Interactive bus tour to feature accounts by rescue expedition

To the Editor:

As we have announced the upcoming bus tour in March to remember the rescue expedition (or march) after the tragic events of the Spirit Lake and Springville (MN) massacres that happened 160 ago, we would like to invite you all to an important lecture that will be given by Bill Sherman of Humanities Iowa, titled “How the American Indians Nearly Lost Iowa;” Thursday, Feb. 23 at Kendall Young Library’s Meeting Room, in Webster City at 6:30 p.m.

Prior to these well-known massacres in American history, the tribal lands, in what would become Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, were being contested for settlement of easterners moving west with promises of prosperity and helping the country grow towards civilized progress. Wars between different tribes, and also, the impact of the United States government’s treaties, which would push the natives further west, created years of turmoil for American Indians. Bill Sherman’s lecture will cover these topics, all of which act as a precursor to the events that unfolded and led up to the Spirit Lake and Springville massacres.

Our Spirit Lake Massacre Remembrance Tour will not cover the Native American perspective, but will focus more on the written testimonies and accounts by members of the rescue expedition from Fort Dodge, Webster City, and Homer (and surrounding counties). The narrative that will be told throughout the bus tour, as we journey to the Gardner Cabin at Arnold’s Park-Okoboji, will be interactive. Tour ticket holders will receive a name and some information about one of the volunteers of the expedition. Several will be preselected as narrators, giving voice to the rescue party member whom they will represent. We are seeking ticket holders who may be related to any of the rescue party that would be willing to portray their ancestor. When you register for the tour, please add a note on the form of whom you are related to. Please, contact the Hamilton County Heritage Hunters, or the Webster County Genealogical Society for assistance.

This tour will include stops at Lott’s Creek, Emmetsburg, Okoboji, and West Bend’s Grotto of the Redemption. The bus will arrive in Webster City’s Wilson Brewer Park, at 8:30am, and will continue onto The Fort Museum and Frontier Village in Fort Dodge, at 9:15am. It will be an all day tour, with box lunch included in the ticket price. The bus will return to Fort Dodge around 5:45pm and Webster City around 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $60, and can be obtained at Fuller Hall in Webster City, Monday – Friday from 9a.m. to 9 p.m., and the Fort’s Trading Post in Fort Dodge, Monday-Thursday from 9am-5pm. For more information feel free to contact Kent at Fuller Hall at 832-9193, and Veronica at the Fort 835-9627. All ticket sales by phone maybe made at the Fort’s Trading Post at (515)573-4231. Make checks to: Fort Dodge Historical Foundation (funds raised will be divided in half between the two museums).

It is important to note, that though we are honoring those from the rescue expedition and the massacres, this solemn tour is also a fundraising event for both The Fort Museum and Frontier Village, and Wilson Brewer Historic Park and Museums. The museums at Wilson Brewer Historic Park, and the park itself, will be undergoing a major transformation this year and the years to come. Like the museums in Webster City, The Fort Museum and Frontier Village has been working on restoration work, building maintenance, and updating the collections’ inventories and displays. Funding is crucial for the success of these projects. Both locations serve as keepers of our communities’ heirlooms, heritage, and histories, including items that were once owned by many who were part of the rescue expedition. The founding of our communities have interesting stories that should be preserved so we, and generations after us, will know how far we have come from the beginning, and the rich character of the communities themselves. If you would like to get involved with any of our projects, we are seeking volunteers! Please, contact Kent and Veronica, if you are interested.

We thank you for your continued support in sharing this information with the community. Ticket sales for the March 25th bus tour will end on March 1st. We hope to see you on the bus.

Veronica Guyader,

Executive Director, The Fort Museum and Frontier Village; Board members of the Fort Dodge Historical Foundation


Cheryl Patrou,

Director of Museums, Wilson Brewer Historic Park and Museums; Board members of the Webster City Historical Committee