This little boy was laying in the ditch

Ms. Eischen talks about her family's experience in the U.S.-Dakota War.

Audio Chapters

DL: Did you ever hear of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War during your growing up years?

EE: Yes, yes I did. My grandfather talked about it a lot.

DL: What do you remember him saying about it?

EE: Well, he was very fearful of the Indians, I remember that. He also told about how his father and his mother picked up this little boy that was his father’s sister’s son. They picked up that little boy after {his parents} were killed by the Indians. The parents were the Roesers; George and Barbara. They were the father and mother of this boy that they raised, or brought up. That boy was my great-grandfather, John Holm. They raised that boy, they didn’t have any children when they picked him up, and they took care of him for many years. I don’t know when he left home. Grandpa didn’t know, because Grandpa was the youngest child in that family, Grandpa Mike.

DL: Did you ever hear any stories about why they spared that little boy?

EE: No. They {the Dakota} hit him. They hit him and I think they thought they had killed him, but they just knocked him out. That’s kind of the story Grandpa told. I have to go by what my Grandpa Mike told.

DL: So according to this book, the little guy was only 18 months old; that’s barely talking. He was left for dead and rescued by your great grandparents, who were also his uncle and aunt.

EE: Right. That’s correct.

ME: And then there’s another story- I don’t know if it was a Leavenworth rescue party or one of the rescue parties that found him and they took him back to New Ulm.

DL: Was he the only survivor then, from that group?

EE: Well, yes. The story Grandfather told was that they got killed. They took horses and a wagon and they left home and then they were killed on the way. This little boy was laying in the ditch and Great-grandpa and Great-grandma came along a little while later and picked up the little boy. But the museum has a different story about that.

DL: What is the museum story?

EE: They are saying that they found him in, like a- oh, where they took these children here in New Ulm someplace in a building where they took the other children, and he was trying to drink water out of a bucket and that’s where Great-grandfather and Great-grandmother picked him up.

ME: According to this story.

EE: Grandpa told the other story.

ME: {Referencing book} In says in here they found him- I don’t know- trying to get water out of a bucket. You know, the rescue party.

DL: Well, it’s her family story that matters the most now.

ME: That’s true.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Evelyn Eischen Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, MN | Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. This little boy was laying in the ditch May 21, 2024.

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