“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Browns Valley in Traverse County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Sam Brown Log House

A Quiet Witness to Military and Prairie Life


—Sam Brown - Remembered for his Epic Ride —

Sam Brown Log House marker image. Click for full size.
By McGhiever, September 21, 2013
1. Sam Brown Log House marker
Inscription. A Quiet Witness to Military and Prairie Life This log structure was first used as a meeting place and general headquarters for scouts employed by the U.S. Army at Fort Wadsworth, Dakota Territory, following the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862. During its early history it sheltered people from summer rains and winter storms. It was from this building that Samuel J. Brown began the terrible ride that left him permanently disabled. Sam Brown's uncle, Gabriel Renville, respected chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Indians, passed away in this house on August 26, 1892. Even James J. Hill traded furs in this building, years before he became a railroad tycoon.

This log house originally stood on the shore of Kettle Lake, about a mile east of Fort Wadsworth (now called Fort Sisseton), 40 miles west of here. Indians and scouts under the direction of Major Joseph R. Brown constructed it. It is made entirely of hand-hewn oak logs that were harvested in 1863 from the shores of Kettle Lake in South Dakota.

In the summer of 1866, with the service of the scouts no longer needed by the military and after the close of Fort Wadsworth, Joseph R. Brown bought this house. He had it dismantled and transported by ox carts to an area just east of the Little Minnesota River called Lake Traverse. There it was reconstructed into its original configuration. While at that location it was used as a residence, trading post, stage stop, boarding house and post office. In 1871 it was again dismantled and reconstructed on this site. Samuel J. Brown and his wife Phoebe Brown lived and ran the post office in here until 1896.

Sam Brown - Remembered for his Epic Ride
As a young man, Sam Brown served as post interpreter, scout, chief of scouts, and inspector of scouts in the "frontier scout force" for he U.S. Government as Fort Wadsworth (later renamed Fort Sisseton) in the Dakota Territory (now South Dakota) from late 1862 until early 1866.

Sam Brown is most remembered for his epic ride the night of April 19. 1866 (which he later called a "wild-goose chase") when he rode on horseback from Fort Wadsworth 55 miles west to Elm River to warn other scouts and settlers of what was thought to be an impending Indian attack. He rode some five hours only to find the report to be false. He started back immediately on a fresh horse in an attempt to intercept a letter of warning he had written to U.S. Army Headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, previous to starting his ride west. On his return he was caught in a spring blizzard and lost his way. He made it back to the fort on the morning of April 20 in time to stop the letter, but as a result of his ride he suffered permanent disabling injuried and was confined to a wheelchair the rest of his life.

From his father Joseph R. Brown and his service as a scout, Sam Brown learned to understand the difficulties the Dakota people were having adjusting to a new way of life. Later in his life, he tried to right some of the many wrongs perpetrated by the government in its dealings with the Indians.

Sam Brown was 80 years old when he died on August 29. 1925 in Browns Valley. He is buried alongside his wife and infant son in the Plateau Cemetery in Browns Valley.
Location. 45° 35.732′ N, 96° 50.452′ W. Marker is in Browns Valley, Minnesota, in Traverse County. Marker is on W. Broadway Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Located in Sam Brown Memorial State Wayside. Marker is at or near this postal address: 796 W. Broadway Avenue, Browns Valley MN 56219, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 16 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Samuel Jerome Brown (a few steps from this marker); Browns Valley Man (approx. 0.4 miles away); Whetstone Valley Rest Area (approx. 15.8 miles away in South Dakota).
More about this marker. On left of path leading to log cabin
Categories. Forts, CastlesNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers

Credits. This page originally submitted on , by McGhiever of St Paul, Minnesota. This page has been viewed 97 times since then. Photo   1. submitted on , by McGhiever of St Paul, Minnesota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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