Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Family Lore-Hiding from the Uprising

My uncle Art was a character.  He was an old bachelor farmer who just passed away a few years ago at age 90.  To call him blunt would be an understatement.  He always liked to tell the story of how his grandmother, my great grandmother, had fled the Sioux Uprising in 1863.  Leaving out all the gory, and probably inaccurate, details that Art tossed in, the tale goes something like this.

News of the Uprising arrived at the farmstead where my antecedents had built a log cabin in Minnesota Territory back in 1857.  The trouble was still some distance off, but panic was spreading.  Supposedly there was time to dig a big hole in the ground and toss in the steamer trunk that had crossed the Atlantic with them from the old country.  Of course the trunk was filled with whatever valuables were not portable enough to grab and go.

The family fled to a town some 20 miles away and stayed there a week.  Long enough that it had become clear that the Indians were all further west and likely to stay there.

The trunk was dug up and made its way from the log cabin to the later brick house and eventually to my attic.

As to the veracity of the tale, and of this artifact, there are pros and cons.  The box does not look like the classic Scandinavian steamer trunks you see in antique shops.  But this story features Germans, and a frugal bunch they were.  It would have been perfectly in character for them to carry their worldly goods in a generic box.  The iron work looks pretty old...

Here is a view from the side.  I must say, the condition of the rope looks pretty good for something that old, even if it did not spend much time buried.

Note the tiny bit of label in the upper right corner..  Zooming in:

All I can really make out are the letters CHI and probably C.  I suspect this means Chicago.  Also I see something like o. 73.  Perhaps No. 73.  And faintly in the bottom corner the word Per, or possibler Por.

Near as I can figure out the immigrant family traveled by rail to LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  This would make Chicago a very reasonable transfer point.

Of course it could also just be a large crate full of 1920's tractor parts.  They were so cheap they never threw anything away.

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