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Dakota War of 1862

The Dakota War of 1862 (also known as the Sioux Uprising, Sioux Outbreak of 1862, the Dakota Conflict, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, or Little Crow's War) was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Sioux or Dakota which began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota and ended with a mass execution of 38 Dakota on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota.

Throughout the late 1850s, treaty violations by the United States and late or unfair annuity payments by Indian agents caused increasing hunger and hardship among the Dakota. Traders with the Dakota previously had demanded that annuity payments be given to them directly (introducing the possibility of unfair dealing between the agents and the traders), but in mid-1862, the Dakota demanded the annuities directly from their agent, Thomas J. Galbraith. The traders refused to provide any more supplies on credit. Thus negotiations reached an impasse as a result of the bellicosity of the traders' representative, Andrew Myrick. On August 17, 1862, five American settlers were killed by four Dakota on a hunting expedition. That night, a council of Dakota decided to attack settlements throughout the Minnesota River valley in an effort to drive whites out of the area. Continued battles between the Dakota against settlers and later, the United States Army, ended with the surrender of most of the Dakota forces. There has never been an official report on the number of settlers killed, but estimates range from 300 to 800. By late December, more than a thousand Dakota were interned in jails in Minnesota, and 38 Dakota were hanged in the largest one-day execution in American history on December 26, 1862. In April 1863, the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota to Nebraska and South Dakota, and their reservations were abolished by the United States Congress.

Little Crow
Chief Taoyateduta (Little Crow)

Little Crow, or Taoyateduta, was the Dakota chief who led the Indian attacks in the 1862 war. He was a reluctant leader. The night before the attacks began, he attempted to talk down the war mood. But the warriors were adamant. They wanted to fight, so Little Crow agreed to lead them.

The grave marker of Little Crow is near Flandreau, S.D. He survived the 1862 war, but was killed the next year near Hutchinson, Minn.

The inscription reads:
Taoyateduta, known as Chief Little Crow of the Mdewakantons.
Born 1818.
Died July 3, 1863.
Buried Sept. 27, 1971.
"Tosta nici matekte - Therefore I'll die with you."

When Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858, representatives of several Dakota bands led by Little Crow traveled to Washington, D.C. to make negotiations about the enforcement of the treaties. The northern half of the reservation along the Minnesota River was lost, and rights to the quarry at Pipestone, Minnesota were also ceded by the Dakota. This was a major blow to the standing of Little Crow in the Dakota community.

Payments guaranteed by the treaties were not made, due to Federal preoccupation with the American Civil War. Most land in the river valley was not arable, and hunting could no longer support the Dakota community. Losing land to new white settlers, non-payment, past broken treaties, plus food shortages and famine following crop failure led to great discontent among the Dakota people. Tension increased through the summer of 1862.
On August 4, 1862, representatives of the northern Sissetowan and Wahpeton Dakota bands met at the Upper Sioux Agency in the northwestern part of the reservation and successfully negotiated to obtain food. However, when two other bands of the Dakota, the southern Mdewakanton and the Wahpekute, turned to the Lower Sioux Agency for supplies on August 15, 1862, they were rejected. Indian Agent (and Minnesota State Senator) Thomas Galbraith managed the area and would not distribute food without payment to these bands. According to legend, at a meeting of the Dakota, the United States government, and local traders, the Dakota representatives asked the representative of the government traders, Andrew Jackson Myrick, to sell them food on credit. His response, apparently, was "so far as I am concerned, let them eat grass."

On August 16, 1862, the treaty payments to the Dakota arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota, and were brought to Fort Ridgely the next day. However, it came too late to prevent violence. On August 17, 1862, four young Dakota men were on a hunting trip in Acton Township, Minnesota, where they stole food and killed five white settlers. Soon after, a Dakota war council was convened, and their leader, Little Crow, agreed to continue the attacks on the settlements in an effort to drive them out.

On August 18, 1862, Little Crow led a group that attacked the Lower Sioux (or Redwood) Agency. Andrew Myrick was among the first that was killed as he was discovered trying to escape through a second-floor window of a building at the agency. Myrick's body later was found with grass stuffed into his mouth. Buildings at the Lower Sioux Agency were taken and burned by the warriors; however, the time spent burning the buildings provided enough delay for many people to escape across the river at Redwood Ferry. Minnesota militia forces and B Company of the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment sent to quell the uprising were defeated at the Battle of Redwood Ferry. Twenty-four soldiers, including the party's commander (Captain John Marsh), were killed in the battle. Throughout the day, Dakota war parties swept the Minnesota River Vally and near vicinity, killing a large number of settlers. Numerous settlements, including the Townships of Milford, Leavenworth, and Sacred Heart, were surrounded, burned, and nearly exterminated.

Genealogy Trails
People escaping from the Indian massacre of 1862 in Minnesota, at dinner on a prairie

Confident with their initial success, the Dakota continued their offensive and attacked the settlement of New Ulm, Minnesota on August 19, 1862, and again on August 23, 1862. Dakota warriors initially decided not to attack the heavily-defended Fort Ridgely along the river and instead turned toward the town, killing settlers along the way.

By the time New Ulm itself was attacked, residents had organized defenses in the town center and were able to keep the Dakota at bay during the brief siege. However, Dakota warriors were able to penetrate parts of the defenses, and much of the town were burned.

By that evening, a thunderstorm prevented further Dakota attacks and New Ulm was reinforced by regular soldiers and militia from nearby towns (including two companies of the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry then stationed at Fort Ridgely), while the population continued to build barricades around the town.

During this period, Fort Ridgely was attacked by the Dakota on August 20 and 22, 1862. Although the Dakota were not able to take the fort, their ambush of a relief party from the fort to New Ulm on August 21 and the manpower expended in defense at the Battle of Fort Ridgely greatly reduced the strength of the American forces. The Dakota also undertook raids on farms and small settlements throughout south-central Minnesota and what was then eastern Dakota Territory.

Counterattacks by Minnesota militia against these raiding parties again resulted in a major defeat of American forces at the Battle of Birch Coulee on September 2, 1862. The battle began when the Dakota attacked a detachment of 150 American soldiers at Birch Coulee, 16 miles from Fort Ridgely. The detachment had been sent out to find survivors, bury the American dead, and report on the location of Dakota fighters. A three-hour firefight began with an early morning assault. Thirteen soldiers were killed and 47 were wounded, while two Dakota were killed. A column of 240 soldiers from Fort Ridgely relieved the detachment at Birch Coulee the same afternoon.

Further north, the Dakota attacked several unfortified stagecoach stops and river crossings along the Red River Trails, a settled trade route between Fort Garry (now Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Saint Paul, Minnesota in the Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota and eastern Dakota Territory. Many settlers and employees of the Hudson's Bay Company and other local enterprises in this sparsely populated country took refuge in Fort Abercrombie, located in a bend of the Red River of the North about 25 miles south of present day Fargo, North Dakota. Between late August and late September, the Dakota launched several attacks on Fort Abercrombie which were repelled by its defenders.

In the meantime, steamboat and flatboat trade on the Red River came to a halt, and mail carriers, stage drivers and military couriers were killed while attempting to reach settlements such as Pembina, North Dakota, Fort Garry, St. Cloud, Minnesota and Fort Snelling. Eventually the garrison at Fort Abercrombie was relieved by a United States Army company from Fort Snelling and the civilian refugees were removed to St. Cloud.

After the arrival of a larger army force, the final large-scale fighting took place at the Battle of Wood Lake on Sept 23, 1862. According to the official report of Lt. Col. William R. Marshall of the 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, elements of the 7th Minnesota and the 6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment (and a six-pounder cannon) were deployed equally in dugouts and in a skirmish line. After brief fighting, the forces in the skirmish line charged against the Dakota (then in a ravine) and defeated them overwhelmingly

Among the Citizen Soldier units in Sibley's expedition:

Captain Joseph F. Bean's Company "The Eureka Squad"
Captain David D. Lloyd's Company
Captain Calvin Potter's Company of Mounted Men
Captain Mark Hendrick's Battery of Light Artillery
1st Lt Christopher Hansen's Company "Cedar Valley Rangers" of the 5th Iowa State Militia, Mitchell Co, Iowa
elements of the 5th & 6th Iowa State Militia

Most Dakota fighters surrendered shortly after the Battle of Wood Lake at Camp Release on September 26, 1862. The place was so-named because it was the site where 269 captives of the Dakota were released to the troops commanded by Col. Henry Sibley. The captives included 162 "mixed-bloods" and 107 whites, mostly women and children. Most of the Dakotas guilty of war crimes, however, left before Sibley arrived at Camp Release. The surrendered Dakota warriors were held until military trials took place in November 1862.

Little Crow was forced to retreat sometime in September 1862. He stayed briefly in Canada but soon returned to the Minnesota area. He was killed on July 3, 1863 near Hutchinson, Minnesota while gathering raspberries with his teenage son. The pair had wandered onto the land of white settler Nathan Lamson, who shot at them to collect bounties. Once it was discovered that the body was of Little Crow, his skull and scalp were put on display in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they remained until 1971. For killing Little Crow, Lamson was granted an additional $500 bounty, while Little Crow's son received a death sentence that was commuted to a prison term.

In early December, 303 Sioux prisoners were convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals and sentenced to death. Some trials lasted less than 5 minutes, and the proceedings neither were explained to the defendants, nor were the Sioux represented in court. President Abraham Lincoln personally reviewed the trial records, and he attempted to distinguish between those who had engaged in warfare against the United States versus those who had committed the crimes of rape and murder against civilians.

Henry Whipple, the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota and a reformer of U.S. policies towards Native Americans, urged Lincoln to proceed with leniency. Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 264 prisoners and allowed the execution of 39 others. One of the 39 condemned prisoners was granted a reprieve. The 38 remaining prisoners were executed by hanging on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota, in what remains the largest mass execution in American history.

The mass execution was performed publicly on a single scaffold platform. Regimental surgeons pronounced the prisoners dead, and they then were buried en masse in a trench in the sand of the riverbank. Before they were buried, however, an unknown person nicknamed “Dr. Sheardown” possibly removed some of the prisoners' skin. Small boxes purportedly containing the skin later were sold in Mankato.

Medical Aftermath
Because of high demand for cadavers for anatomical study, several doctors requested the bodies after the execution. The grave was re-opened and the bodies were distributed among local doctors, a practice that was common in that era. The doctor who received the body of Mahpiya Okinajin (He Who Stands in Clouds) was William Worrall Mayo.

Years later, Mayo brought the body of Mahpiya Okinajin to Le Sueur, Minnesota, where Mayo dissected it in the presence of medical colleagues. Afterward, the skeleton was cleaned, dried and varnished, and Mayo kept it in an iron kettle in his home office. The identifiable remains of Mahpiya Okinajin and other Native Americans later were returned by the Mayo Clinic to a Dakota tribe for reburial per the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The remaining convicted Indians stayed in prison that winter. The following spring, they were transferred to Rock Island, Illinois where they were held in prison for almost four years. By the time of their release, one third of the prisoners had died of disease. The survivors were sent with their families to Nebraska, who already had been expelled from Minnesota.

During this time, more than 1600 Dakota women, children, and old men were held in an internment camp on Pike Island, near Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Living conditions were poor, and disease struck the camp, killing more than three hundred. In April 1863, the United States Congress abolished the reservation, declared all previous treaties with the Dakota null and void, and undertook proceedings to expel the Dakota people entirely from Minnesota. To this end, a bounty of $25 per scalp was placed on any Dakota found free within the boundaries of the state. The only exception to this legislation applied to 208 Mdewakanton who remained neutral or assisted white settlers in the conflict. In May of 1863, the survivors were forced aboard steamboats and relocated to Crow Creek, in the southeastern Dakota Territory, a place stricken by drought at the time. The survivors of Crow Creek were moved three years later to the Santee Reservation in Nebraska

The Minnesota River valley and surrounding upland prairie areas were abandoned by most settlers during the war. Many of the families who fled their farms and homes as refugees never returned. Following the American Civil War, however, the area had been resettled and returned to an agricultural area by the mid-1870s.

The Lower Sioux Indian Reservation was reestablished at the site of the Lower Sioux Agency near Morton, and in the 1930s the even smaller Upper Sioux Indian Reservation was established near Granite Falls. Although some Dakota opposed the war, most were also expelled from Minnesota, including those who attempted to assist settlers. The Yankton Sioux chief Struck by the Ree deployed some of his warriors to this effect, but was not judged friendly enough to be allowed to remain in the state immediately after the war. However, by the 1880s a number of Dakota had moved back to the Minnesota River valley, notably the Goodthunder, Wabasha, Bluestone, and Lawrence families. They were joined by Dakota families who had been living under the protection of bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple and the trader Alexander Faribault.

Newspaper Accounts of the Massacre
[Also read the story of Minnie Buce Carrigan, captured during the massacre]

The Appleton Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Saturday, August 30 1862
The Indian Massacre in Minnesota
St. Paul, Aug. 23
Parties from Minn. River reached here last night; they state that scouts estimate the number of whites already killed by Sioux at 500. The opinion is based on the number of bodies found along the roads and trails. It is believed that all missionaries are killed. The civilized Indians exceeded their savage brethren in atrocities.

Mr. Frenier, an interpreter, who has spent most of his life among the Indians, volunteered to go along, trusting to his knowledge of Indians and disguise to escape detection, dressed and painted in savage style. He arrived at the Upper Agency in the night and fund the place literally a habitation of death. He visited all of the houses and found the former occupants lying dead – some on the door steps, some inside and others scattered in the yards. He went to the house of Hon. J. R. Brown, and recognized every member of his family, 18 in all, murdered. He visited Beaver Creek, and found fifty families killed; went to every house and recognized the bodies of nearly all the former inhabitants. Among those he recognized at the Agency were N. Givens and family, Mr. Galbreath and children, Dr. Wakefield and family, John Tadden’s and family, John and Edward Mayner and two Missionaries, Rev. Dr. Williamson and Rev. Mr. Riggs.

Ex. Gov. Sibley, now marching to the relief of Fort Ridgeley, reports Sioux bands united in carrying out a concerted and desperate scheme, and says he will only be too happy to find powerful upper band of Yanktons and other Indians not united with them.

Mr. Frenie writes Gov. Ramsey from Henderson, 21st, that he left Fort Ridley at 5 a.m. There were then 2,000 Indians around the fort and the wooden buildings were burning. He thinks other tribes were joining the Sioux, and they present a formidable array.

A reliable letter dated Glencoe, Aug. 21st, says: “The injury done by the stampede of settlers is immense; another such scene of woe can hardly be found in the South as in McHood Mecker and the Northern part of Sibley and other counties. In St. Paul and adjoining country all available horses are being gathered up, and all sorts of weapons will be used by willing hands for the immediate and summary punishment of these audacious and rascally Indians.

Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Saturday evening, August 23, 1862
Mr. A. W. Dexter, formerly of Johnstown in this county, but who now resides at Winona, Minn., and who left there yesterday, called upon us this morning, and confirms the terrible Indian massacre in that state. He says that about 200 persons had been killed, that Fort Ridgely had been taken by the Indians, and most of the two military companies there were massacred. There are but few settlers between the fort and New Ulm, and the Indians appear to be advancing towards Mankato and the more densely settled part of the state. It is rumored that a large number of Indians from the south of Kansas have been instigated by the secessionists to join the Siouxs.

Mr. Dexter saw a woman at Winona whose husband and brother were murdered. He also learned that two Mr. Geers, formerly of Allen’s Grove, in this county, were among the soldiers at Fort Ridgley, and were probably killed.

It is fortunate for Minnesota that the volunteers under the late call from the general government have not left the state. A volunteer regiment located at Fort Snelling is now probably on its way to the scene of the massacre, with such arms as can be got in the country; and, as soon as the government provides arms, five regimetns could be immediately sent to exterminate the dastardly savages.

The Athens Messenger (Athens, Ohio) Thursday, September 4 1862
Letter from A. J. Van Vorhes
Fort Ridgely, Aug. 20th
Editors of the St. Paul Press:

Knowing the intense excitement that must prevail throughout the State in consequence of the Indian outbreaks, and massacres of the past two days, and with the hope that a full knowledge of the facts will stimulate the Government and citizens to prompt and decisive action, I hasten to communicate such items as the excitement of the hour, and the exigencies of affairs as they appear to one on the ground will suggest.

It is well known that dissatisfaction has existed in the various tribes for some weeks past, in consequence of the delay of the Government in making the annual payment; but no one dreamed of a well organized and systematically arranged outbreak, embracing tribes which have ever been hostile to each other. This fact, in connection with circumstances that have come to my knowledge within the past few days, convince me that it is a part of the plan of the great rebellion. The Government will be convinced of this fact should it prove that this is a systemized raid all along the border, from Pembina to the Missouri river.

The party attending Mr. Wycoff, acting Superintendent, who was on his way to the Upper Sioux Agency to make the annual payment, met a messenger about six miles from this place, on Monday morning, announcing an outbreak at the Lower Sioux Agency, and the murder of all the whites in the vicinity, except the few who had made their escape. Upon our arrival here we fund the statement confirmed. Upon learning the facts Captain Marsh immediately set out for the Agency with forty-five men of his company – leaving some twenty at the garrison. In the evening seventeen of his men returned.

At the ferry opposite the Agency, Captain Marsh encountered a large body of warriors, who opened fire upon him. – After a few volleys, a large body of Indians ambushed in his rear, also opened fire upon him, immediately killing a number of his men. A retreat was attempted in which it was thought expedient to make a crossing of the river. While in the water, a volley was fired upon Captain Marsh, who immediately went down. Besides the Captain, three sergeants and four corporals are known to be killed, and a large number of his command. Up to this time but four additional soldiers have returned – three of them mortally wounded.

Monday night was a night of anxiety and peril to the little band at this garrison. Every man became a soldier, and every precaution was taken to protect the fort. Lieut. Gero, of Company B, did all in his power, whose efforts were seconded by every civilian. The lights of burning buildings and grain stacks lighted the entire horizon. Escaped citizens came in during the night, giving accounts of horrors too terrible for the imagination to conceive or appreciate. Mothers came in rags and barefooted, whose husbands and children had been slaughtered before their eyes. Children came, who witnessed the murder of their parents, or their burning in their own houses. Every species of torture and barbarity the imagination can picture, seems everywhere to have been resorted to. I am no alarmist, and would not excite the public mind; but these things are true, and unless met with the most energetic and thorough resistance by Government and people, God only knows when the end will be. Our entire frontier border will be sacrificed unless immediate assistance is given.

On Monday morning a messenger was dispatched for the company under Lieut. Sheehan, of company C, stationed at Fort Ripley, who had been here some weeks with his command awaiting the payment, but who had been ordered back to Ripley on Saturday. He was overtaken forty-two miles from this place. With commendable promptness he immediately turned back and arrived yesterday morning at 10 o’clock, making a forced march with his gallant men of forty-two miles in the incredibly short space of nine hours.

Never were a set of gallant men received with more heartfelt gratitude than the command of Lieutenant Sheehan. Men and women and children expressed their gratitude with tears and blessing upon them all. The first movement of Lieutenant Sheeban, tired and worn out as he was, was to examine the picket posts and take prompt and energetic steps to strengthen his position. The little squads of Indians who had been skulking about the groves and bluffs adjacent, were immediately shelled and dispersed by Sergeant Jones.

Last evening Major Galbraith, who was on his way to Fort Snelling with fifty recruits, and had reached St. Peter, arrived, having learned the state of affairs, and secured arms at that place. We now have about 250 armed men, and can hold the post against any probable contingency; but with this force no assistance can be given the suffering thousands all around us. One or two regiments should be dispatched with proper equipments – otherwise this border will be desolated.

The roads between here and the Agency, and in the direction of New Ulm, are lined with murdered men, women and children. From three to four hundred citizens are now in these barracks, claiming protection, five of whom are wounded (?) of them children of six or eight years of age.

The hospital is already filled. Dr. Muller, the post surgeon, is doing all that his acknowledged skill can suggest for their relief.

P.S. – The enemy is now advancing in force from the North, and the cannon and howitzers are playing upon them.
Yours, in haste,
A. J. Van Vorhes”

As soon as the above and other letters were received yesterday, the Governor ordered the balance of the Sixth Regiment, with Col. Nelson at their head, to repair to the frontier. He also issued a proclamation, which we give below, calling upon volunteer mounted men to report themselves in squads or companies to Colonels Nelson and Sibley, to assit in putting down this murderous foray. The Sigel Guards are to go to Fort Ripley.

Authority was given the Dodge country volunteers, who are at home on furlough, to be mounted and report themselves at St. Peters to Col. Nelson. Col. Robertson was last evening engaged in raising mounted volunteers to accompany the expedition under Col. Nelson, which starts from the Fort today. Arms for the supply of one company were started by express fro Mankato yesterday, and will reach their destination this evening. The Governor has telegraphed the War and Interior Departments of the state of affairs, and asked for authority to raise a regiment of mounted men for the protection of the frontier.

Great activity was manifested in the streets last evening. As many as could get horses were preparing to accompany the expedition tomorrow. A company of about twenty men left Faribault yesterday for the scene of action, and a meeting was held at Owatonna last evening to get volunteers for the Indian war. The people throughtout the State are rushing to arms for the defense of the settlers, and in three days there will be an army of at least two thousand men at Fort Ridgely, one half of them mounted. We hope they will be able to overtake their murderons and cowardly foe, and exterminate them.

To the People of Minnesota:

The Sioux Indians upon the Western frontier have risen in large bodies, attacked the settlements, and are murdering men, women and children. The rising appears concerted, and extends from Fort Ripley to the southern boundary of the State.
In this extremity I call upon the militia of the Valley of the Minnesota, and the counties adjoining the frontier, to take horses, and arm and equip themselves, taking with them subsistence for a few days, and at once report, separately or in squads, to the officer commanding the expedition now moving up the Minnesota river to the scene of hostilities. The officer commanding the expedition has been clothed with full power to provide for all exigencies that may arise.
Measures will be taken to subsist the forces so raised.
This outbreak must be suppressed in such manner as will forever prevent its repetition.
I earnestly urge upon the settlers on the frontiers, that while taking all proper precautions for the safety of their families, they will not give way to any unnecessary alarm. A regiment of infantry, together with 300 cavalry, have been ordered to their defense, and with the voluntary troops now being raised, the frontier settlements will speedily be placed beyond danger.

Alexander Ramsey
Executive Chamber, St. Paul, Aug. 21

Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Saturday evening, January 3, 1862
The Execution of the Minnesota Indians
The St. Paul Pioneer, of the 28th, has the full details of the execution of the thirty-eight Indians, on the 26th, for participation in the late Indian massacre in Minnesota. The extract we append is a story of the affair from the time of the condemned leaving their cells:

“In a moment, every Indian stood erect, and as the provost marshal opened the door, they fell in behind him with the greatest alacrity. Indeed, a notice of release, pardon, or reprieve could not have induced them to leave the cell with more apparent willingness than this call to death. We followed on behind them, and as those at the head of the procession came out of the basement, at the opposite side of the gallows, and directly in front, we heard a sort of death-wail sounded, which was immediately caught up by all the condemned, and was chanted in unison until the scaffold was reached. At the foot of the steps there was no delay. Capt. Redfield mounted the drop, at the head, and the Indians crowded after him, as if it were a race to see which would get up first. They actually crowded on each other’s heels, and as they got to the top, each took his position, without any assistance from those who were detailed for that purpose. They still kept up a mournful wail, and occasionally there would be a piercing scream.

The ropes were soon arranged around their necks, not the least resistance being offered. One or two feeling the noose uncomfortably tight, attempted to loosen it, and although their hands were tied, they partially succeeded. The movement, however, was noticed by the assistants, and the cords re-arranged. The white caps, which had been placed on top of their heads, were drown over their faces, shutting out forever the light of day from their eyes. Then ensued a scene that can hardly be described, and which can never be forgotten.

All joined in shouting and singing, as it appeared to those who were ignorant of the language. The tones seemed somewhat discordant, and yet there was harmony in it. Save the moment of cutting the rope, it was the most thrilling moment of the awful scene. And it was not their voice alone, their bodies swayed to and fro, and their every limb seemed to be keeping time. The drop trembled and shook as if it were dancing.

The most touching scene on the drop was their attempts to grasp each other’s hands, fettered as they were. They were very close to each other, and many succeeded. Three or four in a row were hand in hand, and all hands swaying up and down with the rise and fall of their voices. One old man reached out each side, but could not grasp a hand. His struggles were piteous, and affected many beholders.

We were informed by those who understood the language, that their singing, and shourting was only to sustain each other – that there was nothing defiant in their last moments, and that no “death song,” strictly speaking, was chanted on the gallows. Each one shouted his own name, and called on the name of his friend, saying in substance, “I’m here! I’m here!”

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) January 25 1908
United After Many Years
Supposed Victim of Indian Massacre Finds His Family

Lost for forty-eight years and given up for dead as one of the victims of an Indian massacre in 1859, when the other thirty-nine of the party were killed, Alanson X. Lockwood, father of Mrs. I. M. Bennett of 3631 Greenwood avenue, Seattle, has been located in Manton, Cal., and the daughter, now past the half-century mark, left Saturday over the Northern Pacific to meet her father she had supposed to be dead, says a Seattle correspondent of the Winnipeg Journal.

Merest chance has placed the long-separated father and daughter in communication and wrought events in such a manner that the aged father can be brought back to the family long lost to him.

His aged wife, who married again after the report of the massacre of her husband, will basten back to Seattle from Princeton, Ill., where she is now visiting. The second husband, whom she married forty-four years ago, died a few months since, and she will now meet her husband of fifty years ago.

During the gold rush to California in 1859 Mr. Lockwood went from Faribault, Minn., with a party of thirty-nine others to seek his fortune in the gold fields, leaving behind his young wife and daughter of 3 years. By the slow overland route of those days the party reached Boise, Idaho, where they constructed a raft and started down the south fork of the Boise and Snake rivers with the intention of going to Astoria and thence to California.

What became of the party no one ever knew, but the bones and belonging of thirty-nine of them were found bleaching upon the prairies and the report went back to the little Minnesota town that all had been killed by the Indians. Years crept slowly by and the little child became the wife of E. Wickham and the fate of Lockwood passed into the forgot past.

Friends of Mrs. Bennett in the east recently heard of a man by the name of Alanson X. Lockwood, living in California, and the peculiarity of the name aroused their interest. They wrote to Mrs. Bennett and she asked a friend who was going to California to investigate. The result was that after an exchange of letters it was learned beyond all doubt that Mrs. Bennett’s father was still living.

Only meager details of the escape of Mr. Lockwood and his subsequent failure to find his family have been sent to Mrs. Bennett, but that little reads like a chapter from the strangest romance. When the party was set upon by the Indians after leaving Boise, Mr. Lockwood was struck upon the head and the Indians, believing he was dead, threw his body into the river.

How long he remained in the water he does not know. Eventually he made his escape and after many privations reached Lewiston, Idaho. From there he traveled to Astoria, and in time reached California. Meeting with success he sent for his family. But in the meantime the report of the massacre had reached Faribault, and the widow, believing the story, had moved away. Thus when Mr. Lockwood’s letter came there was no one to claim them and no one knew where Mrs. Lockwood had gone.

Mr. Lockwood remained faithful to the memory of the wife and daughter whom he had left behind. He could not forget the memory of the wife and daughter whom he had left behind. He could never account for their disappearance and believed them both dead. He read of the Indian troubles in Minnesota, and supposed his loved ones perished that way. The reunion of the long separated family will take place in Seattle.

Newspaper Accounts Submitted by Nancy Piper
Background Info from, the free encyclopedia

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