1863 Murders at Fort Pomme de Terre after Sioux Uprising

Civil War Soldier

This week marks the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the  Fort Pomme de Terre murders.  Union solders were stationed at the newly-built Fort Pomme de Terre, after the 1862 Sioux Uprising.  Letters from homesick soldiers talked of the monotony of the isolated outpost along the Pomme de Terre River between present-day Elbow Lake and Ashby, MN.  Though bored, the soldiers took comfort in being far away from the horrific battles going on in the South and commented on Fort Pomme de Terre being a pleasant place to sit out the war.

Fort Pomme de Terre was a small garrison and poorly supplied.  Spring provided a great opportunity for the hungry soldiers to change their monotonous diet by supplementing their meager rations with wild goose eggs found hidden along the river.

One of the men, Adam Hair, planned to be a Methodist minister after the war was over.   Letters to his young wife and children in Preston, MN, remind us that history is more than dates and numbers.  Sadly, he and a friend were murdered by renegade Sioux as they searched for eggs.  Their tombstone still stands on the site near the old fort.  It’s all that remains of this most interesting segment of MN history.


  1. I would like to visit Preston, MN and see this someday.

    • Actually Fort Pomme de Terre was in Grant County near Elbow Lake and Ashby. The soldier’s family was back home in Preston MN. You’d love visiting the Elbow Lake Museum! Also Fort Abercrombie is a great place to visit and learn about the Sioux Uprising.

  2. Lisa Olson says

    I just finished Pomme de Terre today! I was looking up some historical stuff about Pomme de Terre and happened upon your post. I didn’t realize that the part I read in the book today, actually took place today! I was wondering what was left of Pomme de Terre and was disappointed to see only this grave stone and a schoolhouse and cemetery in the ghost town are all that are left.

    I loved the book! Looking forward to my book club about this one and reading the next two! 🙂

  3. Jan Reddick says

    The friend of Adam Hare, who was mentioned in the article, Cpl. Zenas A. Blackman, was married to my ancestor, Martha Jane Overmyer and left her a widow. Thanks very much for publishing the article.
    Jan Stayton Reddick

  4. Dan Peterson says

    Was doing some research and Mr. Hair’s wife remarried and later moved to my hometown, Walnut Grove, MN, she remarried another Civil War veteran and another from his company settled here as well. I am really interested in getting a copy of his letters he sent home to Viola Frances Fuller (Hair) (Every).
    If anyone can help me that would be great. His brother in law Henry William Arnold was also stationed at the Fort and his wife (Viola Frances’) sister actually came and stayed at the fort in the winters of 1863 and 1864. She was interviewed shortly before her death. It is cited in the article I found online about the murders but have not got a hold of this yet either. Thanks for keeping history alive!

    • Candace Simar says

      Hi Dan, thank you for taking the time to visit my website and comment about this most interesting Pomme de Terre history. I found the copy of the Hair letter at the Grant County Historical Society in Elbow Lake, MN. Patty Benson is the director and I would expect she could get copies to you if you ask. Good luck!

  5. Melody Kath says

    Thank you for this article. It was fascinating. I’m very familiar with the area in which this is located as my family’s property abuts to the school house/cemetery. My ancestors did not purchase the main homestead however until 1865, after the uprising. I had no idea that people were killed in the old fort.

    Again, thank you for this information. I am a lover of history!!

    • Candace Simar says

      thank you for your comments. Such great history in the Pomme de Terre area. I hope you take the time to read my novel, Pomme de Terre, as it covers the history of what happened.

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