Lyman Bonney, "Steilacoom Stockade," in Herbert Hunt, History of Tacoma. Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1916 p. 44-47.
The Town of Steilacoom became the rendezvous of the white settlers through the Indian War. There was a stockade, about 70 by 100 feet, built about a five room two story log house on the waterfront at the foot of what then was called Webber Street. When the Sherwood Bonney family reached Steilacoom in a chilling down-pour of rain in 1853, the family of the famous Rev. John F. DeVore occupied this house, and they took the travelers in. In this same log house, within the stockade, was born William P. Bonney, sometime Secretary of the Washington State Historical Society.
Sherwood Bonney and his large family lived in the house throughout the Indian War. Mrs. O. C. Shorey, who was one of the Bonney children, tells how the children of Steilacoom were wont to keep their trinkets tied in handkerchiefs ready for quick removal and many of them had hiding places picked out beneath logs in the woods both for their belongings and themselves, in case the Indians should attack.
Lyman Bonney, who helped to build the stockade, recently wrote the following account of it:
"I am almost certain, but note quite sure, that the log house belonged to Balch and Webber, founders of the City of Steilacoom. I know they built a log warehouse on the beach not far from the John Chapman addition to the future great metropolis of the Northwest, as they thought.
"The log house referred to, as I remember, was about 42 by 22, with an entrance on the main avenue or street, with the back, or rear facing the Sound.
"I well remember our first coming to town between there and the fort. We either overtook him, or he us, I could not say which. However, we fell in with our mutual friend, Rev. J. F. DeVore. As it was raining very hard at the time. Brother John F. kindly offered to share his home with us until such time as we could secure shelter elsewhere. As we were all cold and wet form an all day ox drive father drove up to the front door and unloaded our little plunder left after crossing the Plains the year before to Oregon, then to Puget Sound arriving early in November.
"Had it not been for Brother DeVore's kind offer I don't know what we would have done, for there were no vacant houses at that time and very few occupied ones, as I remember the situation. In fact, at that early date of Steilacoom's history there were very few houses.
"The summer of 1855, the Indians having taken the warpath, we, with many others, moved to the village for safety, and finding the old log house vacant moved into it. Soon after, I do not recall if it was weeks or months, a town meeting was called and plans were adopted for fortifying the old log house and steps were taken to stockade the place using split cedar logs about twelve feet long with the lower end stuck about two feet in the ground.
"This feature I remember very distinctly, as Brother Dave and I hauled, or helped to haul, the logs from the nearby woods. The stockade extended all around the building and was presumably one hundred feet by seventy feet wide. The door was on the southeast corner.
"An old iron cannon was placed near the entrance and loaded with scrap iron and a few links of log chain, which gave it the tone of being charged with genuine shrapnel or grape and canister. As I remember the formidable weapon when fired, the great danger was in the rear. The gun was never fired after being loaded, that I knew of, nor do I recall what ever became of it. Before the war it was used for firing salutes on special occasions.
"I think it was a four inch gun. I have my doubts as to its ever being charged with ball that size. Judging from the amount of cash in the Bonney family I am quite sure there wasn't enough in the town to have bought one ball.
"Port holes were place at a convenient height three or four feet apart. The building stood opposite the old Phillip Keach residence, or between that and the Sound."
Nearly everybody in Steilacoom slept within the stockade. Each family brought bedding which was spread about the five rooms, three upstairs and two down. There was scarcely room to step between bodies when all were in their beds.
It now and then happened that one of the babies became frightened, the fright spread, and all cried, everybody was awakened, and the hubbub was great. Such an episode was regarded as a serious thing, it might attract Indians.
But the Indians never came, though Steilacoom had several good scares. One night Colonel Michael T. Simmons was approaching the village in a canoe rowed by several Indians. He, with the aim of assuring the residents that the mission of his red oarsmen was peaceful instructed them to sing as they rowed in.
Instead of being accepted as he intended it, the citizens construed the Indian chant as a war song and there was a scramble for weapons on the part of the men while the women hastened to the stockade with their children.
In the log house within the Steilacoom stockade was taught the first school, with Mrs. Bonney as teacher. In July, August, and September of 1854, she conducted a school there. Her baby rolled around on a quilt spread on the floor while she led the youngsters of her neighbors through the alphabet. Miss Babb, sister of Mrs. DeVore was the next teacher.
Lyman Bonney, "Steilacoom Stockade," in Herbert Hunt, History of Tacoma. Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1916, p. 44-47.
Luzana Wallace, "Old Settler's Stories," They Came to Puget Sound. Tacoma: Tacoma Public Library, 1984, p. 93-94.
At the blockhouse at Steilacoom it was the opinion of many that there was but little danger on the land side, as that approach was protected by the garrison and Fort Nisqually. Many, however, were of the opinion that an attack might be made from the water.
One night there was considerable alarm caused by a great noise sounding like boats rushing up on the beach. We thought for sure the Indians were about to attack. While the men folks went out to reconnoiter, I went into my little room and watched over my son while he laid there asleep, then I looked at my gun hanging over the port hole, when I remembered that I had never fired a gun in my life; still I felt brave then, and if need be, I could shoot Indians as fast as anybody, if someone would only load the gun for me, for I knew nothing as to loading guns.
I heard loud talk and running back and forth as though upon the deck of a ship. I looked out the port hole. I saw the masts of a ship right over my room. By that time our men were returning. On entering the block house they said, "Ladies don't be alarmed. It is a ship which has run upon the beach."
It proved to have been a vessel of war coming up to Fort Steilacoom for the protection of the Sound country, and to overawe or punish the hostiles. Captain William Webster acted as pilot and he had run her on shore.
Luzana Wallace, "Old Settler's Stories," They Came to Puget Sound. Tacoma: Tacoma Public Library, 1984 p. 93-94.