Gardner Cabin in Arnolds Park

A restored cabin, shown here at a historic site in Arnolds Park, Iowa, commemorates the site where 13-year-old Abigail Gardner witnessed one of the few violent conflicts between European-American settlers and American Indians.

Provided by State Historical Society of Iowa

ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa | A restored cabin commemorates the site where 13-year-old Abigail Gardner witnessed one of the few violent conflicts between European-American settlers and American Indians in Iowa.

The Gardner Cabin Historic Site is a quarter-mile west of U.S. 71 on Monument Drive in Arnolds Park at the Iowa Great Lakes.

The cabin was built by Rowland Gardner in 1856. The following year, a band of Wahpekute Dakota Sioux, under the leadership of Inkpadutah, killed 34 settlers and abducted several others including Abigail.

Most of the Gardner family was killed in what came to be known as the Spirit Lake Massacre. The carnage likely was reprisal for a series of atrocities committed against Inkpadutah's clan near Sioux City.

Abigail's freedom was purchased by the government using friendly Indians as intermediaries. She returned to the scene of the tragedy, purchased the old home and lived in a house nearby, keeping the cabin open to the public until her death in 1921.

Also on the grounds are a gravesite as well as a monument to the settlers killed during the uprising. The restored cabin contains furnishings from the frontier life of the period.

A visitor center displays many local artifacts from the frontier life of mid-19th century Iowa, including Abigail's collection of Native American artifacts.

The State Historical Society of Iowa owns the Gardner Cabin and Museum. The cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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