Sunday, March 31, 2013

More stories about Fort Nisqually and Anderson Island

I found more stories about Fort Nisqually and Anderson Island than I could actually fit into my talk last weekend (see last weeks' posting).
As a result, I am posting the extra information here, for Anderson Islanders, and others to find.
So this blog posting might be a bit patchy, but I will try to make it all work together.

By the way, if anyone wants to read more about Anderson Island and its history and early settlers, you should find and read the book, Island in the Sound, by Hazel Heckman [Seattle: UWPress, 1967]. My copy of the book is in its sixth printing, 1997!

A description of Fort Nisqually, by Missionary Father Modeste Demers:
Alexander Caulfield Anderson reached Fort Nisqually, at last, in late autumn 1840.
Sometime before he reached the place, Missionary Father Modeste Demers visited the old fort.
Demers described the post as it was when William Kittson was in charge: It was "an elongated square of about four arpents in area, surrounded like the other forts by a palisade twenty feet high, and flanked by four bastions furnished with firearms."
Unlike other forts in the area, however: "The palisade is crowned on the exterior by a species of circular gallery, as much for serving in the defense of the fort as for observing the acts of the natives and keeping them in check. In this enclosure are grouped various buildings, such as the smokehouse, the trading house... the commandant's house, one for strangers, one for the engages..."
It was not unknown, in these fur trade posts, to have galleries around the inside of the fort walls; but it appears, at first, that Demers says, this one hung on the outside of the walls.
When Lieutenant Wilkes drew his images of the fort shortly after Demers passed through, there were no galleries on the outside of the palisades.
If English was not Demers' first language, it is possible he substituted the word "outside" for "inside."
But I think we're reading it wrong (or at least I am). I think Demers meant that the galleries hung on the outside or exterior walls, but inside the fort itself.
That would be perfectly normal for a fur trade fort of this time, and it makes much more sense to hang the galleries behind the shelter of the log palisades, not in front of them.
But I might be wrong.

More on Alexander Caulfield Anderson, the farmer:
 As I was reading through material to write this talk, I found one more thing to say about Anderson, referencing his time at Fort Nisqually and later.
I found a line in Lieutenant Charles Wilkes' journals, written while he was at Fort Nisqually, to the effect that: "Mr. Anderson informed me he had or was making an experiment with some of [the Nisqually Natives] to till the land, but he found them disinclined to work although they were more apt than he had given them credit for."

As I have mentioned in other talks, I have run across a number of stories where Anderson is teaching the Natives who live near his residence (wherever it may be) to grow their own food, something that is quite foreign to them.
Only a few years after he left Fort Nisqually, he watched as the Alexandria Natives returned home in an early winter snowstorm, and he knew they had little food to spare because the salmon run had failed.
One year later and after another failed salmon run, Anderson wrote in the Fort Alexandria journals that, "Eleven Indians [are] working the soil [at our] suggestion, and I have promised to supply them seed potatoes."

And when he lived in North Saanich from 1862 to about 1876, he encouraged the Natives of the Tseycum Reserve to cultivate their clayey soil, and some soon raised pigs and cattle or farmed smaller sections of richer soil. He had a particularly strong interest in grafting fruit trees, and a few of his Native neighbours even learned this agricultural craft from him, and now owned small thriving orchards.
I wonder if, while he was at Fraser's Lake, or at Fort Colvile, he also tried to teach the Natives to grow their own food?
Unfortunately I do not have enough information on these times, and there is, I believe, no where else to look.

The Royal Navy Ship, Fisgard, off Anderson Island, 1846:
This is an Anderson Island story, and not a story about Fort Nisqually, nor one about Alexander Caulfield Anderson. Yet, it fits here, and I would have told the Anderson Island people this story if I had the time to do so.
I am not aware that they are very familiar with the story, though they might be. They do, however, know that for a little while, Anderson Island was named "Fisgard" Island.
The story came to me from Steve Anderson, retired manager of the replica Fort Nisqually at Point Defiance Park. This is his research, not mine.

The Royal Navy ship Fisgard was stationed off Fort Nisqually in 1846. Its job was to provide a British presence in the area to support the upcoming Boundary discussions between the United States and Britain.
It was the late afternoon of 26th September, 1846. A rare thunderhead formed in the sky to the west, and by six o'clock that evening, horizontal sheet lightning streaked across the sky.
"The thunder roared in the most awful manner," one man at Fort Nisqually reported, "and its grandeur was greatly increased by the reverberations amongst the neighboring woods, which were set on fire in several places by the vivid flashes of lightning."

Now you might not know that ships such as the Fisgard were at great risk of lightning strikes in storms like this.
At this time, the Royal Navy ships had no defense against such dangers -- if a bolt of lightning struck the ship's mast, it could splinter the mast and send it tumbling to the decks.
A strike could kill a man; it could find the powder magazine and blow the entire ship out of the water, killing everyone aboard!

However, before she left London, the Fisgard had installed a new-fangled, untested, experimental lightning conductor consisting of copper rods, plates, and nails on the ships spars and hull.
No one really believed it would work, but as one observer said, "considering the grave number of ships which have been damaged or destroyed by lightning, it is not without considerable interest we witness and record such [events]."

So, a mile and a half from Fort Nisqually, the tall masts of the Fisgard jutted up toward the sky.
At 7:45 pm, a powerful bolt of lightning struck the ships main spar and shook the Fisgard to its core.
"A sudden report, as if many guns had gone off, threw all hands into the utmost consternation."
The crew watched the lightning follow the trail of copper down the mast -- those who were standing nearest the mast on the upper deck described the effect of the fluid-like "strike" as illuminating the mast with a most beautiful stream of purple light.
The bolt of lightning grounded in the sea, and left the ship undamaged.
When the Fisgard returned to London it was greeted with fanfare, largely due to the fact that she had beaten the lightning strike.
And so that is a piece of British history, made at Anderson Island.

James Tilton's 1855 map of Puget Sound and Washington Territory:
There is more to the Fisgard Story: When I visited Fort Nisqually in Point Defiance Park, the re-enactor, Lane, showed me a pile of maps and photographs that lay on the table in the Chief Factor's residence.
Amongst them was surveyor James Tilton's map of Puget Sound and Washington Territory, dated 1855.
Anderson Island was clearly indicated on the map, as was McNeil -- but Anderson Island was labelled "Fisgard," and McNeil, "Duntze."
John Alexander Duntze was the Captain of the British ship, Fisgard, when it was stationed off Anderson Island.

So who was this man, James Tilton?
Tilton was the surveyor General of Washington Territory, and arrived at Olympia in the spring of 1853.
I find to my shock that he is part of the Charles Mitchell story that recently hit the news in Victoria and Seattle.
Charles Mitchell was a young black slave owned by James Tilton: Mitchell was smuggled aboard the ship Eliza Anderson, and freed by the British fur traders at Fort Victoria.

Presumably when Surveyor James Tilton drew his map of the area in the mid-1850's, Anderson Island still carried the name of Fisgard Island (and McNeil, Duntze) and those are the names he put on his official map of the territory.
But Lieutenant Charles Wilkes had already officially named the islands Anderson and McNeil -- for Alexander Caulfield Anderson and William McNeill, the fur traders in charge of Fort Nisqually when he arrived there in 1841.
He must have gone east and then drawn the maps that contained the names that the American government officially adopted for those two islands.
Still, fifteen years after Wilkes was at Fort Nisqually, surveyor James Tilton drew his official map of Washington territory, and labelled the islands "Fisgard" and "Duntze."
When and how did Lieutenant Charles Wilkes' names for the two islands supersede James Tilton's labels? When and how did the new names (or older, I guess) reach the Puget Sound area, to be officially adopted by the American residents who lived there?

I am on Twitter, as you know, and I asked the question of a map researcher I was chatting to.
Through a contact she had she got me a copy of this map, labelled: Map of the Oregon Territory by the U. S. Exploring Expedition.
You can find it at this internet site, and at others:
It is on the Oregon History Project site -- but the best is under [google this]: "1850 map of the Oregon Territory [electronic resource]." You can pick the bottom of Puget Sound and enlarge it enough to see that this map does not name any of the islands there.
So this is not the map that labelled Anderson Island.

Next I took a quick look at "Map of Oregon and Upper California from the Surveys of John Charles Fremont and other authorities, drawn by Charles Preuss..." in 1848. Anderson Island is not named on that map either.
Finally I dug out Derek Hayes' book, Historical Atlas of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest [Vancouver: Cavendish Books, 1999] which I have owned for many years.
On page 120 of this book, I found the answer, and this is what Derek Hayes has to say...
"Wilkes' Narratives of the United States Exploring Expedition was published in five volumes in 1844.
"Also published were a number of maps of the northwest, including one map of the whole Oregon Territory [this is the map I have spoken of, above].
"Another map was of the southern part of Georgia Strait (Map 200). Ringgolds Channel, named after one of Wilkes' Officers, is today's Rosario Strait.
"A map of the southern part of Puget Sound (Map 201) shows the site of today's Olympia."
It is Map 201 which clearly labels Anderson and McNeil Islands, and tells us that these two islands had their official names by 1844, when the book was published -- not that the locals, or even the Washington Territory government officials (ie, James Tilton), seemed to be aware of that fact.

But all this does not yet answer the question: how did Anderson Island also carry the name "Fisgard Island?
Who named it Fisgard -- was it James Tilton, or was it someone else?
A note in the "Washington Geographic Names," by Edmond S. Meany, tells us that Anderson Island "had at least two other names.
"The Inskip chart, 1846, shows it as Fisgard Island, after the British frigate which was on this station, 1844-1847. Inskip sought to carry the honor further by changing the name of McNeil Island to "Duntze Island" for Captain John Alexander Duntze of the frigate.
The Town of Steilacoom site says that "For the Americans, Lt. Charles Wilkes remapped the Sound area almost fifty years after Puget. The desire to Americanize the area showed itself in his renaming every feature after his American crew members and friends stationed in the area.
"The British replied quickly: R. A. Inskip's mapping mission came only five years later.
"Inskip kept the tradition of ignoring his forebears, and made a detailed chart with all-new names -- again mostly taken from his fellow British crewmembers."

A further search tells me that the Brit was named Robert A. Inskip, and he was here in 1846.
He named Anderson Island for the RN ship Fisgard, which was here -- and McNeil for Duntze, the Fisgard's captain.
In 1847 the name of McNeil Island was restored (and probably that of Anderson, too) -- but that occurred in England, and no one here knew that had happened.
It seems that either the British mariners, or perhaps even the fur traders at Nisqually, kept the old British names alive until the American surveyor James Tilton came here in 1855, to write them down.
Even that was temporary. At some point Lieutenant Wilkes' names took precedence and Fisgard Island officially became Anderson Island.
According to Hazel Heckman, author of Island in the Sound, as late as 1886, a baby named Betsy Johnson Cammon was born on what they called "Wallace Island."
So it's no wonder that Alexander Caulfield Anderson never knew that Anderson Island was named for him!

Anderson Island had a third name for a short period, when it was called "Wallace Island."
A note in the "Washington Geographic Names," by Meany, also says that Anderson Island has another name -- Wallace Island, in honor of Leander C. Wallace, who was killed by Snoqualmie Indians during their attack on Fort Nisqually in 1849.
I can tell you that story, as it is written in the Fort Nisqually Journals:
Wallace, presumably, had settled on what was then called, in some quarters, Fisgard Island.

On May 1849: "Tuesday 1st. Cloudy with strong SW breeze. About noon a large party of Snoqualmie & Skeywhamish [Skykomish] armed arrived & took up their position before the watergate, where they had an affray with our people, in which the American, Wallace was killed & Lewis slightly wounded one of the enemy was killed & another slightly wounded, the cause and commencement are nearly as possible as follows:
"As the horn blew for dinner a large party of Skeywhamish & Snoqualmie were reported to have arrived, our working & other Indians immediately commenced running into the Fort bringing with them their movables & when dinner was over a large party of them to the number of about a hundred, were observed advancing across the plain on the NW side of the Fort, when they arrived part went to Lahalet's lodge & the others (the greater part) gathered round the water-gate, where they were soon after rejoined by the others.
"On being asked the reason why they came in such numbers, and making such a warlike demonstration, they replied that they had heard that young Lahalet (who is married to a daughter of one of their petty [Petit or lesser] chiefs) was beating his wife brutally, and that they did not come with the intention of harming any of the whites.
"The Chief Patakynum was then invited into the Fort, and to the others were given tobacco to smoke in the pipe of peace, for which they retired to one of the deserted lodges.
"We took the precaution of placing two armed men at the gate, Thibeault & Gohome with orders to let none of them in.
"I also took My gun and knocked about our Indians, who in fear of the enemy, were engaged in sweeping out the fort.
"I had just taken round them when I heard a shot.
"I repaired immediately to the gate & learned that it had been fired by Gohome in jest.
"I reproved him for his carelessness & told him to take good care.
"Soon after I arrived at the gate, four or five of the worst Snoqualmies came rushing to the gate, provoked no [doubt], by the shot unguardidly fired by Gohome, one of our number.
"Copass, more forward than the rest, rudely pushed Gohome who was standing between the door posts into the Fort and took his place.
"I went to him & demanded why he did that for, and told him to keep quiet, but on answering only with insult, I put him out, upon which he cocked his gun & drew his dagger making two or three threats at me with it.
"Wren was standing a piece off at the time by the gate, he was called in.
"I called out to close the gate which was done, but finding Wren shut out, it was again opened.
"Wren upon Entering, seized one of their guns where upon a scuffled ensued, and the gun falling between the door & the Fort, prevented us from closing, during that time I observed Copass pointing his gun at me.
"I at once presented mine, and as I thought fired first ....
(But it is maintained by the friendly Indians outside that, one of the Snoqualmie, "Qullawowt," provoked by a blow given by Wren, with the butt end of the gun, to one of their chiefs, fired at him but missing, my shot followed. Which is the right way I can't be positive, the noise & excitement being too great.) [edited slightly for readability]
"I thought I fired first ... but missing him wounded another, a good many shots then followed, the gate closed, we took to the bastions, but our people taking some time to get armed (the affair being rather sudden) by the time they were at the stations, most of the enemy were out of shot, running away full speed across the plains toward their canoes.
"Patakynum who was in the Fort at the commencement of the row escaped after the closing of the gate, unperceived by none of our people, young Lahalet showing him the way.
"Wallace & Lewis were unfortunately standing outside when the affray commenced, they did not respond to the call of: "All hands come in and shut the gate" they perhaps thought themselves secure from harm as they were Americans, they did not belong to the Fort, if this was the case they were sadly mistaken.
"They were also beckoned in by Simmons & others there at the time, but unfortunately they either unheeded or did not perceive them.
"Copass is said to be the one that shot poor Wallace.
"Lewis escaped unhurt most wonderfully, one ball went through his vest & trousers, another slightly grazed his left arm.
"Segeass an Indian received a flesh wound in the neck by the ball meant for Wren.
"A Medicine Man, a Skeywhamish is the one killed, and a Snoqualmie wounded in the shoulder.

"We do not suppose that the War party came here with the purpose of attacking us, but think they had some other objective in view besides the affair with Lahalet, it was probably their design to kick up a row with the Fort Indians and then kidnap as many of the women & children as they could catch, and one circumstance also proves that they thought lightly of quarreling with the whites.
"When the tobacco was handed out to them Qullawowt asked Wren, if it was not poisoned, and one of the Indians would smoke until Wren had previously smoked & chewed the tobacco in their presence.
"A good many yarns are told of them by the Indians here, what they were saying & going to do, but it will be to no purpose to mention any here, being only Indian stories more lies than truth.
"The Snoqualmie & Skeywhamish are the terror of all the tribes south of the Soquamish, and tribes of the Sound would rejoice to see the above chastised by the whites, and would nearly assist if required.
"We sincerely hope they will soon get that chastisement they so richly deserve."

This was written in 1849 -- only a year and a half after the massacre at Waiilatpu.
The word "poison" rings a bell that the fur traders should have noticed, and perhaps did.
For more information on the Waiilatpu Massacre, go to the first of three posts -- you will read the word "poison" fairly often here:
Sunday, July 8, 2012 -- Waillatpu Mission, Summer to Fall 1847
First of three posts re: Waillatpu Massacre

Saturday, July 21, 2012 -- The Waillatpu Massacre, November 19, 1847, and finally:
Sunday, August 5, 2012 -- Peter Skene Ogden's rescue of the Waillatpu victims.

These can be a hard read: it was a brutal massacre. If you think you can't handle the middle section, please don't read it.
You might think this did not affect Fort Nisqually -- but it did.
It affected everyone in the fur trade. Even at the Thompson River post, hundreds of miles to the north, the Natives were talking about "poison."
And maybe that should be the title of my next book......