During out first years on Green Lake our most frequent visitors were Indians, usually of the Winnebago tribe. They would stalk up to the window and peer in, or open the door without knocking. One midsummer day in 1842, while we were eating dinner, there was a rap at the door, which we opened. There stood a stalwart, richly-dressed Indian whom we did not know. He had no gun, his only weapon being a long lance whose shaft was decorated with three white eagle feathers, tied on with deer sinew. It was the symbol of his rank, but we did not know this. We shook hands, and he asked whether we could give him some dinner. We welcomed him to our modest feast, as we usually did such callers, and found that he talked English quite as well as we did.
After eating, he said: “I’m astonished to find you here. No white man was ever seen here before. I wonder that you are alone. I shouldn’t have found you now; only, as I passed up the trail (from Green Bay to Portage) I saw a wagon-track crossing it and coming this way. This excited my curiosity. I followed it, and found your house.”
He asked many intelligent questions, and we also questioned him. He said that he would like to have a long talk with us, but must go, for he had to reach Portage that night. We thought it useless for him to try to do so, and vainly urged him to stay. While we saw him to be very intelligent and bright, he had not told us who he was.
“How much shall I pay for my dinner?” he asked.
“Nothing. You are welcome.”
“But,” he replied, “I always pay for my dinner.”
We still declined anything, whereupon he took out a fine buckskin pouch, well-filled with shining half-dollars–thirty or so, I should think. Taking one out and playing with it for a few minutes, he then tossed it to my little sister.
“I don’t want to be bragging of who I am,” he said on leaving; but you have treated me kindly, and it is fair for you to know that I am Dandy, chief of the Winnebago. (16) I thank you!”
It was the first and last time that we ever saw him. He started back toward the trail, and soon passed out of sight. He was a splendid fellow, and it seems had, at the risk of his life, come back on a secret visit from the reservation at Turkey River, Iowa, to transact business for his tribe at Green Bay.Indian Visitors
Editor’s note: The following was submitted by the Hocak Wazijaci Language & Culture Program
From the personal narrative by John T. De La Ronde.
In 1844, Captain Summer came here again with the dragoons, and sent for me to aid him in hunting in the woods after Dandy, the Winnebago chief.
We found him at the head of the Baraboo River, and the Captain made him ride on horseback, and fastened his legs with ox-chains under the horse’s belly, when he demanded to be conducted to Governor Dodge. This was granted, and he was taken to Mineral Point.
Governor Dodge asked him what he wanted of him. After having given so much trouble to the Government? He said he wanted to talk with him in council, which request was granted. Then Dandy took a Bible from his bosom, and asked the Governor, through me, if it was a good book?
The Governor was surprised to see a Bible in the hands of an Indian, and bade me inquire where he got it. Dandy answered, that if the Governor would be so good as to answer his question, he would render an account of all he would like to know.
Then the Governor told him that it was a good book — that he could never have a better one in his hand. “Then,” said Dandy, “if a man would do all that was in that book, could any more be required of him?”
The Governor said no. “Well,” sand Dandy, “look that book all through, and if you find in it that Dandy ought to be removed by the Government to Turkey River, then I will go right off; but if you do not find it, I will never go there to stay.”
The Governor gave him an answer to the effect that his trick had no effect. He was then replaced on the horse, chained up again, and taken to Prairie du Chien.
The chain had so blistered his legs and feet that it was two or three weeks before he was able to walk. Some time after an order came from Turkey River to send Dandy there. He had been put in charge of a corporal at Fort Crawford, who was obliged to carry Dandy on his back when he has occasion to be moved.
After the order was given to the corporal to take his prisoner to Turkey River, he went back into the fort to get his whip. He thought that the prisoner was not able to run away, as he could not walk. But as soon as the corporal was out of sight, Dandy jumped from the buggy and took his course toward the bluffs at a full run.
When the corporal returned, finding his prisoner gone, he went after him; but failed to overtake him. The corporal swore that if he ever saw Dandy again he would kill him, as he had made him so much trouble in carrying him about from place to place, and then to play him such a bad trick.
That was the last time the military ever went after Dandy: and the good old chief lived many a year thereafter to recount his exploits. He died at Peten Well, near Necedah, where he and his family were encamped, in June 1870, at the age of 77 years.