Fort Cherokee

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Fort Cherokee (1862-1863) - A U.S. Civil War era Fort established in 1862 by the State of Iowa in response to the 1862 Sioux uprising. The fort was located in Cherokee, Cherokee County, Iowa. Abandoned in 1863. Also known as Cherokee Stockade.

Fort Cherokee Model in the Sanford Museum, Cherokee, IA.


Located in Cherokee, Cherokee County, Iowa. This fort and five others were established in Iowa as a result of the 1862 Sioux Indian uprising and the slaughter of some 800 settlers by raiding Sioux warriors in August 1862. This line of forts provided large stockades to hold local settlers during times of Indian alarm. Each of the forts was manned by a detachment of troops of the Northern Iowa Border Brigade (militia), who were organized by the Iowa governor to deal with the crisis. Captain James M. Butler was commissioned as Commander of Company D and was posted to Cherokee to build and garrison Fort Cherokee. When that company was disbanded First Lieutenant Charles B. Rustin of Company E completed the work.

Original detailed plan for Fort Cherokee, copy located in Sanford Museum, Cherokee, IA.

The single 18' square blockhouse at Fort Cherokee was made of one-foot square timbers and was covered with walnut shingles. The blockhouse served also as a barracks. The triangular stockade was made of two rows of split logs faced on one side arranged to cover any gaps. See the detailed drawing for the log arrangements. Two of the walls of the stockade about 100' long while the third was 152' long. Inside the stockade was a stable for 13 horses, a granary, a guardhouse, and a well. The officer's quarters were outside the stockade. The well was seventeen feet deep and walled with boulders. The gate was framed and planked on both sides.
The brigade was disbanded and mustered out on 26 Sep 1863. Fort Cherokee was abandoned and later torn down in 1917.

Current Status

Fort Cherokee Marker.
Fort Cherokee Marker Location.

Marker only near 126 Colony Dr., Cherokee, Iowa. In 1976 the actual site of the fort was found and an archaeological excavation was undertaken during that summer under Marshall McKusick The original drawings were found to accurate and a number of artifacts were discovered. An attempt was made to dig out the well but shifting sands made the task too difficult. McKusick found the marker inaccurate and pinpointed the site location as 200 feet west of the marker. That area is now a cultivated field.

Sanford Museum in Cherokee, IA.

A small display with a small model of the fort and a copy of the original drawing can be found in the nearby Sanford Museum & Planetarium in the town of Cherokee, IA. The museum also has available a limited supply of Marshall McKusick's book referenced below at a modest price.

Location: Near 126 Colony Dr., Cherokee, Cherokee County, Iowa.

Maps & Images

Lat: 42.76053 Long: -95.53485

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation:1,199'

GPS Locations:

See Also:


  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 284.
  • Whittaker, William E., Ed., Frontier Forts of Iowa: Indians Traders and Soldiers, 1682-1862, University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2009, ISBN 978-1-58729-831-8, 287 pages, page 210-2012.
  • Ingham, William H., The Iowa Northern Border Brigade of 1862-3, The Annals of Iowa 5, 1902, Pdf
  • Knauth, Otto, The Story of Old Fort Cherokee, The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa), 15 Oct 1967, Page 95.
  • McKusick, Marshall, The Iowa Northern Border Brigade, 1973, Office of the State Archaeologist, University of Iowa, Iowa City, 74-20374, 172 pages, page 85-89, 92-95, 119-121.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 1907169


Visited: 29 Jul 2020

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