Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
© 2012, Duane Stanley
"When the settlers went to the fort, grandmother was the only woman that would go out with the men to harvest the crop. She cooked for the men." (Don Petty Stanley)
E.H. Atwood describes in considerable detail what was perhaps the most dramatic day during the settlers' time in the fort:
"During all this time a large part of the wheat and oats were standing uncut in the fields exposed to the destruction of the elements, which caused the grain to lodge. So, just as soon as the fort was completed, the men went out in small parties to harvest their grain, always keeping one or two men on the watch for the foe, each harvester keeping near his gun. As men were scarce, several girls assisted by driving the reapers.
"By this time our numbers had been increased by additions from families further west. Among the number was Mr. Robert Wheeler and wife, and daughters Nellie and Lidia, Mr. Stone and wife and son Frank and daughter Ella, and Wm. Westover from near Sauk Center.
"One morning a party of nine men went to harvest E.H. Atwood's grain. Mrs. Thos. B. [Mary] Standley volunteered to go to the house and cook the dinner. The house was situated in the edge of the timber. Every precaution was taken to prevent a surprise. Two men were placed on guard and every one kept his gun near him.
"Messers. Stone, Wheeler and Westover had decided to return to their homes, and about 10 o'clock passed Atwood's house with an ox team and their families. About an hour after they had passed, heavy and rapid firing was heard in the direction which they had taken. As the guns sounded like Indian guns, there was some uneasiness felt and just as the men were going to dinner, Westover was seen coming running at his utmost speed. He was nearly exhausted and said that they were going along through the brush one and a half miles west of Pearl Lake, Wheeler a few rods ahead of the team, Stone just back of the wagon and he a little further back, when just as they came to the foot of a hill three Indians were seen dodging behind the bushes near the road and one of them rose up, but two or three rods off, and fired at Wheeler, but missed him. Wheeler returned the fire, and the Indian dropped behind the brush. Stone sprang forward just in time to see a naked savage taking deadly aim at Wheeler from behind a clump of bushes. His naked left side was exposed and Stone put in a charge of buck shot 'where it did the most good.' The Indian fell to the ground without a groan and the other Indians fled.
"The wagon was turned around and they ran their oxen back a mile and a half to Mr. Watkins' house, where the oxen fell down from exhaustion. They had seen the Indians running their ponies to get ahead of them and cut off their retreat, but they had failed, and had come out into the road a little behind them. Stone and Wheeler and their families took refuge in the Watkins house and Westover had come on to our place for help. From the boldness of the attack, it was thought there was quite a number of Indians. No time was to be lost if we would save the besieged ones.
"Orders were rapidly given and quickly executed. A.S. Greely was ordered to hitch his team to a wagon and take Mrs. Standly to the fort with all possible speed. One or two other men were sent to warn other parties, who were harvesting in other places, and scouts were sent out to prevent a surprise. Mrs. Standly was informed of the situation and danger, and that the men were going to rescue the besieged people, and that she was to get into the wagon and go to the fort in haste, but she insisted that as dinner was all ready we should eat before going. It was argued that the danger was imminent, that even now there was danger of our being surrounded by the savages, or that the women and children might be captured if we delayed. She still insisted that we would be half sick if we went 'trapesing off there without our dinner,' and that the beans would all be cold and mussed up.
"Just then hearing firing in the direction of the Watkins house she was persuaded to go. The rest of the party, six or seven in number, started for the rescue. The Indians fled upon their approach. The oxen were found alive and able to travel, and were hurriedly started for the fort, with the women and children, and guarded out of the timber by the whole force.
"Five then started to rescue
Mr. A. Maservey, John White and H. Clark, who were harvesting a small field west of M. Greely's. The Indians had been seen on their ponies near this field. The field was found deserted, the horses gone, and appearances indicated that the place had been raided. While cautiously reconnoitering the place, Atwood saw a bald head and red face peering around the corner of the old log house. Taking it for the head of an Indian, he took aim and was just pulling the trigger, when he discovered his mistake. It was A. Maservey's head. It was a narrow escape. The men were taking their after dinner nap and knew nothing of their danger.
The whole party then started for the dead or wounded Indian that Stone had shot, and were soon joined by about 20 from the fort. When the watchmen on the fort saw A.S. Greely running his horses to the fort he raised the alarm flag and fired the signal guns. The harvesters came pouring in from all directions and when they heard of the peril of their comrades, hastened forward to their assistance, the party was so close upon the retreating Indians that they had barely time to snatch their dead or wounded comrade and escape, leaving, where he had fallen, a new bed cord, an oil cloth gun cover, a woman's shawl, a white clean new woolen bed blanket and an old smoked Indian blanket. Their trail was followed over the hills a mile or more and lost.
"The party returned to the fort with appetites that could relish beans; even if they were cold and all mussed up."
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Annual Meeting Tuesday, Oct. 23 "Moccasins on Maine Prairie" presented for the first time by board member Duane Stanley. His ancestors were among the earliest settlers here. Arch-enemies Dakota and Ojibwe Indians were both claiming the area as winter hunting grounds, concluding with the last killing just outside Fair Haven. It's 7 p.m. at the historic Kimball City Hall. There is no charge, everyone is welcome, light refreshments to follow. Bring your friends.
Tuesday, Nov. 13-Sixth Annual Holiday Potluck Social 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Kimball's historic City Hall. Come celebrate, visit about your year and history. Utensils and beverage are provided, bring a dish to pass, and look forward to another special evening, free and open to the public.
Christmas is just around the corner, gifts from the heart, simple ways to share the love of history. Everything from tax-deductible membership to best-seller Society popular cookbook, and Kimball's early settlers' booklet at $10 each, commemorative note cards, 125th Kimball anniversary picture postcards, souvenir coffee mugs and trivets now on sale.
We hope you will renew your membership as we near the end of 2012 and begin anew with 2013, only $10 for single; $15 for family; $25 for business, all tax deductible. Your support helps to ensure that Kimball Area Historical Society will continue to present innovative educational programs that give children and adults an understanding of community responsibility, articulated so eloquently by our early settlers.
For more information, tax-deductible donations, volunteering, and all the above, contact the Kimball Area Historical Society at PO Box 55 (new) Kimball MN 55353, or call (320) 398-5743, 398-5250, or e-mail
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Creating a future from the past