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there are large Indian settlements a little ways to the north, an Indian ramp in our midst is sufficiently rare to attract some attention. So that evening, taking a few presents as a peace-offering, a party set out to pay the encampment a visit. A blazing fire guided us to the spot. About the fire, over which kettle hung suspended, were a group of ten, all seated on the groundsix Indians and four squaws. The Indians were smoking their pipes with stolid countenances, while the squaws had their blankets drawn up over their heads, and their heads resting on their hands, seemed indifferent to everything in life. An effort at conversation elicited only a grunt, and a declaration in the Indian tongue that they could not speak English; a statement which we very much doubted, as it is an Indian trick to feign ignorance of our language, even when well understood. A presentation of our gifts aroused a little life, and a chatter in the Indian tongue.
The kettle was boiling slowly, and, being uncovered, was seen to contain a piece of meat, some potatoes, and some pieces of black bread, all boiling together, and would form a not unsavory meal. When cooked it would be set out on the ground, and the group squatted around would dip out morsels and eat them from their fingers. Then, with blankets drawn around them, and with heads toward the fire, and with no shelter save the cold, starry heavens, they would sleep until morning. Possibly they would partake of the remnants of last night's meal, and at early dawn would be again on the trail, and not until twenty-five or thirty miles were accomplished would they again stop to rest. Our homes never seem warmer or more comfortable, or our beds softer or more downy, than when on some coid, chilly night we think of a visit to an Indian encampment.
“Does any one wonder, with all their suffering and privation, with wars waged among them, and with the white man's 'firewater' dealing ruin and death in their midst, that he is fact dying out?
"Sometimes the savagen ature of the Indians would burst forth, like a prisoned volcano, and culminate in deeds of bloodshed and murder so horrible as to strike terror to the stoutest hearts. In recording these deeds of carnage the blame cannot be said to rest wholly upon the savages. They are generally inclined to be friendly with the whites when treated with kindness and justice. Some of their most atrocious acts of cruelty may rather be attributed to drunken frenzy, than to either injustice on the part of the whites, or savage barbarity on the part of the Indians. Of this class was one of their most fiendish murders, known as the Tea-Garden murder.
"There lived in one of the northwestern counties of Iowa a Frenchman named Tea-Garden. The country was very wild, with only a few white families scattered through a wide extent of territory. His family consisted of his wife-a very estimable woman,
and four children-two boys, aged respectively eight and eleven years of age, a girl of six years of age, annd
infant child. Tea-Garden kept a trading post and dealt with the Indians, who were much
numerous than the whites. He soon found that although they coreted beads and other trinkets, there was one article which found much more ready sale than any other, and for which an Indian would sacrifice almost anything he possessed. This article was called in the Indian tongue 'Poch-a-ninna,' the literal signification of which is 'fire-water," in plain English, whisky. He was not a man of much principle, and though the sale of liquor to the Indians was strictly against the laws of the territory, he soon came to dispense the fiery fluid with a freedom that was in accordance with the Indians' capability of paying for it.
"But few men can handle fire-brands without themselves being scorched. But few can deal out poison without themselves feeling its direful effects, and Tea-Garden did not prove to be one of the few. Having a natural liking for the vile stuff, with him to handle was to taste, and he soon came to drink freely with his customers, be they either whites or Indians, and in a short time he became a drunkard and a sot, with scarcely a spark of manhood left.
“He abused his family, his helpless children, and his faithful wife, who clung to what little of manhood he yet possessed. There was one of the hangers-on around this drinking place, an Irishman named Mahone who, although a good and kind-hearted man, had yielded to his appetite for liquor until he, too, had become a confirmed drunkard, and having no family ties, cared but little for anything save the gratification of his appetite for liquor.
"One day liquor had flowed more freely than usual, and as a consequence Tea-Garden had been more abusive than ever. He had beaten both his wife and his children, who cowered before his drunken wrath. In the course of their drunken revelry it was proposed that Mahone purchase Tea-Garden's wife. This was acceded to, and the price being agreed on, the money was paid over and a paper made out declaring Mahone the rightful owner of the chattel.'
"Mahone had a genuine respect for the woman, and being partially sober the next morning, approached the woman and frankly stated the bargain. Said he: “According to the custom of this rough country, I suppose that I might claim you and make you trouble, but I wish nothing but to see you in a happier situation than you are here. You have friends to whom you can go and who will gladly receive you. Go, and I will protect you in so doing.' was glad to accept the offer, and taking the youngest child with her, went to her friends, leaving the other children until she could find means to provide for them. This explains how there came to be only drunken Indians, and whites, and small children at this trading post at the time of the tragedy.
"The two men, Tea-Garden and Mahone, kept together, drinking and carousing, and selling liquor to the Indians, sinking lower and lower in the scale of humanity. The Indians' money went into the white man's pocket as freely as ever, but there began to be low mutterings of discontent, mingled with the drunken dance and whoop. A storm was gathering but its omens were not heeded.
“One day in mid-winter, a gang of Indians had been at the post all day, drinking and carousing. The host and his companion, Mahone, had drank with them, and were even more under the influence of liquor than their guests. Night came on and the children were sent supperless to bed. The children were frightened and hungry, and were lying in bed awake listening to all that was going on around them. They knew that their father and Mahone were asleep by their heavy breathing, but the Indians were awake and talking angrily in their own language, which the children well understood. They were telling how they had been cheated by Tea-Garden, and as their anger increased the children heard these savages plan the murder of the whole family while they slept. The three were in one bed, and the little girl of six was the only one that slept. The oldest boy drew the bedclothes up over her head in the hope that by so doing she might be unnoticed and so escape the massacre that awaited them. Trembling with fear the boys dared not speak or stir, but no word or movement escaped them. They saw one of the Indians take up an ax from the corner, try its edge, and then saw it descend, crashing through the brain of their father. They saw it raised, and again descend, in like manner, above the prostrate form of Mahone. Both men passed from their drunken slumber into the embrace of death without a sigh or a struggle.
"The two boys lay clasped in each other's arms, horror-stricken at the scene. For fully half an hour they lay there, gazing on the bloody spectacle, before the Indians seemed to remember their existence and came toward them. True to their savage custom of sparing neither women nor children, they prepared to finish their hellish work. With an unerring aim the ax went crashing through the skull of the younger boy. The elder crept beneath the bed-clothes in terror, and as the ax again descended it crashed through his shoulder, inflicting a severe but not painful wound, and as, with almost superhuman fortitude and presence of mind, he lay perfectly quiet, the Indians did not take the trouble to see whether they had quite finished their work or not, as they doubtless would have done had they been sober. The little girl slept on unnoticed and undisturbed. The drunken orgies increased, while the boy of eleven years, the sole witness of the scene, peered out from under the bed clothes. About the middle of the night, according to the Indian custom, the bloodthirsty, drunken wretches stole away, having first kindled a fire at the outer walls of the building. The brave boy listened until their savage yells died
away in the distance, then rousing his sleeping sister, his only living companion in all the household, the two set out, barefooted and nearly naked, over the snow to the nearest neighbor's house, a mile away. With that bleeding, gaping wound in his shoulder, partly dragging and partly carrying his little sister, the boy succeeded at last in reaching the friendly shelter of the neighbor's house. But the hands and feet of both the boy and girl were badly frozen.
"In the morning neighbors visited the scene of the tragedy, and · found only the ashes and smouldering ruins of the building, and the charred bones of the three victims.
“Both the girl and boy grew up—the girl to brave, noble womanhood. The boy, even before he reached the years of manhood, became a wild hunter, who told no tales of the game he sought. But whereever his hunting-grounds lay, there might often be found a dead Indian, with a peculiar mark, as if killed by the same unerring aim. None but himself knew the number slain, but at last he himself fell a victim to his life-long foes.
Pioneer Life; Pioneer W'omen; An Indian Scare; Oddities of
Bench and Bar; Unique Weddings; Jumping Claims; Rather Crouded; Lost in the Woods.
There are many reminiscences of pioneer life in this now well peopled and thriving country, and its borders, which, told by comfortable and even luxurious firesides, sound like the telling of a dream, or like the pages of some improbable roinance. The early settlers are fast passing away, and in the rapid march of time, the carly days, with their hard struggles, their privations, their quaint legends, and withal, their mirth and jollity are being rapidly forgotten.
There are those in the older States, and in fact in all countries, who have no desire to remove from their ancestral homes, who are content to "live where their fathers lived—die where their fathers died,” but the natural increase of population, as well as the tide of immigration from the countries of Europe would make it impracticable for all to do this. And it is fortunate that a large class is imbued with the spirit of the pioneer-with the earnest desire to seek new and more thinly settled countries, and carve out a fortune or win a comfortable home and a competency for themselves. This spirit and steady purpose it is that turned the prai
ries and forests of the west into cultivated farms, and caused the beautiful hills and valleys of our county to teem with waving fields of grain, swarm with flocks and herds, be made beautiful with fruits and flowers, which adorn and cheer the homes, where but a few years ago the wild Indian sought his game, and was "monarch of all he surveyed.” All honor then, to the sturdy settlers who in braving danger as well as solitude, not only for himself but also for those he loved, to become an independent home winner, has done so much to open up the land for those who followed in his footsteps, or who in later years came after him.
PIONEER WOMEN. But if we honor the man who thus cuts loose from the dear associations of his early home, how much more honor is due to the woman who, though often reared in the lap of ease, or even luxury, does not repine. The life that for man is only difficult, for woman is truly hard. From much that makes frontier life exciting and pleasant to men, women are naturally shut out. Her work is at home. It is woman who keeps the hearth-fires glowing and helps keep the wolf from the door, not always an imaginary wolf, but sometimes a wolf of real flesh and blood. It is woman that spreads the hospitable board for all strangers and travelers and gives to the wilderness cabin the life and light of home. With whatever difficulty the way of man as a pioneer was beset, at his side, an ever ready and willing helper, was woman.
In health, a friend and companion; in sickness, a physician, nurse and housekeeper, all in one, not only in her home, but also in the home of an unfortunate neighbor. The pioneer woman was always busy, generally cheerful, and always to be depended on in times of trial. As brave as modest, they turned back from no difficulty, they feared no danger. As modest as brave, they shrank from having their names and deeds written for the public. The quiet life of daily toil and self-sacrifice was not the kind of which histories are made, but rather the life which lives in the grateful memory of those who knew them. The following from a speech before an old settiers meeting, pays such a deserved tribute to woman, and is so true and appropriate, that we quoteit:
"But what of old comrades in the life battles in the wilderness that was, what of our companions, the women ? Most of them had been delicately reared, and were accustomed to the luxuries and refinements of cultivated society; and most of all had good homes with the necessaries and conveniences of life in abundance, and were surrounded by kind friends and dear relatives. To these they had been bred; to all these they were strongly attached. But these ties were sundered, these homes were left behind, when after the last trunk was packed, and the last farwell was sadly uttered they set their faces sadly westward for a new life and a new home, they knew it must be among strangers.