PART FOUR - - REMINISCENCES OF PUGET SOUND
FROM THE PORTLAND OREGONIAN 1900-1901.
EARLY DAY TRIP TO OLYMPIA
I had never yet been to Olympia, and knew nothing about the road south of the Squally River, so Mr. Work, who was in charge during Dr. Tolmie's absence, very kindly told me to take an Indian guide with me. I selected a bright lively young Indian named Sweiliqualth, pronounced "Swa-el-qull," and we started on horseback early in the morning in the early Spring of 1851.
When we got to the top of the Squally hill, we heard the river booming and roaring, and knew from this that it was very high. As there was no ferry, I was wondering how we were going to cross, but I left this to my Indian, confident that I was in good hands.
He merely remarked : "Cullum chu" (bad): "Hyas sohalie t'suck," (very high water). Before we got to the bank of the river we passed several men, Collins, Balance, Alex Wilson, George Shazer and one or two more whose names I have forgotten, who were digging a ditch or small canal from a point a little up the river and running not very far from the Balance tannery.
Upon inquiry I learned that this was the canal Balance had spoken about to Dr. Tolmie some little time ago. My Indian found a canoe with its owner close by, and I dismounted, stepped into the frail-looking little craft, clung very quietly to its bottom, fearing almost to breath thinking that little effort would tip over the mite of a vessel when the nose of the canoe touched the opposite shore and I was soon on terra firma once more.
The canoe returned with much more difficulty the route being up stream this time and the river a raging torrent. My Indian unsaddled my horse, secured the saddle, and with the aid of another Indian got the horse into the river, and started across, the poor brute swimming quietly behind the canoe, as if he had done the same thing often before and no doubt he had. The two horses were now across and we started to complete our journey.
At the time the wagon road up the hill on the south side of the bottom did not exist and there was only a trail up the side of the precipitous bluff, which sometimes horsemen used, but only the most daring of riders, it being so very steep.
The wagon road then followed the route of the one now in use, until the farm, now known as Mingels' or Wiggins' farm was reached. This farm was then owned by James McAllister, who settled there with a family in 1846 or 1847 and took up a donation claim of six hundred forty acres, most of which was in the bottom.
It was the finest kind of land, alluvial in character, and I am sure I do not exaggerate when I say that if properly cleared and drained it would have been one of the finest places in the country.
FATE OF MCALLISTER
James McAllister was a Missourian, I think. A very tall, raw-boned man, strong and inured to all kinds of work. He was a good hunter and in a matter of course a splendid shot. I saw a good deal of Mr. McAllister, and liked him. He was a very different kind of a man from "Balance," the tanner.
Poor Mac! He was one of the first to volunteer when troops were called for to meet the hostile Indians and he with four or five other volunteers went out to interview the Indians. He was very well acquainted with the Squally Indians and especially with the leaders, Lusch-chy-uch, and his brother Quy-emuth.
He had been in this part of the country seven or eight years, had treated the Indians with kindness, and they liked him. Mac thought, alas! that he could safely go amongst them, and did not hesitate a moment to endeavor to get close to the brothers. He felt sure that he could prevail upon them to give up the contest, and not join the hostile bands east of the mountains.
He was besides a sort of a plenipotentiary from Governor Stevens, and was empowered to make promises, etc. and I have not the least doubt, that if he had been lucky enough to have met with the two brothers he could have stopped them and brought them in where they would have been taken in hand by those in whom they had full trust, and easily induced to remain friendly to the whites.
With those two Indians away from the hostile party, I am nearly certain that neither the Nisquallys, nor the Puyallups would have gone to war, and this side of the mountains would have been spared the horrors it afterwards experienced. But it was not to be. McAllister failed to meet the brother chiefs in a friendly way as he had prayed for, but met a party of Indians somewhere in the vicinity of White River (Connel's Prairie) about October 25, 1855.
McAllister's men were fired upon and McAllister, Connell, Miles, A. B. Moses and two or three others whose names I cannot now recall, were shot dead, and thus commenced the Indian War of 1855-56.
When we got to James McAllister's place and crossed the slough near the house, the wagon road turned abruptly to the left, through the bottom a short distance to the road up the hill leading to the prairie. This hill was not at all steep, but of a gentle grade, up which a team of ordinary horses could pull a good load. I think the road through the bottom, up the hill and through the skirting timber was about one and a half miles to the prairie.
The road continues through the narrow prairie about two or three miles to the place then owned by Nathan Eaton, the youngest of two brothers, who had been amongst the earliest settlers, and had been some four or five years in the country. Charley, the elder brother, had a place near the Tinalquot prairie, and was married to an Indian woman by whom he had a large family.
He was a fine fellow, liked by all, whites and Indians. He commanded the first company of soldiers raised in the territory, which were called the Mounted Rangers. He and his company were commissioned to arrest Lush-chy-uch and Quy-e-multh, and take them to Olympia, but the noise and excitement made by this body of armed and mounted men, forty or fifty in number, stuck terror to the hearts of the poor, ignorant Indians; they thinking that such a formidable body of men were sent to use force against them, fled to the hills, and Eaton and his braves, with rifles and pistols, not concealed, and spurs a jingling, went after them.
James McAllister, who was Eaton's First Lieutenant, and his little band were the first to come into contact with them, with the result already stated.
Nathan Eaton's place is now known as the Collins place, a man of that name having purchased it from Eaton. There is a pretty little river running through it, upon which a small sawmill is erected, and has been running for some years. Both the Eatons have been dead for years.
The prairie beyond Eaton's or Collins' place is called Chambers Prairie. An old man of that name having settled upon it in 1846 or 1847. He had four or five sons, all of whom took up claims upon that prairie, or in its vicinity. When I rode through it I think the Chambers were the only settlers upon it although there might have been others there but I am inclined to think that other settlers, Pattison, Ruddell, Hewett, the other two or three came a year or two later.
The road through Chambers' prairie is three or four miles in length, and by the time we got to its end, it was pitch dark. The road through the timber, about two miles, was completely hidden, and we had great difficulty in getting along at all. Rain had been falling all the afternoon, and was now coming down in torrents.
I thanked old Mr. Work for his foresight in sending an Indian guide with me, for I should have been in a pretty plight, in those woods alone. We had no light, not even a match between us, neither of us being smokers. My Indian was a wonderfully good-natured fellow and tried to cheer me up by singing his native songs, and trying to make me understand his native stories.
Swhei-li-qualth, poor fellow! I never forgot his conduct on that night. I have since seen him in forming the floor of the bridge sank under the horse's feet, and he floundered in, his legs going between the floating timbers. I was thrown off , and floundered to firm ground, somewhat bruised and shaken. The poor horse struggled fearfully, and leaving the Indian in charge, I ran to Mr. Packwood's (who then owned and lived upon the what is now known as the Hawk place), and obtained helped.
After, a great deal of trouble, we succeeded in getting my poor horse out of the slough, when he was found to be quite lame and unfit to travel I remained that night with Mr. Packwood and was most hospitably entertained. Mr. Packwood was quite an intelligent man, and Mrs. Packwood I found to be the most motherly woman I had met since leaving my own dear old mother some two years previously.
The next morning I sent the Indian home with my lame horse, and hired a man with a small canoe and paddle to the landing, from whence I soon walked home. Thus ended my first trip to Olympia, made memorable by the many mishaps attendant on it.
FAILURE OF THE TANNERY.
Again returning to my tannery story. From this on, for four or five months we did not see much of Balance, and all at once he was missing and no one appeared to know what had become of him. He left no message behind and thoroughly and completely disappeared.
Some of his acquaintances would have it that he had been murdered, but I for a moment wouldn't believe that any such an end had happened to him. Why should any one murder such a man? What motive would induce any one to murder such a poor, harmless, creature?
No! I firmly believe that the man had become tired and sick at heart at his failure to tan the hides properly, that he gave up everything and quietly left the country. Dr. Tolmie took possession of all he could find at the tannery, and that was not much, only a few half tanned hides and a few tanner's tools. I think there are pieces of the half-tanned leather still to be seen at the Huggins place.
The canal which Balance made continued to carry a little water, until the unusually wet Winter of 1867 when the river attained a great height and washed a channel through the tannery canal. In the course of a very few years this canal became so big as to form the main channel of the river, causing the regular channel, running in front of the Packwood and Shazers farms to be only a slough, which at low tide, had scarcely any perceptible current.
Until the new channel was formed Mr. Packwood ran a ferry-boat across the Squally from which he derived a small income, but the new order of things deprived him of this, and a man named J. A. Packard who at that time owned the place now the property of S. Y. Bennett, obtained a charter from the legislature to run a ferry at a point higher up the river than the old ferry ran.
Mr. Packwood, the proprietor of the old ferry, felt very sore that he should be so deprived of one of the sources of his income, and determined to divert the river back into its original channel. He accordingly employed hands and went to work digging a ditch across a point of sand through which he thought the river would break as it did in the former case.
All his work was in vain for the river remained obstinate, and continues to this day to ignore its original channel. For some years the river ran through the new Channel without doing much damage, but in 1871 or 1872 the waters commenced encroaching upon the farm of Bennett and carried away several acres of its valuable land.
Some efforts were made to stop the eating away of the land but without success, and the ravages continued night and day until the dwelling and barn on the Bennett place had to be removed farther back to a spot which was supposed to be safe from the encroachment of the waters.
But it was not to be so. The insatiable current continued to undermine the alluvial soil of the farm, and soon a splendid orchard of large, prolific-bearing trees was carried away. The dwelling and barn had to be again removed to their present location, right under the bluff of the highland. They appear now to be in a place of safety, a long distance from where the waters of the river are still cutting and carrying away the valuable land, but not to the extent they formerly did.
There are hopes now of the wash stopping and leaving Mr. Bennett in quiet possession of what is left of his valuable farm. I should think that fully one hundred acres of the farm now owned by S. Y. Bennett has been carried away by the swift current of the river.
All this great and irreparable damage was caused by this man Balance making a small canal or ditch to convey water convenient to his miserable make-believe little tannery.
Edward Huggins, "The Balance Tannery," The Portland Oregonian. September 2, 1900.