In the early days of Walhalla, Indian scares were frequent. Pioneers were especially on edge after the 1862 Minnesota Massacre.
On July 6, 1873, one of these massacres occurred nearly under the observation of John F. Mager, early Walhalla landholder and businessman. He, with his sister Ernestine, along with Andrew and Eugene Hornung, were picking berries on the south side of the Pembina River near Walhalla. They were very near a place occupied by the Delorme family.
They were enjoying the day and thought nothing of it when they heard the sound of six rifle shots in rapid succession. They guessed it was from a party of hunters, which were many in those days.
At noon they returned home for dinner and in the afternoon went back to the same place for more berries, and when they came near to the Delorme house, they were halted by a breed; a son-in-law of Delorme who lived on the north side of the river. The young man informed them that the whole family had been killed and he warned them to go home and spread the alarm.
The Mager party, however, went on to the Delorme cabin where a most horrible sight met their view. A son and a son-in-law, who lived with them, lay dead with two bullet holes in each, evidently having fallen dead in their tracks. The old man was still alive, though he had one musket ball in his hip and another in his breast. He had been hacked over the head and shoulder with an old cavalry sabre in their effort to kill him and the mutilation was terrible to see. He died during the day from the effects. Having run out of ammunition, the murderers attempted to kill the old woman with the sabre. They struck her over the head and back many times, throwing her on the floor and attempting to break her back, but being unable to inflict mortal injuries with the sword, they clubbed their guns and struck her over the head, but still with so little force that she was not made insensible.
As their only wish appeared to be her death and seeing that they were bound to accomplish this, the woman lay still and feigned unconsciousness and the ruffians desisted from their attacks on her and turned to the little children. One of them was seized by the leg and thrown under the bed for dead. The murderers left in a hurry, being certain that to stay longer a sure and stern penalty would be meted out to them. One of the women got up and fled to the woods, and for three days could not be found. She was hiding in a hollow log all this time without food or water and was in a very dazed condition when found and could give no coherent statement of the affair.
As soon as Mr. Mager could get the situation in hand, the berry party returned to their homes. Here the report of the massacre had preceded them and it is needless to say their relatives rejoiced to see them alive. Mr. Reed, then customs officer here, was dispatched to Pembina for aid, and for safety Mrs. Emmerling and Miss Ernestine Mager were sent along, to remain at the government fort.
The next morning Mr. Reed returned from the fort with a party of three companies of cavalry who came to scout the country and try to find the murderers. They only found pack saddles and provisions, however, which the marauders had left behind. The tracks of seven ponies were found belonging to the party and these were followed to the top of the hill between Beaulieu and Olga but were lost there. It is supposed that they belonged to some band of Sioux from Devils Lake country, but they were never caught.