News: Spencer – Indians in the Area (1870’s)


Surnames: Tifner, Kuehnow

Source: Spencer Centennial Book (1874 – 1974)

The following excerpts are taken from an article by Old Tifner which appeared in the Homecoming Edition of the Spencer Record in 1936. “There were Indian trails crossing and re-crossing Wisconsin. Indians engaged in fishing, hunting, fighting, picking berries, and gather rice from our northern lakes. The Sacs and the Foxes, the Winnebago’s, the Pottawattamies, and the Chippewa traveled by ponies, canoes, and on foot through this region. As many as 800 in a body have been seen journeying through these forests by the earliest white settlers. A large spring on the farm of Mrs. Maude Kuehnow, formerly the Wood farm, and now owned by Mid-Wisconsin, Association, Inc., in the town of Brighton, was one of their favorite places to quench their thirst.

These Indians also made periodic journeys to the southwestern part of Minnesota to get the red and white stone for their peace pipes.

The Pipestone quarry was neutral ground for all Indians. The stone lies very near the surface and is easily quarried, as the stone is soft when first taken from the soil, and easily carved or molded, but gradually hardens when exposed to the air.

In later times Indians used to come to the village to sell their baskets, which they had made of willow and splint. They made maple syrup each spring, and before they had metal kettles, boiled it in birch bark kettles hung over heated stone, and cleaned it with slipper elm bark.”

Our surrounding marsh abounded with blueberries and cranberries, which attracted the Indians here during the berry season. Some of them told our early settlers that they believed the marsh had once been a lake because they found clam shells there. The settlers, after also finding clam shells there, shared their belief. Indians also claimed that a portion of marsh toward the north, containing very tall tamarack trees, was once and island.



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