In 1857 a massacre took place in what is today Humboldt County in Iowa. The Red Top band of the Sioux Indian tribe went on a rampage through northwester Iowa and killed 34 settlers from Livermore to Spirit Lake near Okoboji. The beginning incident was said to be between the tribe’s chief and a man named Henry Lott. Revenge and vengeance were the driving force behind this horrible tragedy.
Henry Lott
Henry Lot is a direct relative of mine on my mother’s side of the family. He was a normal man who had earned himself a bad reputation—with natives especially. Rumors spread throughout the area of Lott’s unfair trading with the Indians. Lott was said to have traded old diseased horses and rotten or poor quality food. The Indians did, however, still come around to trade with him. Lott’s property had Indians coming to trade consistently. Henry had a wife named Sally and 12 children.
This man was the Chief of the Red Top band. This band was of the more popular Sioux Indians. Henry Lott had moved to the mouth of the Des Moines and Boone rivers which Sidominadotah claimed to be his tribe’s hunting grounds.
The Beginning
Sidominadotah went to the Lott house with six braves to inform the family of its intrusion into the Indian’s hunting grounds. The Indians were said to have been painted and in war attire. The first visit was only a threat, but Henry Lott did not move his family from the area. When the Red Top band returned they were not so pleasant. Henry Lott did not have any weapons to defend himself. Henry and his stepson Alfred went to get help in the form of men and weapons. Upon the return of Henry and Alfred, they found their livestock killed or stolen, the inside of the cabin was torn apart, Sally was abused and sick, and a wedding gift of silver eating utensils were stolen. Sally Lott would die a few days later from her injuries she received during the raid. Sally was actually the first white woman to die in what is today Webster County. Her son, who went to go get help, also died of exposure and was the first white male to die in Boone County. Lott plotted his revenge on the Chief. Some years went by and Lott found Sidominadotah near the town of Fort Dodge. Lott knew it was Sidominadotah when he saw him because the stolen silver from the Lott house was on display in the Chief’s house. Lott told the chief he had seen elk in a near by timber. So Lott, Sidominadotah, and the Chief’s three sons set out to kill some elk. When the group reached the timber Lott shot and killed all four of them. Lott was not finished yet. He dragged the four Indian’s bodies to an elevated surface and set them on fire. Lott returned home to Boone County where eventually he was convicted of murder in the first degree.
In 1857 another Sioux named Inkpdutah led a raid against white settlers in the Spirit Lake Area. Inkpdutah took over the tribe after Lott killed his older brother—Sidominadotah. He and his band of braves killed 38 people in the winter into spring of 1857. Stories concerning the cause of this massacre are still disputed. One story is that Inkpdutah was seeking vengeance on white settlers for what Lott did to Sidominadotah. At the end of the raid the band of Indians took four women hostage and made them watch as their families were killed. Then the band took the four women back to their tribe’s lands. Two of the women died along the journey and one died of poor health, most likely from sexual abuse. One women, however, survived—Abbie Gardner Sharp. Abbie’s story is one of the most famous about the massacre because she is rumored to be the only survivor. She returned to her home near Okoboji and lived in the cabin where her family was killed. The cabin is still there today and is a historical tourist site for northwestern Iowa. As an aside two of my family members visited Abbie’s house while she still lived there. They talked to her about the massacre and the events surrounding. I always enjoyed that story growing up. I guess in a way the story gave me some connection to Iowa’s past. The one fact I remember most from the Abbie Gardner Sharp story is the “rumor” of her having terrible body odor. I am not sure how the rumor was started, but it stuck with me ever since.
Many stories gather around event that happened that winter in the Spirit Lake region. I tried to focus more on my family’s connection to the incident. Henry Lott’s wife sally was a first cousin to a Juhl, which is my grandmother’s maiden name. This just shows the direct line and that this is not some distant relation. Also, my two uncles, who visited with Abbie Gardner Sharp, the only survivor of the massacre, and passed the story on through the generations of my family. My great, great grandmother went, as a child, to the dedication of Sally Lott in Vegors Cemetery. Webster County dedicated a monument to her as the first white woman to die in that region of Iowa. The Spirit Lake Massacre is a tragic Native American event in Iowa’s history, but an interesting spin on typical massacres of the time. It is events like this one that gave the natives the stereotypes they had back then. Looking back you can see both parties’ faults and wrong doings that led to this horrible incident.
1."1902 Dickinson County History - Dickinson County, Iowa GenWeb!" Iowa GenWeb Project Welcome Page. IA GenWeb, 2005. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This is another historical text about Sidominadotah. This source has very credible information.
2."Abbie Gardner Sharp Cabin - Travel Iowa." Travel Iowa - Iowa Attractions, Iowa Events - Travel Iowa. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
Information and directions to Abbie Gardner Sharp's cabin in Okoboji, IA
3.Bristow, David L. "Inkpaduta’s Revenge: The True Story of the." The Iowan, Jan.-Feb. 1999. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This is an online story about Inkpdutah and his revenge on white settlers in the Spirit Lake Massacre.
4.Brown, Bob. Echoes from Middle Iowa's Historic Past. Fort Dodge, IA: Messenger and Messenger Printing, 2003. Print.
This is a book that has an in depth story on Henry Lott. The story also mentions the connection Lott has to my family.
5.Engen, Clinton. "INKPADUTA." Red Rock Community Network. Dec. 1999. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This looks like a page similar to wikipedia. I was not sure how credible it was but it did offer some correct information about Inkpdutah.
6.Gardner-Sharp, Abbie. History of the Spirit Lake Massacre and Captivity of Miss Abbie Gardner. Des Moines: Mills &, Printers, 1885. Print.
This book was written by Abbie Gardner Sharp about her captivity with the Sioux Indians after the Spirit Lake Massacre. The most credible source I read.
7."Henry Lott Story." Iowa GenWeb Project Welcome Page. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.
This was a very helpful site written by representatives from Boone County’s historical society. It helped me understand the story in less words than the book.
8.Nass, Martin E. "Indian Territory - History of Our County Before Statehood." NetINS Showcase. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This website had some information on Sidominadotah. It was a good site that confirmed what the other sources said. The dedication to Mrs. Lott in Vegors Cemetery was mention as well.
9.Perley, Jim. "Events Leading up and following the Spirit Lake Massacre." THE SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE AND THE SANTEE SIOUX UPRISING. Logan Observer, Apr. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
Here another story is told about how Lott's son died. Otherwise, this is the story told over again through someone else's views.
10.Pratt, LeRoy G. Discovering Historic Iowa,. [Des Moines]: Iowa Dept. of Public Instruction, 1972. Print.
This book talks about Sally Lott's burial in Vegors Cemetery. The book also mentions her being the first white woman to die in the area, and her boy was the first white male to die in Boone county.
11."Sioux Indian Tribe." Native American Nations. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This is a site with information on the Sioux Indian Tribe. It is mainly historical.
12."Spirit Lake Massacre » HistoryNet." HistoryNet – From the World's Largest History Magazine Publisher. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This site had information on Inkpaduta and the acutal raid on the Spirit Lake area. The site was credible but the time the raid accured disagreed from other sources.
13."The Spirit Lake Massacre." Iowa GenWeb Project Welcome Page. Stories of Iowa. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This site told the story of Abbie Gardner coming to Spirit Lake. Inkpadutah and Sidominadotah were mentioned as well, and the story was told over again.
14."Spirit Lake Massacre." The Iowa National Guard "Mission Focused - Warrior Ready" Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
Inkpdutah was Sidominadotah's younger brother and took over the tribe whe Lott killed him. This source helped a lot and is credible.
15.State Historical Society of Iowa. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This is more information regarding Abbie Gardner Sharp's cabin. Pictures and visting hours are given here.
16.State Historical Society of Iowa. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
Source tells another variation of the same story. Here it says Lott was starting trouble and the authorities didn't contain him.
17.Tyran, Steven. "Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials." Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This is the story of Abbie Gardner Sharp after she was released from the Sioux Indians. It seems credible but its on a search website for grave stones.
18.Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This was an auction for a letter regarding Henry Lott. The description showed some information about the start of the massacre. The name of Henry Lott's son disagreed with my research, other than that it seemed credible.
19.Web. <>.
This is a google timeline of the Spirit Lake Massacre.
20.Wyker, Clara B. "ANDREWS GENEALOGY AND ALLIANCES." Index of /. 1917. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <>.
This is another source that explains the massacre from 1917.