THE WHITE RIVER MASSACRE.
Nancy Russel Thomas, "The White River Massacre," The Weekly Ledger. November 18, 1892.
In May, 1854, we built a small house and moved on our place. The notorious Whitson, who figured so in the massacre of our neighbors a year or two afterwards, moved us up the river in a canoe. I was always afraid of him. In October there were several families on the river, viz: Cox's, Kirtland's, C. C. Thompson from Louisiana, Lake boys and King's from Iowa, D. A. Neely's from Missouri, Kersand and Cooper from Wisconsin, Will Brannan's from Illinois.
Mrs. Neely's was the first child born on the river, and mine, Mrs. Aaron Conger of Ellensburgh the second. Mrs. Will Brannan's was the third. Everything was peaceable till June, 1855. When I was alone one day two Indians came to kill me. We had the house full of provisions. The dog scared them away.
The fall of 1854 was the great fish time. The Indians came from all over the Sound for salmon. The fish weir was built at our place, and they carried off tons of dried salmon. We didn't fear them till the next summer, but they were preparing then for the outbreak. My mother was always afraid of them.
January 11th, the river overflowed the whole valley; the men who had been away came home and stayed two weeks. On the 22nd we had another overflow. Our folks and Mr. Neely when to work again. We all had to work for our bread, and butter, we couldn't get.
After this we had a very nice winter. In March we put in a garden, which the Indians had the benefit of. On July 11th an election was held in our house. Allen Porter was there and said the redskins were getting saucy; he believed there was going to be trouble. The men laughed at him, but it set me to thinking and watching and there was not a strange Indian came into camp but what I knew it. I was teaching at the time; had taught just six weeks. There were eight miners at our place fixing to go to the mines. Amasa Miller was the only one that came back. The others were killed by Indians. There was no one afraid but Porter and I.
Some time in September he came in the morning. The Indians had run him all night long. His clothes were torn from him, his flesh scratched as if torn with iron hooks. I wish some of these "know-alls" could have seen him, as "seeing is believing." He was so exhausted when he came to the river he did not have the strength to get in the canoe without help. All the families left their homes for Seattle, where we stayed two weeks. Acting Governor Mason and Judge Edward Lander said there was no danger and advised us to go back. May they be tormented through eternity by the ghosts of the murdered.
We came back on Sunday and found everything safe. Tuesday night Riley (a man we knew on the plains) and Connell came and advised us to leave. We couldn't get any way to go and had to depend on the Indians. On Thursday old Whatcom, Seattle's brother, sent his son Charley, with a canoe to take us to Seattle. Oh, how the rain did pour. We stayed at Collins that night.
They didn't give us anything to eat, nor let us make a fire. Tired out we lay down in our damp clothes, and in the morning had wind and tide to content with. We got to Seattle at 2 o'clock Friday; met Frank Clark, late of Tacoma, who said we were very foolish to be afraid . My father and husband were going on the jury in about ten days, and stayed to take care of things.
We meant to come home after court if everything was all right. After we left my husband lay by the tent one night and heard old Kanasket trying to get old Whatcom to join them in war against the whites. He offered Whatcom ponies and every other inducement to join them; even said the King George men would help them. Whatcom said, "No," and said he wouldn't talk to them.
Old Whatcom tried to get the families that stayed on their places to leave but they wouldn't. They said they might as well be killed as lose everything. They started to build a fort in an out-of-the-way place as there was none on the river. October 21st I met D. A. Neely. He said he had just brought his family from Tumwater, and was coming up home next day.
About two hours afterwards Joe Lake came in shot through the shoulder. He said he knew the neighbors were all killed, he heard shots fired and womens' screaming. Still the sympathizers said, "nonsense." October 22nd, a company of volunteers was organized with H. H. Tobin as captain. I know positively that there were only four married men in the company They were D. A. Neeley, H. H. Tobin, G. A. Cox, and John M. Thomas. They came up the river and buried the dead. Three families were murdered.
They found Will Brannan on the floor all cut to pieces; found Mrs. Brannan in the well dead with her baby in her arms; Mrs. King was found cut open with her breast cut off; Mrs. Jones was shot through the body and beat with a musket till she was a mass of bruises. Mr. Jones was sick with typhoid fever at the time. He and King were burnt up in their houses. Their bones were picked up and buried with their wives.
Enos Cooper was found and buried where he fell and his body has never been removed. King's baby was never found. Little George was taken prisoner and brought to Seattle in the spring, after he had been well taken care of by "Spoon Bill" (an Indian). Mrs. Jones' three children were saved partly by Indian Nelson. Her oldest child was her first husband's --Johnnie King, 7 years old. He said Nelson snapped his gun at them three times and it wouldn't go off. He told them to go, they were saved.
He went to all the settlers houses and found them either gone away or lying dead. He then went back to his own home and found his mother alive. She asked him where he was going; he told her to Seattle if he could get there. She told him to go and "God bless him." He started for the river and met an old Indian, Tom Clutson, (still living and now peddling fish, and well treated by all), who told him to go with him to the camp and he would give him something to eat if he could keep the baby quiet. He put them under mats and baskets, and kept them till the moon got up, then took them in a canoe well hid to the mouth of the river, then "old David" an Indian who was feeding the hostiles from the man-of-war took them aboard the man-of-war.
Mother and I took care of them five months, then they were taken back to Ohio by their Uncle Samuel. On October 28th, a company was organized and C. C. Hewett, was elected captain. This was a week after the massacre.
Nancy Russel Thomas, "The White River Massacre," The Weekly Ledger. November 18, 1892.
WHITE RIVER MASSACRE.
Ezra Meeker, "White River Massacre," Pioneer Reminisences of Puget Sound. Seattle: Lowman and Hanford, 1903, p. 289-303.
On the very day (October 28, 1855) that Governor Stevens made his final start for home from the Blackfeet council grounds on the Missouri River, a thousand miles distant from his capital, and one day after the killing of McAllister, as related in the last chapter, nine persons were massacred on White River, about twenty miles south of Seattle.
These people were peacefully living at their usual homes when the attack was made upon them. They were killed ruthlessly-men, women and children-with atrocities too vile to describe and mutilations of bodies so often seen in Indian warfare.
There were three parties that simultaneously attacked the three families so nearly destroyed, whose cabins were separated but short distances on the three claims occupied. The intervening timber shut out from view their neighbors' cabins, and each met their doom without the knowledge of the fate of their neighbors.
Two of these families Harvey H. Jones and George E. King, I had met on the Yakima crossing about September 8, 1854, and camped with them over night. As I was the first white man they had seen who had lived in the country in which they were just then arriving from a wearisome trip across the plains, they naturally plied me diligently with questions and acted upon my advice, and secured valuable claims in the White River valley exactly where I had recommended them to go.
An amusing incident occurred at the camp that evening of the day we met. I had just emerged from the mountains going out in search of relatives. My only companion was a small, white tailed pony, my only food a sack of hard bread, and my only bedding my saddle blanket.
It was but natural they should invite me to accept their hospitality, to eat at their table and sleep in their tent. I had experienced great fatigue in the forced march to get out of the mountains, and naturally, after eating heartily, soon became drowsy and anxious for rest. But the desire for information about the country they were seeking, the conditions of the roads and numerous other matters, was not easily satisfied, and so the volley of questions continued until late in the evening.
Finally a lull in the conversation came, and I thought my trial at an end, when suddenly Mr. Jones broke the silence with the question: "Can you see the sun rise in that country?" Thinking it was an idle question merely with a view to continue the conversation and feeling annoyed and perhaps half vexed that I had not escaped the continuation of the long series of questioning and perhaps with a view of putting an end to it, I answered, before taking a second thought how it would sound, that they could if they were up early enough in the morning.
This answer, coupled with my manner and tone, brought an awkward pause and embarassment, but the quick wit and tact of the lady, Mrs. Jones, came to the rescue by saying that they had lived in a deep canyon in Wisconsin, where the sun could not be seen until far above the horizon, ending the incident with a hearty laugh all round.
I never saw these people again, though afterwards have frequently traversed their settlement, and ten years later surveyed their donation land claims and could even at that late date the remains of their industrious year's labor. One of them had brought a lot of seeds across the 2,000-mile stretch of the plains, with which to plant a nursery.
The remains of this nursery could be seen for years as a melancholy reminder of the tragic event that cost these people their lives. The others, W. H. Brennan, wife and child and Enos Cooper, who lost their lives, had previously made their homes on an adjoining claim.
Four of the King and Jones children made their escape; three of them speedily reached Seattle by the help of friendly Indians. Johnny King, as the pioneers have always spoken of him, who rescued the two smaller children, brother and sister, as related by the matured man John I. King, in the graphic account following.
This group was taken in San Francisco the following spring after the massacre-
The other illustration on same page [of Mr. Meeker's book] is the mother, Mrs. Jones, who died unattended and uncared for, but whose fortitude had not forsaken her, though wounded and alone, whose dying words were: "Take the children and go to Thomas; I can't live and you may save them." She was a bright, refined lady of superior intelligence, a typical pioneer of a class that deserves a place in history and deserved a better fate.
The child by her side the reader will readily recognize as the same child, Johnny King, taken when younger and before the trip across the plains.
The other, a child of 5 years of the name of King, but of another family, escaped from their cabin but was held captive among the Indians until the following spring, and then delivered to the military officers at Fort Steilacoom.
The little fellow, George King, could not be properly cared for at the fort, and the commanding officers sent the child to me, where he stayed long enough to again learn his mother tongue, which he had almost forgotten, and to cease speaking the Indian tongue, which he spoke quite fluently when he was brought in.
This is the child the Indian who saved him later made an effort to find, with a view to will him his property, worth several thousand dollars, as related in full in another chapter, a monument to the generous impulse of individuals of the native race. But he was too late. The boy was dead, and all his people.
The eldest of the three John I. King, who was taken to Seattle, is now the only survivor of that terrible day. He was then seven years old, and is the only witness we have, aside from the Indians, who almost always refuse to give out information about this affair.
We are fortunate in being able to get the story of this tragic event from the only living witness, written expressly for this work by Dr. John I. King, of Martel, Ohio whose memory has served him well all these years, as we know by many corroborating narratives from other sources.
"The Indians were frequent visitors at our house. They were 'blanket' Indians mostly, and generally very uncouth, unkempt, untidy and repulsive. As the season of 1855 advanced there was an uneasy feeling along the White River valley. In fact, some two weeks previous to the massacre a few families did remove to Seattle.
"On the Friday preceding the outbreak Nelson, one of the chief men of the Indians of the vicinity, came early in the forenoon to visit us, and remained until nearly noon. I remember that that day he was unusually quiet and uncommunicative. Mother kept on with her household duties, passing before and around him, as occasion required.
"His talk was mostly in monosyllables, and then only in reply to some question or suggestion. Finally he left, and said in mixed Indian and English, that 'it would not be very long until Indian be gone and white man have all the land around here.'
"When my step-father returned we told him what Nelson had said. It was an enigma. It caused us an uneasy evening. I have sometimes thought he was trying as near as he dared to give us a warning, although some insist he was simply endeavoring to quiet our fears for the purpose of murdering us.
"The Sunday following Nelson's visit was the 28th day of October, 1855. My step-father was not well and was in bed in the southwest bed room. His bed was in the northeast corner of the room. He is said to have had an attack of pleurisy. Mother, Enos Cooper, our hired man, my halfsister and my half-brother and myself were at the table eating breakfast. The table was set in the center of the large room.
"There came a sound from the door, a peculiar noise, but one which we remembered as being made by an Indian. As I remember, they never rapped at the door, but instead uttered a peculiar grunt or gutteral sound, until some one opened the door. Mother started for the door, and by the time she reached it we three children were beside her.
"As she opened the door there stood an Indian, but he was not standing at the door; he was standing a little to one side, and as the door was opened more widely he moved still further to the side. As his action attracted my attention I glanced past him towards the small log house, and was startled to see another Indian, who was standing back of one of the corners of the house, with his gun pointed out between the ends of the logs; his face was to the gun and his hand near the trigger.
"I shall never forget the sight! It seemed as though I was looking directly into the muzzle of the weapon.
"Mother must have observed it at the same instant, because before I could speak about it she screamed and at the same time seized us and threw us away from the door, which she closed violently and fastened. She did all this in an incredibly short time. It was evidently the intention to shoot whoever should come to the door, and, of course, it would have been natural for them to hope it might be one of the male adults.
"They had skulked upon us while we were at breakfast, because as soon as the door closed there were guns fired and the Warwhoop was given. I looked out of the southeast window and saw the Indians coming toward the house, whooping and jumping and swinging their tomahawks and gesticulating in an excited manner.
"They seemed to rise out of the ground. There were a dozen or more in sight when I looked out, but there must have been more a few minutes later. They were armed with flintlock muskets, which carried an ounce ball and did terrible execution. They attacked the front of the house and began firing through the door and windows.
"I shall never forget the sickening sensation at the report of the guns, the sound of shivering glass and my realizing sense of utter hopelessness of our situation. Mother got my step-father's fiveshooter and returned a few shots, but she soon discontinued its use.
"After a time she took us into the northwest bed room and bidding us to get into the northwest corner of the room, as that was the farthest from the point of attack, covered us with a feather bed. She did this, I suppose, to take advantage of the, fact that it was a difficult matter to send a musket ball through a mass of feathers, especially the old flintlock musket ball.
"I became tired of my confinement and peered cautiously from beneath the bed. I noticed that the direction of the balls was more upward than horizontal; they were coming through my step-father's room, and tore huge slivers from the partition between the rooms. These were mostly over his bed. Waiting a short time I crept along the floor to the door, into the large room.
"Soon my step-father came to his door and was leaning against the left side of the door. Mother did not seem to have known of his presence there. I was watching him and I saw him stagger and lean more heavily against the casing of the door.
"He said: 'Oh, God, I am shot!' Mother turned quickly, and, advancing, said: 'Oh, Harvey, don't say so!' and supported him in her arms. He opened his shirt front and there was a huge wound near the nipple.
"The ball had come through the front door. She helped him back to his bed. I returned to my hiding place. I shall never forget their parting. His prayers and advice were mingled with her sobs. After a time his moans ceased and I knew that he was dead. I never saw him again.
"In a short time I heard my mother and Mr. Cooper discussing the hopelessness of affairs. Mother told him that resistance was useless and advised him to attempt to escape. He came into the room where I was. With an ax he pried off a window stop and then moved the lower sash. I saw him hesitate; he looked one way and another, then leaped from the window.
"A short time after the escape of Cooper there was a lull in the firing. I noticed steps in the large room which were not my mother's. Looking again from beneath my hiding place I saw that the rooms were much lighter than before and that the Indians had gained an entrance into the house: one of whom was carrying some bread in his arms. I was taken outside.
"One of the first I saw was Nelson, who was seated upon a cut from a log turned upon one end, a few feet from the door. He seemed to be directing the rest what to do. I was taken to him, as were my sister and brother a few minutes later. At first I was anxious and afraid, but he told me not to fear; that he could protect me. I trusted him implicitly, I remember, and assured the children there was no danger, because Nelson had said so.
"They were not as certain of this as I. When or how mother left the house I never knew, nor did I see her after she hid us under the bed until after the Indians left, after burning the house. Nelson was kind to me, and, as I remember, seemed to talk aside to me, as though he did not want the other Indians to hear him.
"Strangely enough, he told me to go to Mr. Thomas's, where I had gone to school. The trip was dangerous enough then, as there was only-a path through the woods and the distance was some two miles. The Indians were carrying out blankets, clothing and other inflammable articles, and stuffing them beneath the house. They fired these, and thus the house was gotten well ablaze.
"Nelson dismissed all but one Indian, who, he said, would help me to get to Mr. Thomas's. After a time Nelson left, and we were then in the care of the Indian. When it pleased him he started with us. He had me by the hand, I held sister's, and she in turn was leading our little brother.
"I was surprised at his starting toward the southeast and demurred. He insisted and kept on. We began holding back. He partly led and dragged us to a low place in the fence near the barn, a few rods from the house. Here he suddenly let go of my hand, and we staggered backward and nearly fell to the ground.
"The Indian petulantly muttered something, which I have now forgotten. His manner was such as to lead me to think that he did not care what became of us. He soon disappeared, and I was alone with the children. I studied a time what was best to do. I concluded first to go to a nearer neighbor than Mr. Thomas. I remember how our house appeared.
"It was consumed, except some of the studding, which was erect and smoking. The little one-roomed building was burned also; the barn and outbuildings were standing when I left. Leading the children. I started for one of our neighbors living toward the south. I am not sure whether it was Mr. Lake's I had in mind or Mr. Brannan's, but I believe I went to Mr. Brannan's.
"As I went along I called long, often and loudly upon Mr. Cooper, hoping he might hear me, but I became alarmed at the echo of my calls from the woods, for fear I might attract the attention of any Indians who might be prowling about. I hadn't gone far until I became convinced I could get along better without the children.
"Looking around, I found a roundish depression in the ground, in which I placed them and covered them with brush, charging them to remain there and keep still until I should return. I hurried to the neighbor's, cautiously approaching after I came in sight of the house.
"As I came nearer I saw that the door was open; then that the windows were broken; and upon closer approach that the chairs, tables and other furniture were scattered about, and that the bedticks and pillows were ripped open and the feathers flying about here and there.
"I found no one, either dead or alive, and then made my way back to the children. I then took them back to the ruins of our home. We were hungry; we had been driven from the breakfast table. In the log building had been stored some potatoes, and. several firkins of butter.
"The potatoes were nicely roasted and there were streams of butter from the charred firkins. I dug some potatoes from the pile and spread some butter upon them, and thus made a satisfactory meal for all of us. I now thought of making my way to Mr. Thomas's. I went somewhat circuitously past the barn and woodshed.
"While here a half-grown pup, a great favorite and a very noisy fellow, too, came bounding to me. The children played with him, and I was at first disposed to" comply with their wishes that we take him with us. On second thought, I knew it would not do, as he would certainly betray our presence should he see an Indian.
"I did what was very hard to do-took a stick and frightened him away. I shall never forget the expression upon the poor brute's face at this unexpected and unusual treatment. Going farther, I again called, 'Cooper! Cooper!' But the only answer I received was the pitiful echo from the woods.
"As I was passing along I unexpectedly came upon my mother, prostrate upon the ground, some hundred feet or so southwest from the remains of our dwelling. She was yet alive. I do not know how or when she came there, nor what was the nature of her injuries. She was pleased to know we were yet safe, but chided me for my delay in making my escape.
"She told me I must take the children and go to Mr. Thomas's (the same man that Nelson had named a few hours before). I did not want to leave her, but she told me it was best-that she could not live, and that I might save the children and myself. I wanted to remain.
"She explained that if the Indians would come back they would probably kill us all, and that I must go. With a sad heart and a courage inspired by mother's charge of responsibility, I made the attempt to do as she bade me. I never saw her again.
"Our route lay through heavy timber and dense undergrowth along a path narrow and winding, some two miles as I remember. When I came to where Mrs. Thomas lived, I went a fourth of a mile or, so farther, to where I expected or hoped to find some white persons, but they were gone. I went still farther, but could not get near the house because of a cross dog guarding the empty dwelling. I returned to Mr. Thomas's, not knowing what to do next.
"Mechanically I began retracing my steps to my home. The children were a constant source of danger to me and themselves. My little brother was inconsolable; he wanted to go home to see his mother. He seemed to think I was out upon an expedition of my own and would not go home.
"I could keep my sister quiet by saying 'Indians kill!' but my little brother did not understand the meaning of this, nor how his crying might attract the attention of the Indians, should any be near. I was becoming tired, as I had carried my brother the greater part of the trip, over three miles or so. I lacked about two weeks of being 7 years old, sister was not quite 4, and brother was not quite 2 years of age.
"It was getting late in the afternoon of a day late in the fall. They, and I too, were getting hungry, and I had nothing to give them or eat myself, except bark and an edible root which mother at one time showed me. I was in danger from Indians and wild animals and as far as I knew, some twenty miles from a white settlement. An almost overwhelming sense of my danger and helplessness came over me as I thought of the coming night. But I trudged on.
"Glancing along the path, to my consternation I saw an Indian coming towards us. From his manner I felt sure he had neither seen nor heard us. My first thought was for the safety of the children. It flashed through my mind that they might be ransomed if captured.
"With this idea in mind I hastened into the underbrush, secreted them, charged them to remain quiet, and then ran diagonally back to the path nearer the Indian than where I left. I hoped in case he killed me he would spare the children. As we came nearer I recognized him as an Indian I had frequently seen while attending school at Mr. Thomas's.
"The school began the 27th of July that summer. We called him Tom. I told him of the massacre. He said he suspected something of the kind, as he had heard firing in that direction. He told me that I should get the children and take them to his wigwam, adding that 'when the moon was high' he would take us to Seattle in his canoe.
"His squaw was as kind and amiable as could be, and did all in her power to make it pleasant for us, but the children were very shy. She set out dried fish and whortleberries for our repast, but nothing she could do would induce them to go to her. Our hunger was so great that the various and penetrating odors permeating the food she had brought us was no bar to our relish for it as I remember.
"A short time after we went there I had left the tent. I heard a cracking of brush near by. I turned. The squaw had followed me to have me return to quiet the children.
"After I had gotten them calmed, she spread a huge bearskin upon the ground (floor), of the tent, and soon we were all sound asleep. Some time during the night I was awakened by some one tugging at my shoulder.
"Tom stood over me and said it was time to go. The moon 'was high,' because it was shining brightly down through the circular hole at the top or peak of the wigwam. I was sleepy, and the children positively cross; they were 'dead for sleep.' I made out to get them loaded into the canoe, and we started for Seattle. Near the mouth of the Duwamish River we were delivered to another Indian, 'Dave,' who headed for the sloop-of-war Decatur, lying in Elliot Bay, detailed there for the protection of that part of the Coast.
"She was a little over 500 tons burden, and carried sixteen guns. She was built in 1838, and at the time of which I speak, was in command of Capt. Sterrett. Dave delivered us to the marines, and we were taken on board by them. He laughed heartily at me as we came within hailing distance of the sloop because I dropped flat to the bottom of the canoe, thinking I was to be shot.
"An officer had drawn a long glass on us for the purpose of making out what kind of an outfit we had. We were afterwards taken to a family in Seattle by the name of Russell, and Dr. Maynard appointed guardian. Subsequently a Mr. Buckley and a Mr. Neeley seemed to have us in charge.
"The children remained on shore while I was on shipboard. I daily went ashore and returned nights the greater part of the time we were in Seattle. About May 25, 1856, my uncle, John Small, came and took us to our old home in Wisconsin.
"There was a large two-story block house in Seattle, and a stockade for the protection of the people against attack by the Indians. This building stood facing the hill back of Seattle, and had a door in the front left-hand corner. The back of the building faced the bay in front of the town.
"The sloop-of-war Decatur lay in the bay usually. As was my custom, I was ashore nearly all day every day. On Saturday, January 26, 1856, I came ashore as usual. A short time after I reached the fort that day the Indians attacked Seattle.
"They were principally upon the hill back of the town. I shall never forget the occasion. The people sought safety in flight into the fort. Small arms were being used on shore, and the Decatur was shelling the hill. The order came to keep clear of the port holes and of the door.
"One young man (a Mr. Holgate, I believe), defied the Indians and disobeyed orders, too, standing in the open door. In a short time he was shot in the face. I was terribly frightened, sick and faint with fear. I begged and pleaded and insisted on being taken to the Decatur.
"Finally, a small outlet was made at the back of the fort, and, giving my usual signal, a gig came to take me aboard. One saucy three-inch howitzer was planted on the beach, and the large guns of the Decatur were sending shot and shell over my head, but I preferred the crack of the small brass piece and the roar and boom of the guns to staying in the fort.
"Bullets occasionally dropped near us, but when on shipboard I was well beyond the range of the Indian muskets. When I came aboard the Decatur, in October, Capt. Sterrett was in command. A short time after this he was relieved, and at the time of the attack, in January, 1856, Capt. Ganzevoort was in command."
The following letter from Capt. C. C. Hewitt supplies the sequel to this melancholy event:
"Seattle, November 5, 1855
Mr. Editor: I have just returned from the scene of the late massacre, on White River, about thirty or thirty five miles from this place, and will proceed to give you a brief statement of the transaction.
"On Sunday evening, October 28, a young man by the name of Lake came to this place with two families (Mr. Cox and Mr. Kirkland), and reported that he had been shot at and wounded while standing within the door of Mr. Cox, and heard guns and screams in the direction of some of the other neighbors.
"This was about 7 o'clock in the same morning. I immediately mustered forty men and four Northern Indians, and at 11 o'clock Monday morning started for the scene of action with such guns and outfit as we could command. After two days hard work we reached the house of Mr. Cox, which we found robbed, confirming our suspicion that greater mischief had been done to the settlements farther up the river.
"We then proceeded to Mr. Jones's place, where we found our worst fears more than realized. The house was burned to ashes, and Mr. Jones, who was sick at the time, was burned in it. Mrs. Jones we found lying near the house, shot through the lower part of the lungs, face and jaw horribly broken, and mutilated apparently with the head of an ax.
"We found Mr. Cooper, who was living with Mr. Jones at the time, about 150 yards from the house, shot through the lungs, the ball entering the left breast. We buried the bodies and proceeded to the house of W. H. Brannan, a mile distant. Mrs. Brannan and child we found in the well, her head downwards. The mother was stabbed to the heart, the knife entering the lower part of the left breast, and also in the back and back of the head.
"She had apparently started to run with her child, an infant of 10 months old, in her arms, was overtaken and pitched into the well. The child was below her and bore no marks of violence on it. It was not dressed, showing that the mother had taken it from the bed and attempted to flee.
"Mr. Brennan was found in the house, literally cut to pieces. The left hand had two cuts, as though he had grasped a knife and had it pulled out, cutting the hand to the bone. There were also two stabs in the palm of the hand, as though he had attempted to ward off the fatal weapon. His arms and legs were badly cut, and I think there were as many as fifteen stabs in his back, mostly a little below the left shoulder.
"Everything seemed to show that he fought desperately, and I think he must have killed some of the devils from the fact that the fence, where they went out, from the house, had the appearance of having something dragged over it, and the rails below were all smeared with blood.
"After burying them as well as circumstances would permit, we proceeded to the house of Mr. King, or, rather, where his house was, which we found burned to ashes, and where the most horrible spectacle of all awaited us.
"I am told by a black man whom we met about three miles below our encampment, that, on reaching the opposite side of the river from where we stopped, he saw five Indians, part of whom he knew, from whom he learned that there were 150 Indians prowling about my encampment the evening before. The supposition is that they had collected their forces to make an attack.
"If they had done so, they might have done us considerable damage, as one third of our guns were entirely inefficient. The next time I go up White River I shall be better prepared.
C. C. HEWITT.
"P. S. Three children of Mr. Jones were saved. The elder, an adopted son about 7 years old, says that Nelson, a half-Klickitat, told him to take the other two and go down to John Thomas's, a distance of about two miles, which he did. Mr. Thomas and family having fled to Seattle, they were discovered by a friendly Indian and brought to town. The boy says he did not know any of the Indians but Nelson."C. C. H."
The following statement was found among the correspondence on Me in the adjutant general's office at Olympia, without date or signature, indorsed as follows:,
"Statement of Indian at Seattle, relation to murders committed on White River.
"Statement of Monish to me:
"I come to Seattle-Mr. Holderness had a bear, wanted something for it. Returned up the river a little above the Dutchman's; tied his canoe and slept. At midnight of the day he was at the fishery at Pupschulk (John Thomas,); went a little way up the road; saw the tenas man (young Jones -as Johnny King was known by those not acquainted with the family) coming down the road (I may be mistaken as to his being but one night on the river; he is positive as to then being at Pupschulk at sitkum sun), (at noon).
He saw the Klickitats and was told Nelson killed with a knife either William (Brennan) or William's wife, and that Jones was killed in bed with an arrow. That the Klickitats took his canoe, as Leschi was on horseback: that he stayed at the fishery four days, and then came down on foot through the woods to Alki; that the Indians would not take him in their canoes, and that he stayed at Alki some time, and a short time since got over to Capt. Howard's mill."
The importance of this interview is that it fixes the responsibility of the massacre in part at least on the Klickitats and locates Leschi "on horseback" a few hours after the occurrence and between the field of the massacre and Seattle.
To many this will fix in their minds the responsibility of Leschi's participation in this tragedy.
Leschi, as we have seen, had established his camp on Green River three days before, after his narrow escape from capture by the Eaton Rangers who were sent to his home for the purpose of forcibly removing him to Olympia and not more than eight miles up that river, and doubtless within the sound of the guns that destroyed the Settlements, and he naturally would have ridden in haste to the field.
Subsquent events have proven that he did not approve taking the lives of noncombatants, and so we may probably believe he did not participate in this outrageous destruction of innocent lives.
But the reader can judge of the probabilities as well as the author, having all the facts obtainable before him.
Ezra Meeker, "White River Massacre," Pioneer Reminiscences of Puget Sound. Seattle; Lowman and Hanford, 1903, p. 289-303.