Mary Muehlbauer Witt

Share your story submitted by: N. Downey | Leesburg, VA

Story told to me by my grandmother, Melvina Hellendrung Webster, about her mother, Elizabeth Witt Hellendrung and her grandmother, Mary Muehlbauer Witt.
In August 1862, Melvina's grandmother, Mary Muehlbauer Witt, was a 34 year old widow with two small daughters, Mary 4 and Elizabeth 2  living on a farm in Lafayette Township, Nicollet County, Minnesota. She had immigrated to Illinois from Bavaria, Germany in 1855 with her parents and had married in 1857 to Max Witt. She and Max moved to Minnesota where they set up farming and had two daughters, but Max died of an epileptic seizure in June 1861 leaving Mary a young widow. In August 1862, when Mary got word about the Sioux Indian conflict, she was alone on the farm with her two small daughters. She immediately gathered up what  provisions she could carry and took her two small daughters and walked about 12 miles to New Ulm. They walked at night under the cover of darkness and during the day they would lie and hide in the tall grass in the sloughs. Since Mary had all she could handle carrying and guiding a 2 year old and a 4 year old, she could not carry much food or water. So, when they passed a farm house and they were hungry or thirsty they just took what they needed as each farm house was abandoned, their owners having already fled. When Mary and the girls got to New Ulm, the townspeople had the entire town barricaded. They had placed wagons and stacked up boxes and all kinds of material and supplies in between the buildings to form a barricade. They were too afraid to take down the barricade to let Mary and her daughters into the town. Most of the inhabitants of New Ulm were German immigrants as was Mary Muehlbauer Witt, so they could communicate with her but they were just too afraid to help her. New Ulm was, in fact,  later attacked by the Sioux Indians. So, Mary and her two little daughters continued on and walked about 28 more miles to St. Peter where they were finally safe.

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