Shortly following the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857, Colonel L.P. Lee published a pamphlet reciting the events of that tragedy. In this excerpt he expresses the fact that what happened here would be glanced over and forgotten.
“It is no easy matter for us who have never seen death in his most savage forms, never lived in scenes of bloodshed, never suffered from privation and want, never braved the rough-and-tumble life of the prairie, or dared the war-whoop and scalping knife, realize fully the horrors described in the following pages. Had they transpired in New York or any of our more populous cities, they would have kindled the sympathies of the whole nation, and excited a world-wide interest. The daily papers would have trebled their circulation while magnifying every incident connected with the “Horrible Tragedy.” Every act, every word, every look of the savage perpetrators of such outrages would be reported to thousands of eager readers. Social circles would for weeks talk or think of nothing else. The streets, the hotels, the saloons, the thoroughfares of business, the steamboats, rail-cars, and in short every resort of the living would ring with the interesting gossip relating to the barbarous massacre. Miss Abbie Gardner would become a heroine of the most enviable notoriety. Throngs would press to behold her expressive face; crowds would be anxious to know every word that might escape from her lips for months, and she, with all her relatives and fellow-sufferers, would at once take rank among the historical characters of the age. Human hearts vibrate most with sympathy when near the exciting cause but, like the gently rippling waters far off from the falling stone, they are very slightly moved by the troubles of those at a distance.”
Source: Abbie Gardner-Sharp, History of the Spirit Lake Massacre and Captivity of Miss Abbie Gardner, Mrs. Abbie Gardner-Sharp: Arnolds Park, Lakes Okoboji, IA, 1910.