Worth County, Missouri

Indian War

He was an old, old man, and heavily crippled with arthritis. But, even at his advanced age, he continued to make regular forays on horseback to the woods south of Denver where he was born and grew to manhood. The Robertson family had befriended him some time back and the Indian made it a habit to overnight at their home north-east of Denver on both legs of the trip.

The story, as told by the old Indian, was a story passed to his grandfather from yet his grandfather. Oral history to an Indian was like written journals to the white man, regarded as true, although dates and places were sometimes hard to pin down.

The old Indian talked at length with a nearly equally old Joseph Robertson as Robertson's wife and youngest son listened. The old man no longer remembered what his tribe was called back then as, long ago, several tribes had been consolidated with what was known as the 'Iowa' tribe. According to the old man, the following event occurred even before horses had been acquired by this tribe.

The grandfather of his grandfather was still very young, but had already taken a wife and had children. It was early summer, and he and about twenty others of his family had gone to visit relatives some four day's walk to the north. It had been an enjoyable visit and now, nearly a month later, they were headed back to their home area on the river a few miles south of the Robertson homestead. The group was taking a south-westerly path between what is now called Lott's Creek and the East Fork, Grand River. The almost treeless high ground ran nearly unbroken from south-central Iowa to the present village of Gentryville. Being a divide between larger rivers, there were few deep-water crossings, and both animals and Indians had used the trail for centuries.

They were just dropping off the ridge to ford Lott's Creek when a series of shrill screams filled the air, and from the woods to the right broke perhaps two dozen men, painted in hideous colors and designs, screaming at the top of their lungs. The women and children of the grandfather's group quickly clumped together and ran in the direction opposite the attack. The men dropped their packs and, in an instant, had armed themselves and were rushing toward the enemy. Outnumbered, they had no choice but to attempt a valiant defence. The two groups met, then intermingled and cries of pain were hard to distinguish from those of anger. A few of the enemy broke away and began running in the direction of the fleeing women and children. The old man's grandfather and the grandfather's younger brother did the same, and when the enemy saw them, they quit the chase and circled back to rejoin the battle.

The battle ended almost as quickly as it had begun. The ferrocious defence had surprised the invaders, and at a call from their leader, the attacking band rushed back into the woods. It was a horrible trajedy for the grandfather. A brother and two uncles had been killed in the first moment of the battle. Several other relatives had been injured, some severely. They never knew if they had inflicted any casualites on the enemy, although many of the men swore they had not gotten away completely unscathed.

The band of Indians carried their dead down the hill to a high bank at the edge of the creek. There, they spent the remainder of that day and all of the next in mourning for their slain relatives. The second day, the men covered the dead with heavy branches and stones, and the women carried baskets of sand and gravel from the creek bed to mound over them.

The old man told many stories to the Robertsons during those few years, some of himself, and some of those who came before him. But, as with all things, the old man's stories eventually ended. He passed away at his Iowa home near Ft. Des Moines during the winter of 1844.


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