The Blueberry War was a never-to-be-forgotten incident to early settlers in the Brainerd area.
In the spring of 1872, an entire family, the Cooks, was murdered by Indians in the Leech Lake country. White settlers were "scared stiff." Would there be a recurrence of the Sioux outbreak and massacre of 1862?
News of the Cook family massacre still sizzled in the newspaper when a young crippled daughter of the McArthur's was missing and thought murdered by Indians.
After a public lynching of two-half breeds, the remains of the MacArthur girl were found -- four years later and the guilt' of the two half-breeds was never fully proved.
+ There were several routes used by the Indians to reach the Mississippi River from Mille Lacs Lake and thus to north, south and east points.|
+ Indians were determined to stop progress -- they stretched a rope of moose skin across the tracks near Deerwood in an effort to stop the first train. They were unsuccessful and were sent tumbling into snowbanks. They made no further efforts to stop trains.
Whereas the Cook family was slain about 100 miles away, Helen McArthur's disappearance took place uncomfortably nearby. Brainerd had at least 1,000 able-bodied men, but they were unorganized.
Brainerd was afraid. With the lynching of the two half-breeds, there was fear that the Indians would avenge their deaths.
The night after the lynching, two exaggerated rumors spread throughout the town, one from the east and one from the west, colliding in the middle of Brainerd throwing a stiffening scare into the townspeople.
Seventy-five soldiers came to Brainerd, as a result of a wire from Sheriff John Gurreli, based upon the reports that Indians, sullen and threatening, were gathering in large, numbers.
After a survey of the local situation, 50 of them were sent back to St. Paul the day after they arrived.
About this same time, a number of Indians were seen moving into the town -- on foot and canoe. As it turned out, they were coming to Brainerd with blueberries to sell.
Thus ended the "Blueberry War."
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).