Q&A: What was the Lake Shetek Massacre?

Q&A: What was the Lake Shetek Massacre?

In 1862, Lake Shetek was a small settlement of about six families and 45 people.  It was located approximately 70 miles west of Mankato.  On August 20, 1862, the Lake Shetek settlement was attacked by three bands of Dakota led by Lean Bear, White Lodge, and Sleepy Eyes.  Once the settlers learned of the attack, they gathered at a cabin on the south end of the lake.  But when the Dakota came, they tried to flee.  Unable to out run the Dakota warriors, the settlers took cover in the tall grass of a slough.

For several hours the Dakota fired upon the slough, killing several and wounding many more.  Some of the women and children came out when the Indians promised to stop firing, but instead they were taken captive and the firing continued.  After the attacks, 15 were killed while 11 or 12 were taken captive.  21 escaped though most of them were wounded.  The slough in which the settlers took cover has become known as slaughter slough.

Lavina, Merton and Johnny Eastlick, MNHS Collections

Lavina Eastlick and her two young boys escaped with their lives, but 4 members of the Eastlick family had been killed.  Merton, Lavina’s 11 year-old son, walked 50 miles in the direction of New Ulm while carrying his 15 month old brother Johnny.  Merton promised never to leave his brother and stayed awake throughout the night howling to keep the wolves away.  Meanwhile Lavina had been shot in the back, but managed to reach safety.  She published an account her and her family’s tragic experience in a memoir called, “A Personal Narrative of Indian Massacre 1862.”

Read Lavina Eastlick’s personal narrative of the events – page 343-366

See this blog post on YouTube

Source:

Isaac V.D. Heard, History of the Sioux War and Massacres of 1862 and 1863, (New York:  Harper and Brothers, 1865).

 

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