The West Lake Attack

The West Lake Attack

“The Indian outbreak fell upon these peaceful settlements like a crack of thunder from a clear sky.”  – Victor E. Lawson

On August 20, 1862, thirteen settlers living at the West Lake Settlement near Monson Lake in Swift County, Minnesota, were killed by Dakota soldiers during the U.S. – Dakota War.  All those killed were a part of the Broberg and Lundborg families who had come to the United States from Sweden. They had settled in the region only a year or two prior to the outbreak of war.

When the day began, the settlers of the region were unaware of attacks that had already taken place in the state.  While attending a religious service at the Lundborg cabin, seven year old Peter Broberg came from the Broberg cabin and interrupted the service to warn that the Indians were scaring the children.  Immediately, Anders Broberg and the four Lundborg sons rushed to the Broberg cabin.  They were followed by Daniel Broberg with the women and children who traveled home on the usual road.

Anders and the four Lundborg sons arrived to find what appeared to be a friendly hunting party of Dakota. But without warning, the Dakota men opened fire upon the settlers who were gathered at the Broberg cabin.  Nearly all were killed. Samuel Lundborg, just nine years old, was shot and left for dead but managed to survive. Peter and a young girl named Anna Stina managed to make their escape and find safety. Daniel Broberg and those who had followed on the road, were overtaken by Dakota soldiers and were also killed.

When news of the attacks was received by the other settlers of the region, it was decided they should rendezvous at Norway Lake.  There they gathered on an island for safety which has become known as the Isle of Refuge.  From that point the refugees proceeded to St. Cloud for safety. Sadly, thirteen of the twenty-one members of the Broberg and Lundborg families were killed that day.


“The West Lake Attack,” on The U.S. – Dakota War of 1862.  http://usdakotawar.org/history/west-lake-attack.

Lawson, Victor E. “The First Settlements in the Kandiyohi Region and Their Fate in the Indian Outbreak.” Year-Book of the Swedish Historical Society of America. Vol. 10, pp. 19-44, 1924-1925.

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