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EARLY HISTORY
(Part Two)

As far as is known, there were not many Indians living here when the first white settlers arrived at Green Lake in 1856 and founded the town of Columbia, where Spicer now stands. Green Lake was in no man's land between the constantly warring Dakota and Ojibwa. Both came here to hunt and fish but did not live here.

The Dakota played a much bigger role in the history of Spicer than did the Ojibwa. The Dakota signed a treaty with the U.S. government in 185 1, giving up all claim to their lands in Minnesota, except a 10‑mile strip on either side of the Minnesota River. The reservation created by this treaty extended from New Ulm to the western border of the state.

The Dakota moved to the reservation in 1853 and lived in peace with the whites, until Sunday, August 17, 1862. Near starvation and lied to, too many times, they rose up and started to kill all settlers and to plunder the settlements. They were reluctantly led by a Mdewakanton chief, Little Crow. His name is remembered in this area for the Little Crow Trail, a north‑south road, County 5, west of Willmar, as well as in names of commercial establishments.

As soon as the killing started, a group of Dakota left the reservation and headed for the Kandiyohi Lakes region, which they knew well from their hunting, fishing, and war expeditions. They killed 26 people in this area, most of them near Norway Lake, but others near Foot and Willmar Lakes, Solomon Lake, and Twin Lakes.

The Columbia settlers were warned of the danger on Tuesday, August 19, but paid no attention, thinking it was not serious. They decided to wait until mail carrier Joseph Thomas went to Forest City and returned, to find out the news. Thomas left Columbia and reached only a few miles down the road when he found out the Indians were killing all the settlers they could. The whole area was in panic. Everyone was fleeing to Forest City for their lives. He returned to Columbia to warn the settlers.

J. H. Adams had a large sturdy house, so he invited the Columbia settlers to gather there for mutual protection. About 20 families spent the night of August 19 at the Adams home. The next morning they packed their wagons and buggies and headed for Forest City - the J. W. Burdick, Joseph Thomas, J. H. Adams, Silas Foot families, and William Kouts, with three of Solomon R. Foot's children, bringing up the rear.

They met a large group of Eagle Lake refugees near Diamond Lake and proceeded east together, until they stopped to rest their animals near Wheeler's Grove. They circled their wagons and waited for their two drovers to bring up the livestock.

Indians appeared from nowhere, attacked and killed the drovers, Sven Backlund and Andreas Lorentson. They mutilated the bodies and danced with glee, in full view of the terrified refugees. The party ended when Silas Foot killed one of the Indians with his rifle.

The settlers spent a fearful night on the prairie and then proceeded uneventfully to Forest City the next day. No one from the Columbia townsite was killed in the conflict, thanks to early warning and an organized withdrawal.

The Columbia townsite was abandoned, as was the whole area, from August 1862 until some time in 1865 when the territory was again deemed safe for resettlement. The only original settlers to return to the Columbia site were the J. W. Burdick, F. B. Woodcock, and J. H. Adams families, and Jonas Hart and Thomas Darling.