Category Archives: People

Corporal George B. Clark and the Civil War: 1861-1865

By David R. Schleper

Corporal George B. Clark, of Shakopee, Minnesota served with the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company A, and was present at all of the regiment’s battles. The First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first in the nation to answer President Abraham Lincoln’s call for troops in 1861, and they courageously served with great distinction.

The First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment mustered for a three-year term (1861-1864) in the Union Army at the outset of the American Civil War when the prevailing enlistment period was three months. During offensive movements, it sustained high degrees of casualties at the Battles of First Bull Run and Antietam and a catastrophic degree of casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg. It is most noted for its service on the second day at Gettysburg.

At a pivotal moment and position during the 1863 conflict at Gettysburg, Union general Winfield Scott Hancock desperately ordered the 262 men of the First Minnesota to charge the 1,600 advancing Alabama Rebels.

Carpenter recalled, “We advanced down the slope…Comrade after comrade dropped from the ranks; but the line went. No one took a second look at his fallen companion. We had no time to weep.” Only 47 men returned alive, but they preserved a key Union defensive position.

On July 4, Lieutenant William Lochren wrote a letter to his hometown Winona Republican newspaper. “We are in the midst of a terrible battle,” he wrote. “Two thirds of the regiment are killed or wounded. We got the better of the enemy in the fight, and our regiment captured one stand of colors.”

When given the opportunity to speak about the Regiment after the war, both General Hancock and US President Calvin Coolidge were unrestrained with praise. Hancock placed its heroism highest in the known annals of war and ascribed unsurpassed gallantry to the famed attack. Emphasizing the criticality of the circumstances on July 2 at Gettysburg, President Coolidge considered, “Colonel Colvill and those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country.”

Corporal Clark was captured at Antietam but released through a prisoner exchange and then was wounded at Bristow Station. He re-enlisted with the 1st Battalion of Minnesota Infantry, was captured at Petersburg and incarcerated for eight months.

While imprisoned he endured virtual starvation and lost his teeth due to scurvy. George B. Clark was forty-five years old when he died on March 16, 1887 due to his continuing illness.

John and Anna Shoto

By David R. Schleper

ShotoJohn Shoto (also called Shodo) was born at Wabasha in March 1798, and remained with the band of Chief Wabasha until he was 25 years old. At that point, he joined the Red Wing band of Dakotas, serving with Chief Redwing near Barns Bluff for 15 years, according to Dr. David Laframboise.

Shoto came up the Minnesota River and was a brave in the Ŝakpedan or Little Six band in Tiŋta-otoŋwe, later called Shakopee. After the Dakota Uprising in 1862, Shoto became a scout under Governor Sibley. He served from 1862 to 1870. In 1872, Shoto returned to Shakopee as chief of the Little Six band.

In the beginning of January 1899, Old Shoto was about town, peering out of his almost sightless eyes and now and again saying “Hau! Hau!” to all who gave him a merry greeting. Hau is Dakota for “hello.”

Nearly everyone in Shakopee and Scott County knew Old Shoto, and many pioneer settlers in other parts of the state remembered the old Dakota scout. It is also interesting to hear how smart Shoto was. He used to stop at various houses of rich people in downtown Shakopee. He would ask for food. If the housekeeper was there, she would fill his plate with lots of food, and Shoto was happy. When the woman of the house would answer the door, Shoto asked for food, and one rich woman would look disgustingly at him, and would give him two pieces of bread and little more. Shoto would point to his throat, gesture that he had a sore throat, and then would leave. He knew he could find something better at other houses, where the people were friendlier.

Fr. J.J. Girrimondi of St. Mary’s Catholic Church baptized Shoto, who was one of Ŝakpe’s braves, in 1895.

The 1880 census noted that Shoto was born in 1813, and was 67 years old and living in Shakopee. The 1895 census noted that he was 91 years old, born around 1804, and living in Eden Prairie. In an issue of the Scott County Argus, editor C.G. Bowdish noted that his age is a matter for some conjecture, and is variously placed at from 102 to 109 years old. “There is a large painted portrait of him in a Minneapolis house on Nicollet Avenue that is labeled ‘109 Years Old,’ but from his own reports and the traditions of the Sioux, he was probably about 105 at the time of his death,” noted Bowdish.

According to Eden Prairie: A Brief History, Chief Shoto died in January 1899 at the age of 99 at his home in the American Indian settlement in Eden Prairie (across from Shakopee, on the north side of the river.) He died within the walls of his beloved tipi at the reservation east of town at 3 p.m.

His wife, Anna, survived him, and died at the age of 90. Their daughter, Caroline Moore, died as an infant in 1830, and was buried in the Valley Cemetery in the pauper field (next to Dan Eddings, the African American who lived, worked, and died in Shakopee).

He also left two (or four) grandchildren. Fr. Flemming of St. Mary’s Church in Shakopee buried old Shoto, who had been converted by his predecessor.

And now you have a little bit of information about John Shoto, who was a good friend with Ŝakpedan!

(Some information from Eden Prairie: A Brief History, by Marie Wittenberg, 2010, The History Press; The Shakopee Story by Julius A. Coller, II; Shakopee Tribune, Jan. 27, 1899; Scott County Argus, Jan. 26, 1899; Jordan Independent, Feb. 2, 1899.)

WWI Bandage Girls (1918)

By David R. Schleper

World War I bandage girls, ca. 1918After the United States entered World War I in 1917, Minnesota women, like Americans across the nation, were called to contribute to the war effort. Though some went to Europe and served as nurses, drivers, and aid workers on the battlefields, many more participated on the home front. They took on new jobs, conserved vital resources, and joined volunteer organizations.

Women joined, led, and donated their time and money to groups that provided soldiers with food, shelter, and supplies. They joined YWCA sewing and knitting circles to craft items for soldiers and civilians. They rolled bandages and collected funds for the American Red Cross. In 1918, these Shakopee women, called Bandage Girls, stood on the east side of Lewis Street in Shakopee, between First and Second avenues.

Ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 finally granted them, and women across the nation, suffrage (the right to vote).

The Four Lyons Brothers in the Civil War of 1861 to 1865

By David R. Schleper

On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate forces bombarded Fort Sumter which was held by a dedicated group of Union soldiers.

With the news of the attack, Minnesota was the first state to answer President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers to serve in the Union army. Scott County citizens gathered for a meeting on April 20 at the Scott County Courthouse. Immediate support was given to defend the union of the nation.

Alexander H. Lyons, his wife, Eliza A. Lyons, and their family moved to Shakopee in 1855. Stephen, who was born in New York in 1839, was the oldest of four brothers, all of whom served during the Civil War.

Stephen went to St. Paul to enlist for the war on April 25, 1861. His brother, Harrison, also joined the war, and both Stephen and Harrison were wounded at Gettysburg.

George F. Lyons, born in 1841, served in the 9th Minnesota Infantry, and John L Lyons, born in 1847, served in the 11th Minnesota. They both arrived back to Minnesota without any physical problems.

And so, now you know about the four brothers. Stephen, Harrison, George, and John; the Lyons brothers, from Shakopee, and part of the large number of Shakopee people who fought for our nation during the Civil War.

(Some information from The Diary of Daniel M. Storer from 1849 to 1905: A Pioneer Builder and Merchant; Historical Scene: “Scott County’s Civil War Veterans Remembered” by Scot Stone, Aug./Sept. 2011, p. 15; Vangsness, Dave. “Stephen Lyons (1838-1907).” Find A Grave.

Major C.M. Wilson: Trading with the Dakota Indians of Shakopee (1853)

By David R. Schleper

General Thomas W. Wilson and his wife, along with his son, C.M., came to St. Paul in 1851. C.M. attended Miss Harriet E. Bishop’s school for a year, and also attended a mission school that was run by Rev. Breck.

At that time, many kids were in two gangs in St. Paul. The upper town boys would have contests against the lower town boys. Sometime the two groups would have pitched battles.

In 1851 in St. Paul, C.M. and his friends heard screams in the direction of the upper levee of the Minnesota River. C.M. and his friends ran to the area of the river, and saw people pointing to a man who was sinking into the water for the third time. Although there were a number of grown people witnessing the struggle, no one moved to save him. C.M. pulled off his boots, jumped into the river, and swam to the man, who was sinking below the surface. C.M. seized the man by the hair and pulled him to the shore. Everyone was impressed with C.M., who was only 10 years old, but was braver than any others in St. Paul that year!

Another time, Major Wilson was at an old house, called the Daniels House, a wooden building of four stories on the upper levee in 1852. Suddenly, it was in flames. A lady boarder frantically and piteously looked up into the faces of a number of men as she said, “Can’t you save that valuable package?” She pointed to Daniels House, which was in flames, and looked around. No one responded.

“I’ll go!” said Major Wilson, and he did! He brought out the valuables, and just as he go out of the building, the whole framework fell in with a terrible crash! The brave traits of Major Wilson caused him to be in prominence. The adult population praised him, and he was lionized as a hero by the boys in St. Paul.

Major Wilson and his brother were engaged in trading with the Dakota Indians at Shakopee in 1853. He was one of the only white boys in the place, and the Indians called him “the little black head.” Major Wilson gained knowledge of the Dakota language and habits, and even 30 years later, the Dakota Indians would see him and remember “the little black head,” as they used to call him.

In 1855 until 1857, Major Wilson attended school in Granville, Ohio. He then returned to Minnesota and farmed until 1861, where he joined the Union army. He was promoted step by step, each time for meritorious conduct.

In 1864, C.M. was captured and taken to Andersonville prison. He was also prisoner in Monticello, Florida, and Florence, South Carolina. In Florence prison, he escaped with 15 others, but was recaptured by the use of bloodhounds. Three of the 15 prisoners were killed by the bloodhounds, while seven more died before reaching the Florence prison again. Major Wilson was held in high esteem by his fellow prisoners.

After the war, Major Wilson helped build railroads, and became inspector of customs. He married Miss Miller of Ohio in 1871. They had two children, a son and a daughter. His wife died in 1884.

Major Wilson, who was born in 1842 in Ohio, was a rather slender, wiry man, who was full of energy. He used his indomitable will-power in his aims and in his purpose. He had a very active brain, backed by nerve, and entered earnestly into his enterprises. He was liberal in his disposition, social in nature, a natural schemer, persistent in his efforts, and devoted to his friends.

(Some information from Pen Pictures of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Biographical Sketches of Old St. Paul by Thomas McLean Newson, 1886.)

A River Pilot from Shakopee (1861)

By David R. Schleper

In earlier days, the richest in romance, tradition, and pure excitement was the steamboats. Stories of the old steamboat days are always replete with action and interest. While the captain and the mate were important, the old river pilot stands out as the most interesting person in early American history.

George R. DeMers of Shakopee was a veteran river man and pilot of the Mississippi and Minnesota River. Starting as deck sweeper on a boat, he played the waters of the Minnesota River until he retired to become part of the land a quarter of a century later. From the time he went on the river at ten years of age, his career was as colorful and thrilling as any fiction writer could desire.

Threading his way cautiously past sand bars, rocks, and rapids, sometimes through inky blackness, at others hampered rather than aided by lightning flashes as the boat nosed its way through a storm at night, George relied on his training, his knowledge of the Minnesota River, and that uncanny sixth sense possessed by the old-time river men. In all those years, he never lost a boat or experienced a serious mishap. George is inclined to attribute his splendid record to good luck. “I just didn’t happen to have any trouble, that’s all,” he said in conversation in 1925, when he was 74 years old. But a more logical explanation is that he possessed a good measure of the skill, coolness, and judgment indispensable in a good river pilot. Even in those days of low wages, pilots received $125 or more a month.

George was born in Merriam Junction on October 22, 1851. His father’s farm was near the Minnesota River, and naturally, he became interested in the great boats that swept so majestically up and down the river, and in the boisterous and carefree men that formed the crew. So George was taken on as a deck hand in 1861, the first year of the Civil War. He served as a deck sweeper for four years, and then became a watchman. Two years later, he was granted his papers as a pilot, and was assigned to his first boat. In years following, George served on many crafts that are prominent in river annals. Among them were the Minnesota, Diamond Jo, Otter, Mankato, Mollie O., and International.

Some of these were passenger boats, often with as many as 300 souls aboard, all in the keeping of the pilot. “It was pretty serious business,” said George, “steering through the night with 300 people asleep behind you, and realizing that you alone were responsible for their safety.” Certain responsibilities were attached to the office of captain and mate, he explained, “but the pilot was held accountable for his boat when he was at the wheel, as he was not subject to the captain’s orders, except in certain minor matters of routine.”

When asked to recount his most trying experience, George removed his hat and rubbed his head as a gesture of reflection. “Well,” he said, “I remember one time coming down the Minnesota with the Diamond Jo, the biggest boat I ever took out. I had a valuable cargo and a lot of passengers aboard. We left the levee at St. Paul just before dark. It was cloudy, and I felt sure that we were going to have a storm. As it was early summer and the river was low, I thought I might have a little trouble in a storm at the rapids about Merriam, as that was then the most dangerous place on the river. Sure enough, just before we reached the rapids, the storm struck. Lightning flashed almost continuously, and the rain came down in sheets. I was pretty badly worried for a while, but we made the rapids without mishap.”

At another time, George narrowly escaped drowning. He was a watchman then. “It was on the old Mankato,” he said. “I was sound asleep when the engineer whistled for the landing at St. Peter. I jumped up and miscalculating the distance from shore, dropped into thirty feet of water. They fished me out, and after that I was more careful!”

The boats on the Minnesota River in those days were stern wheelers and carried crews of from ten to twelve men, besides the officers and pilots. Each boat carried two pilots. The river men were a rough and ready lot, who settled all disputes with their first. But the veteran pilots called that they were a good-natured, kindly lot, for all that.

According to The Diary of Daniel M. Storer from 1849 to 1905: A Pioneer Builder and Merchant in Shakopee, Minnesota, steamboats were a regular appearance on the Minnesota River. Over time, the steamboats included Tiger, Humboldt, Soleo, Greek Slave, Nominee, Minnesota Belle, Lola, Globe, Black Hawk, Navigator, Monticello, and Reviler. Others included Equator, Frank Steele, Henrietta, Yankee Robinson, Ariel Jones, Albany, Stella Whipple, Antelope, Jeanette Roberts, Northern Light, Chippewa Falls, City of St. Paul, Lorna Doone, Daisy, and Flora Clark.

George’s brother, Charles, was also a pilot. One day the two brothers raced their boats from Mankato to St. Paul. George was on the Mankato, and Charles was in the Carver. The latter won by two hours. The brothers also spent several years on the Red River of the North, traveling between the headwaters of the river and Winnipeg. A prominent thoroughfare in Grand Forks, North Dakota bears the name DeMers Avenue.

With the advent of the railroads, steamboat traffic declined, and after a few years, the Minnesota River ceased to be an important avenue of transportation. George gave up his post as a pilot and worked in the Shakopee mills, owned by G.F. Strait. He served as head miller ten years, retiring several years later. He married Katherine Galvin, and they had two boys and two girls.

Modest and unassuming, the Shakopee veteran holds lightly his service as a river pilot, but George DeMers’s record speaks for itself.

(Some information from “Recollections of a Pioneer Citizens: George R. DeMers Relates Colorful Incidents of His Career as a River Pilot.” From the Shakopee Tribune, 27 Aug 1925, and Recollections of Early Pioneers, 1925 by Betty A. Dols, 10 Jan 2000, Shakopee Heritage Society; The Diary of Daniel M. Storer from 1849 to 1905: A Pioneer Builder and Merchant in Shakopee, Minnesota, Shakopee Heritage Society, 2003.)

Samuel Hibler and a Bookstore (and More) in Shakopee: 1855

Samuel Hibler, a young man from Pennsylvania, opened a first-class bookstore in the fall of 1855. “Hurrah for Shakopee!” said the Shakopee Independent on Nov. 17, 1855, “Such an establishment is needed in Shakopee, and no man that we know of is better qualified to transact that same business than is Mr. Hibler. May success attend him for his enterprise.”

Samuel Hibler set up a book seller and stationer in just a few days, according to the article.

Though the idea of a bookstore in Shakopee was wonderful then (and wish the same now!), there is more about Samuel Hibler than just the bookstore!

On a cold stormy night in the last days of January 1856, James B. Wakefield, Henry P. Constans, Spier Spencer and Samuel V. Hibler, with several others, whose names are not important to this history, were assembled in a small store by a warm stove in Shakopee. All were poor in purse, but in youth, health and courage, were rich and hopeful.

This was a year ever memorable in Minnesota of inflated prices of land and of wild speculations. Immigrants had been coming into the territory in great numbers. For several years past great improvements had been made and fortunes acquired in a day, by speculators in lands, town-sites and corner lots. The prospects for the year just beginning were very flattering.

The conversation of this small company turned upon these interesting subjects and the project was proposed of striking out somewhere and founding a city. Others were doing this very thing and were rapidly acquiring wealth and why should they not do the same? They agreed to go forth into the wilderness and find a suitable place for a town-site, survey and plat it and settle down as permanent citizens and build a town.

Speculation was not the sole motive of this project. A desire to secure permanent locations, the establishment of business and to contribute their mite, toward the building up and development of the country, as well as the bettering of their financial condition, induced this determination.

The first intention was to go into Freeborn County, but on examining the map of southern Minnesota, the valley of the Blue Earth River fixed the attention of the company. The buffalo and elk hunter, the trapper, the Indian and the explorer, had already told their stories, of the beauty and fertility of the Blue Earth valley. Thomas Holmes had talked in glowing language of the forks of the Blue Earth River as an eligible location for a town.

In fact, a small, rough log cabin, on the north bank of the stream was built by Thomas A. Holmes in 1854 at the two branches of the Blue Earth River in Faribault County. It was very crudely built, quite low and not more than ten by twelve feet in size, and had evidently been built as a mere temporary shelter. He erected this cabin, with the intention of making a claim of the land adjoining, with a view of eventually laying out a town in the vicinity.

This he never did, however, but went so far as to employ two men, whose names are now forgotten, to go upon the land and to occupy this cabin a short time.

This cabin was the first advance made in the building of a human habitation, on the capacity and architectural style of a Dakota tioti. It was the first house erected in the county. But in 1854, Thomas A. Holmes decided to focus more on Shakopee.

And so, in 1856, the group of men from Shakopee decided to go to the head-waters of the Blue Earth River. The winter had been long and cold. It was now the beginning of February and the snow lay twenty inches deep on the level and great drifts were piled in every direction, but what are such difficulties to western energy, bent on great projects?

The company hired one Huffman, with his team and sled, and gathered together a few provisions. They gathered flour, pork, beans, some culinary utensils and a ten gallon keg of a peculiar fluid extract of rye, which latter article had been recommended by solicitous friends, as a valuable medicine in cases of frost-bites, snake-bites, chills, or general prostration. Well-armed with guns, pistols and plenty of ammunition, Samuel and others started for the forks of the Blue Earth, across a trackless region.

The cold was intense, and the roads, where there were any, were blockaded. South of Mankato no roads existed. After a tedious journey, on Feb. 6, 1956, Samuel and his group crossed the lands where Blue Earth City now stands, and proceeded about a mile further south, to the cabin of Moses Sailor, the first settler. The group stayed overnight with Moses Sailor.

Having traveled all day over trackless prairies, plunging through deep snow drifts, sometimes breaking the way for the team, Samuel and the other pioneers were well nigh exhausted and they enjoyed the hearty welcome, the warm fire, the corn bread and bacon of the first settler.

Having fully explained their designs to Moses Sailor, the next morning the pioneers, with Moses in the lead, entered upon the lands where the future city was to be built. Moses, knowing the ground well, pointed out to them in glowing language the beauty and adaptability of the location for a town-site. But few words are necessary with men of business and it was forthwith decided to found the town. They were shown the small log cabin of Thomas A. Holmes, in which they stored their goods and took up their abode for the present.

On the following day Wakefield and Spencer started out with the team, on their return to Shakopee, leaving Constans and Hibler to hold possession of the country.

Henry and Samuel were left alone and went to work to render themselves as comfortable as possible in their cabin. Their usual amusements were chopping wood and carrying it up the steep bank of the river, to their cabin, keeping fire and cooking their victuals. Frequently informal visits would be made to Moses’s, where they would get a warm meal, which visits would be kindly returned by Moses in a day or two, and these courtesies were usually, according to the strict etiquette of the times, rendered mellow and agreeable.

Thus the time passed until about March 7, 1856, when James returned with a pocketful of official commissions and accompanied by another new settler, George B. Kingsley. Spier did not return, but stayed in Shakopee.

During this time of organization of the county, there were not probably more than fifteen white male voters in the county. The pioneers, now four of them, Wakefield, Constans, Hibler, and Kingsley, all living in the small cabin, decided that their quarters were too small and uncomfortable and determined at once to build a larger house.

This they proceeded to do and, after a week or two of hard work and the assistance of the Sailor boys, the result was the Elkhorn, erected on the proposed town-site of Blue Earth City. It was the first house on the town-site. The building was constructed of rough logs and was very roomy, being sixteen by twenty-two feet, one story high, large chimney, puncheon floor, and one civilized window. As soon as completed they removed into this commodious tenement and it became the general rendezvous, and head-quarters of the county for some time.

Spring set in about the middle of March and the snow soon entirely disappeared, but it was still cold. Provisions had run very low and Moses had also exhausted his store. The weather continued cold—the ice in the streams was breaking up—the waters getting high and traveling was impossible. Day after day even weeks passed, but no one came bringing provisions. No one could go after supplies, and starvation was imminent. They were at last reduced to buckwheat slapjacks, the flour being stirred up with water, and as a rarity occasionally seasoned with ground cinnamon bark. This was the only article of food for some weeks, except that on several occasions some wild game—a squirrel or a rabbit—would be shot.

And to add greatly to their miseries, their stock of tobacco became entirely exhausted—not a crumb left. “Oh for one chew! Just one smoke!” was the repeated exclamation. Barks and roots were tried but gave no relief—pockets were worn out with the involuntary search for the weed and in the silent hours of the night weird dreams came to them of jolly plugs of pure Cavendish, great smoking Meerschaums, and Royal Havanas, dancing in the air.

During this trying time, however, an event occurred which threw the company into great excitement—a fine fat raccoon was discovered in a tree top, at a short distance! Here now was something of real importance. It had of course to be taken by some means as they were out of meat. It was one of those great emergencies, where presence of mind, steady nerves, and skill alone triumph. So the mighty hunter Constans, by far the best marks-man in the party and a dead shot, was deputed to bring down the raccoon.

Henry approached the game with that silence, stealth and cunning, known only to the skilled hunter. He took deadly aim with a rest, he fired—the raccoon did not stir. Quickly loading again with great care and circumspection, he shot again but strange to say there were no signs of trouble in that tree top. And now, alas, it was found that the shots were all exhausted. What was to be done?

Henry wore a vest, on which were some round buttons. He pulled out his knife and off came the buttons. This was serious, so the gun was reloaded with the heavy buttons. Henry, concentrating his powers, took another deadly aim—fired and down came the raccoon, and down also came the hunter! The gun killed, or nearly so, at both ends. It had kicked him fair on the nose, knocking him over. His nose was smashed. But they got the raccoon, and they had a great old time eating once again!

Life in Faribault County during this time was not especially attractive and began to hang heavily upon our pioneers. No amusements—but few neighbors, no mails, nothing to do, except the cooking of their meals and carrying in their wood and water. Their stories had all been told a dozen times, invention even was exhausted, no reading matter but that which had been read and re-read until it had become disgustingly stale. A vocal band was organized and much time spent in singing. Quiet games of cards were played, with no other purpose than to kill time, or as was often the fact to determine definitely who should bring in the next bucket of water, or back in the next load of wood. The last days of the month arrived and with it the occurrence of a great and long hoped for event.

Settlers now began to come into various parts of the county rapidly and locate. A number of claims were taken and cabins erected, and as the pleasant month of June arrived, the ground became settled and the great work of surveying the town-site was begun.

Thomas Hood, of Shakopee, a first-class surveyor, was employed and a surveying corps was organized. The surveying and staking out of the city required about a month’s labor, and was completed in the first days of July.

Samuel, the register of deeds of the county and one of the original town proprietors, was holding a section adjoining the town-site of Blue Earth City as a claim. He had erected a small cabin and made some other improvements in the land. The land was very valuable, and since Hibler wasn’t on the claim, Theophius Bowen jumped the claim. He wanted to contest Hibler’s right to own the land on the local land office.

The jumping of claims was in those days very unpopular. Many people lost their lives in this territory because of claim jumping. Law and order was not well established and trespassing often resulted in the strong and bloody hand.

On Oct. 15, 1856, Samuel and several friends proceeded to the house on his claim and ordered Bowen off the premises. A young man, Alfonso Brooks, was in the house at the time with Theophius Bowen. High words followed between Samuel and Theophius, and when they got into a scuttle, Alfonso tried to interfere. Hibler, who had a stout cane in his hand, struck Brooks over the head. Alphonso stooped down to pick up a piece of brick from the small pile in the corner, and as he arose, Samuel struck him again on the head several times.

Alfonso fell and died in about an hour. His skull was broken.

Alfonso was buried in the graveyard at Blue Earth City. He was a young man of good habits, intelligent, of inoffensive character, and not one of the principal parties to the quarrel. He was stricken down in the prime of his life.

Theophius immediately went to Mankato to make a complaint against Samuel and some others, whom he considered implicated. The complaint was made before the justice of the peace, who issued a warrant for the arrest of Hibler and others. Samuel Hibler got an attorney from Shakopee, Thomas J. Galbraith, and James Dow, an attorney from Red Wing. Lewis Branson of Mankato was the prosecuting attorney.

Attorney Thomas J. Galbraith (who would be involved in the U.S.-Dakota Conflict in 1862) moved to discharge the prisoners because they had no jurisdiction over the territory where the offense had been committed.

They were discharged.

Samuel never returned to the county. He went to Shakopee, where he remained for a short time. And then he returned to Pennsylvania, his native state.

Theophius subsequently pre-empted the land in dispute, and later it was laid out as an addition to Blue Earth City.

The current opinion of the time was that the killing of Alfonso was mainly an accident, and that Samuel was not seriously to be blamed under the circumstances.

And so, Shakopee lost a bookstore, Samuel V. Hibler moved back to Pennsylvania, and Alfonso Brooks lost his life.

See what happens when you read?!!!!

(Some information from The History of Faribault County, Minnesota: From Its First Settlement to the Close of the Year 1879 (1896) by Jacob Armel Kiester. Minneapolis: Harrison & Smith; The Bench and Bar of Faribault County by J.A. Kiester at; and New Book Store, Shakopee Independent, Nov. 17, 1855.)

Pelagie Eliza Faribault Manaige

Aug. 27, 1845 – Dec. 1, 1937
by David R. Schleper

Pelagie Eliza Faribault MenaigePelagie Eliza Faribault, daughter of Oliver Faribault and Wakan Yanke (or Woman Who Sits at the High Place), was born at her parents’ log cabin in East Shakopee, the same log cabin which is now at The Landing in Shakopee. Wakan Yanke was pregnant when they built and established the trading post in 1844, and Eliza, as she was called, was born on Aug. 27, 1845, the sixth of nine children.[1]

Eliza grew up with her three sisters, Mary Josephine (Jessie), Jane Luce, and Sarah-Iréne, in the cabin and adjacent warehouse which was built on the west side of what was later called Faribault Springs, using tamarack logs which were obtained from a swamp nearby.[2] Because Oliver was part Dakota, and Wakan Yanke was Dakota, Eliza was also part Dakota. The French and Métis people called this area Prairie des Français (French Prairie), along the Rivière Saint-Pierre.

Eliza remembered about her early life, including the bark huts, called tipi tanka, and ti´pi. She also remembered Chief Ŝakpe II and Ŝakpedan, or Little Six. Her father conducted a trading post in Tiŋta-otoŋwe, in the area now called Shakopee.[3]

She remembered her father conducting a trading post for a few years, and building a warehouse in which he stored furs purchased from the Dakota Indians. She only faintly remembered her father, as he died in the fall of 1850, when Eliza was 4 ½ years old.[4] Eliza remembered the gaudy trinkets that were available to the Dakota Indians.

An Indian trail passed south of the Faribault Trading Post and cabin in Tiŋta-otoŋwe, and Eliza remembered watching the processions of ponies with packs strapped to their backs and long dog trains, each load drawn by four to eight or more dogs. Furs and skins formed the bulk of the freight. Later the ponies and dogs were replaced by six oxen and long trains of two-wheeled Red River carts. Eliza could still remember the ear-piercing squeaks of the poorly lubricated wooden axles that heralded the approach of the trains.

According to Florence Leach, granddaughter of Pelagie Eliza Faribault Manaige, three Dakota Indians who were killed in the Battle of Shakopee in 1858 are buried near the house and close to the orchards near Faribault Trading Post. “The graves are flat, and you cannot see them. Grandfather Faribault buried them and concealed the graves so the Chippewa (Ojibwe) would not find the bodies and scalp them. We were traders and friendly to all Indians.”[5]

An Indian girl was also buried there.[6] According to Florence, “Grandmother said this girl was a very fine horsewoman, and one day she was on horseback and racing across the fields with a group of young men. The girl was in the lead, but she turned in her saddle to see how far ahead she was, and to wave to the men, when her horse stumbled and she was thrown and broke her neck. She died, and they buried her here.”[7]

Florence also recalled that Pelagie, her grandmother, remembered that the girl had bracelets on her wrists. “I know these Indians are buried here because when I was a little girl, my brother and I started to dig into the graves to see if we could find the bracelets. We did not think it was wrong, for we were just little children.”[8]

“Grandmother caught us digging, and she was so worried that she called the priest. He told her not to worry, we had done no harm; but just a few years later we tried it again, and uncovered bones. It scared us because we hadn’t believed anyone was really buried there. Of course, Grandmother found us, covered the hole, and she was frightfully upset; again she called the priest, and he comforted Grandmother. We all went out to the graves, and he said a little prayer.”

“Then the priest told Grandmother he didn’t think those Indians minded our digging for them one bit, as long as we were only trying to find out if they were really there. Now, the priest felt sure our curiosity was satisfied, and we would let them rest in peace.”[9]

Eliza attended school in a little log schoolhouse near their home.[10] When she was 14 years old, she was taken to Québec City, where she attended a school conducted by the Ursuline nuns at Monastère des Ursulines de Québec. It is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. Eliza remembered, “We traveled from Faribault to Hastings by stage, and took a steamboat to La Crosse. From La Crosse we traveled by train and it was the first time I ever rode on a railroad train. I don’t remember the cities we went through, but I clearly recall our arrival at Québec. It all seemed unreal to me as I had never before been away from the frontier….”[11] Eliza attended school at Monastère des Ursulines de Québec for two terms, and then she returned home.

As a young woman, Eliza was often visited by Charles A. Manaige, whose father, Pierre Manaige, was a native of France, and his mother was part-Winnebago, or Ho-Chunk Indian. On July 30, 1870, Charles married Pelagie in Mankato.[12] They returned to Shakopee, where they spent their lives.

Pelagie and Charles had four children, two sons and two daughters. Isabelle was born in 1871, and married Harvey Randolph Leach in Des Moines, Iowa, and they had nine children. Melvin was born in 1872, and died April 12, 1931. He married and lived in Brooklyn, New York. Eugene Curtis was born 1874, and died of tuberculosis in 1903. Grace was born in 1876, and died at Friendship Manor in November of 1966.[13]

Pelagie died on Dec. 1, 1937. She is buried at the Valley Cemetery in Shakopee, Minnesota.[14]

[1] Find a Grave Memorial of Pelagie Eliza Faribault Manaige # 6783076, created by Cindy K. Coffin, April 03, 2011.

[2] Williams, Richard (2000). Oliver Faribault and Early Settlement at Faribault Springs. La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Rivière Saint-Pierre (HSP) Journal, 5 (3), 11-16.

[3] Winter, Marian B. (2003). A Visit with a Great-Granddaughter of Oliver Faribault. La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Rivière Saint-Pierre (HSP) Journal. From a working scrapbook 3061B in 1930s, and in the Sibley House Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society collections.

[4] Winter, Marian B. (2003). A Visit with a Great-Granddaughter of Oliver Faribault. La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Rivière Saint-Pierre (HSP) Journal. From a working scrapbook 3061B in 1930s, and in the Sibley House Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society collections.

[5] Interview of Patricia Jeanine Manaige Cates by David R. Schleper (2016) in Prior Lake, MN.

[6] Letter to Pat Cates from Ron Wilber related to the Burials on Shakopee Property (1998). Black River Falls, WI: HoChunk Historical Presentation, October 21, 1998.

[7] Winter, Marian B. (2003). A Visit with a Great-Granddaughter of Oliver Faribault. La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Rivière Saint-Pierre (HSP) Journal. From a working scrapbook 3061B in 1930s, and in the Sibley House Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society collections.

[8] Interview of Patricia Jeanine Manaige Cates by David R. Schleper (2016) in Prior Lake, MN.

[9] Winter, Marian B. (2003). A Visit with a Great-Granddaughter of Oliver Faribault. La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Rivière Saint-Pierre (HSP) Journal. From a working scrapbook 3061B in 1930s, and in the Sibley House Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society collections.

[10] Winter, Marian B. (2003). A Visit with a Great-Granddaughter of Oliver Faribault. La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Rivière Saint-Pierre (HSP) Journal. From a working scrapbook 3061B in 1930s, and in the Sibley House Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society collections.

[11] Winter, Marian B. (2003). A Visit with a Great-Granddaughter of Oliver Faribault. La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Rivière Saint-Pierre (HSP) Journal. From a working scrapbook 3061B in 1930s, and in the Sibley House Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society collections.

[12] Interview of Patricia Jeanine Manaige Cates by David R. Schleper (2016) in Prior Lake, MN.

[13] Interview of Patricia Jeanine Manaige Cates by David R. Schleper (2016) in Prior Lake, MN.

[14] Find a Grave Memorial of Pelagie Eliza Faribault Manaige # 6783076, created by Cindy K. Coffin, April 03, 2011.

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Joseph Godfrey

ca. 1830 – July 1, 1909
In Prairie des Français ca. 1844-1848
by David R. Schleper

Joseph Godfrey was born to an African American mother, Courtney, and a French Canadian father in the early 1830s in Mendota, across the Rivière Saint-Pierre (St. Peter’s River) from Fort Snelling.

Joseph’s mother, Courtney, was enslaved. She was born into slavery around 1812 in Virginia, and was owned by James Garland until 1820, when he sold her to his brother, U.S. Army Captain John Garland. The captain took Courtney to supposedly free Michigan and Wisconsin, and then in 1826 he moved to Fort Snelling, bringing Courtney, his slave, to the area later called Minnesota. In fact, James Garland actually claimed and received extra compensation from the Army for Courtney. “When soldiers brought their slaves from the South to the Upper Mississippi Valley, the federal government knew it and allowed it. More importantly, the government budgeted for it, using taxpayer dollars to defray the cost involved in keeping slaves at the forts.”[1]

So Joseph Godfrey, by birth and race, was enslaved. He was one of maybe a few African Americans who was born into slavery in Minnesota, and he was the only one who had grown from birth to adulthood in Minnesota as an enslaved person. “In Minnesota, there were never large gangs of farm workers, or auction blocks. There weren’t those trappings of the worst forms of slavery,” Walt Bachman said in 2013. “But there is ample evidence of brutality towards slaves in Minnesota, including a slave who was whipped to death by her Army officer master. Slavery, wherever it was practiced, was a pernicious institution, and Minnesota was no exception.”[2]

James Garland sold Courtney to Alexander and Lucy Faribault Bailly in 1831. Alexander was a prominent fur trader, and was ¼ Ottawa, and Lucy was the sister of Oliver Faribault, and was ¼ Dakota. According to Philander Prescott and his wife, Nahanamenah (Spirit of the Moon), Lucy mistreated other people’s children, including Joseph and a Dakota girl, Angelique Skaya, who were enslaved at their house. “And whilst I am speaking about the whipping business—Mrs. Bailly had a little black child raised in the family and a young Sioux girl. Those two children, I actually believe, would get from 25 to 50 lashes a day and sometimes more, every day almost. I frequently would leave the house to get away from the miserable crying of those children when she was cowhiding them.”[3] Joseph and Angelique were between 3 or 4 years old when this happened.

In the early 1840s, Alexander and Lucy either sold or gave Joseph to Oliver Faribault and Wakan Yanke. “At the trading post countless tasks might have been assigned to a slave: supplies and trade goods that Faribault exchanged for furs would have to be toted and warehoused; when furs arrived they would need to be counted, sorted, bundled, and loaded for transport downriver; and sundry nineteenth-century household chores such as water drawing and fire tending” would have kept Joseph Godfrey very busy.[4]

In about 1848 Joseph escaped, walked about 40 miles southwest along the Rivière Saint-Pierre to Traverse des Sioux, a village at a shallow river crossing.[5] There he presented himself to Alexander Huggins, a militant abolitionist Presbyterian missionary whom he had previously met, probably at the Pond Mission House in Prairieville, the name Rev. Samuel W. Pond called Tiŋta-otoŋwe. [6] Joseph was enslaved at Prairie des Français (French Prairie) at the Faribault Trading Post, which was across the springs from the Pond Mission House.

According to Alexander Huggins’s son, Joseph said he “had been beaten and abused and could stand it no longer.”[7]

Almost immediately, however, Godfrey fled to join the Indian bands led by Chiefs Wabasha and Wakute along the Mississippi River. Joseph was afraid that he would be taken back into slavery if he stayed at the missionary’s home. He felt more comfortable as a refugee among a band of Dakotas whose language and customs he had learned in the fur trade. Lacking free papers, he became Minnesota’s only home-grown fugitive slave. In 1853 Godfrey moved back along the Minnesota River in south central Minnesota.

Joseph lived with Dakota Indians for over 12 years after his escape from Oliver Faribault and Wakan Yanke. He married Takanheca, the daughter of Wahpaduta (Red Leaf) in 1857, and had a son on a new Dakota reservation in southwestern Minnesota.[8]

In the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, Joseph, the enslaved man who escaped his owners, was approached by a Dakota man who announced that all the white people had been killed at the Agency. On the spot, Godfrey was asked what side he would take. Afraid for his life and family, Godfrey felt compelled to join the war.

Godfrey surrendered along with a group of about a thousand Dakota on Sept. 26, after the Sept. 23 Battle of Wood Lake. He was the first person tried by the military commission on Sept. 28, 1862. Because Joseph did not want to die, he agreed to testify against 11 of the 38 Dakota warriors who were hung on Dec. 26, 1862.[9] Although he did not get convicted for murder, he was convicted for participating in the fighting and sentenced to death by hanging. President Abraham Lincoln commuted his sentence to ten years imprisonment. He later got a full pardon.[10]

Joseph was sent to Camp McClellan in Davenport, Iowa to serve his prison sentence. After three years, he was pardoned and freed in 1866.

Upon Joseph’s release, he settled on the Santee Reservation, where he was united with his son. He was a farmer, and married a Dakota woman, Icazontewin, also known as Emma, in 1866. She died in 1895. When she died, Joseph married Jennie Goodtreacher in 1898.[11]

Joseph passed away from natural causes in July 1, 1909, and was buried at the Episcopalian Cemetery on the reservation.[12]

[1] Lahman, Christopher P. (2011). Slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley, 1787-1865: A History of Human Bondage in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., p. 67.

[2] Bachman, Walt (2013). Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey. Bloomington, MN: Pond Dakota Press.

[3] Parker, Donald Dean (editor) (1966). The Recollections of Philander Prescott Frontiersman of the Old Northwest, 1819-1862. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, p. 152

[4] Bachman, Walt (2013). Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey. Bloomington, MN: Pond Dakota Press, p. 39.

[5] This river crossing was used by generations of Dakota and early French fur traders as a trading outpost. Traverse des Sioux was the site of treaty negotiations in 1851 between the U.S. government and the Dakota.

[6] Bachman, Walt (2013). Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey. Bloomington, MN: Pond Dakota Press.

[7] Eli Huggins to Folwell, November 12, 1918. Folwell Papers, MHS Box 47.

[8] Anderson, Gary Clayton, and Alan R. Woolworth, eds. Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988.

[9] Anderson, Gary Clayton, and Alan R. Woolworth, eds. Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988.

[10] Francois, Sherick. “Godfrey, Joseph (c.1830–1909).” MNopedia, Minnesota Historical Society. (accessed July 20, 2017).

[11] Bachman, Walt (2013). Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey. Bloomington, MN: Pond Dakota Press.

[12] Bachman, Walt (2013). Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey. Bloomington, MN: Pond Dakota Press.

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Henry David Jones Koons: Philadelphia to Shakopee, Minnesota

With Notes on Shakopee Pioneers Thomas A. Holmes and Robert Kennedy

Written by David Hewitt Eggler, Jan. 9, 2017

Henry David Jones Koons, my second great-grandfather, was born in southeastern Pennsylvania. His mother, Frances B Jones, was born in 1811 in Union Township, Berks County, to David Jones, Esq. and Mary Brower. Mary’s father, Abraham Brower, built a commercial empire in Browertown1, a community built in a narrow space between the Schuylkill Canal, a commercial waterway, and the Schuylkill River, about 40 miles David Jones housenorthwest of Philadelphia. Several buildings in Browertown, today Unionville, still stand, including the David Jones house, a stone structure with distinctive herringbone pattern built by Abraham for his daughter Mary and her husband David Jones.

Frances B Jones married Philip T B Koons in 1830 in St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Douglasville, across the Schuylkill River from Browertown. Philip’s parents were Henry Koons and Mary Magdalena Trumbauer. Henry Koons, born in 1778, was from Limerick Twp. in Philadelphia (now Montgomery) County, the son of Frederick Koons and Mary Kendall. Mary Magdalena, born in 1782 in Trumbauersville, Bucks County, was the daughter of Philip Trumbauer and Catherine Huber. When Mary was two, however, her father died, and her mother remarried to an older man, Adam Brotzman, who lived in Limerick Twp. So Mary and Henry Koons were brought into proximity and married about 1803. In 1820 Henry Koons bought land in Union Township, Berks County, from his brother-in-law, Nicholas Brower, and moved there with his five sons including Philip.

The period between 1828 and 1832 was eventful for the Koons families. In 1828 Abraham Brower unexpectedly died, and the Browertown empire began to fall apart. Henry Koons still lived in Union Twp. in 1830, but by March 1832 Henry, along with his sons, was a resident of Philadelphia and an Innkeeper. In October 1832 Henry bought land in Marion County, Ohio, and shortly thereafter he and four of his sons, including Philip, farmed there on adjacent farms. During that period, on April 15, 1831, Henry David Jones Koons was born to Philip and Frances in Philadelphia County; on Oct. 1, 1831 Henry D J Koons was baptized in the German Reformed Church in downtown Philadelphia.

While the Koons clan lived in Marion, Ohio, they would have become acquainted with two other families that would play major roles in the history of Henry D J Koons. One was the family of Edward and Susannah Gordon Kennedy. The family moved from Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) to Marion in 1826, where Edward kept a tavern. Two of his children were Robert and Ursula, of whom more to come. The other family was Judge William and Rachel Day Holmes, originally also from Pennsylvania. Judge Holmes lived in Marion from 1820 to 1833; one of his sons was Thomas Andrew Holmes, who in 1829 in Marion married Ursula Kennedy.

Thomas A. HolmesThomas A. Holmes was an itinerant early pioneer and entrepreneur. He was instrumental in the establishment of Janesville, Wisconsin and Fountain City, Wisconsin (Buffalo County, initially called Holmes Landing). In 1851 he laid out and named Shakopee, Minnesota and then the nearby Chaska. In 1862, he participated in founding Bannack City, which became the first capital of Montana. He never stayed long enough in any of those towns to profit very greatly, preferring to move on. His Wisconsin endeavors began in 1835, when he built the second house there and became the second permanent settler. He made the first settlement in Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1836. He persuaded the family of his father, Judge Holmes, to participate in the latter adventure, building shanties in what was then unsettled wilderness.

Exactly how the family of Henry D J Koons became involved in the Wisconsin ventures of Holmes is unclear. What is known is that on Dec. 6, 1834 Philip T B Koons sold 100 acres of land in Marion Township, Ohio, and on Aug. 1, 1837 Frances B Jones Koons married Robert Kennedy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We can speculate that Kennedy and the Koons family decided to join Holmes in his Western expeditions. Whether Philip Koons died in Ohio, or on a journey west, or in Wisconsin is unknown.

“In 1839 Thomas Holmes, his wife Ursula, his brother-in-law Robert Kennedy and his wife [Frances B Jones Koons Kennedy], and others in a party of 13 left Milwaukee and were enroute up the Mississippi with St. Anthony Falls (present day St. Paul) as their goal. [That party included two children, the eight-year-old Henry David Jones Koons and Thomas Edward Kennedy, born to Frances and Robert Kennedy in 1838.] However, in the late fall of the year an early freeze caused the Mississippi to freeze just above the mouth of the Waumandee which is just north of present-day Fountain City. With their travels forced to a halt, the group built dugout shelters on the shore of present-day Fountain City and settled in for the winter. During the winter Thomas Holmes, who had an excellent understanding of Indian dialects, established contacts with the Dakota Sioux band of Chief Wapasha whose winter camp was just down the river at what is now Winona. He found what he felt was a great opportunity for fur trading with the Indians.” 2

Robert Kennedy was primarily a hotel-keeper. In 1840-41 he kept a hotel at Holmes Landing (now Fountain City), in 1844 in Dakota, Winona County, in 1846 in Stillwater, Washington County, and in 1850 in St. Paul. He was enumerated in St. Paul in the 1850 census, the first to contain names of family members, which were Frances B, Henry Kennedy (who was Henry D J Koons), teamster, Edward, and two more young Kennedy boys. In 1851-52 he was town president of St. Paul. In 1853 he re-settled in two-year-old Shakopee, running boarding-houses and hotels, one of them the Kennedy and Reynolds National Hotel, until at least 1860, when he returned to St. Paul.

In 1852 Henry D J Koons, by then twenty-one, filed a claim in the new town of Mankato, Minnesota and for a time for an employee of the claims office there. But the next year he appears in a narrative about Shakopee. After its founding by Holmes in 1851, Shakopee in 1852 had twenty people. The real influx began in 1853 when the Indians were removed to the Upper Sioux Agency. The first officers of the town in July 1853 appointed a judge and an election board that included H.D.J. Koons; he was also appointed a road viewer. Henry D J Koons bought his first property in Shakopee, Scott County, on Nov. 10, 1853, paying $100 to Thomas Kennedy, the brother of his step-father Robert Kennedy. He sold two pieces of land in 1855 for a total of $795. His dealings began in earnest in 1856. Either by himself or with his wife he bought four properties for a total $2000, and with Robert Kennedy (his step-father) bought four properties for a total $7000. He sold 14 properties by himself or with his wife, almost all lots in the city of Shakopee, for a total $4532. The Shakopee lots came mostly from the public land that he acquired on June 16, 1856, when he purchased 80.65 acres in Township 115 North, Range 22 West, Section 6 N ½ SW ¼ in Eagle Creek Township, from the Red Wing land office (v. 1080, p. 111, document 119). The document also appears in the Scott County Deeds for the same date, and that document names him as Henry David Jones Koons. Many settlers bought 80 acres of public lands, but his section lay within the city limits of Shakopee, east of the original patent. In present-day Shakopee, it would lie approximately between Third and Seventh avenues and Main to Naumkeag (extended) streets. In fact, he sold some of the lots before the public land acquisition was finalized. In 1857 he bought one property in Scott County for $285 and three in the town of Helena for $300. That year eight properties were sold for a total $9250. In 1858 two properties were bought for $4000 and one sold for $100; in 1859 one was sold for $430. In 1861 two were sold for $800, including one in T114N R22W to Painted Differently and his wife Third Daughter of the Calhoon Band of the Sioux Tribe.

The History of the Minnesota Valley (1882, p. 300) says that claim jumping was frequent in the early days. “On July 18th, 1854, nine citizens were arrested for pulling down the claim shanty of Dr. Kinney of St. Paul on a disputed claim. Twenty-six or seven were engaged in the affair but fortunately all were not known and the offence could not be treated as a riot, as the injured party would have been glad to have made it, for blood ran high in these claim fights. The nine arrested were from the most substantial citizens and were no less persons than Thomas Kennedy, H.D.J. Koons, Thomas A. Holmes, John C. Somerville, Comfort Barnes, William H. Nobles, J.B. Allen, William Smothers, and D.M. Storer. The arrest was made by Dr. Kinney’s agent, and threatened to be a serious matter. The claim belonged to Henry D J Koons in the judgment of the citizens, and Dr. Kinney jumped it.”

On April 16, 1854 Henry D J Koons and Henrietta Allen were married in Shakopee by the Rev. Samuel William Pond, one of the two Pond brothers, noted early missionaries to the Sioux Indians. It was the first marriage ceremony in Shakopee. She was the daughter of John Boswell Allen and Jane Dillard, who had migrated from Spencer County, Kentucky to Boone County, Indiana and then to Shakopee.

Reconstructed Upper Sioux Agency in Yellow Medicine CountyIn addition to his land speculation, Henry D J Koons was also an interpreter for the US Army. He undoubtedly learned the Dakota language from Thomas A. Holmes. In that capacity, working out of the Upper Sioux Agency in Yellow Medicine County on the Minnesota River, he “died of pneumonia in a cold winter with very deep snow” (family narrative of Ada Hewitt). The picture is of the reconstructed Agency. The report of Thomas J. Galbraith, the Indian agent for the two Sioux reservations in the Northern Superintendency, can be found within the Report of the Secretary of the Interior, specifically the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1861, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Executive Document 1, p. 624, Serial Set Volume 1117; Galbraith’s report is on pp. 699-704). He writes, “Several complaints of Indian depredations on the frontier, in the region of Spirit Lake and Sioux City, have been made at this office. Early in September, under the direction of the Department of Indian Affairs, I sent Mr. H.D.J. Koons, the United States interpreter of this department, to Sioux City, via Spirit Lake, with instructions to inquire into these depredations and report at the earliest day possible. Gravestone of Henry David Jones KoonsHe has returned, but has been too unwell to prepare his report. As soon as possible his report will be transmitted to the department. He obtained considerable valuable information, from which I am able to state that the Indians of this agency stole some twenty or thirty horses the past summer from citizens of Iowa and Minnesota.”

Henry Koons died on Feb. 19, 1862. His obituary in the Shakopee Weekly Argus for March 1, 1862 reads: “Death of Henry Koons.–The friends of Henry Koons will regret to hear that he died on Wednesday of last week, of lung fever, at the Sioux Agency. In all the relations of citizen, husband and father he is well spoken of. He leaves a wife and three young children — besides many warm friends — to mourn his death.” Family history from Ada HewittAda Hewitt (picture at right) reads: “Abner Riggs used to say that if young Koons had lived, the Minnesota Indian uprising and massacre would not have occurred. He liked the Indians, and they were friendly toward him.” Abner Riggs was the husband of Ann Eliza Allen, sister of Henrietta Allen, and also a Shakopee pioneer. His mother was a sister of the missionary Pond brothers. The story is obviously an exaggeration. Hewitt family history also says, however, that the Sioux, out of respect, brought the body of Henry D J Koons down the Minnesota River to Shakopee, a perilous journey in winter.

Gravestone of Henrietta KoonsOn March 21, 1862 Henrietta Koons petitioned Probate Court of Scott County, meeting in Shakopee, to appoint her father John B. Allen Administrator of the Estate of her deceased husband. That was approved on April 17. The claims against the estate were finalized on Dec. 30, 1862 and consisted of a $20 account to James L. Wakefield, M.D. for medical services and medicines for the deceased at Yellow Medicine during his last sickness, $376.31 to the U.S. Government for foods furnished the deceased at the time he was employed by the government, various notes totaling $387.82, and two merchant accounts for $13.90, a total of $855.78. After subtracting assets, the amount of indebtedness was $479.47. It would seem, given the amount of real estate dealings that Henry D.J. Koons had been pursuing, that the amount could be satisfied easily. Nevertheless, John B. Allen reported to the Court in November 1863 that to pay the debts and the expenses of the administrator the whole of the real estate of the deceased would have to be sold. Several public auctions took place in 1864 and two in 1869. These did not bring prices commensurate with prices Henry paid. Every property was sold under $100 except for a property in Anoka County that brought $250. Most notably, many lots in the town of Helena went at auction for twenty-five cents each. Although the probate court record contains no concluding statement, the indebtedness was presumably settled once and for all in 1869.

Henrietta Koons visited Marion County, Ohio in December 1863, possibly to solicit money willed to her husband by his grandfather Henry Koons, but two years later died. The tombstone in Valley Cemetery reads “wife of H.D.J. Koons, died July 5, 1865 aged 27 yrs.” Two girls were left orphans, including my great-grandmother Martha Mae Koons. Ten years later Martha Mae (below right) would marry George Hewitt (below left), the uncle of Ada Hewitt cited above. George and Martha Mae also died very young, leaving five orphan children including my grandmother.

George Hewitt Martha Mae Koons

Other families from Browertown pop up in Shakopee. The brother of Frances B Jones Koons Kennedy, Abraham Brower Jones, appears as a merchant in the 1857 census for Shakopee, and in that same year was one of the partners, including Thomas Holmes, in an unsuccessful venture to develop Spring Lake, south of Shakopee. In 1863 he was an officer in the Shakopee Lodge, A.F. and A.M., but by 1885 was living in St. Paul with his sister. The families of his daughters, Charity M Jones Leopold and Mary Elizabeth Jones Sencerbox, also were early Shakopee residents. Leopold was a prominent Browertown name.

SOME AFTERMATHS: Henry Koons and his wife Mary Magdalena died in 1859 and 1868 in Defiance County, Ohio. Judge Holmes and his wife died in the 1860s in Janesville, Wisconsin. Ursula Kennedy Holmes died ~1841 in Dubuque, Iowa. After her death, Thomas A Holmes married twice more and died in 1888 in Cullman, Alabama. Robert Kennedy kept several boarding-houses and hotels in St. Paul; in 1864 he journeyed west to gold fields near Helena, Montana, for about a year, accumulating enough wealth to pay his debts. He died in 1889 in St. Paul. His wife Frances B Jones Koons Kennedy died in St. Paul two years later. The Shakopee Courier Dec. 3, 1891 wrote: “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kennedy were of the old settlers of Shakopee, Mr. Kennedy having built the National hotel, afterwards burned down.”

1 Susan Speros-Miller, The Town of Brower: A Lost Family Legacy, Historical Review of Berks County, Winter 2006-2007, p. 20-29, available online at and at (scroll to the bottom)

2 Buffalo County Biographical History: Celebrating 150 Years, 1853-2003, Buffalo County Historical Society (Buffalo County, Wisconsin), 2002, p. 7 (available online). For many more details on those years, although this source needs to be read with caution, see Winona (WE-NO-NAH) and its environs on the Mississippi in ancient and modern days by Lafayette Houghton Bunnell, M. D., written for and under the auspices of the Winona County Old Settlers’ Association, Winona, Minnesota, Jones & Krobgek, Printers and Publishers, 1897, chapters X and XII, available online.