From the Lulu Crandall clippings stored at The Dalles Wasco County Public Library:
"Captain" A J Bolon leaves The Dalles on Sept. 20, 1855 on a horse borrowed from D.W. Butler. At Toppenish Creek a few miles from Fort Simcoe he visits lodge of Chief Show-a-way (Chief Ice), younger brother of Kamiakin. Show-a-way urges Bolon to return to The Dalles, warning him he'll be killed if he goes ahead. Bolon accepts advice and begins backtrailing to TD.His trail is crossed by a party of Indians headed for fishing grounds above TD, led by Me-cheil, son of Show-a-way. Me-cheil, Wap-pi-wa-pi-clah and Stok-an-chan rode with him. Me-chiel decides Bolon knows too much about Qual-chin's murders and that Bolon should be killed. Camp was made and a good fire burning. Bolon was standing by the fire warming himself when Wap-pi-wa-pi-clah, a powerful man, pinned Bolon's arms and Stok-an-chan calmly pushed Bolon's head back and cut his throat. They threw his body into the fire, killed his horse, and rolled it and his gear into the fire. "The killing was over the treaty of General Palmer on Three-Mile creek" [D.W. Butler, 1896 Crandall Clippings]
It was a rare opportunity to connect with a family who's ancestor had a part in shifting historical events. As a genealogist, she says they've compiled a great deal of family history on him. The lady had red hair, and from her I learned so did Bolon. That's a fact the history books never told me. Family history can add a human element to the otherwise staid facts of an event. Genealogists who compile family stories, as well as birth and death records, add bits and pieces of personality that make the ancestor's stories come to life.
In my opinion, in recognition of how genealogists help preserve history we should have an annual Genealogist month. Let's make it September!
The most striking example I can cite is the "Whitman Massacre" at Waiilitpu Mission, near Walla Walla, Washington in November 1847. I continue to learn a little more about this event each year.
Those of us who learned about this event, usually heard it explained the first time as how the "ignorant savages" were superstitious and blamed the Whitmans for the deaths their people suffered following the introduction of diseases like measles, cholera, etc. These people then rebelled and slaughtered the Whitmans and their household.
Yes, the local Native peoples had no understanding of how bacteria and viruses worked at that point, and neither did most white people. How do you think cholera became so epidemic? So in that sense they were ignorant - unknowing - about the cause, or the treatment. Not knowing, many of their own methods of treatment for ailments backfired, killing the sickly victim. But this was only a single factor. The thing they DID understand is the white man had brought diseases into their region that, since the 1700s, had been wiping out whole families or sometimes entire villages.
But there is more, much more, to this story. The explosion of anger that resulted in the murders at Waiilitpu had been building for years. It has taken me years to comb through various accounts to learn:
#1: Toayanu, the son of the local Walla Walla chief, Peupeumoxmox, was given the English "Christian" name of Elijah Hedding. Hedding was shot and killed by a white man while in California on a horse/cattle trading expedition. His enraged uncle, in their cultural tradition, swore vengence on a person of "equal" worth and Marcus Whitman was named as one of the possible targets ... two years before the massacre. When Hedding's father demanded the white man be tried and punished by the same laws the tribes had agreed to live by, nothing happened, in a stark demonstration that they were not "equal" under the law.
#2: The Whitmans were Presbyterian. The Catholic church was actively sending priests into the region in the race to "save the Indians" souls. Catholic priests in the region were denegrating the Whitmans, saying their ways of prayer and approaching God were ineffective and wrong.
#3: The Whitmans were American. The Hudson's Bay Company, operating out of Fort Vancouver, was an arm of the British empire who was at that time struggling for control over the riches of the Pacific Northwest. The fur trade had proven highly lucrative, so much so that the beaver were nearly trapped out. HBC representatives were actively spreading malicious malcontent about the Americans, who had begun infiltrating the area, in an effort to keep them out.
#4: A man named Tom Hill, a Delaware Native American mountain man who had trapped with Kit Carson, moved to nearby Lapwai. Hill held a hatred for Americans. He had seen the devastation endured by his own tribe. He was an eloquent speaker who acquired a following. He would tell the Indians of the area, "Kill the whites or they will destroy you."
#5: Joe Lewis, a French-Canadian half-breed, was a disciple of Tom Hill. Lewis was deliberately feeding lies to the Native Americans of the area, the Cayuse and Nez Perces, telling them they were being poisoned by Whitman. Why? He was a former HBC employee, a Catholic (although one could question his morals), and overall enjoyed stirring people up. He was considered a trouble-maker by the Whitmans prior to their deaths.
#6: One story I read said that when Indian youngsters persisted in swiping melons out of the mission garden patch, Dr. Whitman tried to teach them a lesson by inserting purgative powders into temptingly convenient melons, the boys stole and ate them, and got sick as poisoned pups. In scolding a Cayuse brave for a minor offense, Whitman inadvertantly laid a hand on his shoulder, and that night the Indian got a bite of meat stuck in his throat, and choked to death.
#7: The Oregon Trail emigrants had been flooding the area for years, and the Natives were not blind to the fact that their land was being encroached upon and taken from them. Their people were being killed and violated by these intruders who were not held to an "equal level of accountability and justice" under the white man's law.
#8: Whitman himself had a sense that hostilities were building. He had made plans to move from the area, to the Wascopam mission site in The Dalles that had been occupied by the Methodist Episcopal missionaries. He wrote a draft for about $600 for the purchase in September of 1847, a draft that was never cashed. Once Whitman was killed, both the Presbyterian mission board and the Methodist Episcopal mission board pulled their people out of the area, abandoning the area and the Native people they had sworn to serve.
#9: Adding to all this is the opinion by some that the Whitmans were reportedly somewhat aloof and haughty. They did not develop deep friendships with the Native people they were there to serve, nor integrate into their culture. They never seemed to shake the idea that these people were "savages" and somehow inferior and retained the status of "outsider".
The picture seems so clear in hindsight. Looking at all the layers, all the threads that wove into this story, how could you NOT think there would eventually be violence?
Only by viewing all the strands that thread the story can you really see the authentic tapestry of history.
I am pleased to announce that newspaper content from The Dalles has been added to our Historic Oregon Newspapers website.
You can keyword search, browse, and view content here from:
The Daily Mountaineer (1861-1866): http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn890
The Dalles Times-Mountaineer (1882-1904): http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn930
The Dalles Weekly Chronicle (1890-1947): http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/20032
The Dalles Daily Chronicle (1890-1948): http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn850
These links will take you back through time to some of the earliest newspapers from The Dalles, Oregon... back to the days when Fort Dalles was in operation, the gold miners were passing through town and outfitting themselves, when riverboat traffic flowed up and down the Columbia and the mighty railroads were just pushing their way west.
Take a look at the main page for the Historic Oregon Newspapers website: http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/
This will be a boone for genealogists and history researchers. And look out for drunken rabbits.
It has a lovely line-drawing of the "New Umatilla House" as well as Handley and Sinnott's names as proprietors. The letter written on the stationery is no one I'm acquainted with, and lists an address in Brooklyn, New York. The letter is dated January 1891. By November of that year, Daniel Handley would pass away in Room 11 of the Umatilla House, where he lived.
It's a little piece of history, and I'm glad it's mine.
Want to read about the Umatilla House? Check this out:
As I read historic material during my research, I'll sometimes read something that perks my interest, and find myself muttering, "Rabbit. He's a rabbit. Don't follow." Problem with those darned rabbits is they can prove important for other people. As I expand my own knowledge, of course I keep running across more and more information that relates to what my compatriots in the field are researching. I feel like the History Sorcerer's Apprentice, gathering more and more buckets of history until I'm awash in a sea of information, with no hope of bringing order to oddities or taming the tide of chaos.
And I love it.
It was when Lulu Crandall was in her heyday as a historical reporter for the Chronicle, and I found a series of interviews with a fellow named Oliver Cromwell White that she had written.
Local legend has told of the first few meetings of the Congregational Church in 1859 at the original Wasco County Courthouse, and how they were disturbed during church services by a prisoner in the jail cell downstairs who would sing bawdy lyrics to their church hymns.
Imagine my delight to find one of the White articles mentioned that very incident, and gave the name of the prisoner — Hank Vaughan. And such a name! It is said "He was a horse thief, gunman, desperado, gambler and a drunk, spreading his deeds from Nevada, through Idaho and into Oregon and Washington."
This bit of trivia has sent my history maven friends and I into a flurry of research as we are churning up more dirt on Mr. Vaughan. It's like mining for gold... every nugget of information you uncover makes you feel as if you won the prize. For me, I'm pleased to have a name to tag onto one of the infamous "scallywags" of early The Dalles history.
Fat chance. One thing became obvious to me — nobody was thinking like a visitor when they set up their website. The thing that amazed me most is that so many history museums forget to post the TOWN they are in. The people offering the information forget the vast majority of website visitors may not already know that information.
Take the Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Because it is affiliated with the University of Oregon, which is in Eugene, I figured it was probably in Eugene. However, we all know what they say about people who ASSUME - Makes an ASS out of U and ME. And certainly before I submit my article to a national publication, I need to confirm my guesses. The directions on how to GET there on their website assume you already know what town you are in and are familiar with the street names. What part of "I'm from out-of-town" did these learned professors forget? A person shouldn't have to dig for the gold of knowing what town your museum is in, or better yet, the orientation within the larger geographic region and proximity to roads. And yes, I eventually found my confirmation that the museum is, indeed, in Eugene... a factoid I wouldn't have been able to guess had I been a resident of another state or country.
The other thing that left me somewhat flabbergasted is how many websites claim, "This town is rich in local history." But that's it. They don't actually REVEAL any of that rich history. Just taunt you with the teaser that it exists, like saying "You gotta work for your history, sucker — we ain't givin' it to you!"
People from outside the area love to come visit Oregon for the history, as well as the scenic beauty. If we are to lure them into our communities with the rich history we have, we need to be a little more upfront on what that history is and where to find it.
Fort Dalles has a warm place in my heart. You have to love a place that's been the center of operations for more than one renegade... people like Louis Scholl, the architect who designed several of the Fort's buildings, including the last remaining building, the Surgeon's Quarters. Scholl didn't feel that just because you were in the army, you had to suffer in a rude construction axe-hacked split log cabin. He felt beauty and functionality might bring rest and respite to hard-working soldiers, and that they deserved to return to housing that gave comfort as well as protection from the elements.
There is much written on Fort Dalles, including the book "Picturesque Frontier, The Army's Fort Dalles," written by Priscilla Knuth. (Copies are available for sale at Fort Dalles Museum, www.fortdallesmuseum.org ) And there is even more written on Colonel George Wright, who oversaw the campaign to control the rebellion by the local tribes who did not wish to cede their traditional lands and way of life to the whites.
It is with a great deal of interest that I like to venture into Google Books and do a search on "1855 1856 Fort Dalles George Wright"... pulling up congressional reports made to the Secretary of War gives one a first-hand look at the heated action happening at the time, and often makes mention of little known facts or clarifies a point that may have mystified the student of history.
One of my greatest downfalls is that I like to be helpful, and most of the time people don't see my help as anything more than interference or criticism by an old busy-body. So when my help actually IS helpful, I am particularly delighted. I managed to unearth one of these congressional reports about Col. Wright in a downloadable PDF for a highly knowledgeable researcher who had never seen that particular source documentation. He was delighted, and so was I.
It really wasn't anything special on my end. I was trolling for history, and ran across it. One can while away hours (more productive than playing computer solitaire), reading through government military reports made regarding famous battles, and get a better glimpse into the personalities at work. When reading through the reports of 1856, one can tell Major General John E. Wool, who was in charge of the Dept. of the Pacific, had a burning hatred for the Territory governors (Curry in Oregon; Stevens in Washington); he doesn't do a very good job of covering that fact up, even in his sarcastic reports to the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. Regardless of whether he was justified or not, he sure comes across as a somewhat whining martyr.
And reading the annual report to Congress from the Secretary of War gives an eye-opening glimpse into ALL that was going on, across the nation, at the time. These were the years just prior to the Civil War, and the U.S. Army was dealing with insurrection on multiple fronts. The Indian wars were only one of many armed conflicts taking place. (Like the fact that the Secretary of War WAS Jefferson Davis, who in a couple of short years turned coat and headed up the Confederate efforts in the Civil War. Gave him somewhat of an advantage going in, to know EXACTLY what the military status of the Union states was, didn't it?)
Fort Dalles today is a lovely building surrounded by a lush lawn and shady trees. It wasn't always thus. There were many feet that paraded through this location, not the least of which were the Native Americans who lived here long before the fort was built. A city-wide celebration to honor our history is a fun occasion, but don't forget to take a moment of silence to recognize those who served bravely, with honor -- on both sides of the conflict.
Then go have some fun with history!
This isn't conjecture... this is personal observation. I work at a newspaper. Newspapers get a lot of flack for typos and errors. (I might add, absolutely NO one praises us for all the words we got RIGHT that day...."Why look! You had 99% correct content in today's edition!")
No, they zero in on the screw ups... the typos, the mangled homonyms and synonyms, the out-of-context headlines. I can tell you how each and every one of them happens. The recipe for disaster is: small staff + work overload + tight deadlines + constant interruptions = oops.
Let me give you an example. A couple of weeks ago a lovely couple sent in a notice that they were getting married. The person who typed it up (that would be moi), was trying to juggle several other critical tasks at the same time and unfortunately had a brain fart... the announcement went out with the statement that they "were married" (past tense) on a day that had not yet arrived. So it's rather obvious the dateline on the top of the page doesn't match tense of the announcement. And three people proofreading missed the contextual error.
Another example. A reporter, on deadline, finishes a fairly lengthy and complex article that deals with several political viewpoints and politicians. Said reporter turns article in... the page is sent to press, the newspaper put to bed. The reporter suddenly realizes a major gaffe... a prominent republican (R) politician was mistakenly identified as a democrat (D). Frantic calls to the pressman to pull the page are to no avail. Yes, he got the message, but he was in the midst of his own crisis... something broken on the press... and by the time he got the press chugging along again, he had simply forgot we had resent the page.
I won't even go into the time one reporter (on deadline) accidentally typed a headline to read: "Crows gather in Mosier" when he meant "Crowds." To his horror, no one caught the error during proofreading and the headline went to press. Later that day, my 80+ year old mother read that headline (on the front page, no less) and said, puzzled, "Why, I was AT that event and I didn't see ANY crows!"
Bottom line, any printed publication is produced by human beings, who are capable — and likely — to make a few errors at least a small percentage of the time.
Fast forward another century or two... now envision being the history researcher who is diligently scanning the printed page for "facts"... do you take the printed word at face value? I hope not! Like any good reporter, cite your sources and seek corroborating evidence.
Because you never know when a crow was simply meant to be a crowd.
Taken from The History of Wasco County, by Wm. H. "Proofreading was not my specialty" McNeal.
One of the most outstanding pioneer citizens of The Dalles was EDWARD CRATE, who was the 2nd permanent resident of Wasco county; a friend of Indians; Canadian voyager; pilot for emigrants and friend of white Americans when they had few friends in Oregon Territory. Crate was a citizen of The Dalles from 1849 to 1897 -- 52 years!
Edward Crate settled at Crates Point, on his Donation Land Claim.
Edward Crate made occasional stops at the Wascopam mission here [at The Dalles] enroute down the river and carried messages for the missionaries so he might be termed the first unofficial mail carrier of The Dalles, prior to 1851.
1852 was the year of the BIG EMIGRATION when 18,000 people were credited by historians as passing through The Dalles and many of them remained or returned to The Dalles to make their homes. The winter of 1852 was so severe that Edward Crate lost nearly a11 his stock at Crate's point.
The winter of 1861 was 24 below and the Columbia river froze over. There was lots of stock lost. Edward Crate Jr. carried the mail to Walla Walla that winter by pack train. The boats generally hauled the mail in better weather to Umatilla and Wallula from Deschutesville.
The name of the post office of Wascopam was changed to THE DALLES March 22, 1880. Edward Crate said he paid $1 for 12 corn seeds that spring which indicated high gold prices that were being charged in The Dalles at that time (almost as bad as in 1952).
The following story on Edward Crate was given to The Dalles Chronicle June 1921 by his son John Crate.
Edward Crate served with the Hudson Bay Co. in various ways, but mostly as a post rider, carry-ing messages (mail) from Vancouver to The Dalles, Wallula, Okanogan and British Columbia Points. These trips to and from Vancouver were made in a bateau or flat bottomed boat, with 5 rowers on each side and large enough to carry several passengers and 3 to 8 tons of freight. Mrs. Crate, with their children, accompanied him on many of his post to post trips. In 1847 a trip was taken to Fort Walla Walla (Wallula), when the outbreak of the Cayuse Indian war led to the massacre of Dr. Whitman. They were camped near the fort when a band of Indians descended upon them. It was the custom of Indians to leave their horses standing in a regular line. Mrs. Crate evaded the Indians, with her 3 small children (Edw., Nancy and Jane) by crawling under the bellies of that long 1ine of horses! to gain access to the fort.
The massacre which took place at the mission (Nov. 1847) , 85 miles distant, resulted in the death of Dr. Marcus Whitman and 12 others. The Indians had planned on killing Henry Spaulding, near Pendleton, where he was teaching the Umatilla Indians, but he escaped with his wife, and under the protection of the Hudson Bay Co., they joined the Whitman survivors and were brought in boats to Vancouver by Edward Crate. The Indians were a constant menace as they made their trip down the river. Many times they appeared on the banks and shot their arrow at the occupants of the boats, causing them to have to lie in the bottom of the boat much of the time.
Edward Crate accompanied a band of volunteers who went to Walla Walla to punish the Indians. While in the mountains 65 men including himself were surrounded by Indians for 8 days and nights. The Indians used bows and arrows. The volunteers used muskets and one small cannon which shot small pieces of iron. The superiority of their weapons saved them. After 48 hours the Indians retreated.
In 1849 Edward Crate severed connections with the Hudson Bay Co., and came to The Dalles to take up a Donation Land Claim at Crates Point about 7 miles west of The Dalles. Each man and his wife were given 320 acres. He had the choice of ALL THE LAND HERE and was the second permanent white settler. On account of the natural landing he chose the land on the south bank of the Columbia at the mouth of Chenowith creek. A log house was built on the land (1849 - burned in 1948). Edward Crate was born in Canada in 1821 coming to Fort Vancouver in 1836. He filed on his Donation Land Claim in 1851 because of the small boat moorage at Crates Point and because of the abundance of fresh-water mussels and fish available, an important food item in those pioneer days. He married Sophia Boucher (1844) and they had 14 children. John Crate, who supplied this biography, was born at Oregon City (1850) in Dr. McLaughlin's flour mill on an island in the Willamette river coming to The Dalles to live three weeks thereafter and had been a resident of The Dalles for 71 years (1921) which was longer than any other resident of Wasco county at that time.
John Crate's earliest recollection was the excitement caused when George Snipes killed an Indian at Rowena in 1854 (Rowena is about 8 miles west of The Dalles). The Klickitat Indians had stolen some of the Warm Springs Indian papooses here causing friction between the tribes. The Klickitats would cross the river at night and make raids on Indian and settlers property and when they challenged Snipes he returned the fire killing one of them and wounding at least one other before they retreated in the darkness with their loses, never bothering him anymore. A family by the name of Oliver who had taken up a home on the Washington side of the river had their home burned by Indians after they abandoned it for the safety of the settlement at The Dalles. The Warm Springs Indians were always friendly toward the whites.
Nathan Olney operated 4 store on Chenowith creek, then called Olney creek, a short distance below where the present highway crosses. He sold supplies to the emigrants and early settlers in 1847 to 1852 when he left that vicinity.
My father bought oxen from the emigrants but the winter of 1851-2 was so severe that when spring came he had only one yoke of work oxen left. Ten years later he again bought more work stock but the winter of 1861-2 lasted until April with deep snows and cold 24 below weather which took all of his stock that time.
They raised grain and vegetables on the land. The first seed came from Vancouver. Father paid $1. for 12 grains of corn! Seed for next year (1880) was carefully saved.
My brother Ed. Jr. carried mail to Walla Walla in 1881-92 when he was only 14 years of age. The discovery of gold on Powder River (near Baker) brought people from all parts of the east and California to The Dalles where they packed from here to the mines. Miners returned to The Dalles for the winter. They with teamsters, cowboys, soldiers, gamblers, stockmen, rivermen made up the varied population of The Dalles. Cattle in those days fed on bunch grass which grew all over the hills of eastern Oregon and Washington. Sheep and horses were added to the herds. When father died in 1894 he had been 45 years a resident of Crates Point.
In 1872 I (John Crate) drove cattle for Ben Snipes in the Yakima area. Ben Snipes, brother of George, was the "cattle king" of the state of Washington at that time. (He was also a druggist of The Dalles). In 1875 I worked for the Michalbach Meat Market (120 E. 2nd). In 1881 I went into the cattle buying business. In 1892 I became a member of The Dalles police force where I served in that capacity for 20 years! In 1905 I was shot by Frank Summers in the White House saloon, while making an arrest. The shot passed through the lung just above the heart, going through the body. The bullet dropped from the clothing when it was removed. The wound healed but has caused some discomfort ever since. I have been a member of the fire department since 1875. The fires of 1878 and 1891 were our most serious fires.
Source: from "The History of Wasco County", by Wm. H. McNeal
There is probably more information on the Crate family at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, which is built on Crates property. Contact them at 541-296-8600 or visit at 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles OR 97058.
Search the online Wasco County Pioneer Association photo collection (housed at the Discovery Center) for "Crate" at http://www.oregondigital.org/digcol/cgdc/