Bell-Bogardus Indian Massacre and Cemetery


August 12, 1868 – At the homestead site of David A. Bogardus, 40 rods north of the Solomon River and 3 miles southeast of Willow Springs (present Day Beloit).

It was at the Bogardus cabin that David Bogardus and Braxton Bell, 23, were killed; Braxton’s wife, Elizabeth, 21, was mortally wounded; their infant daughter, Ella Bell, about 1 yr. old was seriously wounded. Aaron’s daughters, Esther Jane, 8, and Margaret, 6, were kidnapped and later released.

The families had been visited by the Indians before, treating them kindly and giving them food. Matt Bogardus told of a band of Arapahos camping within 80 rods of the cabin in July of that year. Three of them came to the home for supper. They said they were on the way to raid their enemies, the Pawnees. No other Indians appeared until the 12th when the band of about 40 Arapahos and Cheyennes attacked.

The Bell girls, playing outside with their dolls on that warm, clear August day, sighted the Indians approaching from the west about noon and ran to the cabin to tell the others. Matt said the gaudily painted Indians took a horse picketed near the cabin before coming to the cabin. They were led by two chiefs, one recognized by Mrs. Bogardus as an Arapaho. They professed, all but one, to be ‘good Indians’. Mrs. Bogardus attempted to convince them the Pawnees were approaching and they started to ride away, but then, David Bogardus, who had been lying down, came to the door.

There’s confusion on what happened next. One account says Bogardus and Bell were lured from the cabin by the Indians to view a large band of Indians supposedly riding in from the west. Matt Bogardus said his father was shoved from the cabin by the Indians. Neither man was armed as they left the cabin. Matt says the Indians hit Bogardus with a whip. As he turned to defend himself, he was shot, living only long enough to warn his wife to take the children and escape. Bell, ordered to run, was shot and killed instantly, He was holding his daughter, Ella, almost one year old, in his arms. She was deeply slashed across the head with a saber by one of the braves.

The Indians made several attempts to place Mrs. Bell on a horse but each time she would jump off. In frustration, they finally shot her through the lungs.

The Indians also made an effort to put Mrs. Bogardus, who was holding 9-month-old Will in her arms, on a horse. However, they were defeated by the tenacious resistance of Major, the family dog. The Indians shot at the dog and stuck him with whips.

The massacre victims, Braxton and Elizabeth Bell and David Bogardus, and others are buried in Bell Bogardus Massacre Cemetery on West Asher Creek, about 30 rods north of the section line, section 21-7-6, Asherville Township. It is located on the banks of the creek, hidden among the trees, less than a quarter mile from Old Highway 24. It was the first laid out cemetery in Mitchell County. It is marked with a marble monument with the Bell name etched upon it and several small head stones. The plot is edged with a limestone slab wall and a woven wire fence. In recent years a tall cross has been added.


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