With the Sioux 5


Alexander H. Redfield portrait, abt 1840

Alexander H. Redfield portrait, abt 1840

From 1857-1860 Alexander Hamilton Redfield, my great great grandfather served as the Indian agent for the Sioux nation at a time of great change.

Yancton Agency, Dacotah Territory

Redfield, commenting on violations of the treaty, noted in his report to the Indian Commissioner:

I found , however, that several squatters were already on their [Indian]lands eagerly endeavoring to seize some of the most desirable points. One company of intruders had actually located in the midst of their village and erected a sort of fortress for their protection.

Redfield assured the displeased chief that he would ask military authorities at Fort Randall to have the interlopers evicted.

October 17, 1859: The weather was intensely hot during the greater part of July and August; the thermometer frequently rising to 104` in the shade and once as high as 110.
At night the mosquitos were most tormenting, preventing sleep to a great extent. Some cattle belonging to white settlers having been killed and eaten near the Vermillion River in July, by a small party of Indians of the band of “Mad Bull”….

The Yancton Agency is one hundred and ten miles above Sioux City, Iowa. On the 23rd of June, we left St. Louis, the river was found unusually high, and we arrived at the point on the reservation on 13th of July.

Long Fox-To-Can-Has-Ka. Tachana, Sioux, 1872 - NARA

Long Fox-To-Can-Has-Ka. Tachana, Sioux, 1872 – NARA

When the Yankton Indians moved from their lands in Dakota that they ceded to the United States in 1859, he became their first agent and the first Indian agent in Dakota.

One last story was handed down in the family

Although he was alone on his early trips By 1860 he and his family were living at the Yankon Reservation in South Dakota.

As the story in the family went He found himself involved in an Indian uprising caused by his daughter Mary.

While taking a bath, she discovered to her surprise an Indian brave watching her; this so upset her that she scalded him with the bath water.

Unfortunately he was the son of the Chief and despite Alexander’s explanations the Indians could see nothing wrong with the boy watching the young woman bathe.

Warning Alexander that they would kill him and his family if they did not flee, Redfield stood his ground and it was only through his courage and capable actions, and all the presents from Washington that he was able to prevent the massacre and placate the Indians.

It was in 1860 that Mary met my great grandfather Col Freeman Norvell, when he became secretary of Alexand H. Redfield and they married in 1862. My grandfather Hamilton R. Norvell was born in June 1863.

Mary Dean Redfield Norvell Daughter of Alexander H. Redfield

Mary Dean Redfield Norvell
Daughter of Alexander H. Redfield

Alexander Hamilton Redfield died at his home in Detroit (516 Jefferson Ave) of quick consumption (pneumonia) at the age of 64.


About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Detroit, Family History, Famous Alden Descendants, Genealogy, Native Americans, Sioux, Western History, Yanktons and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.