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mains of Decorah, would be considered pretty good evidence of their genuineness; but the despoiling hand of the inconoclast is made to appear to throw doubt over the historic stories, as in the case of the tale of the saving of John Smith by the dusky princess Pocahontas, and the equally sacred tradition of Washington and his hatchet.' It will be seen that even a prominent actor in the first resurrection of the remains of Decorah was befogged with doubts by the spreading of rumors that Decorah was still living. For in a sermon, entitled, “First Things of Decorah," preached not long after this first exhuming, the Rev. E. Adams said:
"Some may recollect how our bosoms swelled with respect for the old chief; with what reverence we exhumed his remains; how, in imagination, we beheld his noble form, as his skull, with its straight, black hair, was turned out by the spade; with what pomp and ceremony it was planned to remove his remains to some suitable place, possibly a monument erected—till, in gathering necessary facts for the occasion, word came back to us that Decorah was a chief greatly respected by his tribe, an old man, siderably bent over, with one eye put out, and his hair very gray. His hair very gray! All but this could have been got along with, but somehow the poetry was gone! Enthusiam subsided! However, if in future years, by the lapse of time, this difficulty should be obliterated, and any desire should remain to erect a monument to the old chief, they can find his bones, or those of some other poor Indian, safely deposited in a rough box a few inches below the surface of the ground. close to the northeast corner of the Court House yard.'
CU'STOMS, INCIDENTS, TRAGEDIES. As has already been intimated. the Winnebagoes practiced polygamy, and their manner of wooing was not much tinctured with a comprehension of the idea of the equality of the sexes; nor did the marriage ceremony have enough of form or ceremony as to have been considered satifactorily binding, if the contracting parties had been whites. The Indian brave opened his suit not with the dusky damsel, but with lier parents, and as persuasive arguments, gave them such presents as his ability or liberality offered. If the paternal copper-colored “lord of creation" was willing, the matter was considered settled, and the bride would be borne a way to the lodge of the wooer, whether she wished it or not.
The funeral services were simple and devoid of form, the body of the deceased being wrapped in his blankets, and buried in a reclining position in a shallow grave. The period and profuseness of mourning varied, and is said to have depended on the amount of whisky on hand, or provided for the occasion.
In the early settlements of this country, as at present on the frontier, "fire water" was the great curse of the Indians. In many cases, a despicable white under the guise of an Indian teach
er, made his real business the selling of whisky to the Indians. He would secrete his stock of whisky in some grove or out of the way place near enough to the whites for protection.
The Winnebago settlement on the reservation was not one to be neglected by this class of people, who, not allowed by the government to come on to the reservation, came as near to its boundaries as they dared. Two of these characters and the murders resulting from their evil practices, are thus described in Spark's history:
"Taft Jones was an individual of this character. He hailed from Furt Crawford, and located a trading post in the vicinity of Monona, giving it the name of "Sodom.' Another genius, named Graham Thorn, started a trading post in close proximity to Sodom, and called it "Gomorrah.' The Indians used to frequent these places, and, of course, usually got badly cheated. It is a matter of recollection that once in a trial before Hon. T. S. Wilson, the first judge of this part of the country, a witness testified to things that happened at Sodom and Gomorrah. The Judge was disposed to become indignant, and asked, somewhat pointedly, if the witness was not imposing on the Court. The reply was given by Judge Murdock, then a young attorney, 'Oh, no, your Honor; these places do actually exist. The old mayor of Sodom crossed long since to the other side of Jordan."
During the sojourn of the Indians on their reservation three murders were committed, to wit: that of the Gardner family, in Fayette county; of Riley, near Monona; and of Herchy, near the mouth of the Volga. In all of these cases whisky was the inciting cause, and some of the parties undoubtedly deserved their fate. In the Riley case, a small party of Indians were encamped on a tributary of the Yellowstone river, four or five miles from Monona. An old Indian visited Taft Jones' den, at Sodom, and (as many a "paleface” has since done in similar cases) traded all his worldly effects for whisky. He even sold the blanket from his shoulders. Becoming intoxicated, he was turned out of doors, and on his way to his lodge died from exposure and cold. The next morning his son, a youth of about twenty summers, found the dead body of his father lying out in the snow, naked and frozen. His revengeful feelings were aroused, and going to the whisky den at Gomorrah, he shot at the first man he saw through the window. Unfortunately it happened to be an inoffensive man named Riley. A detachment of troops under command of Lieut. David S. Wilson, late Judge of Dubuque Circuit Court, was sent out to capture the Indian who committed the murder. apprehended, taken to Fort Atkinson, and confined in the guardhouse, but by the connivance of a sympathizing white man he escaped and was never recaptured. Jones lived but a short time after this occurrence. Dr. Andros, of this city, witnessed his death and describes it as follows: 'I was travelling from Fort
Atkinson to Prairie du Chien, and as I was passing by Sodom I was called in to see Taffy Jones. I found him on his bed in a miserable condition, and dying from chronic alcoholism. His countenance was horrible to look upon. He seemed to have but one thought, one wish. His only cry was whisky! whisky! whisky! I told Thorn, who was his right bower, that Taffy was dying, and to gratify his last wish. A tumbler of whisky was placed to his lips, and he swallowed it with all the gusto that marks the smallest babe while drawing nourishment from the breast of its mother. In a few hours he died, a striking illustration of the the old adage,!“the ruling passion strong in death. The murder of the Gardner family was caused by whisky. Gardner kept a whisky shop, and it seems a number of Indians called at his place for their favorite beverage. He dealt out the whisky to them until they became intoxicated, and he, becoming alarmed, refused to let them have any more. They then determined to take the whisky by force, whereupon Gardner offered resistance. He was seized by the demons and dispatched. His defenseless wife and innocent babe were next assassinated, and his daughter, a beautiful girl about twelve years old, was reserved for a more terrible fate.'
Of the bands of Winnebagoes and the difficulties of their removal, Sparks' history says:
"At the time the Winnebagoes were removed they numbered about four thousand, and were scattered over their reservation, or what was then called 'the neutral ground.' Four bands were located near the Fort and Agency. The other bands were located more remote. Where the city of Decorah now stands was a large band under the government of the hereditary chief Decorah; hence the name. This country was at that time an Indian paradise, abounding in fish and game. The sale of their lands to the Government by their chiefs, and their acceptance of a new home in Minnesota, was very unsatisfactory to the Indians themselves. For a long time they refused to comply with the agreement entered into by their chiefs, and only consented when compelled by force of United States troops. Owing to their reluctance to remove, the whole summer was spent in their ejection. One band, governed by a chief called the 'The Dandy,' would not go upon the land assigned them, but returned with their chief to Black River, Wisconsin, where they remained till the summer of 1874, when they were finally removed (at a great expense to the Government) to the home of the tribe west of the Missouri. But they had remained on their new hunting grounds but a few months when they again returned to their old homes."
The remainder of this chapter, describing Indian life and another bloody tragedy caused by selling whisky to the Indians, is from a series of papers being published in the Decorah Journal on pioneer life in this region:
The character of the Indians, as written by their distant admirers, or their near enemies, has been both overrated and underrated. How shall I describe them?-a mixture of savage barbarism and of civilization,' as learned from the whites. This is about what the pioneers found them to be. They are either warm and trusty friends, or bitter, treacherous and blood-thirsty enemies. That is their savage nature. They are inveterate beggars, liars and thieves; a part of this is nature, and a part was learned from their white brothers. They are lazy, dirty and shiftless. They are brave, chaste and constant in their marital relations. They are true to their tribe and those who befriend them, but revengeful and unforgiving to their enemies. How much of this is nature, and how much is learned from the pale faces, I leave to the reader to say.
"With the coming of the whites, the habits of the Indians underwent something of a change. They learned to prize money and to covet its possession, provided it could be gained without much labor. Their wants grew to be more numerous as the ability to supply them increased. They were still hunters, as they had always been, but to this was added a few other pursuits whereby money could be obtained. But in this the principle labor fell upon the squaws. The braves would hunt and fish, and would sell their furs, which always commanded good prices, while the deer skins would be tanned by the squaws, and often manufactured into moccasins, many of them tastefully beaded and ornamented. For thread they used the sinews of the deer, and their work was both substantial and neat. · These moccasins were favorite foot wear for the pioneers, both men and women, and for comfort they cannot easily be surpassed, and a pretty foot never looked prettier than when dressed in a neat fitting Indian moccasin. No white person could ever give a softer finish to a deer skin than do the squaws. In this they surpass all others.
"The gathering of wild berries, and of wild rice, also contributed considerably toward supplying their wants. In summer a small patch of Indian corn, and sometimes of potatoes, would be cultivated. In this, also, the squaws performed the most of the labor, while the braves wandered off on hunting or fishing expeditions.
“But few persons living in countries where a wild Indian is seldom or never seen, having anything like a correct idea of the kind of life these people really lead. Many imagine that theirs is a happy care-free life, free froin all restraint, and that as he roams at will over the vast free forest of the west, his must be a life to be envied by civilized men and women. Let us look for ment at the reality.
"In summer the Indian life may be said to be at its best, but even then hunger is not an unknown or even an unfrequent guest. Then the Indians settle down in groups, or families, erect their wigwams, and there remain while their small patch of corn is
cultivated, berries gathered, etc. In the autumn they remove to the rice fields, which lie to the north. The wild rice forms one of the chief articles on which they subsist, and if this crop fails, as is often the case, it is the cause of great destitution and suffering. Throughout the winter the Indians are frequently on the move going to new regions in quest of game, or for other reasons. I will relate a couple or incidents which inoved my heart to pity for these poor creatures:
"It was a bitter cold morning in January. A party of five or six were traveling by stage, and though thickly and comfortably clothed, and snugly tucked up with buffalo robes, all were complaining of the cold. We were passing over a bleak prairie where the wind blew a perfect gale, when we came upon a party of Indians who had just broken camp and were moving to some new locality. There were about twenty in the company, consisting of men, women and children. There were two or three Indian ponies loaded with camp equipage, and on these ponies were mounted some of the smaller children, though boys, down to the ages of eight or nine years, together with the squaws, plodded through two feet of snow as best they might, their route lying across the prairie and not in the direction the road ran. The Indians walked erect, carrying only their guns, but the squaws, and even the children, were bent down with heavy loads, carrying not only the camp supplies, but also the woven bark of which their wigwams were made, strapped upon their backs.
"The Indians were dressed in buckskin leggins with moccasins of the same material. A thin calico shirt was the only garment, from the waist up. The squaws were similarly dressed, with the addition of a woolen shirt that reached just below the knees. The heads of all were uncovered, and around the form of each was loosely drawn a large blanket, which it seemed to us might have afforded greater protection had it been more closely drawn, or secured with our own indispensable pins. The dark, slender hands of all were wholly unprotected. Two or three of the squaws had little pappooses strapped upon their backs who cried piteously, very much as a little human baby would have done.
"And this party of wanderers would plod a long until hunger and weariness would overtake them. Then, on that cold winter's day, they would scrape away the heavy snow, would undo the rolls of bark matting, which must afford but a poor protection from the cold, gather sticks and brush and build a fire, and then, after cooking and eating a simple meal, would spread their blankets and lie down on the cold, frozen ground, to sleep and rest. After thinking of all this, and of the warm fire and smoking meal that would await us at the hotel not far distant, there was not much more complaint among us.
“One chilly night, late in autumn, word was brought that a party of Indians were encamped in a grove near by. Although