Abraham Lincoln as the Puppetmaster of Death (of starvation, war, and executions) Ledger Art by Travis Blackbird by Prairie Rose SeminoleRemember the #Dakota38, hanged in Mankato, MN on Dec 26, 1862, under the orders of President Abraham Lincoln. It is ...

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"St. Vincent Memories" - 5 new articles

  1. Dakota 38
  2. Postscript to the U.S.-Dakota War
  3. Water Cooler V: Aunt Mildred's "Books"
  4. Junction Drive Inn
  5. St. Vincent Murder Trial
  6. More Recent Articles

Dakota 38

Abraham Lincoln as the Puppetmaster of Death (of starvation, war, and executions)
Ledger Art by Travis Blackbird

by Prairie Rose Seminole
Remember the #Dakota38, hanged in Mankato, MN on Dec 26, 1862, under the orders of President Abraham Lincoln. It is the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

The hanging of 38 Dakota came at the culmination of the Dakota War, which started because of a treaty broken by Congress. 

The Dakota people were being starved to death.

“Let then eat grass or their own dung,” Andrew Myrick, a trader & store owner who withheld their rations.

Andrew Myrick was among the first to die. He was found with grass in his mouth.

The accused were subjected to sham trials held in English (a language foreign to them), and they had no legal representation. They were also not allowed to discuss the broken treaty, or treaty law. Many were innocent. They were hanged anyway, on a custom made scaffold, in front of a cheering mob.

Dakota women & children were forced to watch the hanging. One Dakota infant was reportedly snatched from the arms of a mother and killed on sight.

Around 1,700 Dakota, mostly women and children, were held as prisoners at Fort Snelling. Disease & death were rampant.

Chief Little Crow, a leader during the Dakota War, was later assassinated. His remains were mutilated by townspeople & displayed. They stuffed firecrackers in his nose & ears and lit them. Local doctors eventually took his body parts to study.

Two more Dakota leaders, Shakopee (Little Six) and Medicine Bottle, were later captured and executed.

After the hanging of the Dakota 38, the Dakota people were exiled from their stolen homelands in Minnesota. Banned from entering, unable to return to MN. The governor put a bounty on their scalps. The Dakota people were separated and sent to prison camps in other states where the women were raped by soldiers.

Following the U.S-Dakota War of 1862, the United States government hanged 38 Dakota men on December 26 in Mankato. It was the largest mass execution in United States history. A US military commission, tainted by racism and in violation of due process, hastily convicted two of the Dakota men of rape and all of them of murder in trials that lasted as little as five minutes. President Lincoln approved their executions. Here are the names and faces of some of the men known as the Dakota 38.
All things being ready, the first tap was given, when the poor wretches made such frantic efforts to grasp each other's hands, that it was agony to behold them. Each one shouted out his name, that his comrades might know he was there.  - From New York Times article, The Indian Executions
     

Postscript to the U.S.-Dakota War

by Curt Brown [Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 8, 2015]

Shakopee, left, and Medicine Bottle were hanged three years
after the U.S.-Dakota War because military leaders wanted to
prove they finished the job.     
[Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]
They were the last two high-profile holdouts.

The bloody U.S.-Dakota War had been over for three years. Thirty-eight Dakota men had been hanged in Mankato. But white military and political leaders weren’t satisfied.

They felt they had to show, once and for all, that they’d handled the Indian problem and the frontier was back in business for immigrant settlers who could replenish the fledgling Minnesota economy.

So just after noon on Nov. 11, 1865, 425 soldiers marched in formation to surround a specially constructed double gallows at Fort Snelling.

More than 400 St. Paul citizens turned out 150 years ago to watch the hangings of two Dakota leaders: Medicine Bottle and Shakopee. They had eluded soldiers for years, escaping across the Canadian border to Manitoba with more than 500 Dakota refugees from the war.
John McKenzie was the man who drugged Little Six (aka Shakopee) and Medicine Bottle after the Sioux massacre and brought them in this condition from Manitoba and delivered them to Major E. A. C. Hatch. Knowing the frailty of Little Six, who was a different man from the old chief Little Six, his father, McKenzie left a bottle of drugged whisky with a woman at the house which he was accustomed to visit, knowing that his greedy appetite would ferret it out. The artifice succeeded, and Little Six and Medicine Bottle were tried and hung at Fort Snelling for killing Philander Prescott. - History Of The Minnesota Valley, Scott County History Archives, 1882
Their flight ended in January 1864, when Shakopee and Medicine Bottle stopped by the home of a white friend near Winnipeg’s Fort Garry. That "friend" - Canadian trader, John McKenzie - was secretly in cahoots with a U.S. Army major across the border in what would become Pembina, N.D.

McKenzie plied both Indian leaders with alcohol laced with drugs. Shakopee, then in his 50s, was dosed with chloroform and rendered unconscious. Medicine Bottle, in his mid-30s, struggled longer but several men subdued him. Both Dakota men were tied to dog sleds and taken to Pembina, then Fort Abercrombie, en route to Fort Snelling.

The Minnesota Legislature forked out $1,000 — big money in the 1860s — to McKenzie as a bounty. Trials were held and both men were convicted despite sketchy evidence that they had committed atrocities during the war. They were blamed in the death of Philander Prescott, 60, who had lived among the Dakota for more than 40 years. He was beheaded on the first day of the war as he fled toward Fort Ridgely.

“It would have been more creditable if some tangible evidence of their guilt had been obtained,” said an editorial in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, published the day before the hangings.

The newspaper said “no serious injustice will be done by the execution,” but warned of a dangerous precedent of “hanging without proving.” Saying the men were probably guilty of murder, the paper nevertheless pointed out that “no white man, tried by a jury of his peers, would be executed upon the testimony thus produced.”

President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated seven months earlier. He had stepped in to reduce the number of Dakota men hanged in Mankato from 303 to 38.

One of Medicine Bottle’s descendants, Dakota researcher and filmmaker Sheldon Wolfchild, insists Lincoln would have halted the hangings. But the president’s successor, Andrew Johnson, quickly approved the executions of Medicine Bottle and Shakopee.

When Shakopee and Medicine Bottle were captured in Manitoba, a French Jesuit priest and missionary named Augustin Ravoux baptized them and administered their Last Rites, accompanying them up until their final moments on November 11, 1865.






Wolfchild, 68, lives in Morton, Minn., and has produced a film about the era that saw his ancestors swept from the area five generations ago.

After their hangings, some of the witnesses ran up and cut off pieces of the nooses for souvenirs. St. Paul photographer Joel Whitney snapped glass-plate images showing white caskets at the feet of the dangling men.

Wolfchild says rocks went in the caskets that were buried in a nearby cemetery, with onlookers thinking they had witnessed the interments of important Dakota figures.

Their bodies, instead, were taken away in a horse-drawn cart at the behest of two doctors with offices near 7th and Jackson Streets in St. Paul. Some accounts say the doctors dug up the bodies the next day.

Wolfchild says Shakopee’s body was preserved in a wooden whiskey barrel and sent to a Philadelphia medical school where a professor Pancoast used it in anatomy lessons. St. Paul doctors dissected Medicine Bottle’s body.

“Who is the savage here?” Wolfchild asks. “Running to the scaffold to get a piece of the rope? The bottom line is they had to dehumanize us to where we were little more than beasts so they could get rid of us.”

Wolfchild says that his grandfather five generations ago, Medicine Bottle, didn’t die instantly when his body dropped at the Fort Snelling gallows.

While Shakopee’s neck snapped immediately, he said, Medicine Bottle dangled for 10 minutes before dying.

“He was saying: ‘We don’t die like that. You cannot kill us with a rope,’ ” Wolfchild said. He’s trying to find any remains that might still exist of the two men, pointing to the Missing In Action banners popular since soldiers went missing in the Vietnam War.

“We feel the same way about our ancestors, they are missing in action and their bodies are in universities, museums and private homes,” he said, “waiting for proper burials so they can continue their journey to the spirit world.”

Scaffold:  Shakopee and Medicine Bottle, moments after the execution
[Photographer:  Joel Emmons Whitney - Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]

     

Water Cooler V: Aunt Mildred's "Books"

In this edition of the "Water Cooler":  A wonderful visit among old friends and neighbors brings up some interesting recollections and memories - plus a tantalizing clue about Aunt Mildred's "books" that could provide a treasure trove of local Humboldt history!  Read on...
Darlene Liedle Daugherty What are you doing up? 
Cleo Bee Jones Same ol' same ol'...it gets old, doesn't it?  
John Nelson Home on the prairie. Homesick! 
Geo Howry Did you attend classes in the Elevator or the grain storage buildings? 
Cleo Bee Jones Actually, George it was in Selmer Locken's restaurant! I studied Buddy Holly's music... 
Bernie Marek I think my dad went to school there. 
Cleo Bee Jones Bernie, what is your Dad's name ? 
Keith Finney George, I later studied at the elevator with Punky. 
Bob Bockwitz Selmer's restaurant goes back a couple years... 
Michael Rustad Selmer - Selmer and Sandra Locken. The old bank building made a pretty good restaurant. I wonder why they tore it down as it was a brick building. And when was Selmer's restaurant torn down? Who remembers the It Cafe? Dotty Boatz had an amusing story about Bob going for lunch there until he discovered one of the kids pounding out hamburger patties with their feet! I remember that the Voits ran the It cafe and conceived of it as a dinner supper club with music. It missed the mark. I wonder what years that Ward and Ruby Finney had the restaurant. The Voits had it in the mid-sixties. Does anyone know what year Mayme's Fairview Grocery Store closed? The building stood for a decade of so after the closing. 
Cleo Bee Jones Keith, we are waiting for you to tell us... 
Bob Bockwitz Yes, Keith, we're waiting... 
Harry, when he worked for the Great Northern 
Bob Bockwitz The years back then all seem to turn to mush in my head, but I would say that the It Café would have been open through '63 and '64. Run by Kenny and Jean Voit. Kenny helped my dad for a short period of time. My dad and Harold Borg would take the football team there for hamburgers. Ward and Ruby would have been in there about '60-'61. Years may be a little off, but would be pretty close, based on 1964, when I graduated. Ruby had a pin-ball machine with a corner broken out of the glass. On the wall next to the machine hung a 'tool' made out of a coat hanger. The tool was bent just right to reach through the hole in the glass to give yourself a couple of games to start with. Ruby (bless her heart) thought it was cute, and never took away the 'tool'. I remember, too, Warren Reese. Warren had lost his legs and as we went to school in the morning, we would pick him up and carry him into the café. These conversations trigger a lot of memories. 
Bob Bockwitz I think Mayme would have closed at the very tail end of the sixties...? 
Cleo Bee Jones I recall Warren Reese when he had the little tiny restaurant in Pembina, the best malts ever, way before your time...! It was across from the Immigration bldg. Just a tiny little hole in the wall ! I wonder what happened to her [Aunt Mildred] "books", journals, as with Viola gone, too. 
Bob Bockwitz You got me there. I wasn't even aware he had a café. All I really remember of him is carrying him in and out of the café in Humboldt. I have a book that I acquired after Mom got killed. She had written almost everything about the family in it. Mostly family, though, and not so much about the community at large. I'll have to dig it out again and read through it to see what tidbits I can find. I know Ruby is mentioned because they were such close friends. 
Cleo Bee Jones I am trying to recall if he was son of Sid and Hattie Reese? Was Lorraine his sister...my story about her, I was singing at the Golden Nugget in Vegas and got a note that said, Do a song for the gal from across the "big ditch"...it was from her, as she and her husband had known I was there and come over to Vegas from LA (I think it was) to see me. I loved it. She was friends with Virginia and the family and I thought she was beautiful... 
Bob Bockwitz I think you're right. For some reason I don't recall Lorraine, though. Rodney is at the lake, so I can't ask him. I really need to get him talking some time and take notes. 
Cleo Bee Jones It was always sort of a joke, about Aunt Mildred's "books" as she must have stayed awake 24 hrs a day, to know everybody's moves in Humboldt, but I thought the world of her, even until she was quite up in age, as she really liked my late hubby...I know I have talked about this before, but worth another stab at it...after an appearance at Hallock Fair she got right up on the stage to visit with him. I was just so surprised and loved it. Quite a gal!! 
Michael Rustad Thanks everyone. Now this is one of the really useful and brilliant forms of communication on Facebook. 
Bob Bockwitz I know. I can look in Mom's book and see what day in 1954 she got a new sewing machine, or the day I got my hand in the lawn mower. Unfortunately, she didn't write too much about out in the community, even though she loved the community so much. 
Keith Finney I think Mildred knew when the Pope Pooped. She wrote everything down. 
Trish Short Lewis This has turned into another Water Cooler post, Michael...!
     

Junction Drive Inn



These are photographs from the Larson Family Collection. Before there was an Interstate Drive-In (just west of the old KCND-TV building), the Larson family started their drive-in business on the Minnesota side, at the (St. Vincent) Junction.

It was a much smaller affair, but much loved in its time. So much so, they had to build a larger one. It was right around the time that I-29 was being built, and the Larson family wisely thought it might be a great location for the new Drive-In. My older sisters Sharon and Betty Short were among the many young ladies who worked there in high school as waitresses...
     

St. Vincent Murder Trial

Matters of jurisdiction happened quite often in our area, due to the fact that we are close to an international border, as well as two states side by side, separated only by a river.

As you'll read here, such was the situation in the case discussed below; the method used to resolve it was, shall we say...creative!

[NOTE:  Any new information is courtesy of Jim Benjaminson, Pembina County Historical Society]
_______________

George Bates Murdered While Intoxicated, at St. Vincent

Bismarck Weekly Tribune, March 24, 1899
Courtesy:  State Historical Society of ND and
the Library of Congress' Chronicling America
Wednesday morning (March 8, 1899) the news went mouth-to-mouth that George Bates had been found dead in his house. The details as they began to develop were highly sensational.

Mr. Bates was addicted to excessive drinking. When under the influence of liquor he was apt to quarrel with his family. On Wednesday afternoon he had trouble of this kind. Later, he went to St. Vincent. What happened there is still somewhat contradictory at this writing.

Wednesday morning Mrs. Geo. Bates came downstairs and found her husband lying on the floor with every evidence of having been severely pounded. She hastily summoned Register of Deeds Chisholm from the office nearby and upon examination it was found that Bates was dead. He had a hole in his skull near the right temple from the effects of a blow of some kind and his face was badly bruised and had been bleeding profusely. As nearly as the facts can be gotten at they are as follows: Last night at 11:30 two young men from St. Vincent, Minn., just across the river brought Bates home and deposited him on the floor. They then notified Marshal Moorhead, who went up to see Bates. He found him apparently sleeping off the effects of a booze and did not arouse the family. This morning as above stated he was found dead.

Bates’ collar and a piece of his shirt were missing and this morning they were found in front of a saloon in St. Vincent kept by John Smith. Smith denies any knowledge of the affair, except that several Pembina parties were in a row in front of his saloon last night, but he had a badly swollen right hand and fails to account for it. He has been placed under arrest to await the verdict of the coroner’s jury.

George H. Bates, the deceased, was a heavy set man, aged about 50 years. He leaves a wife and two grown daughters in this city and one son, who resides in Grand Forks, who are much respected by our citizens and have the sympathy of the community.

Mr. Bates was naturally a bright man and but for his unfortunate habits would have been a prominent man in the community. In past years he had occupied responsible positions and has been well off peculiarly. He was for some years a customs officer at St. Vincent.

John Smith, the saloon keeper, over whom hangs so dark a cloud, has an excellent family, consisting of a wife and three children, one of the latter being a young man of about twenty one years of age.

A further note – Later Smith was given a preliminary hearing and arraigned for manslaughter, to be tried at the next term of the criminal court at Hallock, Minn.

Reprinted from the Pioneer Express, in the St. Thomas Times - March 17, 1889, Vol. XVII No. 42








____________________

From the Neche Chronotype
April 1, 1899

The trial of John Smith, the St. Vincent saloon keeper, who is charged with having caused the death of George Bates at that place a short time since, and which was to have taken place this week, has been postponed owing to the serious illness of the defendant. It will be remembered that at the time of Smith’s arrest one of his hands was found to be badly lacerated, as a result of the row in which poor Bates received the injuries that cost him his life, so it is claimed, and blood poisoning having resulted, his recovery is thought to be extremely doubtful.
     

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