Rockford had it’s own version of Davy Crockett. Below is the story of David Cadwell from the St. Paul Globe in 1885.
David Cadwell A Well Known Hunter from the North, In Town
There arrived on the Manitoba-Breckenridge division train yesterday morning, a man, who from his peculiar garb, attracted much attention. His hat was a straw one, which apparently had lain many winters in a smoky cabin, while his coat was of buckskin, ornamented with fringing around the sleeves, and around the edge, and might at one time been quite pretty. He wore a pair of homespun pantaloons, which were fringed at many points with material the same as in the coat.
But the object worthy of the most attention was a machine which could either be called a gun, rifle or cannon. The latter it most likely was, as it was an instrument a common man would have hard work lifting, let alone try to aim it at any object. It was a gun that old Napoleon would have blushed to look at, but the possessor appeared eminently well satisfied he was the owner, and took considerable pride in exhibiting it, stating that with it he could hit the bulls-eye oftener than any man he had ever come across, excepting the Indian chief, Little Crow, who was his equal.
The man was lounging about the depot, and perhaps it would not have been found out who he was, had not a man recognized him as David Cadwell as he was pitching into a dish of pork and beans, smeared over with hot English mustard, at the union depot lunch counter. David Cadwell was enough: his reputation as the greatest hunter and trapper, and the most artistle liar who ever settled on the south fork of the Crow River in Minnesota is extended: and it is said he is looked upon by the inhabitants of Greenwood and Rockford, Minn., as a superhuman being.
A Story has been repeatedly told by Cadwell himself and his friends of an adventure he had about twenty-four years ago, when the Indians were running wild in the section he lived in, now Wright county, looking for scalps and blankets. Cadwell has recently emigrated to that point, and before making a permanent settlement, he thought he would explore along the river, and he might find a much better locality to secure skins and game. He had tramped about four days carrying the same armament as that seen at the union depot, and being tired laid himself on a grassy spot to rest. He was soon in dreamland and when he awoke he found his dream to be real, as he was being carried into camp by four brawny reds, warriors from head to toe. Cadwell claims that fear did not enter his head, but his busy brain commenced at once planning methods for escape. He was placed in a wigwam, and in the course of events, was summoned before Little Crow, the chief, at a special meeting of the council, and asked to explain his reason through and interpreter for invading their territory. Cadwell does not well remember the excuses he made, but whatever they were, they produced no effect on the outward calm of countenance of chief Little Crow, who proposed that his prisoner be matched against himself on the hitting a target, and a blood was scarce at the scarce among the reds Cadwell’s life would be the forfeit if he failed to best Chief Crow. Cadwell says he “WUNK TO HIMSELF” and when the target was fixed he took aim quite careless-like and sent the ball within half an inch of the center at a distance of one hundred paces.
There was a tremendous quiet, as such marksmanship was not expected. Crow took up his gun and after a long, steady aim lodged his ball in a tree some distance off. He tried again and this time the ball from his rifle passed through the target directly in the center. Cadwell was a little perplexed, but, nothing daunted, he took aim again, and his ball went directly through the hole made by his now best friend, chief Crow. Cadwell was let scott free, and quite frequently after that visited Little Crow, who offered him a squaw and the position of assistant chief, but the kind offer was not accepted.
Remarkable instances are told of Cadwell as a gunner, but the most remarkable thing is no one ever saw him discharge the weapon though he has always one with him. He is living, or rather existing, near Rockford on the bank of the Crow river, in the log hut he has claimed his own for twenty-three years past. In that section the country is well wooded with hard wood, and near his hovel is a pine tree, the only one for miles around, and this tree the Indians used to come once a week and worship. Even now, when a straggling Crow comes that way, he will go and receive a blessing from the tree, which is now dead.