Project Canterbury


History of Fort Ripley, 1849 to 1859,
based on the Diary of the Rev. Solon W. Manney, D.D. Chaplain of this post from 1851 to 1859.
By the Rev. George C. Tanner

Minnesota Historical Society Collections, 1905, pp 179-202

Read at the monthly meeting of the Executive Council, March 12, 1900.

A Copy of this Diary, made from the original by permission of the Rev. Dr. Manney's daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Tenney, has been presented by the author this paper to the Historical Society's Library.

On the 15th of October, 1851, the Rev. Solon W. Manney, rector of St. James' Episcopal Church. Milwaukee, received a letter from Capt. J. B. S. Todd, at that time in command at Fort Ripley, informing him that the Council of Administration at that post had nominated him to the Secretary of War as their chaplain. The official notice of his appointment at Washington reached him on the 29th, and a few days later, having resigned his parish, he set out for his new field of labor.


In 1851 the journey from Milwaukee to the Mississippi was by stage. At Galena he was met by Captain (now General) N. J. T. Dana. The day following his arrival he took passage with his family on the steamboat "Uncle Toby," bound for St. Peter's, as Mendota at the mouth of the Minnesota river was then designated.

Leaving Galena on the 15th of November, he notes as settlements along the Mississippi, Dubuque, Buena Vista, Cassville, Prairie La Porte, Clayton City, McGregor, Prairie du Chien, Columbus, Lansing, and La Crosse. The first settlement above La Crosse in 1851, unless we except a trading house or two, was Point Douglas, where he arrived late in the afternoon of November 18th. "Here the boat left us," he writes, "refusing to proceed farther. . . . We secured a lumber wagon to take us to St. Paul. Arrived at St. Paul at 5 p.m. Called at the Mission; took tea with the brethren" [Rev. James Lloyd Breck and his associates].

Stopping as a guest at the Central House, he was delayed in St. Paul for several days, on account of the danger in crossing the river. It was not till the 3rd of December that he was able to resume his journey up the river. At length, on the afternoon of the 7th, he reached the Fort, where he was cordially received by Captain Todd, who came to meet him, a few miles from the post, and invited him and his family to his own quarters.


As the first Chaplain at Fort Ripley was one of the Territorial Pioneers of Minnesota and passed the rest of his days in this new Commonwealth, a short account of his early life will not be out of place.

Solon W. Manney was born at Hyde Park, N. Y., near Poughkeepsie, in the year 1813. His early life was passed at the latter place amid influences savoring of an ancestry which has given us not a few eminent names. His ancestors were of the Huguenot faith. His father was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, and his mother was of Quaker descent. Through the influence of his young associates, he was drawn towards the Episcopal Church, and was baptized into this faith by Dr. Whittingham, afterwards the learned Bishop of Maryland.

Through his influence young Manney was led to prepare for the sacred ministry and became his pupil in the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He graduated with honor in 1837, in a class which gave us several well known clergy. His commencement thesis was a criticism on "Edwards on the Will;" but his propositions were so far in advance of the thought of that day, that the professor in charge of that department, while commending the production, would not allow it to be delivered.

He was ordained by Bishop B. T. Onderdonk, and for two years was rector of the Church, of the Nativity in New York City. Fired with zeal for work in the new West, enkindled by Bishop Kemper at his visits to the East, he came out to Indiana and for seven years labored at La Porte and Michigan City. He was one of the pioneer clergy who organized the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Indiana.

His original destination had been the Territory of Wisconsin. In 1850, in accordance with his first intention, he came to Milwaukee, where in November he took charge of the newly organized parish of St. James. While there he held several responsible positions in the Church. He was a member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese and the Missionary Board, and one of the examining chaplains. While thus actively engaged and useful in his new field, he received the appointment of chaplain at Fort Ripley, our most remote military post on our northwestern frontier.


The occasion of building Fort Ripley is supplied in a letter by Gen. N. J. T. Dana, as follows:

Just after the close of the War with Mexico, the Government consummated a treaty with the Winnebago Indians, then residing within the limits of Iowa, by the terms of which they transferred to the United States all their lands in that state, receiving in return a beautiful tract in Minnesota, the eastern boundary of which extended from near the mouth of the Crow Wing river southward along the Mississippi to a little below Sauk Rapids.

Among the obligations assumed by the United States by that treaty was the location and construction of a cantonment, and the stationing of a garrison thereat within the limits of the new Indian grant, near the mouth of the Crow Wing river. This condition was the cause of the unfortunate location of Fort Ripley. Brigadier General George M. Brooke, a veteran of the War of 1812, was at the time the commander of the military department which embraced the new Winnebago reservation, with his headquarters at St. Louis. Having received instructions from the War Department as to the location of the new post under the terms of the Winnebago treaty, he proceeded to Crow Wing in the month of November, 1848, with a squadron of dragoons and several staff-officers; and, after rcconnoitering the country, finally decided that the terms of the Winnebago treaty and his instructions made it his duty to locate the new post on the western bank of the Mississippi nearly opposite to the mouth of the Nokasippi river.

Being on duty in Boston at this time I received orders to report to General Brooke, and did so accordingly, at the earliest possible moment, and found the Post already located, and the General about returning to St. Louis. I was an officer of the Quartermaster's Department, and he left ma there to build the Fort. The country was already covered with snow. A portable saw-mill was put in operation, and the winter passed in getting out lumber and erecting temporary accommodations for a small gang of carpenters and laborers. In the spring of 1849, Company A of the Sixth Infantry at Fort Snelling was moved up to the new site, the commander of which was Capt. John B. S. Todd, who was the first commanding officer of the Post, called Fort Gaines, in honor of Brigadier General Edmund P. Gaines, then stationed at New Orleans.

Subsequently his name was given to a new permanent fortification in process of construction at the entrance of Mobile bay; and the cantonment in the Winnebago country was named Fort Ripley by the War Department in honor of Gen. Eleazer W. Ripley, a distinguished officer of the War of 1812. This name was officially announced November 4th, 1850.

General Dana superintended the work for two years. The builder of the fort was Mr. Jesse H. Pomroy, of St. Paul, who also had charge of the construction of Fort Ridgely in 1853-4.

"Rev. Mr. Manney, the first chaplain at Fort Ripley, was commended to us," says General Dana, "by good Bishop Kemper, and was elected before I left there. Rev. Frederick Ayer, a Presbyterian minister, who had been a teacher among the Ojibways at Sandy Lake, had established himself near the lower end of the military reservation, on the east side of the river near Little Falls, and was most kind in officiating at one or two funerals for the families at Fort Ripley. In the winter of 1850 I carried the venerable chaplain of Fort Snelling, Father Gear, to Fort Ripley in a sleigh, and we both enjoyed the visit greatly. We also had subsequently a visit from Bishop Kemper and the Rev. J. Lloyd Breck. The latter relinquished his work at St. Paul to Dr. Van Ingen, and removed to Gull lake."

As the name of General Dana is thus associated with Fort Ripley, it may be interesting to note that a little later he became a resident of St. Paul. On the breaking out of the Civil War, he was appointed colonel of the First Minnesota, and was afterward promoted as a brigadier general.

The location of the post was on the west bank of the Mississippi about twenty miles above the mouth of Swan river, and seven miles south of Crow Wing, at a point where the channel runs southwest. The distance by wagon road from St. Paul was one hundred and fifty miles. The road lay along the east bank of the Mississippi, with no approach to the fort except by ferry. The Post Reserve was a mile square and was surrounded by a dense forest. The fort was situated on a plateau elevated a little above the river, and consisted of several story and a half buildings constructed of wood, forming three sides of a square, with the open side facing the stream. On the right, looking towards the quadrangle, were the quarters of the officers, the chaplain's residence, and the sutler's store; on the left, also quarters for officers, a room set apart for a chapel, and a hospital; while the third side was filled by the barracks for the soldiers. The northwest and southwest corners were flanked by blockhouses of logs, with port-holes commanding the sides of the fort. The houses stood some fifteen to twenty feet apart, so that there was a free entrance between, excepting on the east side where there was a stockade built of logs set on end.


On the opposite side of the Mississippi was the Government farm, where Mr. S. Baldwin Olmstead had built a house and was engaged in farming and furnishing supplies. Seven miles above, near the mouth of the Crow Wing (so named from the shape of an island at its mouth, fancifully likened to the wing of a crow), was the village bearing the same name, a mere hamlet, or trading post, on the verge of civilization. This was the terminus of the wagon road.

About a mile above this village was the house of Hole-in-the-Day, head chief of the Ojibways (Chippeways), a crafty and subtle man, who ultimately came to his end by the hand of some unknown assassin. Three miles above Crow Wing, on the left bank of the Crow Wing river near the mouth of Gull river, was the Chippeway Agency. Eleven miles farther north, in the wilds up the Gull river, a rapid, rippling stream, flowing out of Gull lake, was the Ojibway Mission planted by the Rev. J. Lloyd Breck in the early summer of 1852, located at the northeast corner of the lake.

Between Gull lake and Round lake, eastward, was the residence of Enmegahbowh, an educated Canadian Indian, who had been identified with missionary work among the Ojibways of Minnesota, but who had now become an interpreter for Mr. Breck and ultimately entered the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church. As the career of this remarkable man is closely connected with the history of this immediate locality, a brief account of his early life, derived from a narrative given by himself, will not be foreign to our subject.


The Indian missionary, Enmegahbowh, or, as he is also known, the Rev. John Johnson, was born near Peterborough, in Upper Canada, of Christian Indians, who led a wandering life, subsisting by hunting and fishing. While he was yet a lad, the Rev. Mr. Armour, of the Church of England, visited the Indian camp and asked the parents to give him the child. At first the mother refused. A second visit was more successful, and the boy became a member of Mr. Armour's family and school. After some weeks the boy returned to the wigwam of his parents, carrying with him his books. Often long into the night watches, by the light of the fire he conned his lessons while the family were asleep.

After some time a Methodist minister, seeing that he was a promising child, asked the mother to give him her son. The mother at last yielded, on condition that he should be allowed to return at the end of a year. The day of parting came and the fond parents watched their boy as he embarked on the canoe journey to lake Superior. A twelvemonth he was at the Sault Ste. Marie. Then he went from place to place as an interpreter. For a while he was at the La Pointe Mission. At different times he lived with the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian, and Roman Catholic missionaries, and was a member of the missions at Red lake. Leech lake, Sandy lake, and Cass lake. But after years of faithful labor among the Ojibways, the Protestant missionaries withdrew from the field.

"As I stood and saw these good men going down the river in their canoes," says Enmegahbowh, "and the last hope of my people passing from my sight, I wept. . . . Then I thought I would go back to my own people and home and get an education, that 1 might tell my people the right way; but my friends here said, 'We will send you to school.' "

Seven years were spent in study at an academy near Jacksonville, Ill., whence he returned to what is now Minnesota. Then there was not a white man in St. Paul. Leaving his trunk at Fort Snelling, and taking with him only his Ojibway Testament, he went northward into the wilderness and became an interpreter for the Methodists. When these also gave up their mission, he resolved to return to Canada, and set out on his long voyage across the "Big Sea Water." A tempest having arisen in which all on board came near perishing, he changed his purpose, and, returning to his people, was on the point of going to Washington with the chiefs to ask for a teacher, when, at the suggestion of the Rev. E. G. Gear, whom he had met at Fort Snelling, he resolved to ask the Protestant Episcopal Church to send them a missionary. At Philadelphia, on his journey, he received a letter from Father Gear, informing him that a man had been found who would go to his people. This was the Rev. James Lloyd Breck, the head of the Associate Mission in St. Paul. Such was the beginning of a life of loving service to the Ojibway people, happily prolonged over a period of more than half a century.


The first in command at Fort Ripley was Captain John B. S. Todd, from whom Todd county received its name, who afterward was a leading citizen of Dakota, and identified with the material interests of Yankton. In 1854 he was succeeded by Major George W. Patten, poet, and writer on military science. For a short time in the summer of 1857, the post was without a garrison, and was in charge of Ordnance Sergeant Alexander. On the return of the troops, Major Patten again came into command. On the removal of the military force, the Indians at Leech lake became troublesome, and it was found necessary to keep up the garrison, as was the case during the Indian troubles of 1862-3. After Major Patten, Major Hannibal Day was in command; and still later Capt. William S. McCaskey and Capt. John C. Bates, both of whom won distinction in the Civil War, and again, nearly forty years later, in the Philippine War.


The Diary of Chaplain Manney covers the period of his residence at Fort Ripley, from December 7th, 1851, to May 17th, 1859, an interesting period in the early history of Minnesota. It notes the daily occurrences at the fort, matters of interest in the neighborhood, the phenomena of the weather, and speaks of personages well known in our early history. The chronicle also records the time of planting and ingathering of fruits. The chaplain is a disciple of honest Isaak Walton. He tells the day of his first shot on the wing. He is a student of Nature, an observer of animal life, of the phenomena of the heavens. He is the garrison schoolmaster. On an important occasion he was called to practice the art of Aesculapius. At another time he was prosecuting attorney in a criminal case. It is interesting to note in this connection that the canons of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota were framed in the chaplain's study. He has recorded the more stirring events of border life, not simply the births and baptisms and burials, but the darker side of a life where civilization and barbarism meet and mingle, the outbreaks of unrestrained passions, by giving a continuous record of Indian affairs in his neighborhood for a period of over seven years.

First, there is the regularly recurring mention of Divine Service and a sermon in the chapel on the Lord's Day. The sermon was argumentative and logical, after the manner of the old English divines. His sermons were models of reasoning, and were afterward delivered before his students of theology. They contained meat for mature minds, and his hearers, brought up under the old regime, listened with interest. The uneducated could hardly fail to receive a benediction in the presence of his genial face, from which the humanities were reflected. His manner in the sacred offices was reverential and impressive. Few could render the service of the Prayer Book more devoutly. His piety was not emotional. His religion was a reasonable service. He so lived as if man were made to be mindful of his higher obligation to a Divine Will, and of his chief end to glorify God and enjoy Him. It was a maxim with him that the Prayer Book had made provision for but one sermon a Sunday. We note that the services were attended by the officers of the garrison. On Christmas day he writes: "Divine Service, Sermon, and Holy Communion,-a good congregation, and a goodly number of communicants. Text: Peace on earth."

Such was our chaplain: a man of medium stature, of Holland ancestry, free-hearted and good-natured, without mannerism or professional appearance, alike respected by the army officers of the olden time and beloved by the common soldiers; a versatile man, well read in book lore, yet familiar with the common matters of daily living, who could turn from the serious thoughts of the study to the innocent diversions of life. Who shall estimate the influence of such a man at a remote frontier post?

Then there is the Chapel, a simple room decently fitted up, no doubt by the ladies of the garrison, supplemented by the generosity of the officers; a voluntary Service, with no roll call; a general meeting place, on a national platform under a common flag.

The only religious teachers in this region were Chaplain Manney, Father Pierz at Crow Wing, the Rev. Mr. Ayer near Little Falls, and Father Vevaldi at Long Prairie. There were occasional ministrations at the fort by clergy from outside. Among these were Father Vevaldi, the Roman Catholic priest; Bishop Kemper; the Rev. Edward D. Neill, D.D., one of our Territorial Pioneers, historian and educator; and others, as J. Lloyd Breck and E. Steele Peake, of St. Columba Mission. On one occasion the Chaplain had a pleasant interview with Father Vevaldi, and conversed with him in Latin on ecclesiastical questions.


After a half century, it is still interesting to note the variableness of the seasons at that early day, before the axe or the plowshare of the pioneer could have wrought any climatic change.

In 1857 the river closed as early as November 21st, the earliest closing recorded during all those eight years; but in 1854 the river was open at the garrison, and for a mile or two above, as late as the 26th of December. In 1854 the river opposite the fort was open, so that the ferry could cross, as early as the 21st of March; but in 1857 teams were crossing on the ice at Crow Wing as late as the 24th of April.

The winter of 1851-2 was comparatively mild, but variable. The coldest day of the season was January 19th, when the thermometer registered thirty degrees below zero at sunrise. In 1852-3 the coldest day was December 21st, when the thermometer indicated thirty-seven below. The severity of that winter was relieved by mild and pleasant intervals. The December of 1855 was unusually severe. At sunrise on the 24th, the mercury was frozen in the bulb, the coldest ever known at the post; in December up to that date, and surpassed only by that of January 24th, 1854. On Christmas the mercury congealed when exposed, and the chapel service had to be suspended. The winter of 1854-5 seems to have been unusually mild, the coldest weather being only twenty-nine below, with rain early in January. In 1858 the severest snowstorm of the season occurred as late as the 4th of April.


Fort, Ripley is also interesting for its connection with the Indian Mission of the Episcopal Church at Gull lake. February 21st, 1852, the Rev. James Lloyd Breck, accompanied by Chaplain Manney, went to Crow Wing to see Hole-in-the-Day. The chief being absent, they returned without an interview. Early in March Hole-in-the-Day with his wives took tea at the fort, when the chaplain had some conversation with him as to the introduction of Christianity among his tribe, and also concerning his own views and feelings on this subject. A little later the chief with two of his wives, and Enmegahbowh, called at the post to request the chaplain to bury his child which had died that day while they were on their way for medical aid. After considering the matter, the chaplain consented, and took the opportunity to expound to them the doctrine of the resurrection. At the same time he resolved two questions that were asked by the chief: Whether it would be proper for him to have a feast in remembrance of his child? Answer, No. And how his two wives whom he intends to put away should be treated? Answer: He must see that they are comfortably provided for and protected, with the liberty of marrying again, when the obligation of support and protection would cease on their marriage, and that his children should have all the privileges of his family.

Towards the close of April, 1852, Mr. Breck arrived at the fort again, on his way to Gull lake to see Hole-in-the-Day. May 19th, accompanied by Craig and Holcomb, students of the mission at St. Paul, Mr. Breck made a third visit to the Indian country. After some difficulty he at length succeeded in getting possession of ground for a mission, Hole-in-the-Day having proved faithless. During the summer Mr. Breck made monthly journeys to and from St. Paul on foot, as his custom was. As the season passed, the prospect of work among the Ojibways became more encouraging, and on the first day of November, 1852, the corner stone was laid of the Indian Church of St. Columba, the first edifice of the Episcopal Church on the west bank of the Mississippi.

Meanwhile, the work of instructing the Indians in the ways of Christian living went on apace. All were taught to work, and nothing was given without service rendered in return. The success of the efforts of Mr. Breck attracted official notice. At the end of the first year Governor Gorman, superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Minnesota, without solicitation, stated to Bishop Kemper his intention to apply to the Department at Washington for an annual gift to the mission of five hundred dollars. At the close of the second year both the governor and Major Herriman, the Indian agent, were so impressed by the results as to recommend the appropriation of the Ojibway school fund to the St. Columba Mission. At that time there was no other mission of any religious body among the Ojibways of the Mississippi. The Presbyterians also generously united in this application in behalf of the work of Mr. Breck. As a result of this noble and Christian endeavor, Mr. Breck, as his custom was, placed upon the altar of the church at St. Columba, on the second Sunday after Trinity, in 1854, an offering of one thousand dollars in gold, this being one third part of what the general Government was to give him that year.

We have spoken particularly of the work of Mr. Breck, because of its connection with the Government and with Fort Ripley, and also because of the interest taken by Chaplain Manney in its behalf. Indeed, the latter was appointed by Bishop Kemper to make an examination and an annual report of the financial condition of the Mission. If it be said that the Government had no concern with religious work, it should be remembered that in this case, as everywhere else, the fruits more than repaid the protection the Post afforded the Mission; for it was only by the timely notice given by Christian Indians, in 1857, that Crow Wing was saved, and by Enmegahbowh at very great risk, in 1862, which prevented the garrison of Fort Ripley from being surprised, and averted a general massacre on our northern frontier, like that perpetrated by the Sioux in the southwest part of the state.

The following incident related by the chaplain will illustrate the thoughtful side of Indian character. It occurred in connection with the laying of the corner stone of the Church of St. Columba. Two Indians came with Enmegahbowh to ask the chaplain some questions. It was in Mr. Breck's study at Gull lake. "The questions," says the chaplain, "were well put. They related to the Church, the existence of moral evil, and the unity of the human race. I had a long conversation with them on each of these points, at which they expressed themselves gratified and satisfied. On taking out my watch to see the time, one of the Indians asked me whether day and night were of equal length. This resulted in quite a long conversation on astronomy, at which they expressed great astonishment.


How well the Chaplain served the Post appears from his Diary. There is the regularly recurring note of Divine Service; the children are gathered in school for daily instruction; the social relations with the officers are carefully observed; he ministers: to the dying private; he notes the first communion, and records the birth and baptism; he commits the body to the earth with the last offices; he solemnized the rites of holy matrimony; and by his chaplaincy vindicated our claim to be a Christian nation. He does not forget works of mercy and charity. "A young Indian," he writes, "died today from bronchial consumption, as near as I could judge. He was in want; had been visited by Miss Phelps daily, and his wants supplied. A vast number die of this disease and inflammation of the lungs."


In March, 1853, Chaplain Manney, with Captain Todd and the Rev. Mr. Breck, made a journey to Leech lake. This visit had a twofold object. Captain Todd was interested in scientific explorations, and Mr. Breck was already planning to extend his work among the red men. The chaplain combined the student and the philanthropist. The Diary contains the following: "March 13th, Divine Service at Bungo's, which is the old mission ground [of the American Board, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Boutwell] . Breck read the Service and I preached. The first Service of our Church that those wild regions ever listened to."

Leech lake, so named from the leeches abounding in its waters, was the home of George Bungo, a tall man, erect, well-built, very black, and, consequently, very striking in appearance. He enjoyed in the highest degree the confidence of men like the Hon. Henry M. Rice, and had a credit almost unlimited with the leading merchants of St. Paul. He was educated at Montreal. Our chronicle says: "Left Leech lake about 9 a.m. for home, having been treated with great hospitality by George, who is a mixed blood, African and Indian. His father, he told me, was taken prisoner by the Indians near Chicago, or Milwaukee, about the latter part of the last century or the beginning of this. George was born on the St. Croix."

In the early summer of 1853 another journey was made by the chaplain and Mr. Breck to Otter Tail lake. The party consisted of Breck, Manney, George Bungo, and two experienced voyageurs. The route was up the fine and beautiful stream of the Crow Wing. The daily record begins with prayers and breakfast, and closes with supper and prayers. "One afternoon, caught a legged snake, called by the Indians okodigenabik, said to be very scarce, called by some of them manito, which has this singular property when struck, its tail would snap like glass." From the Crow Wing they proceeded up Leaf river, a crooked stream, whose windings dispersed its blessings widely. After morning prayer on Sunday they proceeded on their way, nooning at a fine high bluff on which they said the Litany, and at nightfall camped on Leaf lake. The day following they passed successively through Leaf lake, really two lakes, with a short portage to a third, and thence another portage to Otter Tail lake, which, the writer says, not more than ten white men had ever seen.

The purpose of this journey was to secure a site for another Indian mission. The day following their arrival, the Indians came in and sent word that they were ready to see the visitors. Breck stated to them his purpose, to establish a mission among them, with the advantages they might expect from changing their mode of life.

The chief answered by saying that "when the whites generally came among them they put sugar in their mouths, but we had not. We had spoken plainly, and from the heart." He said that they were poor. "We have nothing but what we wear. We have no settled home. Like the wild deer, our home is where night overtakes us." He then welcomed Mr. Breck among them, gave him what land he wanted for the mission, all the timber he needed, all the fish he could use. He then indulged in the prospect of ''advantage which was likely to accrue to his band from the establishment of the mission, in their improved condition, in teaching them to labor and draw their living from the soil, in the education of their children, in their happy homes. He talked very sensibly. The chief is a noble fellow. McDonald, a worthless trader at Crow Wing, had poisoned the minds of the principal men against this mission, or any mission amongst them. But this did not deter the chief."

After prayers and breakfast they went out and selected the ground for the mission buildings and the farm, a beautiful site with an extensive view upon the lake. "After an early dinner, and while the voyageurs were making the portage," the Chaplain writes, "we went to the mission grounds, erected a cross, read the Tenth Selection, consisting of a part of Psalm 96 and Psalms 148 to 150, said the Gloria in Excelsis, the Creed, and some Prayers, and thus, as it were, consecrated it to God Most High, through His Son Jesus Christ." Then they entered their canoes and proceeded on their way home. At their former camping ground they found two men bound for Pembina in the Red River country. One of their horses had been injured the day before and left to die. "Our party gave them what provisions they could spare for their unexpectedly prolonged journey."


The account of an attempt to reach lake Superior carries us back to a condition of things we can scarcely realize today. Early in the month of October, 1854, in company with Bishop Kemper, the chaplain set out for lake Superior, to which the bishop refers in one of his reports. The route was up the Mississippi by canoe, thence into Sandy lake, and onward with only a short portage between the waters tributary to that lake and those of the St. Louis, flowing into lake Superior. Experienced voyageurs were required for this journey. Leaving Crow Wing on the 6th, they reached Willow river at noon on the fifth day after their departure. There it became evident that the voyageurs would not get them to Sandy lake before Thursday night, which must necessarily prevent them from getting to Superior before Monday or Tuesday night of the following week, thus compelling them to spend three successive Sundays in the wilderness.

Upon consultation it was thought useless to proceed, whereupon the Chaplain gave the order to return. The principal voyageur refusing, they left him, and, placing an Indian in the stern, and himself taking a paddle in the bow, they reached their last camping place about sundown.

The next morning at breakfast three Indians and a halfbreed came into camp from Sandy lake, bound for Crow Wing. One of these was hired to go in the canoe. About noon the following day, Mahnanik, the Indian whom they had first hired at Rapid river, took in his wife and child. At Crow Wing the second Indian left. So they put the squaw in the stern, and proceeded on,--"the crew now consisting of Chaplain Manney in the bow, Mahnanik at the oars, his squaw in the stern,--and, as passengers, Bishop Kemper and the papoose. We arrived at the garrison about 2 p. m., after an absence of nearly nine days."


The withdrawal of the troops from Fort Ripley, which had been under consideration for some time, was effected early in 1857. On the 25th of March the intelligence reached the fort, through a general order published in the New York Herald, that the Tenth Regiment was ordered to Leavenworth, and the Post was to be abandoned. On the 20th of the following month it was learned that Fort Snelling- also was to be vacated and sold. In June, Lieutenant Kelly received orders to go to Leavenworth; and in July the military stores at Fort Ripley were offered for sale.


Following close upon this, troubles began to gather at Leech lake, where, a year before, Mr. Breck had established a second mission. The particulars of this disturbance may be found in a series of articles, on the work of the Rev. J. Lloyd Breck, in the Minnesota Missionary for February, 1896. The account there given is taken from a paper prepared by Miss Emily J. West, who was a member of the mission at Leech lake, being an eye witness of what she relates.

The trouble began early in July, 1857. The chaplain was absent at the time, but, on receiving a note that the members of the Leech Lake Mission were at the Fort, he hastened home and found that they had left Kesahgah in the night of Thursday, the 9th, on account of the bad and violent behavior of some Indians I who were destroying their property and who even threatened personal violence.

In the Diary we find the following entry almost immediately after the withdrawal of the garrison: "We may now expect personal violence, and murders, and the destruction of property on the ceded lands, and all along the frontier. The withdrawal of the troops from this section can result in nothing else." Just four years before, to a day, the Indians had killed an ox belonging to the mission at Gull lake. But the prompt arrest of the offenders, who had been put in irons and set to work, had prevented any further outrages until after the withdrawal of the troops. A few days later, an inoffensive German, while traveling along the road near Gull lake, was murdered under circumstances of the greatest cruelty. The murderers were brought to the fort, but, as they could not be kept there, a team was procured at Mr. Olmstead's, across the river, and they were forwarded to Belle Prairie, to be delivered to the justice who was to commit them to the sheriff at Little Falls.

The news of the murder spread; and, armed with pistols and provided with ropes, a party left Swan River, determined upon securing the prisoners and executing them. They succeeded in overtaking the officer and his posse, and, threatening the sheriff even to putting a rope round the neck of one of his men, seized the three Indians and executed and buried them handcuffed to each other.

The Indians were now becoming intensely excited and threatened revenge. Mr. Peake and his family left the mission at Gull lake in the care of the Christian Indians and took refuge in the fort. Indians were seen skulking about, ready to murder the first white man who should happen to come in their way.

It was unsafe even at the fort to step outside the door in the evening. The click of a gun was a warning to keep under cover.

At the same time considerable excitement was produced in Crow Wing by the revelation of Crow Feather of the plans of Hole-in-the-Day. The night previous he had communicated to Crow Feather and five or six braves his wishes that Crow Feather and one other should proceed to Crow Wing and kill the first white man they met,--the other four to proceed to Gull lake and burn all the mission buildings and property.

Through the influence of Clement Beaulieu, who had gotten this information from Crow Feather, the latter was induced to return to the Agency and try to prevent the burning of the mission property. It is but justice to Crow Feather to note that, in answer to the wishes of Hole-in-the-Day, he said he had traveled among the whites a good deal and had received naught but kindness, and that he could not kill a white man.

"In view of the threatened danger to life and property," the Chaplain writes, "I wrote a note to Hole-in-the-Day to the effect that we were aware of his intentions, and knew that he was inciting a number of Indians to deeds of violence and murder; also that, if he carried out his intentions, we should take every means in our power to bring him to a speedy and summary punishment."

On Monday of the following week, August 24, 1857, White Fisher and Enmegahbowh came to the fort, the former right from Gull lake, stating that he with a number of Indians at Gull lake had held a kind of council on Saturday night, wherein they had agreed to stand by the Mission and send a message to Hole-in-the-Day, that they would not listen to his wicked proposals. Hole-in-the-Day had also given Indians money to kill Enmegahbowh.

On the 27th, Captain Barry, with a small escort from Fort Snelling arrived to examine into the true state of the late difficulties . It seems that, on the receipt of the letter from the chaplain, Col. Burke sent a messenger up the Minnesota river to Fort Ridgely; whereupon Col. Abercrombie ordered Capt. Barry to take an escort and proceed to the northern frontier and learn the exact state of affairs. Accordingly, Enmegahbowh and White Fisher were sent for to give Capt. Barry information concerning the troubles and the general disposition of the Indians.

With the failure of the plot of Hole-in-the-Day and the presence of our soldiers at the fort, quiet was restored and continued during the following winter. The Rev. E. Steele Peake and his f family remained at the garrison, as it was not thought safe for him to return to Gull lake immediately. Quarters were assigned him by Major Patten, the officer in command, and such of the Indian children as had been members of his family were also received.


The chief event concerning Fort Ripley in the latter part of this year 1857 was the attempted sale of the Reserve, together with the fort, by the War Department, which took place on the 20th of October. The Reserve and adjoining lands, to the amount 3 in all of about 60,000 acres, in various lots, received as bids about $1,800, or an average of three cents an acre. It was less than two months after the great financial panic of August, 1857, which disastrously affected all business interests throughout the United States. These very low offers, being under the price of $1.25 per acre required for valid sales of government lands, were not accepted.


Meanwhile, in another field, an event of moment had occurred. Bishop Kemper, whose name will long be remembered in our early history, had called a meeting of the clergy and parishes in Christ Church, St. Paul, to organize a diocese. In this council, convening September 16th, 1857, Chaplain Manney was a leading member. The canons there adopted were largely framed by his hand. Fort Ripley should be remembered as the place where these were thought out, under which for nearly forty years the Episcopal Church did its work in Minnesota.


On Tuesday, September 24th, of the week following the convention, Breck, Manney, and Peake, went to Faribault; and on Wednesday they made a reconnaissance of the town and vicinity with a view to select a site for schools. When Mr. Breck came to St. Paul in 1850, it was for the purpose of educational work in general, and theological in particular. His original design was never given up when he went into the Indian country. Accordingly, on the breaking up of the mission at Leech lake, he decided to resume the educational work. The Mission of St. Columba, at Gull lake, was never abandoned, but had a continuous existence under the Rev. E. Steele Peake, who had gone there in 1856, on the removal of Mr. Breck to Leech lake; and, though for a time obscured, it was the germ of the present fruits of Bishop Whipple's work among the Ojibways under the Rev. J. A. Gilfillan.

September 25th, 1857, the Associate Mission was formed at Faribault by these three clergy, to embrace the white and the red field for religious and educational work. The Rev. Mr. Peake was to labor among the red men, and Messrs. Breck and Manney were to reside at Faribault.


The events of the spring of 1858 confirmed the good judgment of the Chaplain as to the necessity of a standing body of soldiers at Fort Ripley. On the 18th of March a detachment had to be sent to Crow Wing to aid the civil authority in making arrests and keeping the peace. Some unprincipled men, inflamed by liquor, made an attempt to burn the store of Mr. Beaulieu, threatening to shoot any who should attempt to put the fire out. Those in charge fired on the incendiaries, killing one and wounding another. The next day another alarm came, that some scoundrels had gone to Crow Wing with the intention of burning the town that night, and that life was in danger. Soon after Divine Service on Sunday, March 2ist, a messenger arrived from Major Herriman, the Indian agent, with a requisition for troops to protect himself and a body of Indians from a set of vagabonds at Crow Wing.

One of the incendiaries, well known in that region as Whiskey Jack, and an accomplice, having been brought to the fort, the justice and others interested came down from Crow Wing to hold a court for the examination of the prisoners, in order to their commitment. Beaulieu, the complainant, requested the chaplain to act as his counsel.

This notable court was held March 23rd, at the house of Mr. S. Baldwin Olmstead, who lived across the river. It was composed of Justice McGillis, the prisoner Whiskey Jack, with his hands tied together, in charge of a corporal's guard, Chaplain Manney as prosecuting attorney, and Lieut. Spencer, counsel:
for the defendant. As the justice could not write well, he was assisted by Surgeon Hassan of the Post. The witnesses were Shoff, Scofield, and Giggy. The complainant, on whose oath the arrest had been made, was Clement Beaulieu. Whiskey Jack was found guilty enough to be committed. So, in default of bail, he was given over into the keeping of the constable (but, there being none, the justice had to make one for the occasion), to be committed to jail, and, as there was no jail in those parts, Whiskey Jack was brought back to the garrison in charge of the guard and was confined in the guard house. Such was the administration of justice, according to the law of good sense, if not quite in accordance with established order.

Close upon the heels of this followed an event of a more serious nature. An Ojibway captive woman, who had escaped from the Sioux, arrived at the fort under a military escort from Fort Snelling, having previously been sent from Fort Ridgely by Colonel Abercrombie. A little later, three Ojibways were surprised by a party of Sioux while on Long Prairie river, and one scalp was taken. During the night of the 236. of March, 1858, about midnight, Sheriff Pugh brought a dispatch from Little Falls, that 200 Sioux were in the vicinity. Major Patten sent an order to Crow Wing for Lieut. Spencer to return immediately with his detachment, and issued a thousand ball cartridges to the citizens of Little Falls, at the same time sending out scouts. The lumbermen, hearing the alarm, came into Crow Wing, and the Indians left the sugar camps and came in for fear of the Sioux. The report went out that a number of Sioux had crossed the river at Watab on a gorge of ice, in pursuit, undoubtedly, of the Chippeway captive. They were one day behind her. She had reached the mission of the Rev. Mr. Williamson after a long journey, who immediately carried her to Fort Ridgely, whence she was forwarded to Fort Ripley in safety. It was a bold attempt on the part of the Sioux to re-capture the escaped Ojibway woman. It was fortunate they did not intercept her, as she was under the escort of United States troops, and such an event would have resulted in an Indian war.

Even as late as the 3d of May, while planting in his garden, the chaplain was called in by an alarm from the bugle. The cause was the proximity of a large body of Sioux. Guns were taken to the block-house, water was drawn, and men were quartered there ready for an emergency. News also came that seven Ojibway scalps had been taken at Swan River the night before, and that the Sioux were robbing and committing more depredations in the neighborhood of the Platte river. Thus it seemed as if the Post was pretty well surrounded by hostile Indians.

Hardly had the fears of the people subsided, when an order was received early in July to abandon Fort Ripley, and to establish a post near Graham's Point on the Red river. The same mail, however, brought a telegram order for Major Patten's company to proceed to the Red river as noted, and for the artillery company to remain at Fort Ripley. This was delayed by the departure of Major Patten below, who seems to have gone for further instructions, returning, however, no wiser than before. On his return Major Patten stated that he had peremptory orders to send company L to the Red river in place of company K, but that he should order his own company.

Lieut. Conrad was sent to examine the condition of the road as far as the crossing of the Crow Wing, who reported that the road was not impassable. A military road had been laid out by George H. Belden, civil engineer, extending from Ripley to the site of this new post, which was called Fort Abercrombie. Major Patten started on August 8th, and arrived at his destination on the 27th. The work of construction was pushed rapidly forward, so that by the middle of November the men were in comfortable quarters.


The summer of 1858 was one to be remembered in other ways. The winter had been unusually mild with its rains and pleasant days. March was drawing to a close with its showers, when suddenly the season seemed reversed, and instead of April showers January snows succeeded, with little promise of May flowers. As late as the 15th of May ice formed, a quarter of an inch thick; and on the 11th of June another frost singed potatoes, and killed tomatoes where it had a chance. Squash and pumpkin vines were injured on the night of the 12th of July; and on the 28th of August those which previous frosts had spared were entirely killed. It was one of those phenomenal seasons which come rarely in our northern clime to blight the hopes of the husbandman. However, the Chaplain kept feast on the Fourth of July, with green peas for dinner, sending portions also to his friends in the garrison.

The winter of 1858-9 and its varied changes passed, with enough of incident to break the monotony of garrison life on the frontier. The cheerful hearth dispelled the unusual cold; a marriage or two were included among social events; and there were the coming and going of officers and visitors, and the weekly service and sermon.

Near the close of January, 1859, the Chaplain received a letter from Mr. Breck, expressing a desire that he should join him in the educational work already established at Faribault. Such had been the understanding in 1857 when the Associate Mission was formed. After due consideration, Mr. Manney decided to go as early in the spring as possible. He did not deem it best to resign his chaplaincy at this time, but obtained leave of absence for four months. Leaving the fort about the middle of May, he reached Faribault on the 23d. His resignation dates from about the 1st of November, 1859, having held the office for a period of eight years.


The work of Dr. Manney at Faribault was to instruct the candidates for the ministry, and to hold religious services on Sunday at some one of several stations within a radius of twenty-five miles. He heard recitations in systematic divinity, ecclesiastical history, the Greek Testament, and such other subjects as were required for entrance to the ministry. His varied learning and aptness to teach admirably fitted him for his work in a young institution. The several departments of the Faribault schools at that early day were included under the title of the Bishop Seabury University. These were primary, grammar, high school, and theological, for which there was a single building of wood, of simple pretensions.

Dr. Manney received his classes in his study. This contained well filled book-cases of carefully selected works by the old English divines, which must have presented a singular contrast to the wild scenes of frontier life. His manner in the classroom was easy and familiar, yet his pupils felt they were sitting at the feet of a master.

He often preached in the Chapel at Faribault, where he was listened to with marked attention. For five years he was the only instructor in theology. Besides his scholastic duties, he was of very great assistance in the organization of the Bishop Sea-bury Mission, and the articles of incorporation were drawn by his hand. It is to the rare combination of men like Bishop Whipple, J. Lloyd Breck, and Solon W. Manney, that the schools at Faribault largely owe their success,

In 1862, Dr. Manney was elected a delegate to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, when his influence was felt as a member of the Committee on Legislation. He also sat as a member in the Council of 1865, and again in 1868. While in attendance at the latter convention, alarming symptoms of disease unexpectedly appeared, which rapidly assumed a more aggravated character. A painful operation after his return failed to arrest the progress of the disease, and, after a short and painful illness, in the full vigor of his mind he passed away January 19th, 1869, at the age of fifty-five years.


As reference has been made to Enmegahbowh in the course of this paper, we add an account of his ordination which took place at Faribault on Sunday, July 3d, 1859, with which the Diary of Dr. Manney almost immediately closes. The event is also interesting as the last official act of Bishop Kemper in Minnesota. [Enmegahbowh labored as a most devoted and useful missionary among the Ojibways in the northern part of this state until his death at White Earth, Minn., June 12, 1902.]

Faribault was in the country of the Sioux, some of whom had their lodges near the residence of Mr. Alexander Faribault. The memory of the late feuds was still fresh in mind, and to penetrate so far into the country where an enemy might be met at any time was an event which at least suggested apprehensions of danger. The congregation had already assembled in the Chapel,--the Bishop and clergy in the chancel, and Enmegahbowh, habited in his surplice, with Manitowab and William Superior on either side, all three Ojibways, when above a dozen Sioux came in to witness the novel spectacle and to get a sight of the Ojibways who had ventured to penetrate so far into the country, of their hereditary foes.

In the afternoon a conference was held in which the Ojibways addressed the Sioux through an interpreter. Mr. Alexander Faribault was present and assisted as interpreter for the Sioux. Among other things, Manitowab declared that since he had become a Christian the spirit of hatred had given place to that of love to all men, so that he looked upon the Sioux as brothers and not as enemies.

In the evening the Ojibways and Sioux again met at the house of Mr. Breck, when the Sioux made answer, through their chief, to the addresses of Manitowab and William. Thus ended an interesting day in the history of the relations of these tribes. The children of both Ojibways and Sioux were received into the mission school at Faribault, lived under the same roof, and played together on the mission grounds, adjacent to those of Mr. Faribault, where the Sioux and their lodges might always be seen.

Project Canterbury