He Gave His Scalp for a Crown
According to the First Annual Report of the State Historical Society of North Dakota to the governor of North Dakota for the year ending June 30, 1906, Elijah Terry, a Baptist missionary, was killed by the Sioux Indians June 28, 1852. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota when he came in contact with James Tanner, a half-breed whose father was stolen in childhood by a band of Shawnee Indians in Kentucky in 1789. Tanner, having been adopted into their tribe, married an Indian and spent his life among them. His son James was educated in the best schools available for Indians. He served for several years as an interpreter and assistant in Methodist Missions at Sandy Lake and other stations among the Indians along the upper Mississippi River.
After careful Bible study, Tanner became a Baptist. During a severe winter, he walked to the nearest Baptist church and minister, possibly in St. Paul, in order to be scripturally baptized. He then went east, where he enlisted the interest of some Baptists in Philadelphia and elsewhere to support the teaching of the gospel to the Indians in the Dakota Territory.
On his return, Tanner solicited the assistance of Elijah Terry to carry out a plan to erect a log building in which they could teach the Indians and half-breeds and conduct gospel services. It was in the construction of this building that young Terry lost his life. While Tanner went to a nearby town to sharpen his broad-ax, Terry and a Frenchman went to the woods to score timber. Tanner relates:
When I got near town a half-breed came running after me and called out that our comrades were killed. I instantly went back home, where I found a Frenchman badly wounded under the chin. After enquiring for my wife and children and finding them hid in the grass, I, with some armed half-breeds who had just arrived, went in search of Brother Terry….They found him…with two arrows sunk deep in his back…a bullet hole in his left arm…a gash behind his left ear, a piece of scalp about seven inches long and four inches wide taken off, and two marks as if they were made with a blade of a hatchet on his back.
Terry and the Frenchman had been walking along singing hymns when a party of Sioux Indians fell upon them.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: From This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 267-268.