Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Yellow Brick Road

Well, it wasn't actually a brick  road but it was definitely yellow.  We were hiking a path along the Upper Iowa River in Lake Louise State Park. It was late August and there was yellow all along the trail. It was mostly different types of   sunflowers with other varieties of prairie plants tossed in for good measure.....

Follow, follow, follow, follow,

 Follow the Yellow Brick Road.

 Follow the Yellow Brick, Follow the Yellow Brick,

 Follow the Yellow Brick Road.
We're off to see the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

 You'll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.

 If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was The Wizard of Oz is one because,

 Because, because, because, because, because.

 Because of the wonderful things he does.

 We're off to see the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Peace Plaza (Part 3)

In early December, 303 Sioux prisoners were convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals and sentenced to death. Some trials lasted less than 5 minutes. No one explained the proceedings to the defendants, nor were the Sioux represented by a defense in court. Pres. Abraham Lincoln personally reviewed the trial records to distinguish between those who had engaged in warfare against the U.S., versus those who had committed crimes of rape and murder against civilians.
Henry Whipple, the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota and a reformer of U.S. policies toward Native Americans, first wrote an open letter and then went to Washington DC in the Fall of 1862 to urge Lincoln to proceed with leniency. On the other hand, General Pope and Minnesota Senator Morton S. Wilkinson told him that leniency would not be received well by the white population. Governor Ramsey warned Lincoln that, unless all 303 Sioux were executed, "Private revenge would on all this border take the place of official judgment on these Indians." In the end, Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 264 prisoners, but he allowed the execution of 38 men.

This clemency resulted in protests from Minnesota, which persisted until the Secretary of the Interior offered white Minnesotans "reasonable compensation for the depredations committed." Republicans did not fare as well in Minnesota in the 1864 election as they had before. Ramsey (by then a senator) informed Lincoln that more hangings would have resulted in a larger electoral majority. The President reportedly replied, "I could not afford to hang men for votes."

One of the 39 condemned prisoners was granted a reprieve. The Army executed the 38 remaining prisoners by hanging on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota. It remains the largest mass execution in American history.
Our last stop on our tour was to the site of the hangings. The location is now called the Peace Plaza. Considering that around five hundred white settlers and an unknown number of Native Americans were killed in this  terrible tragedy it is a fitting memorial.  The words on a giant marker speak to today and say it best.....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The U.S.- Dakota War of 1862 (Part 2)

In the summer of 1862, after year's of broken treaty promises and late payments that fueled growing tension and conflict some Dakota began an attempt to forcibly reclaim their homeland. After attacking the Lower Sioux Agency on August 18th at the beginning of the U.S. Dakota War the Indians moved toward New Ulm.  In their path stood a small settlement known as Milford. There, unprepared for battle,  53 of Milford's residents were killed in a single day. As farms burned, the survivors of those families fled raising  the alarm for the citizens of New Ulm about what lay ahead.


 As a small group of soldiers and the many refugees who had fled to Fort Ridgely for protection fought off a determined attack twice, another group of warriors headed to the nearby town of New Ulm.  Our tour took us to New Ulm where we visited the New Ulm Artillery Battery.  This group participated in American Civil War battles except it  wasn't

formed  until 1863, one year after they could have definitely helped defend the town.      

Citizens of the town defended it for two days building barricades in the center of the town while much of the town burned.

Members of our tour group including Mrs. T. on the right and John Grabko our leader stand behind a facsimile  of the barricade ready to defend New Ulm. Unfortunately, I was injured in the defense, tripping over a curb and falling flat on my face on the concrete sidewalk! Many of the settlers were of German ancestry and later we met one of them. His name is Herman the German and he stands on a hill overlooking the town.
Later that afternoon we traveled to an area known as the Birch Coulee battle site. There on an open prairie a burial  party from General Sibleys force, that relieved both Fort Ridgely and New Ulm, camped on an ill chosen site only to be surrounded by a large Dakota force. Take a look as we did at the site.
A thirty six hour fight saw the surrounded troop hold their own until the arrival of Sibleys army.  The battles that followed ended the uprising. As the Dakota were rounded up in their camps, many of those who had not participated in the war and even defended white settlers were marched off to Fort Snelling and interned there, later to be sent south to reservations in Iowa and Nebraska. Others fled west into the Dakotas and north into Canada. Drumhead military courts convicted over five hundred Dakota of murder and given the death penalty.  Abraham Lincoln was to determine their fate. That story next......

Monday, September 16, 2013

U.S.- Dakota War of 1862

The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 is a significant event in the history and development of the state of Minnesota and in the long and complex history of the Dakota people and the United States.  Between 1805 and 1858 treaties made between the U.S. government reduced Dakota lands and significantly altered Minnesota’s physical, cultural and political landscape The treaties were major factors in the lead-up to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. The treaties established that the Dakota would be paid for their land in yearly installments called “annuities” but in many cases, traders received a portion of these payments directly from the U.S. government because of claims of debts owed to them by the Dakota. By the summer of 1862 the situation for many Dakota families had grown desperate: annuity payments were late due to the U.S. government’s priority in financing the Civil war, some traders at the Indian Agencies refused to extend credit for food and others goods until the Dakota had cash to pay their debts and finally, recent droughts had contributed to poor harvest which left many Dakota families hungry.  Due to these and other factors, tensions within Dakota communities reached a breaking point. On August 17, 1862 killed five people living on farms near Acton, Minnesota. When word of the killings spread to people at the Lower Sioux Reservation, a group of Dakota men argued that it was time to go to war with Minnesota’s European-American settler population to reclaim their ancestral land. While there was no consensus within the Dakota community and many did not agree and some helped protect white settlers, the war was underway. We spent two days visiting the sites of this ancient tragedy three hours west of our home.

 The conflict focused on Minnesota's "frontier" at the time which was the Minnesota River Valley in the southwest. There several Indian Agencies had been established by the Federal Government to supervise the Indians confinement on a narrow reservation along the river.

It was here at the Lower Sioux Agency that trader Andrew Myrick had been informed by the Indian Agent Thomas Galbreath that the "traders paper" that allowed the traders to be paid right from the annuity allotments for what they were owed on credit was not going to be allowed this time, so he responded that they would give no more credit at the  post." So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung."  

His comment is considered an inciting factor in the war that began shortly thereafter. Although Myrick escaped from this building when the Dakota attacked he was killed shortly thereafter.  When his body was found sometime later his mouth was stuffed with grass. 

Two days after the attack on the Lower Sioux Agency hundreds of Dakota surrounded Fort Ridgley, a small frontier army post near the town of New Ulm.  It was manned mostly by a small force of volunteer soldiers due to the fact that the regular army had been called east to defend Washington City and The Union. A force of about forty soldiers had been sent to defend New Ulm and were ambushed nearby at a crossing on the Minnesota river and mostly killed.  The fort was left with only a few soldiers and large number of settlers who had fled there for shelter.
  We hiked down from the fort to the river to look at the site of the ambush….
More later......



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I recently went on a B&B outing to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum near Chanhassen, Minnesota.  B&B in this case stands for Barb (Mrs. T.) and her  lifelong friend Betty Boop.
The Arboretum features more than 1,100 acres of magnificent gardens, model landscapes, and natural areas-from woodlands and wetlands to prairie-with extensive collections of northern-hardy plants. You can tour the Arboretum on 12.5 miles of garden paths and hiking trails.   Or walk the  close in gardens   or drive Three-Mile Drive to see more gardens and collections.  For over a hundred years this extension of the University of Minnesota horticulture department has  developed northern cold hardy plants which have changed Minnesota and world agriculture for the benefit of all....
Rolling hills and in the distance one  of Minnesota's "10,000" lakes.
Whether it's flower, trees or shrubs old or new varieties everything is labeled and much is being field tested...
The entrance to a beautiful Japanese garden.
Our State flower the Showy Pink Ladyslipper.  What a great place to spend a summer afternoon or get married for that matter as there were several weddings going on all at the same time....

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Apostles (Part 2)

 Part 1:  -
Part 2:
In midsummer we went to visit the Apostles.  Oops, not the twelve guys.  The islands in Lake Superior off the coast of Bayfield Wisconsin.  It was a three day two night bus trip vacation with our friends Dick and Sharon.  All through the aegis of Historic Adventure & Travel and directed by John Grabko.
Vast Lake Superior the world's largest fresh water lake is vary familiar to most Minnesotans.  It's our "inland sea" and actually has ocean traffic courtesy of the St. Lawrence River & Seaway  and the Soo Locks.  The "North Shore" ranging from Duluth to the Canadian border is our sea coast.  The south shore of the lake bordering Wisconsin would be a new adventure for us.  Take a look.
The small harbor at Bayfield
On Madeleine Island
We did a little beachcombing and Mrs. T found some lupines.

We took a great cruise among the islands and stopped to visit a lighthouse.
Returning to Madeleine Island, we visited a local watering hole, restaurant and ended the day with ghost ship stories and a rising moon. What fun!