Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS

Markers, cemeteries are focus of auto tour of war sites

Part of 150th anniversary of US-Dakota War

August 19, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer ( , The Journal

BROWN COUNTY - A diagonal field boundary that used to mark a Dakota reservation line was one of things Randy Krzmarzick remembers most about growing up on the family farm several miles southwest of Sleepy Eye.

"I remember my dad, Sylvester, referring to the south boundary of your fields as on the "Indian line fence," Krzmarzick said on a high spot on 280th Avenue, a half mile south of U.S. Highway 14 at the Dakota Reservation and Leavenworth Road historical marker dedication Saturday.

Krzmarick said the diagonal field boundary wasn't much of a problem with four-row equipment of his youth, but with eight-row in the 1970s, it was different due to weeds and cultivators that gave farmers the choice of cultivating out weeds or crops on end rows.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Fritz Busch

Randy Krzmarzick of rural Sleepy Eye describes the history, location and significance of the Leavenworth Road and Dakota Reservation boundary at a historical marker dedication Saturday on 280th Ave., two miles southwest of Sleepy Eye.

"We usually left the weeds when we got there," he added. "...It was a bounteous piece of land set aside for the Dakota with access to rivers, streams, sloughs and wildlife to trap and hunt, plus fertile upland to till or graze."

Krzmarzick said it's a beautiful thought to picture Whites and Indians living next to each other after the Dakota sold some of the most fertile land there is to the U.S. government for four cents an acre.

"It's worthwhile to remind ourselves there was another possible ending to this story instead of commemorating this week the 150th anniversary of a bad ending to the idea of two very different people living closely together," he added.

Fact Box

US-Dakota War 150th Commemoration events

The following are the events for Monday in New Ulm and the area for the 150th anniversary commemoration of the US-Dakota War.

Leavenworth Rescue Tour 8:30-11:30 a.m. Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 8:15am.

Scott Berg, Professor, George Mason University "Lincoln, Little Crow, and the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War." 1-2 p.m., Turner Hall. FREE ADMISSION

Dr. Gwen Westerman, 2-3 pm Professor, Minnesota State University, Mankato "Choosing Sides on Aug. 20th", Turner Hall, FREE ADMISSION

Milford Historical Area Tour 1-3 p.m., Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 12:45 p.m.

Downtown Battlefield Walking Tour 1-2 p.m. Tours begin every 15 minutes between 1-2 p.m. Tours are 1 hour long. $3 per person. Purchase at BCHS.

Hanska Historical Area Tour 2-5 p.m. Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 1:45 p.m.

Video "Dakota War" 2-4 p.m. Video will be shown at the BCHS Annex building behind the museum. FREE ADMISSION

Grand Center for the Arts 6-8 pm. Artists Showcase. Grand Center for the Arts Kiesling House - 220 North Minnesota Street.

The Wanda Gag House 1-4 p.m. Exhibit featuring 10 scenes of the U.S.-Dakota War on canvas from a Panorama attributed to Anton Gag, Alexander Schwendinger, and Chris Heller. 226 N. Washington Street

Multicultural Dance Celebration 7 p.m. Featuring Mike Lucio Native American Dancers, Dale Holtz Polka Band, and Otto's Sound., German Park. FREE ADMISSION

Krzmarzick said the sloughs are gone now but in dry years, his farmland is some of the best soil there is.

For some reason, the old reservation boundary line and a nearby ditch dug in 1944 that runs parallel to the line were never squared up.

"Anyway, I've made my peace with it. Roundup sure helped with the weeds," Krzmarzick said.

He said commemorating the 150th Anniversary of U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 is certainly complicated.

"Like Kate Roberts, who developed the Minnesota Historical Society's 1862 anniversary exhibit said, 'this is by far the most contested history I've waded into-Every fact is in dispute-every fact."

"We need, I'd suggest, to walk reverently into this commemoration," Krzmarzick said. "...We should try to respect and honor the participants in his horrible drama by not making easy judgments. Any quick and easy judgment made about such a complicated set of events is probably going to be wrong anyway."

He said stepping into the commemoration is like stepping into a holy place.

"None of us have probably ever known to desperation of having a child who is starving to death...the ghosts are still around us. They deserve our respect."

The Leavenworth Road connected New Ulm with Lake Shetek, Pipestone, Sioux Falls, S.D. and settlements further west.

The Brown Family Ambush marker was dedication a mile west of Leavenworth along County Road 24.

"I know my husband Richard is smiling now," said Mary Lou Mathiowetz. "He loved the history of this area."

Joseph Brown, his son Jonathon and daughter Oratia were trying to ride an ox-driven wagon to New Ulm for more safety in August 1862 when they were attacked and killed along the Leavenworth Road, aka the Shetek Trail.

Paul Hillesheim and his brother Jerome raised a U.S. flag in honor of their father, Roman Hillesheim, who took care of the Iberia Cemetery from 1972 to 2010.

Fourteen gravestones in the oak tree-filled cemetery bear the names of people who died during the 1862 battles. The dead included a baby that was left on a kitchen table.

Other dead were found hiding from attacks in a nearby slough. Some of the dead lived in a poor farm, located about three miles north of the cemetery.

Gary Wiltscheck memorialized nine Sigel Township settlers and one Dakota killed, plus six injured during the war, plus one Dakota who were buried in the Sigel Cemetery, at the corner of County Road 24 and Lakeside Road.

"There was significant wartime action in Sigel Township plus the Sigel Company which helped defend New Ulm," Wiltscheck said.

"If you think you had a bad day today, think about the pain and suffering around here 150 years ago today, when the battles began," Wiltscheck added.

Sigel Township was named after Civil War General Franz Sigel who once visited Clear Lake School in Sigel Township, Wiltscheck said.

The Milford Reservation Line Marker Dedication being at 3 p.m., today on CR 29, 28246 215th Ave.

For more information, visit

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web