Colonel Hubert Eva

Colonel Hubert Eva. (Image: Library of Congress)

Colonel Hubert V. Eva was a last survivor of one of America’s wars—one of the war’s last battles, to be precise. Unfortunately, it was not a war Eva was exactly proud of. He was the last surviving veteran of the Indian Campaigns. Often called an “Ex-Indian Fighter” by the press, Eva did not care for the term. In his 29 years in the military, Eva spent about a month involved in conflicts with American Indians. “It was rather foolish,” Eva said of the battles. “You don’t hunt people like you hunt deer.”

Eva was born August 8, 1869, in Penzance, Cornwall (England), and came to Duluth as a lad of 16. In 1889 he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard. By 1898 he had become a captain and volunteered for service in the Spanish-American war. After that conflict, he fought as part of the 3rd U.S. Regiment during the Leech Lake Indian uprising led by Ojibwe Chief Bu-A-May-Geh-Shig (aka “old Bug”), the last Indian conflict in Minnesota in which shots were exchanged. Seven soldiers died and nine were wounded; two Ojibwe were wounded. Two years later Eva helped quell an uprising of 500 to 600 Dakota and Ojibwe along the Canadian Border. Eva convinced Indian leaders to end the conflict. No shots were fired.

In 1910 Eva found himself in Baudette, Minnesota, leading a detachment to clean up after a major forest fire; he was also involved in helping with the aftermath of other forest fires in the early years of the century. In 1916 Eva served with General Pershing along the Mexican border protecting U.S. citizens against attacks by Pancho Villa and his bandits. During World War I he was stationed in New Mexico, training American troops for combat in Europe.

Eva retired from the military in 1918. He later sold cars and served as the Minnesota State Deputy Motor Vehicle Registrar. he was involved with the Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion, the Aad temple of the Shrine, and was a life member of the St. Louis County Historical Society.

In 1971, at 102 years old, Eva was killed when he and his nurse were struck by a car driven by a twenty-one-year-old UMD student as they crossed Superior Street near Seventeenth Avenue East after attending a dinner at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Nurse Olive Bradbury suffered a hip injury.

Story by Tony Dierckins. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by Tony Dierckins.