Love a good mystery? You’re in for a treat.
Early in his research for Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey, historian Walt Bachman unearthed rumors that Henry Milord, one of the 38 Dakota men executed at Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862, was the son of General Henry H. Sibley. Sibley convened the military tribunal that condemned 303 men to death, and signed off on the execution orders, including Milord’s.
Among other paternity allegations, Henry Milord is said to have had Henry Sibley’s eyes.
From the time of Milord’s October 1862 trial for participation in the U.S.-Dakota War and stretching into the 1920s, when the last people died who had known both men, many believed Sibley had executed his son. But interpretations of Sibley’s paternity differed. Some said Sibley had “raised” Milord, while others swore Sibley was Milord’s biological father.
In The Filicide Enigma Was Gen Henry Sibley’s Son Hanged in Mankato?, Walt Bachman weighs the evidence. More than a great mystery, the article is an excellent example of how careful historians evaluate conflicting stories –the stuff of which history is made.
The story is also painful evidence of the effect of race on the 1862 military tribunal hearings. Milord’s French heritage (if Sibley was not his biological father), or Yankee heritage (if he was), resulted in a more thorough, better documented trial than any full-Dakota man received.
Read the article, then cast your vote for Milord’s paternity. When you vote, the poll’s results will be visible to you.