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Jane Smith Williamson

2012 marked the 150th Anniversary of the U.S./Dakota War of 1862 – a war which forever changed two nations – the United States and the Dakota Nation. Over the course of the past 15 decades, hundreds of books, articles and theses have described, documented and discussed the details of the events of 1862 as well as the causes and the results of the dramatic and tragic six-week war in which hundreds died while others were executed, imprisoned and exiled.

Dakota girls identified as two of Little Crow’s daughters

While the story of the 1862 war is the most prominent focal point for researchers and historians, it’s important that the relationships that were established between whites and Dakota in the decades prior to 1862 are not overlooked. From 1835 to 1862, hundreds of Dakota people interacted with female missionaries and teachers in the Dakota mission schools. Many Dakota women and girls formed lifelong friendships with the missionary wives and their daughters – friendships which continued long after the exile of the Dakota from Minnesota following the 1862 War.

Mary Briggs Aiton

Through letters, memoirs and school and mission reports, we are allowed a glimpse into these personal relationships that is helpful in understanding what might have been if the violence of 1862 had not torn our two nations in two.

Dakota Soul Sisters will share the stories of the women, both Dakota and white, who have often been forgotten in the historic narrative of 19th century Minnesota.

The women’s stories will be entered in the order in which they arrived at the Dakota missions in what would become Minnesota. The missionary women’s stories will include:




  • Margaret Poage Williamson
  • Sarah Poage Pond
  • Lydia Pettijohn Huggins
  • Julia Eggleston Stevens
  • Jane DeBow Gibbs
  • Cornelia Stevens Gavin
  • Persis Skinner Denton
  • Mary Ann Longley Riggs
  • Cordelia Eggleston Pond
  • Fannie Huggins Pettijohn
  • Agnes Johnston [Hopkins] Pond
  • Jane Smith Williamson
  • Julia Kephart
  • Nancy Rankin Adams
  • Nancy Hunter Aiton
  • Sarah Rankins Hancock
  • Mary Briggs Aiton
  • Lucy Jane Spooner
  • Mary Roach Spooner

In addition to the white women who came as missionaries or missionary wives, I will also include the stories of some of the Dakota women who were baptized into the church in these early years. Their personal family stories are often difficult to find and even more difficult to document but I will make every effort to provide source information and will seek input from living descendants of those women whenever possible.

7 Responses to Home Page

  1. Greetings from RED OAK, OH! This message is to Lois Glewwe & Carrie Zeman. This article is the lastest of weekly articles I author about the happenings in and around Red Oak. They appear in at least of two area newspapers and sometimes in the free weekly paper. One of those newspapers is read over the airwaves in 27 countries. If mistakes are made please forgive me and also please allow me to correct them. Many blessings to you and peace be to your house.
    This past week has been one of anticipation, excitement, awe, and wonder as I scanned historical papers as fast as I could in the morning and then participated in the manicuring of the lawn and trees at the Red Oak Presbyterian Church for the span of two full moon nights. Oh, to me there is no other place away from home that brings the peace, serenity, and awe like being on those grounds. Before there has been wondering about why the pioneers left the river area to start their community at Red Oak yet sitting at the yard’s picnic table, surveying the three cemeteries and the stone marker’s of loved one gone on to their reward prepared in heaven-some after meeting on those same grounds for an considerable extended space in time the men in prayer service each Saturday and the women in prayer and mission work and me sitting there in awe of the faith in their risen savior and for the Lord to be the Lord of not only their lives but of future generations. Living proof is that our church is still there-the mother church-surviving within the space of four centuries. Surely the ancestors might have believed as it is written in Luke chapter 10 about the commission of the seventy disciples sent without purse, nor script, nor shoes, saying in verses 5 and 6 “Whatsoever house ye enter first say, Peace be to this house and if the son of peace be there your peace shall rest upon it ….v. 8 and into whatsoever city ye enter and they receive you eat such things as they set before you and heal the sick that are therein and say unto them “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto thee.’
    Sitting, walking, and working on those very same grounds that the ancestors of great faith sat upon, walked upon, and worked upon and prayed upon after my little time of working, sweating, and catching poison ivy, on an exquisite full moon night this author has a complete lacking for words suitable for the occasion except Ohhh! And as the song says “Praise God from Whom ALL Blessings Flow”
    All happened in anticipation of special visitors who were scheduled to attend Sunday morning services at the same place of worship their ancestors attended while building a community for people like me to enjoy many, many full moons later.
    Jeff Williamson, the author of the book, “Anti-Slavery Presbyterians in the Dakota Missions” and a group of approximately thirty people came from all areas of the United States to attend worship services with us Sunday morning as part of their remembrance of their ancestor and founder of Ripley named Col. James Poage.
    Among Jeff Williamson’s were three historians. All three still have a role with the Dakota Indians. Two of them were looking for a Dakota Indian young man called Simon Wasicauntanka who was supposedly baptized here at Red Oak around 1842-1843. This is of interest to Lois Glewwe at lglewwe@hotmail.com of St. Paul, Minnesota, Historian, author, Speaker whose website is https://dakotasoulsisters.wordpress.com and Carrie Zeman at zeman1102@usfamily.net
    From Lake Elmo, Minnesota was Sheila Strobel Smith who had an interesting Presbyterian story that led her after seminary obtain her Ph.D and to become a re-enactor for the life of Agnes Carson Johnson Hopkins Pond of the Dakota Mission, granddaughter of Robert Wilson, president of Ohio University at Athens,Oh and Elizabeth Gilliland, daughter of Alexander James Gilliland and Francis Elizabeth Baird and sister to Red Oak’s pastor and abolitionist Rev. James Gilliland. Ms. Smith was delighted to find the gravesite of Agnes’s baby daughter in the old cemetery.
    The website to review her work and learn more about the Dakota Indians that has caused several Presbyterians formerly of Red Oak to leave the area to go to the mission field is Pond Dakota Heritage society, Bloomington, Minnesota.
    After reading Jeff Williamson’s book and learning that children, women, and old men were starving and because of these missionaries and pleading with officials for their sake over 1000 lives were saved and many prisoners were released back to their homes. (Sorry, my statement is so vague. Mr. Williamson’s book has details that I am failing to recall at this second.) These were missionaries were men and women were supported by the mission offerings taken at the Red Oak Presbyterian Church.
    John Newton Templeton, Ohio’s first African-American graduate, graduating from Ohio University was liberated according to the OhioToday online newsletter announcing the August 28, 2005 reunion commemorating their ancestor’s role as abolitionist, Presbyterian ministers and purveyors of the Underground Railroad. This newsletter from Ohio University complete with picture of the descendants (Jeff Williamson and others attending ROPC’s Sunday morning worship at Red Oak) of William Williamson and former Ohio University President Robert G. Wilson both who helped to emancipate and educate Mr. Templeton. This newsletter can be seen at http://www.ohio.edu/ohiotoday/print/williamson.cfm
    Personal note as the author of the short lived newsletter “Acorns from Red Oak” I was pleased to see an entry in Jeff Williamsons’ book from that same newsletter.
    Jeff Williamson and his group had been in the area all weekend in commeration of the birthday of the founding of Ripley by the ancestor Col. James Poage.
    More of those in attendance at Red Oak Presbyterian Church on August 5, 2012 honoring Col James Poage ere Jeff and Candy Williamson, Steve Williamson, Mike & Shirley Williamson, Vernon & Teresa Lewis Poage, Henry Feight, and Dr. Andrew Lee Feight, Associate Professor of History at Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio and from South Carolina with the charm of a real southern belle Carol Whitlow Cox and her husband Ralph Cox. She is a descendent of Col. James Poage whose daughter Sarah married Rev. Gideon Pond and whose son Edward married Mary Francis Hopkins daughter of Agnes Carson Johnson and Rev. Robert Hopkins whose grandfather was our Rev. James Gilliland.
    As still part of the Ripley Bi-Centennial, and no other known Red Oak involvement with the exception of John Rankin writing Rachel Campbell Salisbury’s obituary and Col Poage originally attending Red Oak Presbyterian Church Kristel Titus had a wonderful idea at the August 5th Sunday morning worship service. She had each person present to sign the back of the Red Oak Presbyterian Church’s picture postcard and to include the names of their families to be placed in the monument at Ripley for future generations. Splendid idea, Kristel!
    As one that attempted a few years back to trace ancestral roots in Pa. and Maryland by driving to the area of Fagg’s Manor, where it is believed that the designers of the present day Red Oak Presbyterian Church are believed to moved from, and to Salisbury estate’s in Philadelphia, Pa and Queen Anne’s, Maryland I am in complete admiration for this group of people tirelessness and willingness to travel and listen and learn of their ancestors. As Roy Rogers theme song said, “Happy trails to you,” Poage’s and Williamson’s and Hopkin’s.”
    Kristel Titus entered our grandmother’s quilt in the Ripley Bi-Centennial Quilt Show. Sunday she excitedly informed this descendent of quilt-maker Louella Black Shelton that a lady, whose name I have forgotten at the moment-sorry, but a lady that knew all the names of the people that my grandmother had embroidered on her quilt. That is wonderful. Hopefully, I am in the group when the identifications are made-hear me Kristel?

    All of this basically happened Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon we traveled to the beautiful Burke Park of Bethel, Ohio for the annual Knechtly reunion. What a good time that group has! I saw something I had never seen before-a chocolate diamond. Beautiful! Next year the plan is for the Knechtly to be at the beautiful Ripley Park.
    Also, one of the cousins gave me an idea what to do with the all-but-weened seven tortoise-shell calico kitties a once feral cat awarded me with. Before I get any nasty phone calls I will say that had I been able to catch her she would NOT have had any kitties, if fact, she herself would not have been at all if I could have caught her mommy, so for those that complain that I have cats come help me catch the others and they will be fixed. In the meantime with the TLC provided her by my house guest, Ernie she is now calm and her and her kitties live in his area, the garage, much to my displeasure, though Sugar, my spaded dog thinks they are hers. She changes their diapers and prunes them toward adulthood. However, if interested in these little dark tortoise-shell calicos with the exception of one yellow stripped and one black one please call 937-392-1323 or 937-392-4261. The neighbor dogs will love them to death when they go outside to live.
    If given any opportunity at all a place that I recommend visiting is the Porstmouth, OH floodwall. Recently business took us to that area accompanied by Miss Hallie Salisbury. neither Miss Hallie nor Ernie had seen this wonderfully fantastic artwork, it was like seeing the work all over again through new eyes as Trigger reared to sky and Roy Rogers waved a beautiful salute to us, and athlete after athlete grinned and waved and the people of the stagecoach looked at us in our car in a look of wonderment and the cat seemed ready and begging to be petted. Those are only a few of the sights to see while feeling the cold of a sqaw attempting to keep her baby warm while the men in the tribe appeared to be in serious conversation, all life-like and all on the flood wall. This time, visiting there due to the wonderment of a child I saw on the other side of the floodwall. How beautiful! With the wide open view up and down the river and an open-air theater. Very, very Nice!
    One of the full moon nights that I spoke about earlier we made a quick-have-to-get-to-the-store-before-it-closes kind of trip to Ripley giving our neighbor a lift/ride at the same time. As is often the occasion and at her mention of special boats at the dock we drove down to Front Street. Sure enough there they were-the boats. How beautiful they looked in the late evening sun. Regardless of the day light being all but gone I managed to obtain some nice pictures of the boats sitting on the Ohio River and Front Street with the full moon. Nice!
    Lately, after a rain a rainbow came right down ending upon my neighbor’s property. How blessed I consider myself to live in and be able to enjoy the sights of southern Ohio. Thank you Lord! And Peace be to this House!

    Mandolin Farm of Flemingsburg, Ky is having a Labor Day Week-end Bluegrass Songfest. Many well-recognized entertainers are scheduled in the program. We had reserved campsite but the camper we were hoping for was sold over the weekend. Oh well, it was a first come first served kind of opportunity.
    At Mandolin Farm campers can be brought in at any time and left; overnight camping $20. A well-stocked fishing lake, full utilities, shower house is included. The campsites encircle the stage area that is covered by a large pavilion to protect the stage area and audience from rain and hot sun, and the playground is within sight of the pavilion/shelter house that is complete with a cooling system. Free firewood is available for the campers. For more information call Willie Jarrells at 606 845-3693 or facebook at Mandolin Farms. I have/had a campsite reserved near trees, where the evening sun would not be too hot. On Saturday the blue grass group named Dover Creek is scheduled to play. They have played at the Red Oak Presbyterian Church. After speaking with Mr. Jarrell’s himself on the telephone and receiving the flyer of all the entertainment I just can’t help to be excited about this.

    Happy birthday and anniversary to: Lillian Flaugher, Blanche M. Baird Hammond, Jersey Fulton, Angie Spires, Mary L. Finley Kirker, Kimy Fizer, Wilma Hardyman Jimison, Barbara Knechtly Berrera, Juanita Hebling, Bill Synder, Tyler Hamilton, Brenda Staten, Sharon Haas Fields, Sonja Benjamin, Anna Bosch Knechtly, Isabelle Rodiques-Shirley’s great-granddaughter, Robert Watson, Kendra Hall Baker, Dan Paeltz, John Krotchen, Betty Cluxton, Joshua Carlisle, Chester Gill, Steven R. Jones, Milton Salisbury, Donna Murray, Joyce Ann Sheeley, Chris Eckler
    A very special birthday to Mildred Bruce who will be 91 years young August 18th. Mildred during WWII sent boxes to three men/soldiers each month. These three men Brown County men were stationed together throughout their time in service. The soldier’s names were Alfred Paeltz-her brother, Joe Germann, and Leroy Salisbury. Happy birthday Mildred and I am eternally grateful for your prayers and care-boxes for my Dad.
    Remember a TV program I recommend is Shepherd’s Chapel with Arnold Murray who does a study of scripture book by book chapter by chapter and verse by verse. A very informative program, that runs 24-5, all week but no weekends.
    They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto death. Rev 12:11 (Something that was said about the missionaries that went forth from Red Oak.)




  3. Hello Love your blog! May I post on my blog your story and link? It is a ancestry and historical blog. Hope to hear from you Thanks Melissa http://ancestoryarchives.blogspot.com/

  4. Terri Dinesen says:

    I just wanted to send a note of Thanks for all you do for the history of the mission sites both here at Lac qui Parle and near the Yellow Medicine Agency. I also wanted to let you know that Ben Leonard with the Nicolett County Historical Society and students from the Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter are working to update the interpretive displays at the Lac qui Parle Mission. Maybe there is already some communication between you. At Lac qui Parle State Park we are hoping to have a trail to connect the Upper Campground with the mission in the next few years. I am also interested in having a brochure with more information than the MHS rack card available to the visitiing public here at the park about the mission. If you have an interest in shaping the narrative and content of a brochure for the site you are most welcome to let me know. I had the missions near the Yellow Medicine Agency included in a local historical information packet I put together for the sesquicentennial of the war last year. This year I accepted a promotion to Lac qui Parle State Park. Again Thank You! for your writing and making these pieces of history so available and clear to the visiting public.

  5. schlepone says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your posts!! I am always interested in the women in the Shakopee area, so am always looking forward to more! Thanks for all you do!

  6. schlepone says:

    …..and I would love if all of this was in books! I want to read it again and again!

  7. ostrichcaramelearth5967 says:

    My email is gwennysgirl@gmail.com..I would post a picture of the books writings but cannot post any pictures here..Lora neilan

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