Joseph Lowe
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Joseph Wakąjáhųka Lowe (1863 - 1940)

Joseph Wakąjáhųka Lowe aka King Thunder, King of Thunder, Thunderking
Born in Humbird, Clark, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Son of [father unknown] and
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Died at about age 77 in Black River Falls, Jackson, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 7 Oct 2020
This page has been accessed 103 times.
Joseph was Ho-Chunk.




Wakąjáhųka was born in 1863 near Humbird, Wisconsin. (Obit)


He preferred to call himself variously, "King Thunder" or "King of Thunder". This is a translation of the attested Hocąk Thunderbird Clan name, Wakąjáhųka, which is from Wakąjá, "Thunderbird"; hųk, "chief, boss, king"; and -ka, a definite article suffix used in personal names.


Casselman says (p.11): "John Stacy is of the Bear clan, one of Those-who-are-on-earth, and that Mrs. Stacy, a sister of King-of-Thunder, is of the Thunderbird clan, one of Those-who-are-above." So John Stacy and King of Thunder are brothers-in-law. This makes King of Thunder's sons and daughter's the nephews and nieces of John Stacy and his wife. In fact, the 1910 Federal census shows that Dora, Minnie, and Theodore, the children of Mary T. Lowe, were living with Martha and John Stacy, and are recorded as being their nieces and nephew. Since the marriage license of Dora Lowe records King of Thunder as her true father, it follows that he also fathered Minnie and Theodore. Mary T. Lowe, the mother of these children, was the second wife of King of Thunder, afterwards having been established as the "deserted" wife after the break up of polygamy.


King of Thunder was an important figure in the establishment of the Reformed Church among the Hocągara.

"It was just thirty-four years ago on another New Year Sunday,
January 2, 1898, that the foundations were laid for this present
congregation by the baptism of the first Winnebago converts.
They were John Stacy, Mrs. John Stacy and David Decorah. On
the next Sunday King of Thunder was baptized. Few of us
can realize what strength of purpose and sturdiness of character
were required of these four earnest and determined Christians
to enable them to be the first of their tribe to forsake the religion
and tradition of their fathers and embrace the Christian faith."
(Casselman, 98-99)

The congregational record states:

"On the thirteenth day of August, 1922, a number of Christian
Winnebago Indians, whose names are John Stacy, David W. Decorah,
Ed. Winneshiek, George Lowe, King of Thunder, William Waukon,
Frank Standing Water and Martin Lowe, assembled at the Winnebago
Indian Mission in the Town of Komensky, Jackson County, Wisconsin,
for the purpose of organizing them selves as a Congregation of the
Reformed Church in the United States, under the following Constitution,
and to be known by the name, Indian Mission Congregation."
(Casselman, 99)


"Joseph Thunder King, more general known as King of Thunder passed away Sunday, July 28, at 1:00 a.m. at the old Mission, at Black River Falls where he served as an elder for many years. King of Thunder was born near Humbird in 1863, shortly after the Winnebago Indians tribes returned from the west where they were sent after the government took over their lands, their great love for home and freedom bringing them back to Wisconsin. He was one of the first four Winnebago Indians converted at the Mission under Rev. Jacob Stucki. The conversions were made in 1898, after twenty years of missionary work among these people. He was twice married and had a large number of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. About 20 years ago he began to suffer with eye trouble, being totally blind for the past eight years. His wife is blind also. Burial services were held at the Mission Church Wednesday afternoon, the Revs. Weidler, Bixler and Benj. Stucki taking a part in the rites. Interment was in the Mission Cemetery. Those accompanying Rev. Weidler to the services were Jacob Baumgartner, Mrs. Flornine Wiese, and John Michael."


He died in Black River Falls at 1:00 am on 28 Jul 1940. (Obit)


  • 1910 Federal Census for Brockway, Jackson, Wisconsin; Roll: T624_1713; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0074; FHL microfilm: 1375726. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.
  • Iowa Marriage Records, 1880–1951. Textual Records. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–37, Vol. 5. Microfilm. Record Group 048. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Arthur Vale Casselman (1874-1957), The Winnebago Finds a Friend (Philadelphia: Heidelberg Press, ca. 1932).
  • Tom Jones, Michael Schmudlach, Matthew Daniel Mason, Amy Lonetree, and George A. Greendeer, People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879-1942 (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011).
  • Obit — from the Humbert Enterprise newspaper, reprinted in "Cemeteries with Indian burials", Clark County, Wisconsin History Buffs.

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Categories: Ho-Chunk