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1876 Centennial History

of Webster County,


also the City of Fort Dodge

Henry Lott The first settler in the County

HENRY LOTT, the first settler in the County of Webster, erected the first cabin near the mouth of the Boone river, on land now owned by Loudowic MARICLE, in section 24, township 87, range 27. The date of his settlement is unknown. He was found there in 1846, by the pioneers, engaged in the laudable enterprise of selling, whisky to the Indians, stealing their ponies and running them off to the south. He cultivated but little land. Lott was a slim, dark eyed, shrewd man, with a fair education, and claimed to have been born in the New England States. His first wife, who was a daughter of one of the early Governors of Ohio or Pennsylvania, died in the winter of 1846 and was buried without a coffin, puncheons being placed at the bottom, sides and ends of the grave, the body lowered and others laid over the remains. Her grave is in the cemetery on the VIGORS' farm, section 25, township 87, range 27.

LOTT in his dealings with the Indians was so unfair, that they finally became suspicious of him, threatened his life and in the winter of 1846, drove him from his cabin, but did not meddle with his family. His two sons, fearing for the safety of their father, followed him, became lost and separated, and one was frozen to death near Elk Rapids. His remains were subsequently found, placed for protection from the wolves in a pile of drift-wood, and against the wishes of Lott, who desired to cremate the body, was buried in the spring near where it was found.

After the death of his first wife, LOTT married the daughter of FRANCIS MCGUIRE, one of the first settlers in Yell township, subsequently built a cabin on the bank of the Des Moines river, on the farm now owned by CLARK FULLER, near the spot where in later days stood the steam saw-mill of SAMUEL TOD, and spent his time trading with the Indians, hunting and fishing. Here his second wife died on the l0th day of December, 1851, and is buried on section 27, township 88, range 28, but all traces of the grave are now obliterated.

In November, 1853, LOTT made a claim near Lott's creek, in Humboldt county, which he and his son occupied, and laid in as a winter's supply—three or four barrels of whisky and some goods, as he said, "with a view of trading with the Indians."

In January, 1854, LOTT and his son went to the camp of the old chief, SIDOM-I-NA-DO-TAH who was then living on the creek, a mile west of LOTT'S cabin, and telling him that there was a drove of elk feeding on the bottom lands, induced the old Indian to mount his pony and go with them. LOTT and his son followed, shot and killed him, and that night disguised as Indians, attacked the chief's wife, mother and six children and murdered all but two, a little girl aged ten, who hid in the bushes, and a boy about twelve years old whom they thought they had killed and left for dead. He recovered and escaped. Some ten days elapsed before the murder was discovered. Then his cabin was found to have been burned and his wagon tacked to Holiday creek, he avoiding Fort Dodge. At Mr. Thos. HOLLIDAY'S the first intelligence was had of him. He passed there with his old covered carriage, containing his household goods, while his son led the Indian's pony heavily packed with furs. At the house of Mrs. I. GARMOE, then near the mouth of the Boone river, LOTT and his son stayed overnight and offered for sale furs and other articles. Here his actions attracted the attention of other guests who were spending the night at Mrs. GARMOE'S. Major WILLIAMS, who was among the number, made the remark that something was wrong with LOTT. His son refused to go to the barn and feed the horses after dark. He had the Indian's pony with him then, but knowing his mode of "raising ponies," no one suspected the great crime he had committed.

After the troops had been ordered from Fort Dodge, Gov. HEMPSTEAD issued a commission to Major WILLIAM WILLIAMS, granting him authority, if necessary, to raise men, and keep the Indians in check, and as far as possible, keep peace between them and the settlers. The roving bands who inhabited this portion of Iowa were very friendly to the Major. His word to them was law, and to prevent an Indian war, which was threatened, he promised them that LOTT should be captured, and worked faithfully to fulfill that promise. The civil authorities of the county assisted him with the strong arm of the law. A subscription was circulated throughout the country, furds raised, and every settler took an interest in his capture. While LOTT had traits of character that were admired, many of the settlers were afraid of him.

SIDOM-I-NA-DO-TAH was the leader of the band that drove LOTT from his home in the winter of 1848, and it is said that he then swore he would have revenge. After the death of his second wife he gave away his little twin daughters and his infant son, taking with him to Humboldt county, the son before mentioned, who was about fifteen years old. After leaving Mrs. GARMOE'S, nothing definite is known of LOTT. It was reported that he fled to Council Bluffs, joined an overland train bound for California, and was killed in a quarrel on the plains. But it is thought by these who knew him best, that this was a ruse to keep the officers in search from following him. After search for LOTT had been abandoned, the skeleton of the old Indian was found, and the fact reported to the county officers at Homer, who decided that under law, it was necessary to hold an inquest over the murdered chief.

Father JOHN JOHNS, the then acting Coroner, summoned a jury and went up to examine the remains. They collected a few Indians together and examined the hoy and girl who had escaped the massacre. None of the Indians present could understand English. GRANVILLE BERKLEY, Prosecuting Attorney for the county, took the testimony of the Indians and pretended to interpret it. The interpretation was disputed by WM. R. MILLER, an old frontiersman, and a laughable scene ensued. BERKLEY quoted authors which MILLER could not answer. The former obtained from the Indians the skull of the dead chief, which he took to Homer. The records in the Coroner's office of the County of Webster, contain no account of the verdict of this jury.

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