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1864 October 22: New Call for Protection on the Northwestern Frontier

October 26, 2014

The following comes from the October 22, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.  The Mille Lacs band of Indians are Ojibwe, called Chippewa at this time.

Chengwatana was a transient Ojibwa village that after Wisconsin statehood in 1848 became a permanent village located at the outlet of Cross Lake, just east of present-day Pine City, Minnesota.  In 1856 the village became the county seat of Pine County and it was briefly renamed Alhambra.  In 1862 and 1863 the village was garrisoned as a frontier military post.  When the railroad came through, Chengwatana declined to a ghost town and present-day Pine City grew up along the railroad, becoming the new county seat in 1870.

ANOTHER INDIAN MURDER.— Mr. JOHN M. GIBSON was murdered by an Indian at McLain’s Camp, on Grindstone Creek, eighteen miles north of Chengwatana, Pine county, Minnesota, on Friday last.  The following particulars of the affair we learn from Mr. McLain, who passed through Taylor’s Falls with the body, en route to Stillwater, on Tuesday.

Mr. GIBSON accompanied Mr. McLAIN to his camp, for the purpose of making preparations for logging the coming winter.  While Mr. McLAIN was absent from the camp, on Friday, GIBSON went to work digging potatoes near by, and on McLAIN’s return he was missing.  As he did not come in that night, McLAIN commenced looking for him on Saturday morning, and after searching for him some time he found his body in a hole about forty rods from the camp, covered with potato vines and other rubbish.  The hole was one that Mr. G. dug last Spring when they left camp, for the purpose of burying two barrels of pork.  Subsequently the pork was removed, and, as it proved, was used for a hiding place for his own body.

On the disgovery [sic] of the corpse, Mr. McLAIN returned to Chengwatana, and procured the assistance of Justice MUNCH, who went to the camp and held an inquest and examination.  It was found that he had been shot through the body, the ball entering the back.  It is supposed that the Indian came upon him unawares, shot him in the back, and then struck him with some sharp instrument, perhaps a hoe, as a deep gash was found upon his face.  His body was robbed of money and other valuables.

The Indian after committing the bloody deed, went to Chengwatana, and made several purchases with the murdered man’s money, of Mr. MUNCH, who, at the time, was unaware of the murder. The Indian exhibited GIBSON’s wallet, and a piece silver coin, which he gave MUNCH for goods, and which was easily identified by Mr. McLAIN.

Before Mr. McLAIN returned to Chengwatana for Mr. MUNCH, the Indian had disappeared.  He is said to belong to the Mille Lac [sic] band, and has probably gone back to his tribe.

Thus we have endeavored to record the facts of this outrageous murder.

And now, we would ask, has not our government officials had warnings enough, from these Indian devils, to move in the matter, and see that they are punished?  Does the Governor of Minnesota [Stephen Miller], and Gov. LEWIS [James T. Lewis] of our State, need any more evidence of their hostility to the whites ;  if so, when half our lumbermen, the bone and sinew of the Northwest, are killed and robbed, and they find the frontier being deserted by its inhabitants, then, we trust, they will awake into conciousness [sic], that our Indian troubles are not mere scares—but that they are a reality—that our frontier is exposed and in danger, and that now is the time when steps should have been taken to protect it.  We would ask, why is not the fate of KNIGHT and GROVER sufficient ?  We have not heard of any steps being taken by our Governor to look into the affair.  We did see a notice of a Captain or a Colonel calling at Hudson a short time ago on Indian matters.  Why was he not sent to New York ?  Perhaps, the citizens of that city, who have a large settlement between them and danger, do not believe there is cause of trouble with these Imps of Satan—and so they tell this Captain or Colonel—and so matters rest, until another victim is furnished.  Now we say—we have had enough, and want no more sacrifices.  We want this last devil caught and hung.  This, we feel confident, is the universal feeling of our frontier citizens.  We speak for them.  Will the proper authorities consider the protection of our frontier or not ?

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