Queen of Twitter,
Run for President,
Or get off the Shitter.
We are at the 149th anniversary of the Sioux Uprising/Minnesota Indian War (or pick your variation on the name). More particularly, we approach the anniversary of the escape of the settlers at the Upper Agency, Yellow Medicine, Minnesota, under the keen guidance of John Otherday.
Among the 62 settlers that escaped the Upper Agency were my 4th great grandmother and 4th great grandfather, as well as my 3rd great grandfather – then, just 9 years old. By evening of the 18th, they were aware of what went down at the Lower Agency. They knew it was leave or face certain slaughter. John Otherday led the parties for the next week across the prairies and marshes of Minnesota, with my family eventually returning to the more populated St. Paul. There they settled. Waaaay down the road, the Gull Reef Club was born.
I suppose, in some respects I owe my existence to John Other Day. Many in my family may say the same. Quite an incredible story, really.
If you can set aside the overwhelmingly white/male/1864 perspective of the following, this excerpt from Charles S. Bryant’s A History of the Great Massacre by the Sioux Indians, in Minnesota helps tell the story of those few days at Yellow Medicine, August, 1862:
During all the fatal 18th of August, the people at the Upper Agency, in utter ignorance of the tragic events transpiring below, with a feeling of perfect security, continued their usual avocations. In the absence of Major Galbraith, the assistant Agent, Judge Givens, was conducting the affairs of the Agency. As night approached, an unusual gathering of Indians was observed on the hill just west of the Agency, and between it and the house of John Other Day. Judge Givens and Charles Crawford, then acting as interpreter, in the absence of Freniere, went out to them, and sought to learn why they were there in council, but could get no satisfactory reply. Soon after this, Other Day came to them with the news of the outbreak below, as did also Joseph Laframbois, a half-breed Sioux. The families there were soon all gathered together in the warehouse and dwelling of the Agent, who resided in the same building, and, with the guns they had, they prepared themselves as best they could, and awaited an attack, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible. There were gathered here sixty-two persons, men, women, and children.
Other Day, and several other Indians, who came to them, told them they would stand by them to the last. These men visited the council outside, several times during the night; but when they were most needed, one only, the noble and heroic Other Day, remained faithful. All the others disappeared, one after another, during the night. About one or two o’clock in the morning, Stewart B. Garvie, connected with the traders’ store, known as Myrick’s, came to the warehouse, and was admitted, badly wounded, a charge of buckshot having entered his bowels. Garvie was standing in the door of his store when he was fired upon and wounded. He ran up stairs, and jumping from the window into the garden, crawled away, and reached the Agency without further molestation. At about this time Joseph Laframbois went to the store of Daily & Pratt, and awakened the two men in charge there, Duncan R. Kennedy and J. D. Boardman, and told them to flee for their lives. They hastily dressed and left the store, but had not gone ten rods, when they saw in the path before them three Indians. They stepped down from the path, which ran along the edge of a rise in the ground of some feet, and crouching in the grass, the Indians passed within eight feet of them. Kennedy went on toward Fort Ridgley, determined to reach that post if possible, and Boardman went to the warehouse. At the store of William H. Forbes, Constans, bookkeeper, a native of France, was killed. At the store of Patoile, Peter Patoile, clerk, and nephew of the proprietor, Was shot just outside the store, the ball entering at the back and coming out near the nipple, passing through his lungs. An Indian came to him after he fell, turned him over, and saying ” He is dead,” left him.
They then turned their attention to the stores. The clerks in the store of Louis Robert had effected their escape, so that there were now no white men left, and when they had become absorbed in the work of plunder, Patoile crawled off into the bushes on the bank of the Yellow Medicine, and concealed himself. Here he remained all day Tuesday, in sight of the stores, which the savages were plundering, and at which they were engaged during the entire day. After dark he got up and started for a place of safety. Ascending the bluff, out of the Yellow Medicine bottom, he passed the Government warehouse and dwellings of the employees, half a mile distant from the trading-post. They had already been plundered and sacked. Patoile dragged himself a mile and a half further that night, to the Minnesota, at the mouth of the Yellow Medicine. Wading the Minnesota, he entered the house of Louis Labelle, a settler on the opposite side at the ford. It was deserted. Finding a bed in the house, he lay down upon it, and was soon asleep, and did not awake until morning, when two half-breeds, Joseph Laframbois and Narces Freniere, and an Indian, Makacaga, entered the house, and finding him there, awoke him, telling him there were hostile Indians about, and that he must go into a ravine near by and hide. They gave him a blanket to disguise himself, and going with him to the ravine, concealed him in the grass and left him, promising to return, as soon as it was safe to do so, bring him food, and guide him away to the prairie. He lay in this ravine until toward night, when his friends, true to their promise, returned, bringing some crackers, tripe, and onions. They went with him some distance out on the prairie, and enjoining upon him not to attempt to go to Fort Ridgley, and giving him the best directions they could as to the course he should take, shook hands with him and left him. Their names should be inscribed upon tablets more enduring than brass. That night he slept on the prairie, and the next day resumed his wanderings, over an unknown region, without an inhabitant. After wandering for days without food or drink, his little stock of crackers and tripe being exhausted, he came to a deserted house, which he did not know. Here he remained all night, and obtained two raw potatoes and three ears of green corn. These he ate raw. It was all the food he had for eight days. Wandering, and unknowing whither to go, on the twelfth day out from Labelle’s house, he heard the barking of dogs, and creeping nearer to them, still fearing there might be Indians about, he was overjoyed at seeing white men. Soon making himself and his condition known, he was taken and kindly cared for by these men, who had some days before deserted their farms, and had now returned to look after their crops and cattle. He now learned for the first time where he was. He had struck a settlement far up the Sauk Valley, some forty miles above St. Cloud. He must have wandered, in those twelve days of suffering, not less than two hundred miles, including deviations from a direct course.
He was taken by these men, in a wagon, to St. Cloud, where his wound was dressed for the first time. From St. Cloud the stage took him to St. Anthony, where he took the cars to St. Paul. The writer was well acquainted with him at Yellow Medicine, and met him in St. Paul, about an hour after his arrival in that city, as one risen from the dead. A case of equal suffering and equal endurance is scarcely to be found on record. With a bullet-wound through the lungs, he walked twelve days, not over a smooth and easy road, but across a trackless prairie, covered with rank grass, wading sloughs and streams on his way, almost without food, and for days without water, before he saw the face of a man; and then traveled, by wagon, stage, and cars, over one hundred miles.
His recovery was rapid, and he soon enlisted in the 1st Regiment Minnesota Mounted Rangers, under General Sibley, in the expedition against the Sioux. Patoile was in the battles on the Missouri in the summer of 1863, where his company—that of Captain Joseph Anderson—is mentioned as having fought with great bravery.
We now return to the warehouse at Yellow Medicine, which we left to follow the strange fortunes of young Patoile. Matters began to wear a serious aspect when Garvie came to them, mortally wounded. They laid him upon a lounge in Major Galbraith’s parlor, and did all for him that the circumstances admitted. Other Day was constantly on the watch outside, and reported the progress of affairs, keeping those within constantly posted. Toward daylight every friendly Indian but him had deserted them, and they then-felt that their case was well-nigh hopeless, and began seriously to canvass the question of flight. The demoniac yells of the savages came distinctly to their ears from the trading-post below, half a mile distant. They were absorbed in the work of plunder. The chances of escape were sadly against them, even if they made the attempt. To remain was certain destruction. They decided to make the attempt. Other Day knew every foot of the country over which they must pass, and would be their guide.
The teams were hastily harnessed to the wagons and Iriven to the door. A bed was placed in one of them; Garvie was laid upon it. The women and children provided a few loaves of bread, hastily taken; and, just as day dawned, the cortege started on its perilous way. Most of the men were compelled to walk. This party consisted of the family of Major Galbraith, wife, and three children; Nelson Givens, wife, and wife’s mother, and three children; Noah Sinks, wife, and two children; Henry Eschele, wife, and five children; John Fadden, wife, and three children; Mr. German and wife; Frederick Patoile, wife, and two children; Mrs. Jane K. Murch, Miss Mary Charles, Miss Lizzie Sawyer, Miss Mary Daly, Miss Mary Hays, Mrs. Eleanor Warner, Mrs. John Other Day and one child, Mrs. Hanrahan, N. A. Miller, Edward Cramsie, Z. Hawkins, Oscar Canfil, Mr. Hill, an artist of St. Paul, J. D. Boardman, Parker Pierce, Dr. J. L. Wakefield, and several others, mostly young men, whose names we do not know.
They crossed the Minnesota at Labelle’s farm, and soon turned into the timber on the Hawk River, crossed that stream at some distance above its mouth, and ascended from the narrow valley through which it runs to the open prairie beyond, and followed down the Minnesota, keeping back on the prairie as far as the farm of Major J. R. Brown, eight miles below the Yellow Medicine. Mr. Fadden and Other Day visited the house, and found it deserted. A consultation then took place, for the purpose of deciding where they should go. Some of them wished to go to Fort Ridgley; others, to some town away from the frontier. Other Day told them that if they attempted to go to the fort they would all be killed, as the Indians would either be lying in ambush on that road for them, or would follow them, believing they would attempt to go there. His counsel prevailed, and they turned to the left, across the prairie, in the direction of the Kandiyohi Lakes and Glencoe. They traveled all day over the prairie without seeing a house, and, at night, prepared to bivouac on the prairie, wfcen one of the party mounted a horse and rode forward, and found a house about a mile ahead. They hastened forward, and reached it in time to escape a furious storm which raged that night. They were kindly received by the only person about the premises, a man, whose family were away. Here they remained until the next morning. Soon after crossing Hawk River they were joined by Louis Labelle and Gertong, his son-in-law, who remained with them all that day. On Wednesday morning they left the house of the friendly settler, and that night reached Cedar City, eleven miles from Hutchinson, in the county of McLeod. The inhabitants had deserted the town, and gone to an island in Cedar Lake, and had erected a rude shelter. There was shallowwater, at one point, from the mainland to this island. Through this water our escaping party drove, guided by one of the citizens of Cedar City, and were cordially welcomed by the people assembled there.
That night it rained, and all were drenched to the skin. Poor Garvie was laid under a rude shed, upon his bed, and all was done for him that they could do; but, in the morning, it was evident that he could go no further, and he was taken to the house of a Mr. Peck, and left. He died there, a day or two afterward. Some of the company, who were so worn out as to be unable to go on beyond Hutchinson, returned to Cedar City, and saw that he was decently interred.
On Thursday they went on, by way of Hutchinson and Glencoe, to Carver, and thence to Shakopee and St. Paul. But for the unflinching devotion of Other Day (Ampatutokicha) and his wise guidance, they would all have been lost, as it has been since learned that Indians were on the fort road, who would undoubtedly have destroyed the entire party. Major Galbraith, in a report to the Department, says of this escape:
“Led by the noble Other Day, they struck out on the naked prairie, literally placing their lives in this faithful creature’s hands, and guided by him, and him alone. After intense suffering and privation, they reached Shakopee, on Friday, the 22d of August, Other Day never leaving them for an instant; and this Other Day is a pure, full-blooded Indian, and was, not long since, one of the wildest and fiercest of his race. Poor, noble fellow! must he, too, be ostracized for the sins of his nation? I commend him to the care of ft just God and a liberal government; and not only him, but all others who did likewise.”
My 4th great grandfather’s name is listed above. Spot him and I will eat a cookie in your honor.
Thank you, John Otherday!