By Minnie Buce Carrigan.
During the month of January, 1903, this story was published in serial form in The Buffalo Lake News. From the demand made for copies of The News, containing the story, and from the suggestions of several of my friends, I have been actuated to publish it in book form. It is needless to say that I claim no literary merit for the book. I have simply related the facts as they occurred to me, without attempting to add thereto any polish or embelishment. I have no doubt but what the desultory manner in which it is written will be the cause of critism, but if the little book only serves to instill in the minds of its readers a true appreciation of the pioneers of the Minnesota Valley, and a like appreciation for the manifold comforts and advantages which are ours to enjoy at present, but which were not thought of by our ancesters forty years ago, than I shall feel that this story has not been written in vain.
Minnie Buce Carrigan.
The story relating to the capture by the Indians of Mrs. Minnie Buce Carrigan, of Buffalo Lake, has been perused with great interest by hundreds of News readers throughout this section of the country. The pioneers of the Minnesota Valley and the survivors of those dark days of '62, when morning dawned upon a torn and dismembered community and the ruins of once happy homes, have found in this story something which recalled many incidents of sweetest and sadest memory and that caused them to live over again those turbulent times.
The experience of Mrs. Carrigan has been the experience of hundreds of others, whom ambition drove from their homes in the East to brave the dangers of frontier life amid the savage scenes of the West. Fortified by an indomitable courage and preserving energy, they shrank not from the dangers and hardships of pioneer life, but resolutely set to work to build homes for themselves and their children in what is now the rich and beautiful county of Renville. Living at peace with the world and enjoying a certain measure of contentment they little dreamed that the peaceful community in which they resided was soon to become the theater in which was stage on of the greatest tragedies the nation has ever seen. Forty years ago this county, now peopled with happy and prosperous farmers and dotted with thriving villages, was the hunting ground of the Indian and the home of the buffalo and deer. The settlement of the county by the whites was regarded from an Indian standpoint as an encroachment upon their rights, and acting upon the theory that the nation way weak because of the Civil War, the Indians determined to reclaim their land by murdering the whites. A compact was formed between the Sioux and Chippewas, and those two tribes, the ancient enemies of each other, smoked the pipe of peace as they prepared for the outbreak which proved to be their Waterloo, In the loss of life and sacrafice of property no Indian colflict in the country has equaled this massacre. The burning, pillaging, murdering and torturing that went on are awful to contemplate. One writer alludes to it thusly:
"An all-seeing eye looking down from above could have seen this avalanche of 30,000 human beings of all ages and in all conditions, their rear ranks maimed and bleeding, and faint from starvation and loss of blood, continually falling into the hands of inhuman savages keen and fierce upon the trail of the white man. And angels from the realm of peace, touched by human woe over such a scene, might have shed tears of blood, and passing the empyreal sphere one might there behold the Creator lament and draw a cloud of mourning round His throue.
In 1858 my parents, Gottfried and Welhelmina Buce, (Buse, or Busse) with their three children, August, Wilhelmina (myself) and Augusta, came from Germany to America and settled at Fox Lake, Wisconsin. My sister Amelia was born here.
In the spring of 1860, in company with five other families, two of whom were named Lentz and Kitzman, we came to Minnesota. Though only five years old at the time, I distinctly remember many incidents of this journey. We all had ox teams and some other live stock with us. All the families were devout christian members of the Evangelical church and I remember, we never traveled on the Sabbath. At Cannon Falls my mother fell from the wagon and a wheel passed over her foot injuring it so severely that we were compelled to stop. The other families remained with us. The men rented land and, possible with the exception of Mr. Lentz, put in crops of corn and oats. It was too late for wheat. My sister Caroline was born during our stay here. Perhaps it was the intention of the families at first, to remain at Cannon Falls at least a year. But in six weeks, my mother having recovered from her injuries, they decided to remove farther westward.
The previous year Mr. Mannweiler, a son-in-law of Mr. Lentz, had settled at Middle Creek in Renville county. My father and Mr. Lentz concluded to settle near him; Mr. Kitzman decided to remain at Cannon Falls. I do not know how long we were on the road from Cannon Falls to Middle Creek, but remember the evening we reached Mr. Mannweiler's where we remained two days. Then my father took the family to a Mr. Smith. Soon he bought the right to a claim on which some land had been broken and other improvements had been made. Mr. Smith and my father put up some hay for the cattle and father went to Yellow Medicine to work a month and put uphay for the government cattle at the Indian agency. Mother stayed with Mrs. Smith during this time. When father returned he moved his family into an old house on his claim. All the neighboring settlers out to help us fix up our house so that we could live in it comfortably. I think ours was one of the nine families that lived there during the winter of 1860 and '61. In the spring of '61 twenty families came in one party and joined us. Mr. Kitzman came up from Cannon Falls and was the first settler at Sacred Heart Creek.
Our life on the frontier was peaceful and uneventful. All, or nearly all, of the families of our settlement were Germans--,honest, industrious and God-fearing people.
Early in the Spring of 1861 arrangements were made to have a German minister hold monthly religious services among us. A Rev. Brill was our first minister. We had no public school, which my father often regretted. On winter evenings our parents taught us to read German and we younger children learned to read a little in Sunday school. Religious services and Sunday school were held at the houses of the settlers. The Indians from across the Minnesota river to the south of us visited us nearly every day and were always very friendly. We younger children could not speak a word of English, but most of us learned a little of the Sioux language and our parents learned to speak it quite well. All the settlers were in moderate, but fairly comfortable circumstances and though they had to undergo many discomforts and some privations, all seemed happy and contended.
In the spring of '61 my father got a bad scare, but it turned out all right for us, but not so lucky for the Chippewa Indian that came near the Sioux reservation. My father wanted to buy a gun of the Indians, and every old gun they could not use they brought to him to try. They all had guns to sell. The first gun that was brought to him was an old flint lock. Father went to examine it. He was in the house. The gun accidentally discharged, and shot a hole through the roof of our house. Father was so frightened he could not speak. I can see his white face yet as the smoke cleared. A few days later another Indian came along with a gun. Father was standing under a tree in front of the house. An Indian came with a gun and wanted father to shoot at a stick he stuck in the ground. Father picked up the gun and blazed away at it. He hit the mark all right, but the gun kicked him so hard he fell flat on his back. Mother and the Indian both laughed. This made father so angry he picked up the gun and was going to strike the Indian with it. Mother grabbed his arm and told him it would cost him his life if he struck the Indian. Father seemed to understand her meaning and stood the gun up against the tree and walked into the house. The Indian grinned and took his gun and walked away, and mother told father to quit his trading with the Indians.
After that if an Indian came with a gun to sell father would not speak to him. One day soon after father's last gun trade a strange Indian came to our house about 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon. He asked my mother how far it was to Sacred Heart creek. Mother held up three fingers, indicating three miles. He started on his journey. About half an hour after he had gone one of our cows that had a young calf four weeks old running with her came runnng up to the house without her calf and acted as though she was crazy. My father was not at home and mother told my brother to go and follow the cow, for she had gone back again, and see what had happened to her calf. My brother followed the cow. Soon after he had gone my father came home and mother told him about it. He, too, went to look for the calf. Soon they both returned bearing the dead calf home. The Indian had cut its throat and cut off one hind quarter and left the rest on the ground. Father threw the dead calf on the ground and went to work and skinned it. He remarked that the Indian was good to leave us some of it. The next morning my father came into the house and said to mother, "I am afraid I got into trouble the other day when I tried to strike that Indian with the gun. There are fifty Indians in our door yard on horseback, all in war paint." Father sat down by the table. He seemed to be unable to move. Mother went out to see what they wanted. She soon returned laughing and told father they were not after him at all, but they were looking for the Chippewa that had killed our calf, and they wanted him to come and help them find him. They had tracked him as far as our house. Father went with them as far as where the calf was killed, and then came home. He told mother that he would sooner lose a dozen calves than to see the Sioux kill a Chippewa. In the middle of the afternoon they returned, bringing the Chippewa with them. They had overtaken him and got him alive. That suited them better, for they could torture him to death. They wanted father to come over to the killing and the feast, but he refused.
In the spring of 1862 so many people came into the country that we did not know half of our neighbors. The church society was divided into two divisions, called the Sacred Heart and the Middle Creek divisions, and each had religious services twice a month, being held in dwelling houses nearest the center of the district. I remember the spring of that year that Mr. Schwandt and his family joined our colony. I saw them first at the house of Mr. Lentz.
It was about at this time that the conduct of our Indian neighbors changed toward us. They became disagreeable and ill-natured. They seldom visited us and when they met us, passed by coldly and sullenly and often without speaking. On one occasion some of them camped in my father's woods and began cutting down all the young timber and leaving it on the ground. My father remonstrated with them. He told them they could have all the timber and tepee poles they wanted for actual use, but let the rest stand. When he had spoken a squaw caught up a large butcher knife and chased him away. He came to the house and told my mother of the affair, but she only laughed at him for allowing an old squaw to drive him out of his own woods. At another time about a week before the dreadful outbreak, my brother August came home from Mr. Lentz's in great fright. He said that Mr. Lentz had caught a nice string of fish in the Minnesota river and brought them home. An Indian came into the house and demanded some of them. "Go and catch your own fish," said Mr. Lentz. The Indian flew into a rage, and, among other things, said angrily. "You talk most now but wait a while and we will shoot you with your own gun." Mr. Lentz was the only man who owned a gun in the neighborhood and the Indians knew how defenseless we were. When my brother had related this incident, father seemed strangely affected. He was silent for a while and then remarked to August, "Well, boy, we have all to die some time, and there is but one death," and then went out.
The peaceful Sunday before the outbreak of the following day, services were held at Mr. Letton's house, a mile and a half our place. The Sunday school was held before the preaching. Mr. Manuweiler was the superintendent. As was his custom, he gave us children little blue cards on each of which a verse in scripture was printed, and then showing us some nice red cards, told us that if we would repeat from memory the verse on our card the coming Sunday, he would give us each one of them. We were all greatly pleased at this. He closed the school just as the people were assembling for church and directed the children to remain out of doors during the services, for there seemed to be a crowd coming and the house was not very large. I remember that there was so large an attendance that most of the boys and men sat outside in front of the open door. I think there were over a hundred adults and about thirty children at the church that day. Louis Thiele and Mike Zitzloff were sitting on a wagon tongue while Thiele's child was playing in front of them. Poor Mike little thought that it was his last day on earth. He was married to Mary Juni less than a year before. They were both murdered the next day. Mr. Zitzloff was a brother to Mrs. Inefield, who was taken prisoner. Mr. Thiele saved his life by jumping from his wagon and hiding in the woods. Within twenty-four hours after that meeting, not more than thirty of those present remained alive. The others, including Rev. Mr. Seder, had been murdered by the Indians.
That dreadful Monday--Aug. 18, 1862--my father was putting up hay a mile east of our house. I remember that dinner was a little late and father complained. He was in a hurry to finish his haying that he might go to work again at Yellow Medicine to put up hay for the government cattle where he could get good wages. When he had started for his work, my brother climbed on the roof to see where our cattle were. We had to keep watch of them as they ran at large on the prairie. Sometimes the Indians would stampede them and we would have to hunt for days to find them again. When my brother came down, he told mother that he heard shooting and someone scream at Rosler's and that father was looking toward Mr. Rosler's house as far as he could see him. Mother thought maybe the Indians were shooting at a mark and wanted August to go to Mr. Rosler's and borrow some sowing needles. We did all our trading at New Ulm and often had to borbow such articles. When he returned he said, "O mother, they are all asleep. Mrs. Rosler and the little boy were lying on the floor and the boy's ear was bleeding. The big boy was lying in the clay pit and was all covered with clay."
My mother was standing by the table cutting a dream for my little sister when my brother returned. "O, my God," she exclaimed, "the Indians have killed them. We must fly for our lives- You children stay here and I will go and call father." But my brother and I refusing to remain in the house, were then told to hide in the cornfield on the south side where she and father would meet us, She then ran to tell father. My brother took the baby Bertha, aged three months, and I took little Caroline while Augusta, aged five years and three months, and Amelia, aged four, walked along with us, We had hardly reached the corn field when the Indians came whooping and yelling around the west side of the field from Mr. Boelter's. We sat down and they passed us so closely that it was strange they did not see us. They rushed into our house and we went on. Looking back we saw them throwing out the featherbeds and other articles. We reached the south side of the field safely and father and mother were already there. I think we would have been safe there at least for a time, but father taking the baby from Augusta, started out on the open prairie. Mother took Caroline from me and tried to stop father, but it was useless. The terrible circumstances must have unbalanced his mind, naturally being very nervous.
The Indians had cleared out of our house and were returning to Mr. Boelter's. As they were passing a little corner of the timber one of them saw father and uttered a wicket piercing yell. It was but a moment when the whole band, about 20 men and some squaws, were upon us. My father began talking to the foremost Indians. My brother has told me that father asked them to take all his property but to let him and his family go. But the Indian replied in the Sioux language, "Sioux cheche," (the Sioux are bad.) He then leveled his double barreled shot gun and fired both barrels at him. He dropped the baby--she was killed--and running a few yards down the hill, fell on his face, dead. The same Indian then went to where my mother had sat down beside a stone with little Caroline in her lap, reloaded his gun and deliberately fired upon them both. She did not speak or utter a sound, but fell over dead. Caroline gave one little scream and a gasp or two and all was over with her. The cry rang in my ears for years afterward. My father was thirty-three and my mother thirty years of age when they were so cruelly murdered by the Indians.
How painfully distinct are all the memories of the scenes of this dreadful afternoon. While my mother was being murdered I stood about ten feet away from her paralyzed with fear and horror, unable to move. The Indian began loading his gun again and was looking significantly at me and my sister Amelia, who sat by my side. Suddenly I regained my self-control and, believing that I would be the next victim, I started up and ran wildly in an indefinite direction. Accidently I came to where my father lay He had on a checked shirt the back of which was covered with blood, the shot having passed clear through hid body. That was the last thing I knew. The next thing I remember was an Indian holding me in his arms, looking at my face. I screamed and he put me down. My brother then told me not to be afraid as they would not kill us but were going to take us with them. Amelia was also there but being unable to see Augusta, I asked for her. "I have not thought of her," replied August (or Charley as we called him afterwards). "The last I know of her is when she told me to wait for her, but I couldn't." We three then rose and looked about for her but could not see her. My brother asked an Indian about her but the Indian looked at him coldly and replied, "Nepo." I knew the word meant "killed" or "dead" but I was not satisfied. I wanted to see her and told the Indian so as good as I could. He took me by the hand, my brother and sister following, to where she lay. She lay on her face and, as I saw no blood upon her, I thought at first she was alive, but when I turned over her body and looked upon her little face, once so sweet and rosy, but now so palid and ghastly in the blaze of the hot August sun, I knew the truth. I wanted to see no more but was ready to go with the Indians as they were already waiting.
We must now go back a little to where my father, mother and sisters were murdered and learn how my brother escaped the fate of the others. The second Indian fired at him, but as he was running he missed him, the ball striking the ground right ahead of him. He fired again and missed him the second time. Then the indian threw away his gun and ran after my brother. When he came up to him hi kicked him in the side and knocked him down. He than told my brother to come with him. The Indians believe that the Great Spirit protects those at whom they shoot twice and miss. They do not shoot at them again but give them a chance to live.
Some time after our capture we went back to Mr. Boelter's place. As we turned the corner of the woods I took the last look at our home. I have never seen it since, neither do I care to see it again, although it is not many miles from our present home.
When we came to the Boelter house we found that the Indians had already murdered the most of the family. We saw three of the children lying among some logs between the house and the well. The right cheek of the oldest girl was shota way clear to the bone. They had thrown some clothes over the body of the second girl. My brother went to remove them but the Indians called him back. I think they had taken the youngest child by the feet and beaten her over a log for her dress was unfastened and her back was bare and was all black and blue. The birds were singing in the trees above them and the sun shown just as bright as ever. There was not a cloud in the sky. I have often wondered how there could be so much suffering on earth on such a perfect August day. After we saw the children the Indians took us to the house. I did not go in at first but looked at Mrs. Boelter's little flower garden. She was the only woman in the neighborhood who had tame flowers and I used to wish that I could have some of them but was afraid to ask her. Then it occurred to me that Mrs. Boelter was dead now and I could pick all the flowers I wanted. I gathered a handful and the next morning flung them back into the little flower bed. I did not want them. Mrs. Boelter was dead; if I did not see her body I was sure of it, and was taking advantage of a dead person. How gladly she would have given me some had she known that I wanted some. I started to go into the house but my brother, who was standing at the door, stopped me. I waited a few minutes until he went away and then looked in. There lay Grandma Boelter on the floor with every joint in her body chopped to pieces. All that winter after the outbreak I would dream about her and cry in my sleep over it. She was such a nice old lady and I thought so much of her.
Michael Boelter escaped to Fort Ridgeley taking with him a baby belonging to his sister-in-law, Justina Boelter, whose husband was killed. He was at his brother's place when the Indians killed his own family. Mrs. Justina Boelter hid in the Minnesota bottoms with her two little children for nearly nine weeks until found by some of Gen. Sibley's soldiers from Camp Release, but during her wandering one of her children died of starvation. When found she and her other child were nearly dead too.
After visiting the Boelter place four or five of the squaws started with us and the plunder which they had obtained, for the Indian village south of the Minnesota river two miles south of our house. We crossed over in a canoe and reached the reservation about 4 o'clock. The rest of the Indians started for Mr. Lent's place.
Mr. Lentz and his entire family were saved excepting his son-in-law, Mr. Mannweiler. Mrs. Mannweiler had heard in some manner that the Indians were killing everybody. She told them they must leave as quickly as possible. Her husband was loading up already and she and her sister, Augusta, went back to Mannweiler's to ride with them. Just as they were coming out of the woods, the Indian shot Mr. Mannweiler off the wagon. Augusta Lentz was a little ahead of Mrs. Mannweiler. The Indians caught her and took her prisoner. Mrs. Mannweiler ran back to her folks and ran away with them. They went through the open prairie and reached Ford Ridgely safely. I learned these particulars from a friend of the Lentz family.
The Indians lived in bark tents where we staid the first night. They offered us something to eat but I had no appetite. My sister was playing about the tent when I called her to me and asked her where she was when the Indians killed our mother. "Why," she answered, "I was sitting a little way from her playing with my flowers. They shot and shot. Back of me all was smoky but no ball hit me." I thought at that time that it was too bad she did not realize what had happened. But since I have often been glad that she knew so little about the terrible deed. The Indians let us stay together. We slept on bunks made beside the wall on one side of the tent with buffalo robes spread over us.
The next morning when I awoke my brother was already up. We were sleeping side by side with our clothes on. The Indian never undress when they go to bed. He was crying and the tears were rolling down his cheek. I could not think where we were but all at once the horrible scene of the day before came back to me. I did not blame him for crying. I cried too. If the earth would have opened then and swallowed me I would have been thankful. My sister awoke with a scream and asked, "Where are we? August, take me back home. I want to go to mother." This woke up the Indians and one of the squaws tried to take her but she screamed and clung to me. This was more than we could stand and we all cried out loud. An old Indian then went out and brought in an axe and told us that he would split our heads open if we did not stop crying. We tried to stop but the tears would come in spite of the axe. Just then and old Indian widow and her daughter (a girl about 17 years old) came in, I knew them as they used to come to our house. I jumped off the couch and ran to the young girl and put my arms around here arm and hugged her tightly. She put her other arm around my shoulders and took me out of doors. She seemed to know that I wanted protection. She did not kiss me for Indians never kiss, but I wanted to kiss her so badly. The old lady picked up my sister and put he on her back as she would her own child and brought her out. She seemed to like the Indian mama as she called her. My brother followed us, too. It seems wrong to me to call these two Indian women squaws, for the were as lady-like as any white women and I shall never forget them.
By this time breakfast was announced which consisted of beef without salt, pancake made of flour and water with saleratus stirred in them, coffee and boiled corn. As they did not use salt in anything, I called for it, minisku yah, in their language, but they shook their heads and replied, "waneeche" (I could not have it.) We ate but little breakfast for their way of cooking did not suit us. After breakfast an Indian girl came in with Mrs. Smith's blue silk wedding dress on. This circumstance made me so angry that I could have torn it off from her. Another Indian girl came in with Mrs. Kochendurfer's sunbonnet on and gave it to me but I did not want it. I knew that Mrs. Kochendurfer must be dead or they would not have her clothes. so I laid the bonnet down. The next girl that came along picked it up and took it along with her. All at once we heard a commotion outside and we all rushed to the door to see what was the matter. The Indians were bringing in all the cattle of the neighborhood. The cows had not been milked the night before nor that morning and were nearly crazy. The Indians were riding behind them on their ponies flourishing their whips and yelling like so many demons. The very earth seemed to tremble as they passed. Afterwards the oxen hitched to wagons were driven up and stopped before the tents. "These," said my brother, "are our oxen hitched to Mr. Rosler's wagon." They were too lazy to unload our load of hay and put the box on. Our black ox, "Billy," was harnessed to a buggy and "Billy" seemed to feel proud of the distinction given him. He was owned by the widow and her daughter who adopted my sister while she was prisoner. The Indians then went to packing up their goods and loading them on the wagons.
We children were watching them when all of sudden somebody stepped behind me and threw a blanket over my head and picked me up and ran with me to a wagon, put me onto it and held me fast. I kicked and screamed but they would not let me go. The wagon was in motion for about an hour before they took off the blanket and then I looked in all directions but could see nothing of my brother and sister and I did not see them again for over a week. My brother said he was served the same way. All that day we traveled. The prisoners had to go bearheaded in the hot August sun. At noon we stopped about an hour. A squaw told me to sit under the wagon and she threw a blanket over my head and made me sit there. Just before we started again she brought me some meat and potatoe to eat. I never saw any bread from the time I left home until I got among white people again. The squaw told me (evidently to keep me from running away) that they would shoot me if I took the blanket off my head. We traveled southwest all the rest of of the day. I do not know how far we went nor when we stopped as I think I was asleep for I remember nothing about it.
The party of Indians that I was with left the main force--about ten families. We stayed at this place just a week. The family I lived with consisted of an old squaw and her 18-year-old son a young squaw and 8-year-old son and an old Indian. I think they were both his wives. He was the very Indian who killed both my parents. My brother told him so and he did not deny it. They had most of our clothing in their tent even to my mother's dress and father's hymn book. One day the young squaw put on my mother's dress, a dark green woolen one, and it just about fitted her. I looked at her and then laid down on the ground and burst out crying. I could not bear to see her. She seemed to know what I was crying about and took it off. She never put on any of my mother's clothes again while I was with her. The old Indian, his young wife and her son treated me well, but the old squaw and her son were mean to me. Wednesday morning the old squaw woke me at daybreak, she gave me a tin pail and pointed toward a mud slough not far west of us. She wanted me to get some water, but I felt tired and sleepy and did not want to go. Seeing two Indian girls of about my size playing, I put the pail down beside them and pointed to the slough, but they shook their heads. They did not want to go either. The old squaw saw that the water was not coming, picked up a stick and came after me. I started to run, but just then the young squaw came out and took in the situation at a glance. She got a big corn stalk and gave the old squaw a terrible beating. Another young squaw came up and tried to take the corn stalk away from her but she, too, got a whipping. I really felt sorry for the old squaw, but it also convinced me that the young squaw was my friend. She made the old squaw get the water herself.
Wednesday after breakfast I thought I would investigate my surroundings and find out where I was. Close to our tent was a large house with a porch on the west side. A little ways east of that building on a hill was a white house. In this house lived an Indian family with ten children. It was the largest Indian family I ever saw and most of them were small. The oldest of this family was a 16-year-old girl. Her face, hands and feet were all covered with sores. I was afraid of her and whenever I saw her coming I would run away and hide. The youngest was a boy of about three years. He was a nice little fellow. He used to wear a calicoe shirt and a string of beads around his neck. We played together by the hour. He talked Indian and I German, but we got along nicely. One day he came to visit me. He had forgotten to put on his shirt and wore only his string of beads, but he was a welcome visitor nevertheless.
Not far south from this building on the hill was a small white house surrounded by a high garden fence. At this place was a white woman. I suppose she was a captive, too. Often she would look over the fence at me, but she never came outside the gate. At the other house were five or six little white children ranging from two to ten years of age. They were English. The oldest boy spoke to me and said that the Indians would kill me. Then he spoke in Indian, "Sioux nepo nea." I understood and shook my head as much as to say that they had not killed me yet. About noon that day they disappeared, and I never saw them again while I was a prisoner.
The houses were occupied by Indians and five or six families lived in tents. On a small hill south of us was a raised platform five or six feet high, on which were two coffins. While we lived there they dug a hole and buried both bodies in one grave. When an Indian dies his body is placed in a long box and a shawl is tied over the top of the box. Then it is placed on a high platform until the body is completely decomposed or for about six weeks when it is finally buried.
Thursday morning a little white girl of four or five years was brought to our camp, I presume from the main camp about 3 miles distant. She was German and said her name was Henrietta but could tell nothing else about herself. I was very glad to have her company. She lived with the family in the next tent to ours. Friday and Saturday we played together all day and soon were fast friends.
The first Sunday after my capture was the lonliest I have ever spent. Henrietta did not come to see me, and I sat down thinking of the previous Sunday. I wondered what a change the week had brought. Where were the people now who had been at our church and Sunday school last Sunday? Were they all in heaven with the wings of angles? Would Mr. Mannweller hold Sunday school in heaven and distribute the pretty red cards? Thus my childish thoughts ran. Suddenly I thought of my father's hymn book. I found it and in turning over the leaves I came upon the old familiar hymn beginning, "How tedious and gloomy the hours." I knew it by heart and sang:
"Wie lange und schwer wird die zeit Wenn Jesus so lange nicht hier; The blumen, die voegel, die freud, Verlieren ihr schoenhit zu mir."
I sang the hymn about half through and then my feelings overcame me and I laid down the book and had the longest and bitterest cry since my parents had been murdered.
Besides the incidents already related, I remember nothing of interest until the moving of our camp. I Think it was on Tuesday that the Indians woke me up early. They had breakfast in a hurry after which the tents were taken down and everything loaded on the wagons. Then began the moving. Of all the wild racing I ever say this was the wildest. The Indians from the main camp caught up with us just as we were crossing the Redwood river. The stream was badly swollen on account of the big rains the week before. The Indians all got off the wagons and waded through. I screamed when the old squaw grabbed me by the arm and pulled me off the load and made me wade. She held me by the arm or I would have perished, as the water was nearly up to my arms. Just after we had crossed the river I saw one of our former neighbors, Mrs. Inefeld, with her baby. She was the first white prisoner I recognized. I spoke to her and she knew me at once. She smiled and asked me how many of our family had been killed. I answered that I thought all were dead but myself as the Indians had told me they had cut the throats of my brother and sister because they cried. The next day, however, to my delight and surprise, I saw them both. That day I also saw Mary Schwandt and Augusta Lentz standing by the wagon and met a Mrs. Urban and her five children.
I wish I could describe this move as it should be described and do justice to it. Most of the teams were oxen hitched to wagons, a few horses and the rest Indian ponies with poles tied to their sides. These poles were tied together behind and loaded with household goods. They did not travel on roads as we do, but rushed across the prairie broadcast. U. S. flags, striped shawls and bed sheets were floating in the breeze side by side. The handsomest shawls made the best saddle blankets. Clock and watch wheels the best head-dresses, the most expensive jewels bedecked the Indian's breast. I have never seen a Fourth of July parade or a ragamuffin outfit equal this move. All day I was studying the new styles and for a while forgot all my troubles. I was completely carried away by the wild scene. Even the Indians with their guns pointing at me did not frighten me. I would shut my eyes and think it would not take long to die that way, but O, those horrid butcher knives! I could not bear the sight of them and they were always sharpening them.
We camped in one large camp that night when we stopped. There must have been a thousand tents and it looked like a large city on the prairie. Henrietta and I were again companions for her tent was next to mine as before. We started out to find some playmates and found those already mentioned. I also saw my sister did not recognize me which made me feel bad to think she had forgotten me in one short week. The Indians has put one of my baby sister's dresses on her. I ask her whose dress she had on and she said it was Bertha's. My brother was yoking a pair of oxen as we came up to him. He was delighted to see me, as the Indians had told him they had killed me for trying to run away. He told me with tears in his eyes that the Indians had killed our cow, "Molly," and could not bear to see our cattle killed, as it was all there was left of our home. Just then an Indian girl with whom Henrietta lived came and took us home.
We stayed at this place about three days. In the evening young braves would dress in their gala attire with their clock-wheel head-dresses on and would mount their ponies and practice riding and shooting on horseback. Sometimes they would hand on the side of the ponies and ride at full gallop, yelling as only an Indian knows how: Henrietta and I would sit and watch them and wonder how many Indians there were in the world. I told her it was full of them as they had killed all the white people, and so it did seem to me just then.
The evening before we moved an old Indian walked around from tent to tent calling our something I could not understand. I went to one of the white women to find out what he said and she said we were to move early the next morning and those of the prisoners that were not able to travel were to be shot. I was badly frightened but I was saved after all.
The next morning we moved. Little Henrietta and I rode in the same wagon. As we were riding along a voice in the train behind us called out in German, "Say, you have Letton's oxen hitched to Mannweiler's wagon. "Looking back I saw a boy whom I knew, Ludwig Kitzman. Then Henrietta called out, "Why, there is Ludwig." Now I had a clue to Henrietta's identity. I called back to him, "Here is a little girl you know. I don't know who she is and I wish you would tell me." Ludwig then ran forward to our wagon, and when he came up to us he said in great astonishment, "Why it is Henrietta Krieger, my dear little cousin." After a few minutes' conversation he went back to his wagon, promising to come back again at noon. Every little while Henrietta would ask me if it was noon yet. Her father and some of her bothers and sisters had been killed and her mother badly wounded.
Ludwig came at noon and we had an enjoyable visit. I asked him if we would always have to stay with the Indians and he told me not to worry about that as there were enough white men left to shoot off every Indian's head. I told him I wanted to run away but did not know which way to go. "Don't try that, he said, "or you will be killed. You are too little. The best thing you can do is to stay with them until the whites come and take us." I asked him where they would take us and he replied that he was going to his aunt in Wisconsin. when I told him that we did not have any relatives in this country he cheered me up the best he could and assured me that we would find friends somewhere that wold care for us.
Soon after this I was taken sick and lost all account of the days. It must be born in mind that at this time I was only seven years old. To those who may be inclined to question the accuracy of my memory of the incidents that I have related, I can only say that many of my old fellow prisoners fully corroborate my statements. The nature of these incidents impressed them on my youthful mind so deeply that I can never forget them. It is very common that incidents occurring in our childhood are better remembered than others happening in our maturity.
While I was sick the master of our tent was absent for four or five days. His big boy took particular pains to torture and abuse me. One evening he was sitting in his tent and throwing corn cobs at me while his old mother was keeping up the fire and laughing at me. The young squaw was outside. I stood it as long as I could and than I screamed as hard as I could. All at once the young squaw stepped in and caught him in the act. She seized a large ox whip and gave him a most unmerciful threshing and he cried like a baby. Then she gathered up all the corn cobs and brought them to me. She put one in my hand and motioned for me to throw it at him. I did so with all the strength I had. Every time I threw a cob the young squaw would laugh and the boy cried. That was the time I got satisfaction even if I was in an Indian camp.
One morning the big boy brought my breakfast but as I was about to eat it he jerked it away and said I needed no breakfast for in a little while a man was coming to shoot me. The young squaw was out of doors and the rascal could act as mean toward me as he pleased. I did not believe a word he said, but after breakfast an Indian did come in with a new gun. I was so freightened that I did not recognize him. Shutting my eyes I lay down, hardly alive. He came to me and said, "How do you do," half a dozen times before I dared open my eyes. Then I saw it was the man of the tent and I presume he knew nothing of what the boy had told me. The new gun probably belonged to some dead soldier.
Another time when the young squaw went visiting I got lonesome and decided to find brother and see him a while. I found him together with August Gluth and Ludwig Kitzman in a patch of hazel brush picking nuts. They gave me some and while we were talking together the big boy approached us. "There comes that big Indian boy after you," said my brother. "See, he is picking up a stick to take you home. Don't you worry; we will take him home." Each of the boys picked up a stick and started for the boy. They said to him, "Pokajee," (leave). He scolded a while but turned about and started for his tepee. They boys took me home and when we got there the old squaw scolded a while at the boys and they laughed at her and called her "old crooked mouth" in German. When they left they told me if she or the boy whipped me to let them know and they would whip them both. After the boys had gone the big Indian boy kicked me in the face and made my nose bleed. The young boy was at home and I think he told his mother for after that she would take me along when she went visiting.
The next morning after this incident I heard a great commotion again. On investigation I saw a most disgusting spectacle. Side by side, with their throats cut and their feet in the air, lay a number of dogs. I returned to the tent sickened by the sight, but in a little while my curiosity got the better of my sensations and I went out again. By this time the Indians were singeing the hair off the dogs with burning hay. I recognized our little white poodle among the carcasses. The Indians had eight or ten kettles on the fire and as soon as a dog was singed it was thrown into the boiling water. Perhaps they were only scalding them preparitory to cooking. I concluded they were cooking without preparation and resolved not to eat any of the meat if I had to starve. The men were about the kettles for several hours, the squaws not daring to come near. At last the women and children were driven out of the tent and only the men partook of the dog feast. Even the boys, to their great dissatisfaction, were not allowed to participate. We had to stay out until after midnight. For three nights they kept up their dog feast in adjoining tents. I have heard since that they were religious feasts and indulged in only by warriors who on this occasion were preparing for battle.
After the feasts were over all the warriors left camp on another murdering expedition. There were only old men, women and children left to guard the prisoners.
One morning soon after the Indians had gone I saw a man dressed in white man's clothes. He was about the same height of my father and walked like him. For a moment I forgot everything and ran to meet him. When I came up to him I saw that it was not my father and threw myself on the ground and cried as if my heart would burst. He sat down beside me and tried to lift me up, but I refused to be comforted. After regaining my speech I told him, "Indian 'nepo' papa and mama and I want to go 'taha mea tepee' (far away to my home.)" He sympathized with me for there were tears in his eyes as he spoke to me. He asked me where my tepee was and I pointed it out to him. He took me by the hand and led me there.
That afternoon two young girls came to our tent and took me with them. They must have been half-breeds as their complexions were much lighter than the other Indians and they lived much better. I think that George Spencer, the man whom I had seen that morning, sent them to get me. This family consisted of an old squaw, a young man and two young girls. They all treated me very kindly, in fact, made a pet of me. The young man would paint my face in their fashion and allow me to look at myself in his hand glass, but as soon as I could get out of doors I would rub off the paint. Their conduct toward me was so considerate that I really liked them.
Once while with them there was a dance in camp. The young man painted my face in the highest style of Indian art and took me and his sister to see the performance. He put me on his shoulder and carried me the greater part of the way. At the dance ground a lot of poles were planted. Some with red shawls tied to them, some with white bed sheets, and some with American flags attached to them. There were no scalps in sight. The dancers stood in groups and jumped up and down while others galloped wildly about on horsback. I was afraid they would run over one another but they managed their horses very skillfully. My young Indian friend held me up on his shoulder so that I could have a fair view of the whole performance.
After a week spent with this kind family I went to live with another consisting of an old squaw (a widow), a young man and a little girl of my size. The young man was a half-breed whom I bad known before the outbreak. His family had camped in our woods in the spring of 1862. He came to our house one evening and father asked him in for supper. While they were eating he asked father if he could borrow our oxen. After consulting mother about it father decided to go along himself with the oxen as soon as traveling would be possible. The Indian was satisfied and they stayed in our woods for two weeks more when father moved them and their household goods about twenty miles east.
The boy always seemed to think so much of my father and I have often wondered why he did not save his life but perhaps he could not. While I lived with them I was half starved all the time and was always sickly. Once when I was very hungry I saw an Indian girl put some potatoes in hit ashes to roast and then go off to play. I could not resist the chance of procuring a square meal, even if by questionable means, so I watched and waited until I thought the potatoes were cooked and saw that the girl was at play on the other side of the tepee and then I tool the potatoes back of another tent and ate them with great relish.
After I had eaten the potatoes, the Indian girl that had put the potatoes to roast, went to look for them and found them gone. She accused another Indian girl of taking them, and gave her a good whipping. Here is a case where the innocent suffered for the guilty.
The actions of the Indians were quite peculiar. Often on evenings they would gather in groups out of doors and relate tales of adventure and other stories. They would keep this up so late that one after another they would fall asleep and lie out of doors all night like cattle.
I remember well the day of the battle of Wood Lake. It was near breakfast time when we heard the report of the first cannon. And old squaw, who was making a fire, jumped into the air so suddenly and violently when she heard the report that it seemed she had burned her foot and screamed something that sounded to me like. "Hi be-dish kak," and she repeated these words again and again. The same cry was heard throughout the camp. I noticed that there were no warriors in camp but did not realize that they had gone out to battle.
We got little to eat that day of the battle. Everything was in the greatest confusion. They kept up bonfires all that night and an incessant howling and screaming. The next morning I changed masters again. The old squaw who kept my sister after we left the first camp was my new guardian. There were no men at this tent. There was one Indian family that often camped in our woods. The squaw used to come to our house a great deal and mother would show her how to bake bread and do a good many other things. Father used to call her mother's sister because she was such a great friends of ours. While a prisoner I met her quite often and spoke to her but she never spoke to me and acted as if she had never seen me.
About this time we moved quite frequently, but I cannot remember the particulars. One day not long after the battle a young squaw came to our tent in a great hurry and after a short consultation they began to pack up my sister's effects. All the clothes I had were on my person. Soon they started with us to a hill or elevated place where we saw a large number of Indians standing in a circle in the center of which a white flag waved from a pole. There were a lot of prisoners entering the circle through an opening in the line and as none came out I concluded that they were going to kill all the white so I did not want to go. Two Indian girls took and carried me in.
Here I met my brother, August Gluth and Ludwig Kitzman. They greeted me most joyfully. "We are going to be free now," said my brother." The soldiers have licked the Indians and now they have to give us up." I missed Gustave Kitzman among the prisioners and asked for him. Mrs. Infeld then told the story of his death. She and Gustave were staying with the same family. He used to ran away to see his brother Ludwig. The Indians did not like this. Besides this he had a bad habit of pinceing Indian children and pulling their hair. The day they killed him he was crying and wanted to see his brother. The Indians would not let him go, however. They then went to sharpening their butcher knives and told her to get a pail of water. She took her baby with her. The baby often cried and the had threatened to kill it. When she came back little Gustave was lying on the ground all cut to pieces. The then picked up the pieces and tied them up in a tablecloth while another Indian was digging the hole to bury him in. In half an hour all was done and little Gustave was no more.
Ludwig Kitzman, August Gluth and my brother were always together when it was possible. They had to catch and yoke oxen for hours at a time. Most of the oxen had ropes tied around their horns by the Indians so the could manage them. One night a big rain fell. The ropes tightened around the oxen's horns and the were nearly crazed with pain. Ludwig told the Indians what ailed them and they gave the boys butcher knives and they cut all the ropes. After that the boys were always kept busy driving and attending the oxen.
The boys told me what the white flag meant and I was overjoyed to think that we would soon be free. In a little while we were marched to the other side of the camp and they gave us tents which we were told to occupy until Gen. Sibley and his soldier arrived. Here I met quite a number of the German prisoners, among whom were little Minnie Smith, Mary Schwant, Augusta Lentz, Mrs. Infield and her baby, Mrs. Lamers and her two children, Mrs. Lang and two children, Mrs. Frass and three children, Mrs. Urban and five children. The last three ladies that I have mentioned were sisters. Mrs. Eisenreich and her five children. I asked Mrs. Eisenreich what made Peter's and Sophy's heads sore and they told me that the Indians hit them on the back of their heads with a tomahawk because they could not walk any faster when they came into camp. The back of their heads was one big scab. It made me sick to look at them. Mrs. Krus and her two children, Pauline Krus, (Mr. Krus' sister) was missing, and another girl by the name of Henrietta Nichols (a cousin of Augusta Lentz) could not be found. These two girls were about twelve years old. Mrs. Kraus said that the were hid among the Indians and that the soldiers should find them or she would never go until they were found. When the soldiers came she told them about it. The told her that they would find them, and so they did, two weeks later in another Indian camp. I remember how the soldiers cheered them when the came. When we reached St. Peter, Henrietta Nichols found her father. How pleased she was to see him. Her mother and brother had been killed. Here I met Minnie Smith. She was from our neighborhood and it was with them we stayed the first month we were in Minnesota. Minnie and I had always been great friends.
I went to where she sat and asked her if the Indians had killed all her people. She nodded her head but did not speak. Her bright blue eyes filled with tears in a moment. I tried to cheer her and offered her one of my sweet crackers that Mrs. Urban had given me for I thought I had offended her. She shook her head and would not take it. The tears started to my eyes for I did not know what to do and I did not want Minnie to be angry with me. Then Mrs. Kraus came and told me that Minnie could not speak as there was something wrong with her throat. I stayed with her until noon when Mrs. Kraus came and told me to go and play, saying as I went, "Minnie Smith will soon be an angel," I did not quite understand and said, "Why, Minnie is so good that she is an angel now." Mrs. Kraus replied, "Yes, she will soon die and go to heaven." Minnie rallied a little and lived three weeks longer until we reached Fort Ridgeley, where she was turned over to that kind nurse, Mrs. Elizabeth Muller, Dr. Muller's wife, who stayed at the fort. She took care of the sick and wounded and closed many dying eyes. She also closed Minnie Smith's, for two days later she died.
We waited three days for the arrival of the soldiers. In the forenoon of the third day Pauline Urban, my little sister Amelia and I were playing in a wagon when Pauline all at once jumped into the wagon seat, clapped her hands and pointed toward the south, exclaimed, "Look at the stars! Look at the stars!" We all looked in that direction and we could plainly see the sun shining on the soldier's bayonets as they marched along. Stars of hope they seemed for all of us. We all got on the wagon seat or as high as we could get, to see the soldiers. At last the officers rode into camp and there was a great deal of hand shaking between them and the chiefs. I thought they knew but little of how they had treated us.
The prisioners were now turned over to the soldiers and we were marched to their camp. Just as we reached the soldier's camp the sun went down. The soldiers cheered us when we reached camp, but it frightened me. I thought the Indians were trying to drive them back.
My sister and I were sent to the same tent with several others. We were nearly starved as we had eaten almost nothing all that day. There were between ninety and a hundred prisioners, and it was no easy task to furnish them all with supper. My sister and I were so small that the soldiers overlooked us but we were fortunate enough, however, to be able to share supper with some of our fellow prisioners. We stayed with the soldiers three weeks and as rations were getting scarce and what there was, was almost unfit to eat, we children were always looking for something to eat. In the northern part of the soldiers' camp there was a German baker who used to bake very nice bread. One day we found the place and made him a visit. He treated us to a dish of beef soup and some bread. The next day we repeated our visit but he did not treat us again. Shortly after this we made the acquaintance of a boy named Ben Juni. He was more of a ladies' man and whenever Ben got anything good to eat he would divide with us. Pauline always said he was the best boy in the lot. But I could not go back on my brother and Ludwig Kitzman. I have never seen any of my little friends of years ago and I have often wished that time could turn back in its flight and we could meet again. How much I would give to see the bright and happy face of Pauline Urban. Henrietta Krieger was entirely forgotten after I made Pauline's acquaintance. Her mother was with her. She had four sisters and brothers. She told me she was going to meet her father soon for he was away some place where he was safe. She was about the age of my sister whom the Indians had killed. How I envied her. Her father, mother, sisters and brothers were alive and well, while mine were dead. She could always cheer me no matter how badly I felt. Her mother treated me and my sister as kindly as she did her own children.
While we stayed at Camp Release I heard some of the saddest stories I ever heard. These stories were told in English and were translated to me by Mary Schwandt.
Mrs. Adams told the following story. They were moving to Hutchinson when the Indians overtook them. The Indians shoot at them and they jumped off the wagon. Her husband was wounded and got away, but she supposed he was killed. Then they took her baby from her arms and dashed its brains out on the wagon wheel. She was taken prisoner. She laughed while telling her story and said she could not cry for her child. I regarded her as a brute and always hated her after that.
Mrs. Minnie Inefeld told how she went to her brother's house to tell them that the Indians were killing everybody. She left her husband loading up their household goods. When she returned she found her husband lying on the floor with a butcher knife in his heart.
One day while she was staying at Camp Release Mr. Thiele came into our tent. He told Mrs. Krus how the Indians had killed his wife and child. He assured her that her husband was alive and that she would soon see him again. Then he went on talking about how he and a half-breed, Moore, buried the dead. They had buried quite a number before he had courage enough to go and bury his wife and child. When he came to their bodies the dogs had eaten most of them and there was nothing left but a few pieces of their clothes. He said he knelt down beside them and cried, prayed, and cursed the Indians, all in one breath. He swore that he would shoot Indians all the rest of his life. At last the half-breed could stand it no longer and asked Thiele of he was going to kill him, too. Mr. Thiele did not answer at which Moore threw down his spade and went away, leaving him to bury his dead alone.
After buying what dead he could that day, he started for the fort, not caring where he went. With nothing to eat but corn and wild plumbs, he wandered until he met Sibley's men. He asked the General to let him have some soldiers to bury the dead. General Sibley could not send a force until two weeks later and then there was nothing left of the bodies but the bones and clothes. They simply dug a hole beside the skeletons, rolled the bones in and covered them up.
I stood Mr. Thiele's talk as long as I could and then asked him if he had burried my folks. "Who are you?" he asked. I told him I was Minnie Buce, Fred Buce's eldest girl. He shook hands with me and I sat down beside him. He kept repeating, over and over again. "Poor Fred, Poor Fred. How hard he worked and then had to leave it all behind." Suddenly, recollecting what I had asked, he answered, "Yes, child, I think I burried them. There were five bodies we found on your father's place which we buried." Mr. Thiele's talk made me sick. All night I cried, and Mrs. Krus took good care of me. She told me such a nice story, in her plain, simple way, that I never can forget it. She told me that after people were dead nothing would hurt them, as they were angels then, and that Mr. Thiele had picked out such a nice place to bury my beloved ones in; a pretty meadow where the grass would always grow to green and where the prairie lilies would breathe their fragrance over the graves of the departed. And then winter will come and cover the graves with its beautiful white snow. She told me not to cry about my parents any more; every time I felt like crying, to think of the nice things she had told me. I tried my best to do as Mr. Krus had told me and found it much better not to cry.
Soon after this we broke up camp and moved. My sister and I got in the same wagon with Hattie Adams and Mary Schwandt. When we haulted in the evening my sister and I were both asleep. Our teamster was a young boy about 18 or 19 years of age. He picked me up out of the wagon as though I was a baby. I screamed, as it frightened me so. He said he did not mean to frighten me. It was quite cold that evening and our clothes were very thin. I felt very cold and so bad when I found out that Mary was gone and that I would see her no more. I tried not to cry, but the tears would come anyway. Our young friend, the teamster, was a German, and he felt very bad for us. He baked us some pancakes and made some coffee. After supper he built a fire, got the blanket from the wagon and put it around us both and told us to sit there until he fed his oxen. I sat there a while and finally getting tired of waiting, I started to look up my new acquaintance and his ox team. To my surprise, I found one of the oxen was our black ox. "Billy," I told the teamster about it and he put his arms around "Billy's" neck. My new friend, the teamster, laughed and told me that "Billy" was a lazy ox, but he was going to use him better since he had learned his history. When his work was done he came back to the fire. We found a man sitting on a log by the fire, watching my sleeping sister. My young friend told me it was his sister's husband. They both talked a long while about us. The new arrival asked me a great many questions about my people and where we lived. Finally he said he thought my father was alive. The soldiers had picked up a man near New Ulm, badly wounded, who had walked many miles after he was shot and he thought that probably it was my father. I thought of what Thiele had said about burying my parents and told him of it. He told me that Thiele had buried so many dead that he may have made a mistake. I wish he had never told me this, as it only gave me false hopes, and when I found out the truth it made me feel more disappointed.
The next morning we stated for the fort. After an early breakfast a teamster took and put me in his wagon. While we were waiting for some women and children to come to the wagon I told our new teamster that I had a brother among the prisoners and wished he could go along, too. He consented, and as my brother came along just then he asked him. My brother answered that he was in no great hurry to get to St. Peter and would rather stay with the ox teams. I tried my best to get him to come, but he would not. He called me a cry baby and said I always wanted something. If we would have known then that we were not to meet again for two long years, our farewell would have been more affectionate.
Among those who rode on our wagon were Ludwig Kitzman, Mrs. Urban and Mrs. Krus with their children, an American lady with two children and a boy about 8 or 9 years old. It was very cold that morning, the wind blowing a perfect gale. Our teamster took off his overcoat and gave it to my sister and me to cover ourselves up with. The little American boy was shivering from the cold and tried to get under the coat, too. I would not allow that, however, and slapped him in the face. That was too much for Ludwig Kitzman and he told me I was the meanest girl he had ever seen. I did feel ashamed of myself and offered the boy the coat, but the teamster settled the difficulty by giving him a horse blanket.
All that day we traveled and passed man deserted houses with nice gardens, but no living thing in sight. Even the few hardy flowers that were left in the gardens looked sad and forsaken as we passed by. How desolate everything seemed. In the evening we stopped at a deserted farm house. There were a lot of stables around it and the log house looked something like ours did. My sister thought we were home when she saw the house.
When we got inside she looked around and asked, 'Where is father and mother?'. I was obliged to tell her the whole sad truth, that we would never see our parents again. She cried so hard that the teamster picked her up and carried her to sleep.
The next morning we started out early as they wanted to reach Fort Ridgely that day. There were five or six horse teams which took the women and children. The rest of the teams stayed behind and got to the fort later. Everything went well until about noon, when all at once we heard shooting over the hill ahead of us. The teams all stopped and everything was in the greatest confusion. Some of the women and children wanted to run for the woods. Everybody was crying, some were praying, and others were cursing. Just then we saw about forty Indians running for the very woods the women had been wanting to run to. One of the teamsters ventured to say that there were soldiers beyond the hill on horseback. One horse was carrying two soldiers. The officers said that they had met the Indians and had exchanged a few shots with them, resulting in the killing of one of the soldiers' horses. While the officer was talking one of the women cried out, 'o, look! There comes a whole army of Indians'. We all looked in the direction she was pointing, and sure enough, there were a lot of men on horseback. It seemed like a large cloud of dust coming in our direction like a whirlwind. We could not tell whether they were soldiers or Indians, but as they turned out to be soldiers, we were all happy to see them. They had been out scouting and, hearing the shooting, came to see what the trouble was. After the excitement had died down no one seemed to care for anything to eat so we resumed our journey to the fort.
About an hour after starting we saw a lone man coming across the prairie toward us. As he came nearer Ludwig exclaimed, 'It is Mr. Gluth!' and jumped off the wagon and ran toward him. He spoke with the man about something for quite a while, at which the man dropped on the ground and cried like a baby. Some of the men went to see what his trouble was and found out that he was the father of August Gluth, a little ten--year old boy who had been taken prisoner with the Indians, and that his son was alive.
Before we reached Fort Ridgeley a man driving an ox team caught up with us and took Mrs. Lamers and her two children with him. She was the first prisoner we parted with on the road and many of the women cried when they bade her good--bye. Afterwards I heard that the man Mr. Rieke and that he married Mrs. Lamers.
At last we reached the Fort, tired and hungry. The soldiers marched us into the dining room where supper was already waiting for us. Soldiers were standing everywhere behind our chairs to see that every little child had enough to eat. It was the first time in ten long weeks that we had eaten at a table like civilized people. When supper was over they took us to another room where they made up some beds on the florr for us.
The next morning they did not wake us as early as usual. After breakfast some of us children begged Mrs. Krus to let us see Minnie Smith. She had been turned over to Mrs. Miller for treatment. She consented to take us and when we arrived at the hospital we found Minnie lying on a nice clean bed with her hair curled as nice as her mother used to curl it. She opened her blue eyes one moment and smiled. Then she closed them again as if too tired to keep them open. How bad we felt and all commenced to cry. The lady who stood at the head of the bad motioned for us to go. It was the last we saw of little Minnie, for two days later she died and her troubles were ended. When we got back the teams were already waiting for us and we started for St. Peter.
On our way to St. Peter we could see people in the field at work here and there and also a few herds of cattle were grazing in the meadow. One place we passed, a man was waving his hat and calling to us. The team stopped to see what we wanted. Presently two men with milk came up while the man who stopped us was carrying a lot of tin cups. The teamster cheered the men as they came and told them that it was the greatest treat the could give us for so many children had asked for milk. How greedily we drank it and the men smiled as they watched us and said they were sorry that they had no more.
That evening we reached St. Peter, where we were turned loose in an empty store. A fire was burning here which was a most welcome sight as we were cold. Some kind person had carried in a few armfuls of hay for us to sleep on. We had but little for supper. The town was full of people who had fled from their homes and not yet returned.
The next morning people came crowding in, bright and early, to look for friends. No one seemed to think of breakfast. Mr. Lang was one of the first to come in. His wife and two children stood just opposite the door. He walked over to her and took the baby from her arms. I never saw a more joyful meeting in my life. Those who had no friends were all crying. There, was hardly a dry eye in the house. Mary Rief came in next, dressed in the deepest of mourning. She looked over the crowd and never spoke a word. Sadly she turned to the door and walked out, having found none of her people. She was working out away from home, and her folks had all been killed, including her lover. Afterwards she found two elder brothers who escaped. I held my sister by the hand as I was afraid someone in the crowd might take her away, and I would not know what had become ot her.
People were still coming in to claim friends who were supposed to be dead. I could not help watching the door and thinking of the story the teamster had told me, but it was in vain--my father and mother never came. At last the crowd was beginning to thin out, Rev. Fredric Emde of the Evangelical church touched me on the shoulder and said he would take me. I told him I had a little sister with me and wanted him to take her also. Mrs. Emde then came to us and took off her veil and tied it around my sister's head and a little shawl around mine. While I was waiting for them to leave with us, I looked once more over the crowd. In one corner lay Ludwig Kitzman talking to a man and boy and in the other corner sat the little brown faced boy of whom I have spoken before. He looked so sad and no one seemed to notice him. Often I have wondered what became of him. Mrs. Inefeld was looking out of the window with tears in her eyes holding her baby so close to her. Her husband and all her folks had been killed and there was no one to claim her. Henrietta Krieger found her mother afterwards. How pleased she was to see her.
At last Mr. and Mrs. Emde were ready to go. They first took us to a house where we had breakfast after which we went to a store to get some shoes and stockings. Mr. Emde told him our story at which he said he would make us a present of what we wanted. When we were dressed as comfortable as they could make us we started for New Ulm. It was about noon when we left and did not stop until we reached a farm house that evening. The next day we reached John Muhs, a brother of Mrs. Emde, who lived six miles south of New Ulm. Mr. and Mrs. Muhs were my parents for the next two years, and my sister stayed with Mrs. Emde.
I told Mr. Emde of my brother and he promised that he would look for him when he went back to St. Peter. He found out that my brother had been picked up in St. Paul by another minister and later was sent to a family near Hutchinson. The man who took my brother was appointed our guardian and received quite a sum of money, about $1,200 for my father's personal property. This was too much for him to let go. As soon as he had everything settled as he wanted it, he came to Mr. Muhs and Mr. Emde asked him to give me and my sister up to him, as he was well off and would adopt us. Finally Mr. Muhs consented and turned us over to him.
When we got to our new home we soon found out that our guardian owned nothing but a farm which he had bought with the money he so cunningly appropriated. As for schooling, we saw but little of it. I do not wish to speak unkindly of my guardian, as he really did not abuse me and I think he would have done what was right, but he was not well and his wife was the head of the family. They both have passed away since, and I will not judge them now. Of my father's property we never received one cent.
When I was fifteen years old I started out in the world alone to earn my own living. After I left them I fell into better hands. I worked out summers and went to school winters. Being already able to read German, in time I received a fair education. In 1879 I married Owen Carrigan and am the mother of five children. My husband died in 1898. As to my sister Amelia, she left our guardian at the age of 14 and went back to Rev. Emde. She is now Mrs. Reynolds of Minneapolis.
My brother left for Montana at the age of 19. When we were at Camp Release he came one day and told me that he saw all the Indians that were to be hung but the one who killed our parents was not among them. He cried and said, "Yes, he is a good Indian now. Just wait until I get big I will hunt Indians the rest of my life and will kill them, too, if I can find them." For two years after we parted he would write to me regularily, but then we heard no more of him. I am inclined to think that he was killed at the time Gen. Custer made his last stand, for that spring I received his last letter.
There are only three places that I would like to see again. One is the large flat time rock on the bank of the Minnesota river where my brother and I used to go fishing. Years have passed and many a person has claimed my white rock since. The Indians that used to pass us in their canoes so silently they seemed like ghosts, you could hardly hear the dip of their oars, have long since fled from the bank of the river, and could not frighten now. The second place is the spring near my father's place where my playmates and I used to pick the yellow lady slipper. The third is the creek near our house where the lovely white cherry blossoms were so thick that they looked like a white sheet. Little Pauline and Minnie Kitzmann, my sister Augusta and I brought our aprons full home to make garlands out of them. Years after when I used to see the white cherry blossoms I used to wish that I could go back and cover the graves of my little friends with the flowers they loved so well.
"The flowers that bloom in the wildwood Have since dropped their beautiful leaves And the many dear friends of my childhood Have slumbered for years in the graves."
There was a negro among the Indians named Joe Godfrey. I heard he was brought from St. Louis by John Faribo. After John Faribo died he went to live with his son Oliver Faribo, who was an Indian trader living at Shakopee. The first time I saw this negro was while I was a prisoner. I used to wonder why his hair was black and curly and his face black, and the Indians' faces brown and their hair straight. One evening I was sitting by Mrs. Inefield. He was riding a beautiful white poney and was dressed in a soldier's coat, with a red leather belt around his waist, and a silk stovepipe hat on, with Indian leggings and moccasins, and his breast was covered with all kinds of jewelry. I asked my friend, Mrs. Inefeld what made him look so different from the Indians. She told me that he was a negro and that he was more brutal than the Indians were. She said that he bragged about killing seventeen women and children near New Ulm in one day, and how they begged for their lives. The breastpins he was wearing he had stolen from the women he had murdered. Mrs. Inefield said that it was too bad that such a beautiful white horse should be made to carry such a vile brute. She told me to keep out of his reach as far as I could. I hear he is still living on the Swantee Indian reservation. He is married to his second Indian wife, a young girl, 17 years old, thereby becoming a ward of the government, or is sponging on his wife's allowance. At the time of the massacre he turned state's evidence to save his own neck, and sent many of the Indians to the gallows. It is claimed by good authority that even now he brags of killing a man and his wife and roasting their child in an oven near New Ulm in 1862. He dare not leave the reservation for fear of the white people shooting him. It is a pity the Indians do not shoot him for being a cowardly sneak thief, if the white people cannot get a chance. It is a pity that such a brute should be allowed to pollute the earth.
We moved from Helenville, Jefferson county, Wis., in the spring of 1862 and settled at Middle Creek, Minn. We filed on our claim and went to breaking up the sod. We had settled at Forest City, Minn., two years previous. Monday August 18, I was working on the Minnesota river, driving rafting logs down to New Ulm for the sawmill. The boss said the river was too low so we could not go down. So he paid us off and I started to go to my brother, Eusebius, with whom I then lived. A friend of mine named Bill Laur went with me. We went together as far as the hill at Beaver Creek and then parted. He went to New Ulm, where his folks lived and I went to my brother's. Just as I was coming to the cow yard the Indians were coming from the opposite direction to the house. My brother and his son Ben, a boy 10 years of age, were stacking hay near the house. One of the Indians shot at my brother with an arrow. It struck him under the jaw bone near the ear. As he fell from the load the Indians grabbed him, cut off both his hands and scalped him before he was dead. Ben jumped off the stack and tried to escape, but there were about forty Indians and poor little Ben had no show. One of the Indians grabbed him by the hair and held him while the other Indian dumped off the hay rack, which was nearly empty, turned up the wagon tongue and tied Ben's feet together with a rope and hung him to the wagon tongue by his heels. Then they cut his pants off with a butcher knife and slashed up his body as only an Indian knows how. Then they poured powder over his body and set it on fire. He died quickly. I thanked God when he was dead. They scalped him, also. He was such a fat little fellow and they seemed to like the job. My sister-in-law came out of the house and begged on her knees for her life. An Indian rudely seized her by the hair and held her while the other Indians drove four stakes into the ground and then tied her to them: then they mutilated her body with butcher knives. After she was dead they scalped her, too. Little Annie rushed out of the house screaming with fright. Two squaws grabbed her by the arms and cut her to pieces with butcher knives on the door step. When the first shooting commenced I climbed a tree that was covered with a grape vine near the cow yard. From my hiding place I could see all that was passing, but dared not move. Twice I drew my revolver to shoot. Once when they tied my sister-in-law to the stake, and when they cut up little Ben. But it was only one against forty Indians, and it would have given them another victim if I had revealed my hiding place. As soon as the killing was all done the Indians passed right under the tree I was hiding in and went to the Kochendurfer place, our next neighbor's. I climbed out of the tree and ran as fast as I could to the Smith place. Here I saw one of the most horrible sights I ever witnessed in my life. Mrs. Smith's head was lying on the table with a knife and fork stuck in it. They had cut off one of her breasts and laid it on the table beside the head and put her baby nursing the other breast. The child was still alive. The dog they had killed on the doorstep. I ran out of the house as quick as I ran into it and ran down to the Minnesota river, right below Smith's house, for there were a whole lot of Indians coming over the bluff and they had not discovered me yet. I swam the river and started for Fort Ridgely, but there were so many Indians around the fort I changed my course and went to New Ulm and got there just before it was attacked by the Indians and helped to defend the town during the siege. My nephew, Eusebius, was working near New Ulm, and my nieces, Mary and Emma, were both away at work. I found all and told them all the sad story of their parents' and Annie's death. It was a hard story for me to tell them. My nephew and I both enlisted in Company K, the Seventh Minnesota. We were sent out to help bury the dead. We commenced near New Ulm and it took us three weeks before we got to my brother's place. We found bones of the four bodies and buried them in one grave near the graden. Our lieutenant was with us. Afterwards we were detailed to guard the thiry-eight Indians at the hanging at Mankato. Therewere nine names called out to place the ropes around the Indian's necks. My name was among them and I performed the task with pleasure. Afterwards we were sent south and I helped fight thirty-two battles including the Indian war.
The Reyff family lived about one mile and a half from our home. They had not lived there very long. We used to meet at Sunday School. The Sunday before the outbreak we met at Sunday School and walked part way home together. When we parted that day we did not know that that day was the last time we would ever meet: that the next day three of us six would be killed, and that my sister, Ben and Annie would be the victims. While I was a prisoner with the Indians and they were moving, I saw a little girl riding on a wagon with Annie Reyff's dress on. I followed her all the afternoon, thinking it was my little friend Annie. When I caught up with her I found it was a quarter blood Indian girl with Annie's dress on. I knew then that Annie must be dead or they would not have her dress. I felt so sorry and disappointed I sat down and cried.
Written by Minnie Buce Carrigan.
Told by Emanuel Reyff.
My mother was the widow of Daniel Lane. There were three of us children, my brother, G. J., my sister Minnie and myself. My mother afterwards married Frederic Krieger, a widower with four daughters. The spring of 1862 we started for Minnesota. We drove through with ox team and took our sheep and cattle with us, and I had to drive cattle part of the time. I was only seven years old but I remember the journey perfectly. I remember well when we reached my uncle, Paul Kitzman, who had moved to Sacred Heart the year previous. How glad we were when our journey was ended. On Saturday evening, August 17, Louis Kitzman, my cousin, my brother, John and I went to look for the cattle. One of the cows had a bell on but we could not bear it. We had to go clear to the river bank, about three miles. While we were at the river we could hear shooting and yelling. We thought it was Indians but saw no one. We reached home and told my uncle about it. He said it was only Indians hunting.
Monday evening, April 18, Emeal Grundman and August Fross drove up to our house. Each one had an ox team and they were prodding them with pitch forks to hurry them up. They told my mother that the Indians were killing everybody; that they had passed Mr. Manweiler's place and found him dead in the door yard and Buce's place and found Mr. Buce and his wife and some of the children dead, and everything torn out of the house. They then asked where my father was, and drove on to Mr. Kraus' place. My stepfather, Mr. Krieger, and my uncle Paul Kitzman, were fishing at the Minnesota river. My cousin Louis was sent to call them. The whole neighborhood was soon gathered at my uncle's place to see what was to be done. My uncles had so much faith in the Indians he could not believe that they had done the killing. He sent two men to Schwandt's house. They soon returned with the bloody coat of Schwandt's hired man, with a bullet hole in it, as evidence of their visit. They had found most of the family murdered. This convinced my uncle. Then there was a hurried gathering up of the household goods and provisions. They then hitched up the oxen and started. We traveled all night and until Tuesday morning, when all of a sudden we discovered a group of Indians on horseback upon the hill west of us. They were all armed with double barreled shot-guns. After holding a short council among themselves they made a dash for us.
When they were a short distance away from us one Indian dismounted and came toward us. He asked my uncle what they were leaving for. He replied that the Indians were killing all the white people, and that they were going to leave the country. The Indians raplied that it was the Chippewas that were doing all the killing. He told us to go to our homes and that they would protect us, They were hungry and wanted something to eat. The teams all stopped. The Indians sat down in a circle with their guns behind them. There were eight of them. My uncle gathered up some bread among the crowd and passed it around among the Indians. I have oftened wondered why no one in the crowd noticed the indians guns. My uncle could have taken all of them as he passed the bread around and the other men could have run out to meet him and each one have a gun and we would have had the brutes at our mercy. I noticed the guns and spoke to my mother about it, but she told me to keep still. My uncle was the only man who had a gun and one of the boys had a revolver, but neither had any ammunition. We then turned about and started back to our homes. The Indians escorted us. Sometimes they would ride ahead of us and sometimes behind, and part of the time they would be out of sight. But they were constantly watching us. This continued until we were in sight of our homes. We suddenly come upon the bodies of two dead men, one lying on each side of the road, and a dead dog. The Indians were ahead out of sight just then. The sight of the dead bodies excited Mr. Kraus, who was riding a mare that had a colt with her. He owned the only horses in the neighborhood. He suddenly bolted the track and rode over the hills east toward Fort Ridgely. I can see him yet as he passed us. His wife was screaming and everything was in confusion. Just when the Indians appeared again west of us and missed Mr. Kraus. They inquired for him. No one answered. Then they went ahead a short distance and dismounted and left their ponies and came back and took their position four on each side of the wagon train. The firing commenced. Confusion reigned supreme. Everybody was screaming and flying for their lives. I saw August Guess running west toward the timber near Kraus' place, my brother following him. I jumped off the wagon and followed them. As I was running I noticed toward the right of us a group of Indians looking over the hill and watching the slaughter of our people below like so many hungry wolves watching for their prey. There must have been fifty of them. We could hear shooting and screaming as we ran. After we reached the woods we rested from our excitement. It was nearly dark.
After the massacre of our people was over, the group of Indians on the hill had joined these in the valley that had done the killing. They all marched towards the woods, where we were hiding. When they came to the timber they turned and went to my uncle's place. That was all we saw of them that night. Early the next morning we heard someone hammering as though they were repairing something. We left our hiding place and started for the noise. We saw that it was the Indians at my uncle's place. There were a great number of them. We noticed also that they had Mr. Kraus's mare and colt in their possession, which led us to think that Mr. Kraus had been killed, but latter we learned that he escaped by abandoning the animals. While watching the proceedings of the Indians, whose ponies were grazing between them and ourselves, we noticed two of them leave the group and come toward us, which frightened us and we returned to hiding place, where we remain until night, when we went to my uncle's place, and found the coast clear. We found the cows, milked one of them, drank all the milk we could, poured the balance on the ground and hung the pail upside down on a fence post. After looking around to see that everything was safe, we returned to our hiding place. While on the way we noticed two objects in the distance but could not distinguish what they were for it was quite dark. We dropped into the grass, and had lain there but a short time when what we supposed were two dogs jumped over us and took no notice of us and disappeared in the darkness. We stayed a little longer and then went back to our hiding place and remained their for the night.
The next day we ventured out for something to eat. We started for Mr. Krus' house, for that was the nearest to our hiding place. Just before we reached it we found their dog lying dead beside the path. It made us feel bad to see him. When we reached the house we found half of the floor torn up and taken away. On the other half stood a home-made table with a drawer in it for knives and forks. We opened the drawer and found half a loaf of bread. We divided it into three equal parts and ate it. Bread never tasted so good to me before. While we were staying at our hiding place the cow came quite near us. We crept up quite carefully and caught one of them by the horns and held her while the other would milk directly into his mouth. So we took turns about until we all satisfied our hunger. Then we returned to our hiding place until dark. Some time during the night we started on our journey to Fort Ridgely. We traveled by night and slept daytimes. Sometimes we would get very tired. We would have to take a short rest and then travel again. We continued this way for six nights. The last night we took the wagon track. It was a very dark night. After finding the road we walked quite a distance and came to the foot of a hill. When we started up hill again we noticed a dark cloud on the hill ahead of us. On close inspection we saw there were objects moving. We dropped on our knees and tried to make out what it was. We turned out of the road double quick and dropped ourselves on the grass and remained there until they passed. It proved to be Indians and they passed us so closely we could distinguish their guns on their shoulders. We remained there a short time and then went up the hill. We turned to the right again and concluded to take a short rest. The sudden excitement had tired us out completely. We slept for a while, then started to find the road again. It was so dark we had to give it up. We dropped down in our tracks and had another sleep.
When we woke up the next morning the sun was shining in our faces. In must have been about nine o'clock and a fine morning it was. We were on the top of the hill and just below us was the fort and the beautiful stars and stripes were floating above it. What a beautiful sight it was to us half-starved children. Between us and the fort were three farm houses. We thought these houses must be occupied by people, they were so close to the fort, and we wanted something to eat. We were looking at the houses and not at the ground and we almost steeped on a dead man lying in the grass. This frightened us so badly we left the road and struck out for the prairie again. This took us quite aways from the building. After we had passed them we came to some cattle that belonged to our own neighborhood. We wondered how they came away down there, and my sheep was there, too. We stopped again and looked at some more cattle that we knew. I suppose that the soldiers brought them down there for beef, but I did not think of it then. All at once we noticed a soldier waving his cap at us; then started to run toward us. When he got quite near he call out, "Hurry up, boys; you are so close to the fort, but you may be killed yet before you reach it." He took my brother by the hand and led him along. So we reached the fort in safety.
The first thing the soldiers did was to ask our names. We went by the same of Krieger at that time, so we gave our names as John and Gottlieb Krieger and Aug. Guess. During our journey to the fort we had nothing to eat but grass and sheep sorrel. The last meal we had was when we milked the cows before we started for the fort. The first meal the soldiers gave us was a small bowl of milk and bread. My, how hungry it made us. The next day we found a barrel of crackers and helped ourselves. In a few days were sent to St. Peter on what was called a refuge train. It consisted of a long train of wagons and horse teams in which they placed all the refugees and sent them east. It was guarded in front and rear by cavalry, and we landed safely in St. Peter. Here we stayed a few days; then we were sent on to St. Paul and put on a boat and sent to LaCrosse, Wis. Here we were put on a train and sent to the nearest station to my grandmother, Mrs. Miller. The people of that town took up a collection and hired a livery team and landed us at my grandmother's door. I remained here for a while and herded her cows. Late that fall I learned that my mother was alive, but the news seemed too good to be true, and I did not believe it. One evening my grandmother called to me to bring the cows. She was standing in the road waiting for me when a lady came up to her and spoke to her. I heard my mother's voice, but it seemed like one risen from the dead, and frightened me. We met and I was overjoyed to see her. She brought me some cloathes and visited us a while, then went back to Minnesota again. I stayed with my grandmother a while, then went to live with a family by the name of Bucholtz and went to school. I think I stayed with them a year. Then my uncle, John Kitzman, and my cousin Mike moved close to Rochester, Minn. They took my brother and me with them. There we had to drive cattle for the second time. We stayed a year or two with my cousin Mike Kitzman. Then my mother came after us. We lived for a while with her and her third husband, Mr. Meyer, near LeSueur, Minn., until I was nearly of age. It 1881 I moved to Grand Forks county, North Dakota, and I have lived here ever since and am a progressive farmer.
Mrs. Krieger, the mother of John Lane, was shot by the Indians with buckshot and was left for dead on the field. She was unconscious for a while, but revived and wandered for several days. She did not know where she was going. After shooting her the Indians cut the clothes off her and lacerated her body in several places. Somewhere on the road she found a man's shirt and buffalo a robe. She put the shirt on and fastened the robe around her. She was wandering in a cornfield and was found by Mr. Thiele and Mr. Mayer. Mr. Thiele saw her long black hair and the red shirt and thought it was an Indian. He raised his gun to shoot her. She turned around just then and he saw it was a white woman. He told me his heart stopped beating for a moment, he was so frightened because he came so near killing a white woman. They took her to the first house they came to and fixed her up some kind of a bed and made her as comfortable as they could. The next day they turned her over to the soldiers at Birch Cooley. Here the Indians attacked the soldiers and the battle of Birch Cooley was fought. It lasted two days and all that time Mrs. Krieger was lying in a wagon and received another bullet wound in her leg. After the battle she was taken to Fort Ridgely, where her wounds were dressed. While at the fort she learned that most of her children were alive and had been sent east to friends. One of her little daughters (little Henrietta) had been taken prisoner. One of Mr. Krieger's stepdaughters had picked up Mrs. Krieger's baby (she supposed that her stepmother was killed) and tried to care for it. She called to her aid August Urban, a thirteen year old boy, who had received a glance shot on the forehead. They picked up as many of the wounded as they could and took them to Krieger's house and did what they could for the sufferers. They stayed all night at the house and in the morning something frightened them. They ran out of the house and bid in the grass. Mrs. Zable, a woman who was wounded in the hip, advised them not to go back to the house again for the Indians were in th neighborhood and it was not safe to return. They had left the baby asleep and several of the wounded children in the house and the Indians came back and finished their brutal work. They had gone out just in time. The children then went back to Mr. Fross' house and found something to eat. Then they decided to go to Fort Ridgely. They took along some corn in a tin pail and ate as long as it lasted. They were on the road eleven days. The last day little five year old Minnie Krieger tired out completely. Mrs. Zable advised the other children to leave her. But they would not forsake her. They took her to a creek and put water on her head and rested a while; then took her safely to the fort, which was only a few miles distant. When they came within sight of the fort they were overjoyed for they knew their journey would soon be at an end. Mrs. Zable thought it was a large Indian camp and did not want to go, but the children said they could see the soldiers. And the soldiers could see the children, also, and came to meet then and theiy trouble was ended. Mrs. Krieger afterwards married Mr. John Meyer, one of the men who found her in the corn field.
At the time of the outbreak we lived south of Middle Creek, not far from Beaver Creek. We had moved there in 1858 from New Ulm. Monday, August 18, 1862, my brother Mike Zitzlaff, myself and Lena June started for the Lower Agency with butter and eggs, to trade at the store. We saw smoke and fire at the agency and asked Mr. Robinson, a halfbrced, who lived near the road, what it meant; if the Indians had broke out. He replied no, the Indians were hungry. If they took our cattle to let them have them; they would not harm us. We went back to our home. Lena June got out and went to her folks. They lived near us. As we were going back we saw the Indians riding Mr. Henderson's white horses. My brother remarked that the Indians must have broken out or they would not have those horses. When we got home my brother went to tell the neighbors what we had seen, and that we feared an outbreak was on. We started to load up a few articles and leave as quickly as possible. It took a little longer than we expected. While we were waiting for his return I left my baby with my sister, Mrs. Sieg, and ran to my own home to tell my husband what we had seen. While we were talking we saw Indians running to Mr. Houf's house and heard shooting. My husband advised me to take the woods road back to my sister's and not go on the prairie. He would stay in the woods a while and watch and see if there was any truth in the report and that he would soon join me at my sister's. We waited at my sister's; my husband did not come. I went back to my house again to see what kept him. I found him dead on the floor, my furniture all thrown out of doors, my feather beds all ripped open and the feathers all scattered to the winds. I took one look at my husband and ran back to my sister's and took the prairie road. It was the nearest. I told her of what had happened and asked her for my baby. She handed it to me, but I did not know it I was so excited. I told her it was not my child. She replied it was, so I took it. Just then Mr. Houft came in and said the Indians had killed his wife. His two little girls were visiting at my sister's. Then we all crowded into one wagon with a hayrack on and started to leave. The occupants of the load were my sister, Mrs. Meyer, and three children, Mr. and Mrs. Thiele and one child, Mr. Houf and two children, my sister, Mrs. Sieg, and three children, and her husband, Mr. Meyer and father, Mr. Zitzlaf, my brother and his wife Mary. We had gone but a few yards when the Indians rose out of a cornfield that we were passing, and fired on the crowd. Mr. Sieg called out, "everybody jump from the wagon and scatter and save your lives as well as you can." We jumped. Mr. Houf grabbed his two little girls and ran down the bluff ahead, while Mary, my brother's wife, and I followed him. While we were running an Indian shot Mr. Houf and kicked his poor little girls to death. I could not stand this and said, "O, Mary, let us go back and die where the rest are dying." We turned, and as we started an Indian raised his gun to shoot me. The cap snapped and the gun did not go off. He tried three different caps. Each one snapped. Then he put the gun down and took me by the hand and said, "Wash ta," (good). I did not want to go. There were three squaws in the crowd. One took me by each hand and the other pushed from behind. The same Indian that tried to shoot me told Mary to sit down, while the squaws started off with me. I called back, "what is he doing with you, Mary?" She replied. "Nothing; he told me to sit down." The next moment I heard a shot fired. I asked the squaws what it meant, and they told me that the Indians had killed a dog. The next day I asked for Mary and they told me that she was killed. The bodies of our friends were all found near the wagon. I naver saw any of them again. Mr. Meyer and Mr. Thiele escaped and I was a prisoner. While I was in captivity, they used me quite well. The only trouble that I had was that my baby cried a good deal and the Indians often threatened to kill it.
One day I was sewing for the Indians when a young squaw tried to take my baby and kill it with a butcher knife. I grabbed and held it close to me. When she saw she could not get it, she struck me on the head. Her mother grabbed her by the shoulder and held her until she let me alone. I took care of my baby after that and did not sew for them again. At first we had plenty to eat, but after a while provisions got scarce and we did not fare so well. After the battle of Wood Lake was fought, when the prisoners were all to be killed, a halfbreed hid me behind some buffalo robes until we were released.
After the Indians surrounded the wagon, the men were killed first. My sister Lizzie told us all to jump from the wagon and throw ourselves face downward onto the ground, and lay still until she called us. When the Indians had gone, and she called, we arose among the dead and wounded. An awful thunder storm came up; the rain was terrible. The wounded children were all crying. My sisters, Lizzie, aged 13, Caroline, aged 11 and Lizzie, aged 10, picked up all the wounded children and carried them to my father's house, which was only a quarter of a mile away. The little ones were all partly helpless, and we could do nothing more for them. There were 18 of them. After resting a little while, Caroline and Tillie went back to the dying women and men in the field and carried water to them. They stayed so long that Lizzie got frightened and went with Mrs. Zable to look for them, while I stayed with my little six-month-old sister. They all came home together. It was nearly morning. The shooting had occurred at four o'clock in the afternoon.
Mrs. Zable was the only woman left alive. She was wounded in the hip and shoulder. Lizzie had taken off part of her clothing washed the blood out of them and dressed the wounds before morning. Mrs. Zable said it was dangerous to stay at the house as the Indians might come back any moment and kill us. Most of the children were dead. We went to the brook and washed our faces, and then took the baby with us and went to another house to find something to eat. We found only a little flour. Lizzie mixed it with water, fed the baby, and divided the balance, a few spoonfulls, among us. The Indians had plundered all the houses. We left the baby here to die, and although it broke Lizzie's heart, it could not be otherwise. We saw our mother lying dead as we supposed. But afterwards she was found wandering in a cornfield, by Mr. Meyer, who later became her husband, my father having been killed. We started at once on our journey to the fort. We wandered all day and came back at night to where we started. The Indians had come back, as Mrs. Zable said they would, and had finished their fiendish work. They had burned the house and all the bodies we had carried there. We stayed in the woods all night, and in the morning went to where the people had been killed. The bodies were badly swollen and had turned black. We shed a few tears and started the second time to find the fort. At first we traveled by day, but had to give that up, as we came near being captured several times. So we slept during the day and traveled at night. We had nothing to eat and were obliged to chew grass and drink water. One day we stopped under a big tree surrounded by lot of brush. Not far off was a house and garden. Lizzie went to see if she could find anything to eat. The only thing that she could find was some large, red onion, and she returned with them. We knelt down and said our prayers and then began to eat our onions. The tears were running down my cheeks, so strong were the onions. This was too much for Lizzie. She threw herself onto the ground, hid her face and cried as if her heart would break. When she got through crying, we started our perilous night journey. It was dusk one evening when we came to about 15 bodies of men, women and children lying in all directions. We also saw many other bodies while we traveled by daylight. We were nearly caught again near the place where the dead people were. There were a lot of Indians coming on foot and we were so close to them it is a wonder that they did not see us. We were sitting in the brush and kept perfectly still until they passed and then resumed our journey. There was one awful dark night, when we were about five miles from the fort. We could see nothing. Suddenly right in the road ahead of us came a lot of Indians. We all stepped out of the road and laid down in the grass until they passed us. That same night we must have been within a few rods of my two brothers, J. G. Lane and Gotlieb, and August Guess. So we found afterwards. We concluded not to travel any more that night. In the morning we almost ran into an Indian camp. They never noticed us and we ran back and hid in the woods. We were so tired. I do not know how long we traveled. At last we came within sight of the fort. We sat down and rested. It seemed enough for us to look at it. The soldiers saw us through their field glasses and sent a team to meet us. When we got to the fort we found out that our brothers, John G. Lane and Gottlieb were alive and had gotten to the fort ahead of us. The last day I played out completely and could go no farther. Mrs. Zable told Lizzie to leave me to die, but she dragged me to the brook and bathed my face and said she would stay with me. I never forgave Mrs. Zable. Poor Lizzie never was strong after that awful trip of twentyseven miles that we made in twelve days. She was never rewarded for her kindness on earth. May she reap her reward in Heaven.
Last revised March 2012.