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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 22, 2003 - Issue 81


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Barron County History (Part 3)

From the Barron County Shield - March 30, 1877

The Late Samuel P. Barker

I will refer briefly to a character recently deceased, who has much to do with every political, material and general event transpiring in the county over a period of the last twenty years. His life was not one of stirring achievements, but was of quiet, determined loyal duty. We speak of the man whose friends are found beneath the smoke curling above every wigwam, every settlers cabin, every household, and every logging camp, where his presence was known, viz, Samuel P. Barker, a man of great muscular power, extraordinary memory, brave, yet discrete; a born chieftain - a leader of men. Born 44 years ago, in the State of New York, educated in part for the ministry, he found himself at the age of 21 upon this soil in quest of fortune and adventure. Prompted by a like spirit that moved Cortez and Pizzaro; he was from that time until his death identified with every transaction of importance occurring within the county. He was the first chairman of the old town of Dallas; the first chairman of the county of Dallas, and the first chairman of the new county of Barron.

During most the turbulent times he had the confidence of the Indians; they knew his indomitable courage; and instinct taught them that he was their equal in all the qualities that go to make up a brave man.

It is related of him that he possessed a quaint but quiet humor, which often gave much amusement to the boys in camp. During the visit of a number of ladies and their escorts from the haunts of civilization to one of his camps, known as old Lousberg, the party indulged in some sentiment, which was quietly favored by Barker, anticipating fun; and when a social dance, a usual amusement in camp in those days, was inaugurated, one of the lady guests expressed a desire to have as a partner on of the Indians present, a rather sedate looking Buck. After some urging the gallant chief joined aristocratic partners in the intricacies of a quadrille. Unfortunately his wardrobe was a bit scanty, consisting of a red blanket, which, it was confessed, he wore with grace over his greasy body. As the music quickened the savage warmed up to his work; it was at first a little bark, then a little louder, and louder, then a yell, and then his blanket dropped, amid the yells and screams of the woodsmen. Shall we drop a curtain over this scene? You would say the lady fainted; not so! She completed the set with the utmost sangfold; but her curiosity was gratified, and she did not dance another set. Another incident will be of interest. Soon after the death of the old Chippewa Chief Un-gav-a about eighteen years ago, a band of Chippewa started after the Sioux, who had murdered two of their number on an island in the river below Sand Creek. Barker had a camp at the mouth of the Chetek; they called on him to join them. He responded by donning a first class Indian costume, paint, buckskins, an immense headdress of eagle feathers, and grasped his rifle, and called on the hundred braves to follow him. His tall, majestic figure decked out with all the trapping of an Indian brave, had a magical effect upon the Chippewas; and from that time until his death he was respected and obeyed as if he had been their orthodox chieftain.

But the incident, which establishes his courage and tested his endurance more than any other, as well as the bravery of his white comrades, is the following:

Previously to, and after the Minnesota massacre, several land hunters had been murdered by the Indians, who escaped unpunished. During the year 1863 two men, Allen and Taylor, while ascending the Menomonie River, exploring the pine, after reaching a point one and a half miles south of the Yellow River, were suddenly fired upon by concealed savages. Allen was shot dead; the other received a wound in the shoulder, on in the back and one in the arm. He turned his canoe down stream and after reaching Lamb's Creek, left his dead comrade and walked to Menomonie, and there obtained assistance to recover the body of his dead companion.

These outrages passed unpunished, and the prowling bands were daily becoming more daring and dangerous. The whites determined that these atrocities should be stopped.

In 1864 three men from the St. Croix Valley started out in search of pine. One was left with the team on the Apple River; Grover and Shaw were prospecting for pine, and at an unexpected moment were shot down by two concealed Indians. Upon hearing this last out rage Barker, Quarderer and Bracklin determined that they would arrest the Indians who did the deed. Leon La Forte, now living above Rice Lake, was sent out to discover who and where the murderers were.

About nine o'clock on Monday in June a young, powerful, half-naked savage stepped up to John Quarderer's camp and asked for food. John fed him and the Indian passed on, saying he was going to Old Lousberg, section 19, town 24, range 11. Old Elk and Tom Goose arrived soon after, and told Quarderer that one of the murderers of the two whites had just gone to Barker's trading post for powder. Indians in numbers were seen prowling in the woods; the old men were willing to give up the murderer, but the young men opposed. The Indian reached Barker's and asked him to go into the store and sell him powder. At this time there were a very few whites at Prairie Farm; Bracklin, Dan Harrington, Joe Queen and one or two others were cutting hay just below Barker's camp. Barker having learned that one of the murderers was in his camp determined to secure him. They entered the store together. At that time paper was not used to do up articles sold to Indians; they tied up their powder or other purchases in one corner of their shirts. Barker weighted the powder and told the Indian to step up and get it, with the intention of grappling him. The Indian was evidently suspicious and would not approach Barker. He said, "Do it up." Barker replied, "I will get some paper from behind the door," the door being open. He stepped towards the door and closed it. Then they clinched in one of the most terrible life and death struggles possible. The Indian, athletic, naked and greasy, was like an immense serpent in the arms of Barker.

No muscle relaxed, it was one incessant strain. During the struggle a large body of Indians had gathered about the post. Surrounding the building threatened to destroy and kill. Still the man with iron nerve maintained his grasp, and told them that they might kill him but the whites would destroy them; that this murderer must submit to the white man's law. They held their knives and guns over his head amid the lamentations of Indian wives of the whites who besought him to let the Indian escape and save his own life as well as the lives of all of the whites. He clung onto his victim. When one hand was wrenched from the slippery body of his foe, his grip tightened with the other, and for and hour the life and death struggle continued; but the white man's superior endurance conquered. The murder became exhausted.

Barker then dispatched a friendly Indian messenger to the marsh and to Quarderer's. When Quarderer reached Barker's the Indians were seen passing in and out the store whooping and yelling. As no whites were visible he supposed all had been murdered. He soon found the whites and learned that messengers had been dispatched for aid. Bracklin, Quarderer and others kept guard over the Indian but his friends were admitted and one of them supplied him with a double-barreled pistol. Just at dark the Indians on the outside of the cabin commenced the death chant, which was taken up by the prisoner. He arose to his feet, pointed his pistol over his shoulder towards the whites, a cap was heard to snap followed by a shot. A light was brought and it was found that the Indian had killed himself.

The first white woman who died in the county was Mrs. Philander Ball. Her husband was in the employ of Barker at Lousberg. A child of Ball's died first, then his wife dies and was buried near the camp. It is supposed that she was poisoned by the squaws, as she died in convulsions.

The first white child born in the county was a daughter of Mike Jones, in 1855, who lived on the Hay River and owned the property now occupied by Richard King.

The first school was taught by Mr. J.N. Plato, at Chetek, in District 2. District 1 was organized in the Kellogg District, the present town of Dallas.

The first physician practicing in the county was Dr. D.C. Strong, who came in the year 1873.

The first and only church erected in the county is the Catholic Church in Stanfold.

The first newspaper was the Chronotype, published in Rice Lake, now in its second volume.

The only railroad yet complete in the county is one half mile of the North Wisconsin, in section 7, town 34, range 14.
The first Justice court was held before Austin Skinner, now living on section 10, town 33, range 12, cause of action - a weasel skin - old settlers will understand this cause.

The first mail was brought into the county by James Bracklin to the new post office at old Barron; S.P. Barker was postmaster in 1868. The amount paid by the government for weekly service, from Menomonie to Barron, was $450 per year.

The first Protestant service regularly held in the county was inaugurated by the Rev. W. Bird, of the Methodist Protestant Denomination. During the years of his efforts much good was accomplished, and the influence of his example is having lasting fruit.

The speaker who preceded me - Judge Sill - has eloquently treated the subject of the century - a period of time this day finished. He has reviewed the record of the first century of our country as an independent government. A record of strange and great events and triumphs, of growth great and rapid; this day laid away. But it is not dead! Its influence will go forward giving form and color to events of the years to come. It will, in warning and example, let us hope, mould human destiny to better purposes - add height and depth to the sum of human happiness and advancement. Where now is the eye of the seer or the tongue of the prophet that can reveal the unmade history of our country's second century? If the arts and sciences play, in the next century, the lively part they have played in the last fifty years, the wildest dreams of genius are scarce too much to forecast as probable realizations. And when the next Centennial gathering, the now unborn speaker, shall appear on this spot and call up this simple address, before the vast throng, who shall then gather to review his century, may your posterity greet him beneath the "Starry Flag in the Land of Freedom."

Maps by Travel

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