Death of Innocence, A Nine Year Girl in the Dakota War

Share your story submitted by: M. Boisen | Owatonna, MN

Disclaimer: This story contains graphic and/or offensive language that may not be suitable for children.
My great great aunt Cecelia Ochs was a nine year old girl taking care of Mrs. Caroline Stocker, a neighbor woman who was bedridden.  On August 18, 1862, Indians attacked the house as they were sitting down to dinner, broke a window and shot and killed Mrs. Stocker in bed.
Cecelia and Mr. Stocker then fled to the cellar. When they realized the house was set afire, they dug themselves out with pieces of wood and ran to the Zettels, another neighbor, only to find Mr Zettel dead, a loaf of bread he had offered to the Indians soaked with his blood. Cecelia saw the bodies of her classmates in the next room.  That same day, her uncle was killed and decapitated while working in his field.
She carried those memories with her for the rest of her days. These unarmed settlers and children had nothing to do with the policies and bravado that led to this conflict that took the lives of over 500 settlers.

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