Some of the mixed blood people had to look out for themselves

Mr. Weldy talks about his family's experience at Fort Ridgely in the U.S.-Dakota War.

Things to think about: 

Mr. Weldy says "history is one person’s point of view at a particular time". How does this apply to the events surrounding the U.S.-Dakota War?

Audio Chapters

DL: What are the names of the people who were taken to Fort Ridgely?

JW: Jane would have gone, which would have been Joseph’s widow.

DL: Jane, last name would have been..?

JW: LaFramboise. [text added by written note from Mr. Weldy] – “But by 1862 she had remarried. Her name would have been Jane Sharrow or Sharon. There are a number of ways this surname was spelled. So going to the Fort then were Jane and Louis Sharrow or Sharon, their two young sons Frank and Louis Jr., William LaFramboise (my great-grandfather), his sisters Eliza and Justine. Jane helped raise three of Joseph’s children from his union with one of Chief Sleepy Eyes’ daughters. Sons Joseph and Alexis were old enough to be on their own. Julia Ann was a teaching assistant at Lac qui Parle and was taken hostage and gained her freedom at Camp Release.”

DL: Are there any accounts of how they were treated at the fort?

JW: I have seen lists of who was there. I don’t recall. Of course, these lists are compiled from somebody else’s writings, so there may be some narratives; not that I have read, though. I assume it was a quite crowded affair with 250-300-- what they called refugees-- and I’m guessing that they also counted farmers who were there, who were armed and helped, and so forth. So there’s quite a list; and I think that’s published by the Minnesota Historical Society. We didn’t find that book until three years ago. It just happened to show up at Fort Ridgely and my sisters and I took all the copies and the lady working there said, “Can you get by with just two? That’s the only copy I’ll probably have this year.” And so we had to wait another year until we got another copy of it. But it was very interesting.

DL: What’s intriguing to me is the family members that you’ve mentioned, who were probably half Indian, but yet were at the fort. I’m just wondering how they were treated.

JW: Well, I think there were probably a great number of them not only from the Brown County/Nicollet County area, but also that came from the north side of the river, Renville County area. [Additional written statement from Mr. Weldy: “I have never heard or read of our family members being ill-treated at the Fort or anywhere else.”]

There were a lot of trails and a lot of ways to get to the fort. I would think within the Native community there was probably some animosity between those who started to take some of the white man’s ways and those who thought that was verboten. So in some ways, some of the mixed blood people had to look out for themselves. I don’t know if it caused any problems at the fort, other than there’s some speculation and some wild stories about somebody plugging the cannons and all that sort of stuff. I’ve only read that in the context of someone thinking that was done. And I read a narrative written by a man by the name of Voltin this winter, who talked about the fact that they had fake cannons at Fort Ridgely. But where they had the fake cannons was New Ulm, not Fort Ridgely; Fort Ridgely had real cannons. And he also mentions where his family got off the boat coming up the river, and it most likely was at the trading post, but he goes on to say that his family was at Fort Ridgely. Well, they don’t show up on any of the narrative lists that I’ve seen. It’s like I always say about history: history is one person’s point of view at a particular time. And so you have to have a number of sources before you can really be sure what you’re looking at.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Jerry Weldy Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, MN | Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Some of the mixed blood people had to look out for themselves April 26, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1135

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.