Wright County War


            (Information form Franklyn Curtiss Wedge History 1915)



One of the interesting events in Wright County was labeled by Historians as the Wright County War.  It took place a couple of miles west of Lake Charlotte and no doubt many of the settlers in this area were involved.  In fact John Walker wrote that on the day of the lynching some neighbors did stop by and asked if they wanted to go along.  His father declined as he was not convinced of who was guilty. Many others may have been involved, but were not recorded in the history by name, for apparent reasons. The action is summarized as follows:


In 1858 a young bachelor named Henry Wallace came and stayed with Amos Moore while building a cabin on his claim in Rockford Township.  It appears that Moor’s home was near the Lake that bears his name on the west border of the present Girl Scout Camp. The Moore residence was about 1 ½ mile from Wallace’s claim.  Mr. Wallace appeared to be wealthy.  His claim was on the Southwest Qtr. of Section 2.  His nearest neighbor was Oscar Jackson and wife on the Southeast Qtr. of Section 3.


At the Rockford Township meeting that year Wallace was elected Assessor and Jackson was elected Township Supervisor and Justice of Peace.   In August 1858 Wallace was found murdered on his property.  The neighbors suspected Jackson who had been helping Wallace put up hay.  Jackson was arrested and after a Justice of Peace Court in Rockford was held over for a Grand Jury.  He was taken to the Ramsey County Jail awaiting trial. He was tried in a District Court and after a long and exciting trial was found innocent by a jury.  He was released on April 3, 1859.


 Later, on some trumped up charges of theft, Jackson was rearrested.  It seems that some Amoskaag Bank Notes from Manchester, New Hampshire, which Wallace had been known to have, were now in the possession of Mr. Jackson.  He claimed that they were in payment for his part of the hay.  They also accused Jackson of stealing a rifle and silver watch from Wallace. Jackson was again tried this time in St. Paul and again found not guilty and released. 


 Jackson returned to Rockford to look after his property.  A mob surrounded his house and kept him from leaving.  The County Sheriff intervened and started to escort him safely to Buffalo.  The mob intercepted the Sheriff and forcibly took Jackson from his custody.  The recorded history indicates that the Sheriff did not put up much of a defense. They kept Jackson in a neighboring house over night. In the meantime word was spread throughout the County and people showed up the next day to witness the event.  They lynched Jackson hanging him at Wallace’s cabin.  Mrs. Jackson and some or her family took the body to Stillwater for burial.


 In July 1859 Aymer W Moore was arrested in St. Paul after being identified as one of the lynch mob. Sheriff Blanchard took Moore to Monticello, as there was not a jail there he took him to his own home to stay overnight.  A mob of armed men with faces blackened with charcoal broke into the house and set Moore free.  It was said that others involved in the lynching were afraid that Moore would talk so they hatched the plan to free him.


When Governor Selby heard of the events, both the lynching and taking of Moore from the Sheriff, he concluded that law could not be enforced by the local authorities in Wright County.  He issued a proclamation and mobilized three companies of Militia to restore law and order in the County.  The accounts of the preparation and the strategy of the attack by three fully manned and armed Companies of Soldiers are worth reading. They even had three Companies held in readiness in reserve and the St Paul Police sent a force of 35 men under command of the Chief of Police to Rockford where they camped for one night.


 The history book records that the public sentiment, newspapers and people were back of the effort.  The newspapers said: “Crush out the rebellion at once and wipe out these outrages to law and order even if Wright County has to be wiped out.”  The ‘Minnesotian,’ which afterward strongly censured Governor Sibley for the expense of the trip, was one of the most bitter in denunciations of the outrages, found fault with the Governor for not offering a larger reward, and insisted the rioters must be brought to justice regardless of who or what stood in the way. 


The Militia came to the County and the rioters suddenly become law abiding ordinary citizens. The law breakers in the timbered area quickly and quietly dispersed into the woods during day and returning home only at night.  It was reported that one spent a week in a haystack, another hid in a corn field, another in a tamarack swamp, one in the cellar of an abandon cabin and others on the Island on Beebe Lake.  Their friends fed and guarded them.  Finally the officials of the County agreed that the offenders should be arrested and punished.  The County promised with the State Authorities that if they withdrew the Militia they would deliver the three real offenders up to justice.  The Sheriff went through a form of arresting Aymer W Moore, Hiram S Angell and J.E Jenks who were bound over to the October term of the District Court under a $500 bond which they easily paid.  The Wright County War ended and Militia and Police went home. The District Court met at Monticello October 2, 1859, after taking the solemn oath of office, the Grand Jury went into session but failed to take any action on the disturbances.  It was said that at least two of the County Officials were anxious that the jury should dissolve without issuing any indictments. Consequently on the morning of October 4, 1859 the jury adjourned.  Whether anyone appeared before the Grand Jury is not known.

According to the History Books, years later, a riffle and watch were found on what was Jackson’s property.