Mississippi
rivers and south of a line drawn west from Fort Madison, reserved under the treaty
of 1825, for the half breeds of the Sacs and Foxes of ^Missouri and known as the
Half Breed Tract. As a result of the Black Hawk Purchase, immigration to Iowa was
greatly increased. The fame of her beautiful valleys, groves and rivers, her fertile
prairies and rich soil had reached the distant east. Thousands of people were impatiently
waiting for the removal of the red men from such a land of promise. White top emigrant
wagons quickly sought the paths, and homeseekers soon crowded in searching for the
best timber and farm locations.
In 1836 the four hundred square acres reserved for the Sacs and Foxes was secured
by the whites; and by a treaty made in October, 1837, the two tribes were induced
to part with a tract adjoining the Black Hawk Purchase on the west. Still the whites
wanted more land, and finally in 1842, the confederated tribes of the Sacs and Foxes
ceded to the United States all other land east of the Missouri. They fiu-ther agreed
to move west of the Missouri, wnthin three years from the ratification of the treaty.
The remaining rights of the Indians to the state were relinquished, when the Winnebagoes
in 1846, ceded their in-
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
terest in the Neutral Strip; and the Sioux, in 1851, gave up the northern portion
of the state.
It is estimated that the state of Iowa cost the United States government to extinguish
the Indian title approximately $2,377,547.87, a little over eight cents an acre.