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The Spirit Lake, Iowa, area has an old and interesting history.  To help keep these memories alive, the Ladies of the Lake Chapter has marked these historical areas.


Site of the Granger Cabin

Location: 1200 U.S. Highway 71S, Okoboji, IA (on the Okoboji Town Hall Lawn)

History:  Four young bachelors from Red Wing, Minnesota, were massacred by Indians at this cabin in 1857. They were Carl Granger, Dr. I.H. Harriott, Bertell A. Snyder, and Joseph Harshman.  The site is marked in commemoration of the USA Bicentennial by a bronze plaque on a native boulder.  The marker was placed by the Ladies of the Lake Chapter in 1928.


Site of the Howe Cabin 

Location: 1769 260th Ave (Highway M56), Spirit Lake, IA

History: The family of Joel Howe and his wife and six children were murdered by the marauders.  The cabin was located on the east shore of East Okoboji Lake, about four miles distance from the Gardner site.  The marker is placed on the roadside just North of the YMCA (Camp Foster) turn off, directly in front of a farm site.




Original Gardner Cabin


Location: 74 Monument Drive, Arnolds Park, IA (In Dickinson county at Pillsbury Point on West Okoboji Lake. US Highway 71 is well marked for finding the Gardner Cabin.)

History: The Rowland Gardners, nine members in all, came to the Spirit Lake region by covered wagon in 1856.  Originally from Seneca, New York, they came as far as Ohio, stayed a few years, then moved on to Iowa. The entire family except Abbie, 13, and her sister Eliza died outside the cabin at Okoboji during the March 8, 1857, massacre by renegade Indians led by Inkpaduta of the Sioux tribe.  In 1891, Abbie returned to the area, purchased the cabin and preserved it until her death in 1921.  The marker for the cabin was placed by the Ladies of the Lake Chapter in 1928.


Site of Luce Cabin

Location: 74 Monument Drive, Arnolds Park, IA (About a quarter mile east of the Gardner cabin on Pillsbury Point of West Lake Okoboji.)

History: Luce was a son-in-law of Gardners, husband of their daughter, Mary. He and Mary and their two children were living with the Gardners as Luce was starting to build their cabin just east of the Gardner cabin. Mary and the two children were killed with the rest of the Gardner family and Luce was killed on his way to warn other settlers living on East Lake Okoboji.  The marker was placed by Ladies of the Lake Chapter in 1928.


Site of Mattock Cabin

Location: 351 N Highway 71, Arnolds Park, IA (This site is on Highway 71 at the extreme north edge of the city of Arnolds Park, two blocks south of the Okoboji Bridge at the entrance of the City of Okoboji.)

History: The cabin, where James Mattock, his wife, five children, and Mr. Robert Bruce Mathieson lived, was destroyed and the people burned within by Inkpadutah of the Sioux tribe.  After the attack at the Gardner cabin, and taking Abbie as prisoner, the Indians retraced their path past the Mattock cabin, which was still burning  with the screaming victims inside. 


Site of Thatcher and Noble Markers 

Location: 1687 260th Ave (Highway M56), Spirit Lake, IA (The Thatcher and Noble markers are located near the Joel Howe Cabin marker.  They are a mile north of the Howe site on the east side of East Lake Okoboji.) 

History: The Thatcher family was sharing their cabin with the Noble family while they were in the process of building their cabin home.  Mrs. Noble was a daughter of the Howes and a cousin of Mrs. Thatcher.  Mr. Noble, the Nobles' child, Mr. Ryan (a brother-in-law), and the Thatcher baby were murdered.  Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher were taken captive and Mrs. Noble was killed when she refused the advances of an Indian.  Mrs. Thatcher was drowned in an icy stream near Flandreau, Minnesota, when she fell from a log in crossing and the Indians held her under.  Mr. Thatcher had been delayed on his return from Waterloo, Iowa, for provisions, and so escaped.


Site of Marble Cabin Marker 

Location: 3200 Hwy 276, Spirit Lake, IA (The Marble Cabin marker is located mid-way on the west shore of Spirit Lake.) 

History: On March 10, 1857, Inkpadutah and his Sioux warriors and their captives crossed West Okoboji Lake on the ice and went up the west side of Big Spirit Lake to the William Marble home.  Their arrival was totally unexpected. Mr. Marble was shot and his wife was taken hostage.  Then on May 6, 1857, two Yellow Medicine Reservation Indians traded blankets, ammunition, and guns for her.  The Indians were later paid a thousand dollars.


Site of Stockade Protection from Indians

Location: 1802 Hill Ave, Spirit Lake, IA (The site of the Old Stockade is in storage while the new courthouse is being built.  When it is done we will be reinstalling it and rededicating it.) 

History: On August 23, 1916, a granite boulder was placed on the front lawn of the Dickinson County Court House.  The bronze tablet dedicates this site to the pioneers of 1862.  This was the location of the old stockade where upwards of forty families sought shelter from the Indians.  Many who were taken to this stockade as children were present for the dedication in 1916.  A few of the elder members were still living at that time, also.  Two of our members in 2007 have relatives who were in this stockade and tell us stories about their adventures.  We revere these hardy pioneers and the contributions each would have made.  Their martyrdom, however, has given each of them, and this area, a prominent place in history. 


First Pioneer Child Born in Dickinson County

Location: Lakeview Cemetery, Spirit Lake, Iowa

History: Mrs. Dena Borkman Funk was the first pioneer child born in Dickinson county.  Her grave at Lakeview Cemetery was marked by the Ladies of the Lake Chapter DAR with a bronze plaque September 11, 1937.


Original Site of Fort Defiance

Location: 1005 Hill Ave, Spirit Lake, IA

History: Built in 1863 to protect settlers of the northwest Iowa border from attack by Indians, Captain William H. Ingham of the Iowa Northern Border Brigade, authorized by Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood, mustered a Company from the area and erected a fort on the site stockade enclosure was 132 Feet square .  The fort, no longer needed, was dismantled and timber purchased by farmers can still be seen in barns in the area.  Fort Defiance and the Pioneers it protected have passed into history.  Placed by Okomanpado Chapter DAR in 1977.  The Okamanpado DAR Chapter of Estherville, Iowa, merged with the Ladies of the Lake DAR Chapter in the 1990's.



The Estherville Meteorite    

History: The meterorite fell 482 feet due west of the Sport on May 10, 1879.  It was one of the three greatest "falls" on record.  Parts of the meteorite can now be found in important museums of the world.  The original spot was marked in 1929 by the Okamanpado Chapter  DAR of Estherville, Iowa




Okamanpadu Lake 


Discovered by Jean Nicollet 1838, and camp site of General Fremont and later of Major T. W. Sherman on Government Road.  It was surveyed in 1860. Okamanpadu Park was donated by E. L. and J.C. Williams.  The marker was placed by Okamanpado Chapter DAR of Estherville, Iowa July 4th, 1926. 







Sharon A. Braden
Iowa State Regent


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Site last updated 30 September 2013
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