Compiled and Written by David R. Schleper
Shakopee was one of the oldest settlements in Minnesota, but was really only a frontier outpost, part Indian and part white when the Titus family moved there.
Moses was born near Washington, Connecticut. The Titus family was related to the Ponds, an old Connecticut family. Moses Starr Titus’s parents were Starr Titus and Rebecca Pond. Rebecca Pond was the sister of Samuel Pond and Gideon Pond. Samuel and Gideon came west about 1832 as missionaries among the Indians. They established a mission among them on the east side of what is now known as Lake Calhoun in the city limits of Minneapolis.
Moses Starr Titus came west about 1844 to join the Ponds and assist them as a teacher. He also was an Indian farmer and a trader at Black Dog village. He came to Shakopee by canoes, and then by ox teams, following the old Indian trail.
Moses met Jane while at Lake Calhoun.
Jane Lamont was born 1827, the daughter of Daniel Lamont, a trader from Scotland, and Hanyetukihnayewn (Hush the Night), Mdewakanton Dakota. Daniel’s father and Jane Lamont’s grandparents were Colin Lamont Sr. and Jane Smith of Scotland. Hanyetukihnayewn’s father was the Dakota Lake Calhoun band chief. Jane’s grandparents were Mahpiyawicasta and Canpadutawin. Mahpiyawicasta was also known as Cloud Man, and Canpadutawin was known as Red Cherry Woman.
In 1828 while on a hunting expedition, Jane’s grandfather, Mdewakanton leader Mahpiyawicasta, or Cloud Man, was caught in a blizzard and survived by letting the snow cover him. The snow fell for three days before Mahpiyawicasta could crawl out from under it.
“While trapped by the snow,” local missionary Samuel Pond wrote, “Cloud Man (Mahpiyawicasta) thought upon a hunter’s life and decided that if he survived he would follow [Indian agent Lawrence] Taliaferro’s advice and raise corn.”
(In Mahpiyawicasta’s lifetime there was not a written language for the Dakota. This information is drawn from accounts of European-American traders, politicians, missionaries, and other settlers who wrote accounts in the early 19th century. Due to the prejudices and misconceptions of the time, Samuel Pond and other accounts may inevitably reflect some of that bias.)
It wasn’t just a near-death experience and advice of an ally that pushed Mahpiyawicasta to abandon the traditional lifestyle. Opportunities for hunting were being diminished by fur-trapping and squatters taking Dakota land as more Americans pushed into tribal lands. Mahpiyawicasta, called Cloud Man, saw an opportunity to use the technology of the plow to increase yields and help prevent starvation of his band.
Cloud Man was nearly alone in his embrace of permanent farming, and few Dakota leaders agreed with his decision, but in the year after the snowstorm, Cloud Man led the Mdewakanton band of Dakota to farm at the area which would be known as Lake Calhoun. Cloud Man was chief of this village, known as Reyataotonwe, or Inland Village, which was set up in 1829. Taliaferro called the village Eatonville after then-Secretary of War John H. Eaton.
By 1832 the village’s population had increased significantly from 8 to 125 people. Many of those who joined Cloud Man were women and children. Mahpiyawicasta and Canpadutawin had a few daughters, including Hanyetukihnayewin.
In 1834 two missionaries, Samuel and Gideon Pond, were sent by Taliaferro to live at Eatonville. Cloud Man chose to welcome them and both Ponds respected his leadership. Samuel spoke of Cloud Man as “a man of superior discernment and of great prudence and foresight.” The Ponds helped farm the land and studied the Dakota language.
Although staying in Eatonville brought opportunities for a more consistent food supply for the Mdewakanton band, life in the village was tenuous.
Sac and Fox Indians attacked the Dakota people, making Cloud Man wary of continuing to listen to the advice of Taliaferro. Cloud Man addressed a group who were pressuring his people not to retaliate, saying, “I always thought myself and my people would be made happy by listening to your advice. But I begin to think the more we listen, the more we are imposed upon by other tribes.”
Affairs worsened in 1838 as news arrived that Ojibwe chief Hole-in-the-Day had killed some of the Wahpeton band of Dakota. Lake Calhoun was too close to Ojibwe territory to be safe from attack.
News of Taliaferro’s resignation as Indian agent came as an additional sign that it was time to move the band further from the threat of Ojibwe attack. With new leadership at Fort Snelling, there would be no support of the farming experiment at Lake Calhoun.
In 1840 Cloud Man’s band moved to a more defensible location near the Minnesota River in Oak Grove (now south Bloomington), leaving the farm and village they had built behind. The farm and village today is in Lakewood Cemetery.
By 1840, Jane’s mother, Hanyetukihnayewn (Hush the Night) was a widow. Daniel Lamont, who had been trading in the Minnesota River since early 1820s, died between 1836 and 1837. Their daughter was Jane, who was born at Lake Harriet on January 11, 1827. In the spring of 1840, Samuel Pond was planning to abandon the Lake Harriet mission. Hanyetukihnayewn had known the Ponds while living in their father’s village. For reasons we will never know, Hanyetukihnayewn asked Samuel to take Jane and raise her with the Pond family.
Jane was about 10 or 11 years old, and she spoke Dakota. She did not speak English.
Jane lived in the homes of Samuel and Gideon Pond at Oak Grove and Shakopee for 13 years. Family letters and Gideon’s diary refer frequently to Jane’s activities, health, character, and piety. It was clear that both families felt that Jane was affectionate and in high esteem. Cordelia Eggleston Pond, wife of Samuel Pond, wrote to a friend in 1847:
“We have a teacher for our Indian school this winter of our own training. She does very well, I believe. She came to live with us about seven years ago and has lived either in our family of Brother’s most of the time since. We think she gives good evidence of piety. (She) was received into the church last summer.”
The missionary’s family took care of the little one, and she grew up to womanhood surrounded by the best influences. Sarah Pond Ellison remembered about Jane:
“There lived in the family an Indian girl, Jane, granddaughter of Chief Cloud Man, who had been given to the missionaries by her mother. She grew up into a woman of fine Christian character and much capability. She married a white man and her sons are men of prominence in Wisconsin.”
The white man who married Jane was Moses Starr Titus. On March 14, 1850, at the age of 21, Jane married Samuel Pond’s nephew, Moses. Moses had been living with the family for some years.
Moses organized one of the first schools in the Minnesota River valley at Shakopee. In 1852, Moses and Jane built a house in Shakopee. A few years later, they built the large residence not too far from the Ponds’ residence, which they lived in until they both died.
Residence of Moses Starr and Jane Lamont Titus, 1868. The home was near the Reverend Samuel Pond’s house. This picture is from the Scott County Historical Museum.
Moses and Jane had four children, three sons and a daughter: Seymour Starr Titus (1851), Henry Harlan Titus (1854), Moses Starr Titus (1858), and Jane Marilla Titus (1866). Moses Starr and Jane Lamont Titus were involved in the founding of the Presbyterian Church, and they took an active role. Jane was remembered as a woman of kindness and mercy. As a wife and mother, she was true and tender, and as a mother she exerted all a mother’s love and watchful care.
Moses Starr Titus died on September 22, 1878.
(Some information from Grand Forks Herald, Friday, April 6, 1923; “Who Was Jane Lamont?” Anglo-Dakota Daughters in Early Minnesota by Jane Lamm Carroll, Minnesota History, p. 184-195, Spring 2005; Historic Southwest Citizens: Cloud Man—How Cloud Man, a Dakota leader, led his people to farm on the banks of Lake Calhoun in the early 19th century by Alison Nowak, Southwest Minneapolis Patch, September 7, 2011; Dacotah Children Her Playmates, January 16, 1904 and in Pond Notebook, Scott County Historical Museum; Obituary)