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Slaughter Slough

Part II

Myers was able to deter the Indians by reminding them that he had always treated them well and given them food and shelter. They left and went on to the Hurd cabin where they entered and began smoking. When one of the children awoke and began crying, the hired man picked it up and stepped out into the yard. At that same moment an Indian stepped to the door, leveled his rifle and shot the man — he fell dead with the child in his arms. Mrs. Hurd and her children left their cabin and headed for New Ulm. From the Hurd cabin the Indians moved down the lake to the Koch cabin where they asked for water. As Koch took a bucket and proceeded from the cabin to the well, he was shot and instantly killed. Mrs. Koch left the cabin and fled to the south shore of the lake to the Ireland cabin. The Indians did not attempt to stop her. She found no one at the cabin but soon overtook the Irelands who had escaped and were headed for New Ulm. The Irelands had been alerted by Charlie Hatch (who is referred to as the “Paul Revere” of the Shetek Massacre). Hatch had ridden up to the Hurds’ earlier that day to borrow a team of oxen when he discovered the dead body of the hired man and saw the Indians at Koch’s. He then went to the Ireland and Eastlick cabins to warn them of the impending danger. Here he secured a horse and rode down the lake warning everyone and directing them to gather at the Smith cabin, but to make a stand against the Indians at the Wright cabin which would be a better place to defend as it stood on higher ground and was a two-story structure. The settlers soon gathered at the Wright cabin and began preparing for their defense. An encampment of about four tepees of supposedly friendly Indians had been staying at the Wright’s for the past four days. The chief, Old Pawn, offered to talk with the hostile Indians when they arrived and try to negotiate peace with them. Old Pawn returned and reported that there were about 200 warriors in the band and that they had agreed not to harm the settlers if they would leave right away, leaving all their property behind. Since there were only nine men with the women and children, the settlers decided to accept the offer. The group started toward New Ulm on foot as two of the men went to the Everett cabin to get a team and wagon. Soon the wagon overtook the group, and the women and children climbed aboard for the journey.

When they had traveled only a little over a mile, the warriors approached with Old Pawn and his warriors among them and began shooting at the wagon wounding some of the children. Thinking that the Indians wanted the wagon, the settlers abandoned it. At this point, Lean Bear, the other chief of the warriors, was shot, causing the warring party to increase its attack. The settlers were near a slough containing six- to eight-feet high prairie grasses in which they took refuge at the northwestern side. Slaughter Slough is located about two miles northwest of Currie. Hiding in the tall grass did not provide safe haven for the settlers because the Indians stood on a little knoll on the edge of the slough and fired whenever they saw the grass move. Soon Tommy Ireland, William Everett and Charlie Hatch were wounded. John Eastlick was killed. Mrs. Eastlick was badly wounded, as were Mrs. Everett, Mrs. Ireland and several of the children. Mr. Duley had gone further into the slough and escaped injury. Mr. Smith and Mr. Rhodes, who had a cabin on the Boy Scout peninsula, had fled into the slough earlier and escaped unharmed. The firing let up at this point as most of the white men were wounded. Old Pawn called to Everett to come out and talk. Everett replied that he couldn’t because he was wounded. Pawn said he lied. A volley of shots followed. Pawn again called to Everett. Mrs. Everett said he was dead. Then Pawn said if the women and children came out of the slough he would not harm them. Everett told his wife she had better go. Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Everett, Mrs. Ireland, Mrs. Duley, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Koch all came out of the slough with their children, followed in a short while by Mrs. Eastlick who had taken a last look at her dead husband. Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Everett and Mrs. Eastlick were all wounded. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Ireland were shot as they came out of the slough. Mrs. Duley got on her knees and pleaded for her children’s lives. The Indians said they would not be harmed. She had gone only a few rods when she saw her oldest child shot. Mrs. Everett started back toward the slough to her wounded husband but was killed before she could reach him.

(Continued next week)

Sources: “Slaughter Slough,” John Silvernale, Slayton Newspaper, undated; Article by Bill Bolin, Southwest Sailor, August 27, 1997.

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