A note by Edward Huggins as published in the Portland Oregonian

"Sclousin," or Bill as I shall called him by his Anglicized name, was a Squallyamish Indian, and when in April, 1850, a youth of between seventeen and eighteen years of age, I arrived at the Fort where I was to pass so much of my active life, Bill was one of the first Indians I became acquainted with. He was a short, but very stout and strong Indian, a stolid and phlegmatic man, who scarcely ever smiled and talked but little.

He was a real Indian not with standing the length of time he had lived with the whites, and all the missionaries in the Territory could never made anything else of him.

He was brave, and a good fighter and would not hesitate a moment to fight and would keep it up if necessary to the bitter end. He was fond of whiskey as indeed almost all Indians were. He was in charge of the dairy and with the help of subordinate Indians was then milking between seventy and eighty cows, many of which were half wild, Spanish bred brutes and it required a courageous and strong man to handle them.

I soon made his acquaintance and we got to be good friends. I once prevented him, when he was under the influence of liquor from cutting his wife to death. For this act I was compelled to report him, very much against the grain though, to the Indian agent who foolishly, in my opinion, tied him up and gave him many stripes upon his bare back.

He gave no sign whatever that he felt the severe pain as the agent was wielding the savage whip. I thought to myself, that if Bill only had a chance to catch him alone, before his back recovered from the cutting lashes how short the agent's time would be upon this earth.


Bill's wife was many years his junior, was rather good looking but a thorough going one who treated the poor fellow shamefully, but of course, when he used the knife upon her, he could expect nothing but severe punishment. 

She was very fond of whiskey and would often get helplessly drunk, and Bill, poor fellow, put up with a great deal of her bad tricks, but sometimes his temper would get the better of him and he would chastise her, but he very seldom laid his hands upon her.

Bill's wife, Grace, one day in the middle of a very hard winter, in the sixties went to Steilacoom with her baby girl which was about six months old. She was on horseback and alone with her child. She met friends in Steilacoom and as usual, soon got possession of liquor and before long became quite drunk.

She insisted, against the wishes of her friends upon going home, and after some trouble her friends managed to put her upon her horse with her child, and just about dusk she started for home, a ride of six miles. Snow covered the ground to the depth of about eight to ten inches.

About ten p.m. the people at the Indian camp along each side of Sequalitchew Creek heard the noise of someone singing or droning an Indian song. Presently Mrs. Grace's little pony trotted up to the lodge of her parents and husband.

The animal stopped short and Mrs. Bill fell off like a log into the snow. Her baby was not with her, and she was too drunk to give an explanation about her. The baby's grandmother was nearly frantic, but was consoled by being told that the child was with her friends in Steilacoom, who wouldn't let the drunken mother take her when she left for home. Bill said not a word, but looked and no doubt felt murderously inclined.

The mother lay in a dead sleep through all the dark hours of the night, the old grand mother, Mrs. Swansap, started to walk to steilacoom and when she had covered about three miles from the Fort she saw a little snow covered mound upon the side of the road and being curious the old woman stopped and examined it and to her horror found that the bundle was the missing baby girl. The drunken mother had dropped it and owing to the depth of the snow upon the ground, it apparently had received no hurt.

The old woman, of course, expected to find the child dead, frozen as the night had been severe, but no, the poor little creature was alive, and began to cry, being no doubt hungry after being so long without food of any kind.

The friends in Steilacoom had wrapped up the child very carefully and in Indian fashion making it into a stiff bundle, enveloped in many folds of cloth and cotton.

After the child fell the fast falling snow again gave it protection. When the old woman reached home, the child was found to have received no injury from the fall and lying out in the middle of the bleak American plain for such a length of time and in such freezing weather.

Bill had several other children of whom he was very proud. These poor creatures all died before reaching the age of five years. The last one was a girl, much loved by Bill, apparently which as usual with his children when approaching the fifth year, began to sicken.

Then Bill's old Indian instincts took possession of him and he firmly believed his child's sickness and subsequent death was the work of a Snohomish Tamanous, or Medicine Man, he thought was this man the cause of the death of his other children.

He firmly believed in spite of his long life with white people and the teachings of the missionaries that all his children's sickness and subsequent death had been caused by the magic of the medicine man, and he made up his mind that he would kill him and he did it too, in a barbarous manner.

He obtained the assistance of a Nisqually Indian, a slave nicknamed Lame John from the fact of his being lame in one leg. One day, late in the sixties, I think, the Snohomish Tamanous man came to Steilacoom and a friend of Bills who was then at Fort Nisqually sent a messenger informing him of the man's arrival.

Bill immediately went to the city, accompanied by his friend the lame man. The lame man had a bottle of Steilacoom poisonous liquor with him, which Indians found very little difficulty in obtaining in that little burg, and the medicine man could not resist the apparently good natured invitation of the lame Indian to imbibe with him.

The liquor being more potent than the Tamanous man's magic, soon got possession of him and he became quite helpless.

In broad daylight about four o'clock p.m. Bill and Lame John whose Indian name by the way was Shooltun, led the unfortunate Snohomish magician to the clump of young fir trees then growing around the county jail in Steilacoom, and there deliberately stabbed him to death, with the Indian's favorite weapon, the double edged dagger, made from a mill saw file.

They hardly waited for dark before they carried, or hauled the dead body through the streets of the town to the water's edge, where they obtained a canoe, in which they threw the body of their victim. They then paddled a little distance form the shore, attached a basket of stones to the body and threw it overboard, to appear again soon after upon the beach between Steilacoom and the Narrows.

The dead body was picked up by an old Indian, Chawyons, who conveyed it to Steilacoom where it was recognized by friends of the deceased.

Bill and Shooltun were suspected as being the murderers and they were arrested by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, General McKinney and taken to Olympia and underwent a sort of trial before the Superintendent. Shooltun or Lame John turned states evidence and made a full confession, when, of course, Bill was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for several years with hard labor.

All the labor he did was in General McKinney's garden in Olympia. He looked after a cow or two and lived in McKinney's kitchen. He did not remain very long in prison but after perhaps two or three years of such punishment was released and came back to Nisqually and worked a few years.

I have been told by credible acquaintances both Indians that the Snohomish medicine man was very much to blame and that he, in a braggadocio kind of way and when under the influence of liquor, in the presence of Bill boasted of his power as a great magician or Tamanous man, and that his magic had killed Bill's children. 

According to old Indian usage Bill did no wrong in killing the supposed destroyer of his children and after he was discharged by McKinney and came to Nisqually he more than once told the story of the killing and showed the knife he used to perpetuate the bloody deed. 

Edward Huggins, "Bill Huggins," Portland Oregonian. October 13, 1900.

Gary Fuller Reese, "Bill Huggins," It happened on Puget Sound. p. 83-84.

Bill Huggins, a Nisqually Indian, lived in harmony with his white neighbors and for years was a man of all trades near Fort Nisqually. Bill made an unwise choice for a wife for Mrs. Huggins was too friendly with other men and loved the rot-gut whisky sold in the town of Steilacoom.

Late one winter in the 1860s Mrs. Huggins, taking a small baby with her, rode into Steilacoom, found some friends and was soon enjoying drink after drink of the rot-gut. Deciding late in the evening that she had better get home Mrs. Huggins got on her Indian pony and with her child tightly wrapped against the cold she headed across the desolate American Plain toward home.

When she arrived at her home on the banks of Sequalitchew Creek Mrs. Huggins fell off her horse and had to be put to bed. The baby was nowhere to be found. The child's grandmother set out looking for the child and found it under a mound of snow along the trail. Mrs. Huggins friends had wrapped the baby tightly and warmly and the baby was crying for something to eat.

The baby lived for several years and mysteriously like others of the Huggins children died before reaching the age of ten. Bill Huggins deeply loved his children and thought that someone must have put a curse on him and his family.

Some time later a hated medicine man from a nearby tribe came to Steilacoom and announced that he had put a curse on Bill Huggins and his children. Remembering the concept of an eye for an eye of the Old Testament and not the forgiveness of the New, Bill Huggins plotted to rid the world of one more evil medicine man.

One afternoon Bill Huggins found an ally in Lame John, an Indian slave, who frequented the saloons of Steilacoom. The Medicine man joined Lame John in drinking a bottle of rot gut and soon passed out from the effects of the potent booze. Lame John and Bill Huggins hauled the medicine man to a grove of fir trees next to the Steilacoom jail and proceeded to ventilate him with slashes from their daggerlike knives. The Medicine man soon perished and was hauled down Balch Street to a waiting canoe and dumped into the Sound. Bill felt revenged.

Later the body of the medicine man was found on the beach near Bolton's shipyard and when questioned John turned Bill Huggins in for the murder. There was a trial and Bill Huggins was given a sentence of several years in prison which turned out to be living in the kitchen of the Indian agents home in Olympia and looking after the agent's cows and horses. 

Lame John turned up missing and it was supposed was done in by Bill Huggins friends. Bill served his term quietly and returned home to Sequalitchew when it was over trying to remember the "good life" as it used to be. 

Gary Fuller Reese, "Bill Huggins," It happened on Puget Sound. pgs.83-84.