THE KILLING OF SUL TUCH KYNE
On this particular evening the Indians had just got through with their usual religious services, and everything was quiet in the camp when suddenly we heard a noise of loud talking and saw men running to, towards one particular lodge. Presently four or five Indians came running towards the gate where we were sitting.
One of them, a Snohomish named Sah-ah-lil, told me that his son, Sul-tuch-kyne, a youth of about seventeen or eighteen had, when passing through Squally Bottom been shot from ambush and killed.
He had a companion with him, a young man named Stayhern or Ay-aalth, the handsome, so called because of his really handsome face and figure who escaped without a wound.
The old man said that his son had been in Olympia visiting his mother and was on his way home with Ay-aalth. They crossed the Squally River on a big log jam, which the Indians always used as a bridge when crossing the river on foot. The trail ran through a little clearing belonging to a man named J. A. Packard who owned the parcel now the property of S. Y. Bennett.
Packard had the clearing planted with potatoes and the old Indian and his companions felt assured that Packard had shot the youth for walking through the potato field. He came with several more of his tribe and intended to go down immediately to Packard's to look for his son, and if he found him dead, to take summary vengeance upon Packard.
HOW PACKARD WAS SAVED
I sent for Dr. Tolmie who listened to all the old man said. He told me that things looked very bad for Packard whom he had not for a moment suspected of having shot the boy. Packard was a man of good standing in the community. He was liked by almost every one and was looked upon as the last man in the world to commit so dastardly a deed as the old man charged him with.
What Dr. Tolmie feared was that should the old man find his son dead in the field, he would at once charge Packard with the murder as it was well known that he had forbidden the Indians to pass through his field, and had threatened them with consequences if they did not desist. The trail had been traveled by the Indians for years and it was hard to break them from the habit of using it.
Besides, there was no other landing place for travelers by the log jam. The doctor thought as did I, that the Indians would immediately cross the river, go to Packards house, charge him with the murder, and in the excitement of the moment, and Packard's lack of fluency in talking Chinook, the old man would kill him, and perhaps his wife, fine woman, and only child, a beautiful girl of fourteen or fifteen years.
Packard then lived across the river, in a blockhouse called Fort Raglan. It was built during the Indian war of 1855 on a sand spit immediately across the river and near the present county bridge. Packard ran a ferry scow as well as carried on the work of his farm. As I stated, Packard was a man of good character, and no one for a moment suspected him of being guilty of such a deed as this appeared to be except perhaps the ignorant Indians.
Dr. Tolmie reasoned with the old Indian, and others of the tribe, all of whom were greatly excited over the murder. I volunteered to go down and inquire into the matter and the doctor agreed with me that it was the best thing to do. I requested a big giant of a French Canadian to accompany me and he was quite willing to go.
I stipulated that only four Indians should go with me, the father of the missing lad, Ay-aalth, the youth's companion, and two relatives of the boy, Sul-tuch-kyne. The Indians after a great deal of talk agreed to do this. They at first wanted to go in force between twenty and thirty in number and armed with guns and knives.
I insisted that not one of the four should carry arms of any kind with them and this was at last agreed to after a great deal of talk.
About nine in the evening we started for the bottom, myself and man on horseback and the Indians afoot. The old Indian Sah-ah-lil left orders for some of his own people to go in a canoe up the river to convey the body of his son back. The old fellow felt sure of finding his son dead. We were in a quandary, and didn't know what to think.
NIGHT MARCH TO FORT RAGLAN
We allowed the Indians to keep up with us, and all arrived at the top of Squally Hill together. The road down the hill was very steep, and it was as much as a team could do to pull up an empty wagon, and it required four horses to haul up even a medium sized load. I recollected that when making the trip in a buggy, we always walked up the hill and it was as much as the horse could do to pull up the empty buggy.
The road, in the course of time, became much better and now it is so altered and graded that bicyclists can now ride up it. When we got to the trail leaving the main road to the potato clearing, and river jam we dismounted and tied our horses and footed it down the bluff, Ay-aalth leading the way. It was as dark as pitch, and not a word was spoken. It was altogether a gruesome trip, and gave opportunity for many superstitious fancies.
When we arrived at the bottom the Indian Ayaalth drew back and allowed me to take the lead. We very foolishly came away without a lantern, but had matches, and gum or pitch wood with us. We groped along slowly in the dark, for we were approaching, Ay-aalth told us, very close to the spot where the lad, his companion fell.
Suddenly I felt something soft in front of me. The Canadian fired up his pitch wood, and the bright light opened to our gaze a fearful scene. A groan of horror escaped from the Indians, and it soon culminated in threats of vengeance, for right in front of us, stretched upon a fallen tree lying across the trail was the body of the youth, Sul-tuch-kyne.
Upon examination it was found that he had been fearfully shot through the side of the knee, if fact the knee was completely shattered. The youth, after having been shot, crawled along the trail a few yards until he came to the fallen tree. This he attempted to cross, but failed, and leaning upon it, had soon bled to death.
STUMBLED UPON A SPRING GUN
We were much surprised at the nature of the wound, and could not account for its being in such a place. I overheard the Indians muttering and understood enough of their language to know that they were making threats of vengeance against the Boston man owning the field and declaring that they would at once go to Packard's house on the other side of the river and kill him.
The old man went ahead so I not very politely pulled the fellow back and took the lead myself calling upon Chaulifoux, my Canadian companion, to keep his gum sticks burning and the Indians together. I now began to think that crossing the perilous log jam in the dark would not be wise and determined to return and take the road up the hill, and then regain the main road down the bluff.
Chaulifoux agreed to this, but the Indians demurred, and it took me some time and the use of some threats before they at least agreed. This caused us to lose time, and when we got to the regular ferry crossing, we found that the old man's canoe had arrived with five or six more Indians in it, but luckily two or three of the party were Nisqually Indians, who had come more out of curiosity than anything else.
This was a great relief to me, as I knew that they would assist me in anything I undertook. The old man directed his three friends in the canoe where to find the dead body and instructed them to bring it to the same road as we had taken, as the passage by the jam would be very difficult to convey the dead body across in the dark. He also sent one of his own party along with them to assist in carrying the body , thus rendering it much easier for me to manage matters, should anything happen threatening danger to Packard.
We crossed the river in the old man's canoe, and made our way to Fort Raglan. Packard was soon aroused. He was using the second floor of the blockouse as a sleeping apartment. I told him what brought us there at such an unseasonable hour, when he raised his hands in horror, and exclaimed: "My God, the boy must have come across one of my spring guns." Packard said he had been greatly annoyed by Patrick Fowler's pigs breaking into his potato field, and as a last resort had determined upon setting guns for them.
He most emphatically denied putting the guns there to catch Indians, and said he had no idea that Indians would cross the river so late in the day.
The Indians must have crossed at least two hours before dark set in, and I firmly believe that the man, when setting the guns, had not the remotest idea of injuring anything but hogs with them. But it was a fearfully stupid thing to do and displayed almost criminal carelessness. Packard said there was another gun set farther on from the first on one of the trails leading to the jam, and it was a lucky thing for me that I turned back as I did, for had we gone on towards the jam, one of us might have come across and exploded the gun.
I explained to the father of the dead boy the reason why Packard had set the guns in his potato field, but the old man treated my explanation contemptuously, and said if the Boston man wanted to shoot pigs, why didn't he hunt them in the daytime, as any man of sense would do. Only a foolish man would set guns in a trail he well knew was frequented by Indians and sometimes white people.
He said with emphasis: "None but a fool would do the same. Perhaps this American didn't wish to kill people when he fixed his gun so. He perhaps only wanted to slightly wound them in the leg and make them afraid, and thus put an end to travel through his field to the injury of his crop."
The old man's argument was hard for me to answer, "If," he said "the Boston man wanted only to wound people slightly, why did he load the gun with big buckshot instead of small birdshot."
HAD A SHORT CUT GUN READY
Packard took things very coolly. He didn't appear to appreciate the critical position he was in. He talked from the window of his bedroom the second story of the fortress. I was glad that he had not come to the door as the old Indian by this time was in a tremendous state of excitement as were his two companions, the relatives of the dead lad. I kept close to the old man who was enveloped in a large blanket, Indian fashion, and I noticed when the light from the pitch torch flashed upon him, that he was apparently hugging something concealed under his blanket.
I jerked the blanket open and saw that he had a short cutoff gun which I immediately took from him, without much trouble and found it to be loaded. We examined the other Indians and found them to be unarmed.
I told the Indian that Mr. Packard would compensate him for the loss of his son, which method of settling such matters was then the customary thing to do among the Indians. The old man replied that he should expect big payment in the loss of his son as he was of an influential Snohomish family, the grandson of a chief, etc.
I felt satisfied now that nothing serious would result from Packard's action, at least that night, and I told him what I had promised the Indians. Packard, much to my disgust, was stubborn. He didn't seem to like the idea of paying anything to the friends of the dead youth. I reasoned with him, and told him the risk he and his family had run. I am satisfied that had I or someone from the fort had not gone down with the Indians, something very serious would have happened to the Packards. I conversed with him in English, which the Indians didn't understand.
Packard was quite a slow-speaking man and seldom got excited. At this particular time, when most men would have been greatly excited he kept as cool as a cucumber. When I at last prevailed upon him to agree to pay the Indians something and he requested me to ask Dr. Tolmie to give the Indians some of his best trading goods for which he would pay for in the course of three or four months.
The Indians would not be satisfied until I gave my word that they should be paid a fair amount for the loss of their son and relative. This ended, they went to the canoe containing the dead youth and mournfully paddled their way out of the river to the Fort landing place. A cart was awaiting their arrival. The body was taken to the fort and buried temporarily in the Indian burial ground near the old place, and for the entire day the place was made mournful by the singing of the death songs of the many females relatives of the lad.
OBJECTED TO THE INDEMNITY
It was now nearly daylight and I was glad when I gained the shelter of the fort to throw myself on my bed for an hour's sleep, which was interrupted by dreams of spring guns, dead Indians and the exciting scenes under the walls of Fort Raglan. The next day Dr. Tolmie had an unpleasant time coming to an understanding with the Indians. The father wanted a large sum in goods to pay himself and relatives for the loss they had sustained, and after a long and tiresome lot of talk they agreed to take sixteen blankets valued at eighty dollars or the equivalent in other goods.