Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Waiilatpu Massacre, November 29, 1847

I am a little late with this part of the story; it was a detailed piece to write, and exhausting!
But I hope I am not making you wait too long for this bloody story; I am using the word bloody in its real meaning, not as a swear word..
If you have a delicate stomach, you might not want to read this.

For the second part of the Waiilatpu Massacre story, I must introduce two more men of mixed blood or French-Canadian ancestry, who played important roles in the story.
It is difficult to explain their actions during the massacre, but they had good reason for staying out of the fight.
They saved their own lives by doing so.
But it might have been more complicated than that...


The first of these two men was Nicolas Finlay, a mixed blood man more Indian than white, and the youngest son of David Thompson's Jacques Raphael Finlay -- best known as Jaco Finlay.
Nicolas, born in 1816, was now a little over thirty years of age and married to a Cayuse woman named Suzette. He had spent years working for the HBC in the Snake River district and at Fort Vancouver, but in 1846 had quit the company and settled near Waiilatpu, where he worked for the Whitmans.
His lodge was only a hundred feet from the Waiilatpu Mission.
Nicolas had only recently fallen ill from the same strain of measles that was now flooding the area, and in the temporary absence of her husband, Narcissa had given him medicine which had cured him and, perhaps, saved his life.


In spite of that, most records say that the Cayuse plot against the Whitmans was formed in his residence.
Other missionaries in the area connected Nicolas Finlay closely to Tom Hill, and Joe Lewis. 
It is certain that Nicolas Finlay had no fondness for the Whitmans and was sympathic to the Cayuse.
There is, however, no strong evidence that he took part in the events that followed -- certainly he took no leadership position though he was a witness to much of the massacre. 
He was the first man to bring the news of the massacre to Fort Nez Perces.
He was present when Andrew Rogers told the Cayuse he had overheard Whitman and another missionary, Spaulding, discussing the poisoning of the Indians.
He saw Narcissa die.
However, he also collected the two Manson boys who were with Narcissa until shortly before her death.
Though some stories say the two boys escaped to Finlay's lodge when the massacre broke out, the stronger story says the boys' names were called out and they were taken from Narcissa's hands.
And Alexander Caulfield Anderson wrote of this part of the story:
"A curious exemplification of the respect in which the people of the Hudson's Bay Company were held by the natives, was afforded on this sad occasion. Two boys, sons of one of the Officers... were called forth by name as the massacre began, and from the very presence of the poor lady who a moment after fell a victim."
But Anderson wasn't present, and his statement, though strong, was secondary.

The other man was a French Canadian named Joe or Joseph Stanfield who worked at the Waiilatpu Mission and, apparently, lived in Nicolas Finlay's lodge.
I know nothing about him, except that he does not appear to have been an HBC man.

So, to continue the story from where I left off in my last posting -- by the end of November 1847, the mixed breed nuisance, Joe Lewis, had moved out of the mission house and was in residence at Nicolas Finlay's lodge.
It was probably he who invited the Cayuse to the fatal meeting that took place there, when Lewis told the chiefs the stories of how the white missionaries were releasing poisons from bottles to kill them.
Lewis said that he and others had overheard Whitman talking of killing the Indians, so he could take their lands.

I ended the last posting with the story that, to the Cayuse, it appeared that Dr. Whitman was spreading death amongst them.
On Saturday, November 27, some Cayuse called Dr. Whitman to the Hezekiah village, up the Umatilla River, to treat members of their tribe that were sick.
I will admit to a little confusion here -- the reports all say that Dr. Whitman visited Hezekiah on Saturday November 17, and that the massacre itself took place on the day that followed his return to Waiilatpu -- or Sunday.
Yet, in all these accounts, the massacre happened on Monday.
Here's how the story goes: Whitman visited his patients at Hezekiah village on Saturday, November 27, and was accompanied there by his fellow missionary, Spaulding, who ran the mission at Lapwai.
Spaulding remained behind at Stickas' lodge in Hezekiah, and did not return with Whitman to Waiilatpu, as planned.
As Whitman rode away from Hezekiah, the trusted Stickus warned him that his life was in danger; an elderly Cayuse woman grabbed the reins of Whitman's horse and gave him the same warning.
Whitman listened to these warnings, and rode to the newly established Catholic Mission Ste. Anne, which had been opened only that day.
He discussed with the Catholic fathers their taking over of the Waiilatpu Mission when the majority of the Cayuse indicated they no longer wanted Whitman in their neighbourhood.
He then returned to Waiilatpu, reaching it at about midnight, and found his wife, Narcissa, sitting up with two children who were seriously ill.
Whitman sent her to bed and stayed up till dawn of Sunday, November 28 -- if the first date is correct.

Probably sometime on Sunday morning, Whitman sent for Nicolas Finlay, requesting he come to the mission house.
When Finlay arrived, Whitman asked if he could confirm the rumours about the pending attack on his life.
Finlay must have known what was in the works, but he claimed ignorance of a plot against Whitman's life, and told the missionary he was safe.
(Someone will let me know whether or not Whitman arrived home on Saturday night, or Sunday, I hope.)

The day that followed the Sunday that no one seems to think existed (and perhaps it did not) was a bleak and cold Monday -- November 29th, 1847.
A heavy fog hung over the area..
The first visitor to Waiilatpu was a Cayuse man who told Whitman of a child's death overnight, and arranged its burial.
The Native returned home, and Whitman went outside to arrange for the killing of a beef, as always happened on Mondays.
Joe Stanfield drove the animal in, and young Francis Sager shot it.

At about noon, Nathan Kimball and Jacob Hoffman began butchering the beef, and three Cayuse men, wrapped in their blankets, sat on a pile of fence rails watching.
The children were in school; Mr. Sales who lived with the Canfield family in the blackshop shop, lay sick in bed.
Mr. Bewley was also sick in bed, east of the kitchen in the mission house.
The carpenter, Peter Hall, was laying flooring in the back of the mission house; and some men ground wheat at the mill.
After the Indian child's burial, a Cayuse man in a green cap entered the house of the wife of the schoolmaster, apparently uninvited -- as was their habit.
Whitman was visiting Mrs. Saunders (the schoolmaster's wife) at that time, and the lady offered the Cayuse man a chair.
He sat for a few moments, and then departed to the next room -- in a moment or so he returned.
Whitman left Mrs. Saunder's room, and the Native left soon after.
No one seemed to think this was unusual, so perhaps it was not.

Whitman returned to the kitchen of the Mission house, where seventeen year old John Sager, who was recovering from an illness of some sort, and young Mary Ann Bridger (child of famous mountain man Jim Bridger) were working.
Exhausted, he napped in a chair for a few hours.
In the afternoon, Narcissa bathed the youngest children in the living room next door, as she always did.
John Sager was still winding twine for the brooms, and Mary Ann Bridger worked at the kitchen table.
The scene is set.....

These are the Cayuse Natives who were known or believed to have been involved in the massacre -- Tilaukait and his two sons, Edward Tilaukait, and Clark Tilaukait;
Tamsuky, a second chief or family head, who also appears under the names Taumaulish and Tamahas (I will use the name Tamsuky in this story);
Frank Escaloom (a mission name);
Ishalhal or Siahsalucuc;
Kiamasumpkin;
Klokamas, who was later executed though his part in the massacre is unknown;
Estools;
Showshow;
Pahosh;
Cupup-cupop;
Stickas is sometimes said to have been present, though he lived in Hesekiah and was the man who warned Dr. Whitman a day or two earlier...
And, of course, Joe Lewis.

The ring-leaders, Tilaukait and Tamsuky, made their way to the mission house from the village, and knocked on the kitchen door on the north side of the building.
Narcissa Whitman had just returned from the kitchen with a glass of milk for the child when the men knocked, but Marcus Whitman answered the knock.
He stepped into the kitchen from the living room and closed the door behind him.
Then he opened the outside door and found the Tilaukait and Tamsuky standing there.
Apparently they tried to enter, and Whitman prevented them from doing so.
They asked for medicine, and Whitman closed the door, leaving the two Cayuse men on his doorstep, while he went for medicine which was stored in a cupboard under the stairs.
When he returned to the kitchen, he found the two Cayuse men standing in the kitchen.
Whitman seated himself on a settee between the cook stove and a table near the wall, while Tilaukait diverted his attention by talking about the deaths that had occurred that day in the village.
Tamsuky stepped behind the unsuspecting missionary and buried his pipe tomahawk in Dr. Whitman's skull.
He followed it with a second, deep, blow.
Whitman spun around and sank to the floor.
John Sager jumped for a pistol on the wall, but Tamsuky shot him dead.
Sager's body fell directly in front of the sitting room door.
Mary Ann Bridger ran out the kitchen door.
Tamsuky dragged Whitman's body out the kitchen door and dropped him on his own doorsill.

Mrs. Osbourne was just entering the sitting room next door, where Narcissa was bathing children, when she heard the shot that killed John Sager.
Immediately, Mary Ann Bridger ran in the door behind her and recounted the scene she had just witnessed.
The children who Narcissa was bathing ran naked into the yard, and Narcissa calmly put down the child she held and called them back into the house.
She told them to put their clothes on, and then told Mrs. Osbourne to return to her room in the Indian room to the north, and lock the door.
Narcissa entered the kitchen, going to her husband's side and asking if she could do anything for him. He said no.

As soon as they heard the gunshot that killed John Sager, the Cayuse who watched the butchering dropped their robes and attacked the butchers with guns and tomahawks.
They wounded Nathan Kimball in the arm; Kimball ran to the mission house sitting room and called out to Mrs. Whitman "The Indians are killing us all!" In shock he sank to the floor and asked Narcissa for water; she brought him a jug of water from the kitchen, and calmly locked the door to the outside.
She returned to help her husband, but Mrs. Hall, wife of the carpenter, rushed into the room. With Mrs. Hall's help, Narcissa moved her husband's body into the sitting room and placed it on the floor at the foot of the bed.
A second butcher, William Canfield, received a minor wound in the attack and escaped the the blacksmith shop, where he gathered up his children and secreted himself until nightfall. He made his complete escape after dark and was the first to carry the news to Lapwai and Mrs. Spaulding.
Jacob Hoffman was the only man to raise a hand in defense of all the women and children, though miller Walter Marsh might have tried to help him; his body was found nearby.
Hoffman grabbed the axe that had been used in the butchering of the beef and fought back, dodging repeated Indian thrusts in a retreat to the corner of the mission house, where horsemen with lances finally cut him down.
In his final blow, he wounded Tamsuky in the foot.
More Cayuse pursued schoolteacher Andrew Rodgers, striking him on the head and shooting him in the arm.
Rodgers escaped to the mission house.
Carpenter Peter Hall heard Mary Ann Bridger's announcement of Whitman's death; he slid down the side of the house and ran into the willows, escaping the Cayuse who chased him.
One Cayuse entered the room where immigrant Isaac Gilliland was sitting at a table, sewing, and shot him. Twelve hours later, Gilliland died of his wound.

A second schoolteacher, named Saunders, was teaching school in the room just east of the kitchen where John Sager was killed. He heard the first shot, and packed the children into a little gallery over the bedroom that were attached to the schoolroom. Foolishly, he did not remain with them, but made his way to the mission house where he tried the sashdoor of the living room that Narcissa had locked.
Narcissa refused him entry and told him to go back to his schoolchildren. As he descended the steps he ran into a Cayuse and fought with him. Tilaukait joined the fray and Saunders broke away to run across the open space toward the mansion. As he scaled the fence, Tamsuky delivered the fatal blow -- and it is at this time that Tamsuky was painfully injured by the last blow of Hoffman's axe.

Andrew Rogers had been working in the garden plot between the mission house and the creek south of the buildings.
He heard the first shot and made his way to the mission house where he threw himself against the door of the living room with such violence that he broke two panes of glass.
Mrs. Whitman let him in, and closed and locked the door again.

The Osbourne family took up a board in the floor of the Indian room and concealed themselves.
Peter Hall, the carpenter, escaped the mission massacre entirely and was probably the "demented man" who attacked an innocent Cayuse by the riverside, robbing him of his gun before running off like a madman!

Those locked inside the mission house saw Joe Lewis outside roaming freely among the Cayuse men and sometimes peering into the living room windows.
Nicolas Finlay and Joe Stanfield kept clear of the buildings during the first attack, and spent their time milking the cows.
But Narcissa died, Finlay was there.
But that is not yet.

At the noise of the attack outside, Narcissa ran to the window.
She called to Joe Lewis who stood outside the door, and asked if he had instigated the trouble.
A young Native who carried the mission house name of Frank Escaloom shot Narcissa in the arm or shoulder.
Though some accounts say she fell screaming to the floor, the more accurate indicates she sank to the floor saying, "Lord, save these little ones."
Perhaps, for the first time, she realized that she might die here.

At some point during the massacre, old Tenino chief Beardy, who must have been visiting the Waillatpu village, arrived on the scene and tried to stop the Cayuse from slaughtering any more people.
The Tenino people lived just east of the Cascades, west of the Cayuse neighbours the Umatillo.
Beardy knew that this massacre would cause trouble for all the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains.

There was a pause in the attack, and Narcissa, leader in spite of her wounds, made plans for the night that was coming.
The people clustered in the living room of the mission house made their way to a second story bedroom, with the older women carrying the sick and Andrew Rogers supporting Narcissa.
There they waited, in the gathering dark, for what was to come -- and it did come.
The Cayuse attacked the door and knocked it down, and filled the sitting room.
They gave vent to their excitement with hideous yells of defiance; they attacked the near-dead body of Marcus Whitman and slashed his face and mutilated the body of young John Sager.
Then they paused; all was quiet for a while.
One report says that Rogers held a gun barrel detached from its works and it slowed them down.
Finally a Cayuse approached the door at the bottom of the stairs, and asked Mr. Rogers to come down.
Rogers did; he talked to Joe Lewis and Tamsuky for a few minutes.
It is at this time he is supposed to have confirmed that he knew of Whitman's plans to spread poison amongst the Cayuse people.
Likely, he only tried to save his own life by confirming Joe Lewis' story...
But the arrangement was made between the Cayuse chief and Rogers, that Rogers would not die in this attack.

Tamsuky mounted the stairs -- gingerly, according to some accounts -- and shook hands with everyone hiding in the little nook.
He told everyone they must leave -- that the Cayuse people were going to burn the mission house down.
He convinced Narcissa that she would be safe, and that she should go to Nicolas Finlay's lodge.
Was this when the names of the two Manson boys were called out, and they were removed from Narcissa's hands, along with a third boy only seven years old?
It is known that scrappy seventeen year old John Manson stood up to the Cayuse chief and fiercely warned him that, if anything happened to him or his brother, it would bring the full force of the Hudson's Bay Company down on their heads.
They were, after all, HBC kids and always under the protection of the Company.

As you can see from the reports below, the Manson boys were at Nicolas Finlay's house well before Narcissa's death.
I presume that time stretched out and that hours passed between the two attacks; and that Narcissa and the children spent more than a few hours in hiding.
The two Manson boys were already at Nicolas Finlay's house when brave Mrs. Saunders -- not knowing that her husband was already dead -- went to Finlay's house to make a desperate appeal for mercy to Chief Tilaukait, through Finlay.
Young John Manson told the story of Mrs. Saunders' approach of Mrs. Finlay and the other Cayuse women, who appeared friendly to her.
But on a hilltop about three hundred feet away, three Cayuse men looked over the plains; one rode down to kill Mrs. Saunders.
Mrs. Finlay told him to go away; and when Edward Tilaukait threatened Mrs. Saunders a moment later the Cayuse women also shamed him into leaving her alone.
The badly frightened but courageous Mrs. Saunders approached John Manson to have him translate for her as she asked for mercy from Tilaukait -- who was also present -- and he did.
The Cayuse chiefs discussed her offer and agreed that none of the women and children should be killed.
Tilaukait then instructed Joe Stanfield to take Mrs. Saunders back to the mission house, and Stanfield did so.
Sometime afterward the Cayuse left Finlay's house and returned to the mission house, and a few minutes later more shots were fired!
Finlay, who must have gone to the mission house with the chiefs, returned to say that three more were dead -- Narcissa, Andrew Rogers, and Francis Sager.

So, we must return to the mission house living room, where Narcissa and those who were trapped upstairs were preparing to leave the house before it was to be burned down by the Cayuse.
The adults came downstairs first, and Narcissa collapsed onto a wooden settee, close to fainting from her wounds.
Miss Bewley found a blanket to cover Narcissa, and the women searched for clothing for the children and heaped all they found on top of the wooden settee and Narcissa.
As you can guess, all this takes time, so there was plenty of time for Mrs. Saunders' to make her way to Nicolas Finlay's house and have the conversation with John Manson.

When everything was finally ready in the sitting room, Joe Lewis and Andrew Rogers picked up the ends of the settee and carried Narcissa through the kitchen and out the north door.
The Cayuse had crowded around this door, and the settee was not carried for more than ten feet when Joe Lewis dropped his end and jumped back.
The Cayuse fired a volley of gunshots.
Fifteen year old Francis Sager took a shot in the heart and dropped like a stone.
A Cayuse who did not know of the agreement made previously, shot Roger, who fell at the foot of the settee near the kitchen door. He died hours later. 
Narcissa was shot at least twice by frenzied Cayuse -- one ball entered her cheek and another her body.
They tipped the settee and dumped her into the mud.
Ishalhal grabbed Narcissa by her golden hair and whipped her across the face with his leather quirt.
Nicolas Finlay witnessed this final attack, and took the story back to his lodge with him.

At the end of the day, two dozen women and children were crowded into the mansion house, prisoners.
One man was dying alone; another was wounded and in hiding.
A family of five were hidden under the floor of the Indian room of the mission house, and one wounded man and seven orphans hidden in the chamber above.
One man was madly fleeing for his life.
Cayuse women plundered the pantry, and Klokamas took John Sager's straw hat.
Joe Lewis looked for clothing.
The Cayuse returned to their village and danced all night.

At dawn the next morning, a cluster of Cayuse women on the hill east of the mission chanted a death song -- the same song that Stickas' two wives had sung the night before the massacre.

No comments:

Post a Comment