Lou Gramsey's story

  • August 20, 2012 - 1:13 PM

My great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Ohman, had befriended a Dakota Indian woman, who one day rushed to Elizabeth's house. 

She made a slashing motion across her throat, and pointed to distant smoke, from farmsites set ablaze by a war party. Elizabeth knew they were heading her way. 

To make it appear the farm was abandoned, the family threw their belongings into the cellar, and drove their livestock into the woods, and hid, while Elizabeth's son, Fred, acted as lookout from the rooftop.  Upon siting the Indians, he slid down and warned the family. 

When the war party arrived, they assumed the home was abandoned and left. 

Elizabeth's husband, Jobst, who had hired himself out as a laborer, arrived home after dark. They rounded up their possessions and departed for New Ulm. Upon arrival, they were met with gunshots fired by panic-stricken townfolk, who had been attacked earlier, and were concerned the family was a returning war party. 

My great-grandmother, Anna Ohman Bremer, wrote of the horrors and terror in the town when she and her family were allowed entrance. 

The family was included in the march from New Ulm to St. Paul and resettled in Inver Grove Heights.

Because of the courage of that daring Indian woman, the nearly 700 descendants of Elizabeth and Jobst Ohman would never have existed.

Lou Gramsey

© 2018 Star Tribune