Patrick Kelly - Indian Interpreter

Share your story submitted by: G. Wik | Blue Eye, MO

My great-great grandfather, Thomas Kelly, was born about 1791 in Offaly, Ireland and migrated to Perth, Ontario, Canada about 1804 when he would have been in his teens.  He married Catherine McAuley at Perth in1827.  They had 6 children all born in Perth:  Ellen, Mary, Thomas, Patrick, Charles (my great grandfather) and Catherine.  In 1824 there is a record of the Crown ceding farm property to Thomas in Perth and he continued to farm there until his death about 1854.  After her husband died, Catherine sold the farm and apparently had heard about homesteading farm property in Minnesota.  She and her 5 living children moved in 1858 to Jessenland, Sibley County, MN. where their farm was located  on a bluff above St. Thomas Church.  Jessenland is located north of Henderson and about 10 miles west of Belle Plaine.   Catherine taught school and farmed the property along with sons Patrick and Charles. 

Patrick also was an Indian interpreter.  He was killed by the Indians at Birch Coulee which is just across from the Lower Sioux Agency on August 18, 1862--the 1st day of the war.  Our family history says that he was not scalped because he was considered a friend of the Indians.  According to Kenneth Carley "The Sioux Uprising of 1862" the attacks that day took place at and near the Lower Sioux Agency and the Redwood Ferry crossing.  On August 31, Colonel Henry H. Sibley sent out a burial party and they buried bodies found on the road to the Redwood Ferry.  On September 1 they buried bodies found at the Lower Agency.  Charles, Patrick's younger brother, brought his body back home on horseback on September 7, 1862.  His grave marker at St. Thomas Church cemetery in Jessenland reads " In memory of Patrick H.  Son of Thomas and Catherine Kelly  Died August 18, 1862  26 Years.

A few years ago in an attempt to personalize our family history my husband and I took 2 grandchildren, Keegan and Ryan, to the cemetery and to the Lower Sioux Agency.  They had both studied this battle in school and so were familiar with Andrew Myrick, the storekeeper who told the Indians "Let them eat grass".  When we got to the place where Myrick's store had been located there was a photo of Myrick.  Keegan quietly picked some grass and placed it on the photo and said "Let him eat grass".   I was very proud of my grandson.

This was a tragic war with many victims on each side. 


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