Historical markers maintain memories of the past

How many times have you seen this sign?

“Historical Marker” with an arrow pointed a certain direction.

They can be seen on a drive just about anywhere in the country as well as right here in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes. Take the time to stop and you’re likely to learn something new about the area you’re passing through or the place you call home.

Daughters of the American Revolution is a national nonprofit organization that counts preserving American history as one of its main functions.

Ladies of the Lake, the local chapter of the organization, has placed and maintained more than a dozen markers in the Iowa Great Lakes area chronicling the history of the area’s early settlers and their clashes with Indians on the frontier in the 1850s.


Site of Marble Cabin Marker

3200 Highway 276, Spirit Lake, IA, near Marble Beach Campground

On March 10, 1857, Inkpadutah and his Sioux warriors and their captives crossed West Okoboji Lake on the ice and went up the west side of Big Spirit Lake to the William Marble home. Mr. Marble was shot and his wife was taken hostage.

Site of Stockade

1802 Hill Ave., Spirit Lake, IA, front lawn of the Dickinson County Courthouse

The bronze tablet dedicates this site to the “Pioneers of 1862.” This was the location of the old stockade where families sought shelter from the Indians. Many who were taken here as children were present for the dedication in 1916.

Okamanpadu Lake

This body of water is also known as Tuttle Lake, located on the Iowa-Minnesota border, two miles North of Dolliver on county road A13

Discovered by Jean Nicollet in 1838, and a camp site of General Fremont and later of Major T.W. Sherman on Government Road. The marker was placed by Okamanpado Chapter DAR of Estherville, Iowa, July 4, 1926.

Site of Luce Cabin

74 Monument Drive, Arnolds Park, IA

Luce was a son-in-law of the Gardners. He and Mary and their two children were living with the Gardners as Luce was starting to build their own cabin. Mary and the two children were killed with the rest of the Gardner family and Luce was killed on his way to warn other settlers living on East Lake Okoboji. The marker was placed by Ladies of the Lake Chapter in 1928.

Original Gardner Cabin

74 Monument Drive, Arnolds Park, IA

The Rowland Gardners, nine members in all, came to the Spirit Lake region by covered wagon in 1856. The entire family, except Abbie, 13, and her sister Eliza, died outside the cabin at Okoboji during the 1857 massacre led by Inkpaduta of the Sioux tribe. In 1891, Abbie returned to the area, purchased the cabin, and preserved it until her death in 1921. The marker for the cabin was placed by the Ladies of the Lake Chapter in 1928.

Old Fort

1005 Hill Ave., Spirit Lake, IA, front lawn of St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Built in 1863 to protect settlers of the northwest Iowa border from attack by Indians. The stockade enclosure was 132 feet square. The fort, no longer needed, was dismantled and timber purchased by farmers can still be seen in barns. The marker was placed by Okamanpado Chapter DAR in 1977. The Okamanpado DAR Chapter of Estherville merged with the Ladies of the Lake DAR Chapter in the 1990s.

The Train Depot

1708 Keouk Ave., Spirit Lake, IA

The former Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul Railway Depot is where soldiers left to serve their country and were returned home and is now attached to the Dickinson County Museum. This marker was placed by Ladies of the Lake in 2012.

Site of Mattock Cabin

351 N Highway 71, Arnolds Park, IA (This site is on the west side of the road, two blocks south of the Okoboji Bridge.)

The cabin, where James Mattock, his wife, five children, and Mr. Robert Bruce Mathieson lived, was destroyed and the people within burned by Inkpadutah of the Sioux tribe.

Site of Thatcher and Noble Cabins

1687 260th Ave. (Highway M56), Spirit Lake, IA, one mile north of the Howe site on the west side of the road

The Thatcher family was sharing their cabin with the Noble family while they were in the process of building their cabin home. Mrs. Noble and Mrs. Thatcher were taken captive. Mr. Thatcher had been delayed on his return from Waterloo for provisions, and so escaped.

The Estherville Meteorite

Highway 4 North, Estherville, IA

The meteorite fell 482 feet due west of “this spot,” a few miles north of Estherville, on May 10, 1879. It was one of the three greatest “falls” on record. Parts of the meteorite can now be found in important museums of the world. The original spot was marked in 1929 by the Okamanpado Chapter DAR of Estherville, Iowa.

First Pioneer Child Born in Dickinson County

Lakeview Cemetery, Spirit Lake, IA

Mrs. Dena Borkman Funk was the first pioneer child born in Dickinson County. Her grave at Lakeview Cemetery was marked by the Ladies of the Lake in 1937.

Site of the Howe Cabin

1769 260th Ave. (Highway M56), Spirit Lake, IA, just north of Camp Foster entrance

The family of Joel Howe and his wife and six children were killed here by the marauding Indians.

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