Two of my grandfathers were sentenced to hang at Mankato

Mr. LaBatte talks about his family's involvement in the events of 1862.

Audio Chapters

DL: When you look at your Dakota ancestry, was that side of your family involved in the war to the extent that they fought it, or were they the farmers? What was their role?

JL: George Quinn, in his narrative in Through Dakota Eyes, said that he was nineteen about the time they moved up to the Lower Agency area, and he decided to join his people against the whites. I believe that part of it was the valor. I don't know if there were many scalps taken during the Dakota War. But before that, the scalp dances, the eagle feathers were all signs of a brave person. And this was important in Dakota society. My great-great-grandmother-married to Francois LaBatte, who I believed converted to Christianity before 1862-was connected to Chief Little Crow’s people, Joseph Iron Shield was her brother, and Taopi was her cousin and these were strong Christian people. After the Dakota War, Bishop Whipple brought his Lower Sioux congregation to Faribault. So she, Joseph Iron Shield and Taopi were among those Indians who went to Faribault. They were not removed to Crow Creek with the others. Iyasamani, I believe was Christian before 1862. In his narrative he said that his wife and he were married by ceremony, which I believe means Christian ceremony. I don't know that the Dakota Indians had a marriage ceremony. I haven't read about that. Iyasamani was forced to attack New Ulm. Sibley wrote at Wood Lake that at least one-third of the Dakota Indians who were there were forced to be there. These friendly Indians among the Lower Sioux Indians were told "If you don't join us we'll kill you." Only when they reached the Upper Sioux Agency and started making connections with the Upper Sioux Indians who also opposed the war, then they became more outspoken and more ready to take action.

DL: Were any members of your family directly related to the march that took place from Fort Snelling then down the Mississippi?

JL: The commemorative march or the original march?

DL: The original.

JL: Yes. Two of my grandfathers were sentenced to hang at Mankato. They were marched by New Ulm, not through New Ulm, and were waiting at Mankato for hanging when President Lincoln granted them reprieves.

DL: What were their names?

JL: Iyasamani, and George Quinn. They ended up serving time at Davenport Prison, and then Iyasamani went and got my great-great-grandmother and my great-grandmother from Santee and went up to Sisseton, and he became an elder in Mayasan Church. My great-great-grandmother Mary LaBatte and my great-grandfather -- and I suspect his future wife -- were among the Indians taken to Fort Snelling. Her brother, Joseph Iron Shield, and her cousin, Taopi, were there. That spring they were taken to Faribault and spent many years at Faribault under Bishop Whipple and Alexander Faribault, with their help. So yes, both marches.

DL: Why today is the subject of that war still so heated? Almost 150 years later.

JL: Okay, I'm part Dakota and when I moved to New Ulm I didn't list my phone number because I heard rumors that people at New Ulm didn't like Indians. Angela Cavender, in her speech over at Winona said, "My son is on the commemorative march, they're marching through New Ulm today and I'm worried about him." There was an Indian woman who came here and said to me, "Will my car be safe in the parking lot?" I think I've gotten more attention because I am part Indian. I've never heard a negative remark to me about my ancestors, about what they did to New Ulm. I'm not mad at the people of New Ulm for attacking a wagon train that had my grandfathers on it. I'm not mad at them, that's too long ago. I can visualize it, going by up on the hill, and these people coming out, but I'm not mad at those people. But there are people that are actually mad at the white people, they speak that way. One person might say "All of the whites should have been killed, they all deserve to die."

Oral History- Interview | Narrator John LaBatte Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, MN | Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Two of my grandfathers were sentenced to hang at Mankato April 22, 2024.

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