Submitted by Gary Reese

(Bonney, William P. "The Murder of Leander Wallace," History of Pierce County, Washington. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1927 p. 54-61.

The act creating Oregon Territory constituted the governor ex-officio superintendent of Indian Affairs, and in that capacity Governor Joseph Lane at once inaugurated an Indian policy. He started on a trip which was intended to take him to the eastern portions of the (Oregon) territory, but when he reached The Dalles, word reached him which caused him to abandon, for a time, his contemplated journey.

This advise was to the effect that Leander C. Wallace, an American citizen, had been murdered on May 1, 1849, by Snoqualmie Indians in an attack upon Fort Nisqually.

An account of the whole affair was recorded in the Journal of Fort Nisqually, kept by Walter Ross, clerk, and is as follows:

"About noon a large party of Snoqualmies and Skewahamish arrived and took up their position before the water gate where they had an affray with our people, in which an American, (Leander) Wallace, was killed and Lewis was slightly wounded. One of the enemy was killed and another wounded.

"The cause and commencement of the difficulty are as follows: As the horn blew for dinner, a large party of Skewhamish and Snoqualmies were reported to have arrived. Our working and other Indians immediately commenced running into the fort and bringing with them their movables.

"When dinner was over, a large party of Snoqualmies, to the number of about one hundred were observed advancing across the plains on the northwest side of the fort; part went to Lahalet's (the Squally chief's) lodge and the others gathered around the water-gate, where they were soon after rejoined by others.

"On being asked the reason for making such a warlike demonstration, they replied that young Lahalet, married to a daughter of one of their petty chiefs, was treating his wife brutally, and they had come to see about it, and did not come with the intention of harming the whites.

"The Chief, Patkanim, was then invited into the fort; to the others was given tobacco to smoke the pipe of peace, for which they retired to one of the deserted lodges. We took the precaution of placing two armed men (Thibeault and Gohome) at the gate, with orders to let none of them in. I also took my gun and went about among our Indians, who were sweeping the fort.

"I had just taken a turn around them when I heard a shot. I repaired to the gate, four or five of the worst Snoqualmies came rushing to the gate. One of their number, Cussass, rudely pushed Gohome into the fort. I demanded why he did that, and told him to keep quiet. He answered only with insolence.

"I then put him out, upon which he cock his gun, and drew his dagger, making two or three thrusts at me. Wren, standing a piece off, was called in. I then directed that the gate be closed; but, finding Wren shut out, it was again opened.

"Wren, upon entering, seized one of their guns, whereupon a scuffle ensued, and the gun falling between the door and post, prevented closing it. I observed Cussass pointing his gun at me. I presented mine and as I thought, fired first; but it is maintained by  friendly Indians outside that one of the Snoqualmies (Quallawowt), provoked by a blow given by Wren with the butt end, to one of their chiefs fired at him (Wren), but missing him, my shot followed.

"A good many shots followed and the gate closed. We then took to the bastions; but our people taking time to get armed, by the time they were at their stations the enemy were out of host, running across the plains to their canoes. Patkanim who was in the fort at the commencement of the row, escaped after the closing of the gate, unperceived by our people, young Lahalet (Wyamoch) showing him the way.

"Wallace and Lewis were outside when the affray commenced, and 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, and did not belong to the fort. Cussass is said to have shot poor Wallace. Lewis had a wonderfully narrow escape; one ball went through his vest and trousers, and another grazed his left arm.

"S'Geass, an Indian, was wounded in the neck, and a medicine man (A Skewhamish) was killed; also a Snoqualmie was wounded in the shoulder.  We do not suppose that the war party came here with the intent of attacking us, but think they had some other object in view besides the affair with Lahalet.

"One circumstance proves that they thought lightly of quarreling with the whites. When tobacco was handed to them, Quallawowt asked it if was not poisoned; and none of the Indians would touch it until someone had previously smoked and chewed it.  The Snoqualmies and Skewhamish are the terror of all tribes south of the Soquamish."

"Many believed that it was the intention of the Snoqualmies to capture Fort Nisqually; and if the plan had succeeded to massacre the whites upon the Sound. It was thought that Chief Patkanim believed that such a victory would have united all the southern tribes in a movement to exterminate the settlers.

"Although the attack was not successful, the Indians evidently believed that their acts had aroused the enmity of the whites, and that they were, therefore, committed to war. Thereupon they notified the American settlers to abandon the country leaving word that they would be permitted to do so peacefully if they would leave their property behind.

"The settlers prepared a defense, building blockhouses at Tumwater and Cowlitz, into which settlers brought their families, and notified Governor Lane of the situation. The governor at once started for Tumwater, bringing a supply of arms and ammunition, and escorted by Lieutenant Hawkins of the Mounted Rifle Regiment, and five soldiers.

"Major Hathaway, of the United States Army, offered to move one of his two companies of artillery to the Sound and the Governor returned to the Columbia. He sent a letter to Doctor Tolmie at Fort Nisqually asked for his cooperation and requesting the Hudson's Bay Company not to sell arms or ammunition to the Indians.  By July, Company M of the First Artillery Regiment, United States Army, with Captain Bennett H. Hill, was garrisoned at Fort Steilacoom.

"Governor Lane divided the territory into three judicial districts on June 15, 1849. Vancouver County and the counties south of, and adjacent to the Columbia were placed in the first district with the Honorable William P. Bryant, chief justice of the Supreme Court, assigned as presiding judge.

"The Honorable Orville C. Pratt, associate justice wa assigned to the second district which comprised all the southern counties. Lewis County was named for the third district, but as the Honor Peter H. Burnett, who had been appointed associate justice, had not qualified, no judge was assigned.

"Governor Lane, as superintendent of Indian affairs also divided the territory by the Columbia River into two districts, assigning J. Quinn Thornton as sub-Indian agent for the northern district, including the Puget Sound Country.

"The first territorial legislative assembly met at Oregon City on July 16th; and in his message to the law making body Governor Lane made reference to the Wallace murder, asserting that unless the Snoqualmies delivered the murderers for trial the tribe should be held responsible for their refusal.

"During the last of July, Thornton visited Puget Sound, and for several weeks gathered data regarding the Indian tribes of the Sound. Much of his information was secured from Doctor Tolmie.

"Thornton's acts relative to the surrender of the murderers of Wallace were contained in his report to Lane reading:

'On the 7th ult. I arrived at Fort Nisqually. I immediately proceeded to investigate the facts connected with the killing of Mr. Wallace.  I sent messengers to Patkanim, head chief of the Snoqualmie Tribe. I advised him to arrest the offenders and deliver them over to Captain Bennett H. Hill and as an inducement offered him eighty blankets as a reward, if they were done in three weeks.

'I authorized Captain Hill, of the First Artillery, to double the reward and to offer it in my name, as sub-agent, if the murderers were not delivered up in three weeks.'"

This action of Thornton did not meet with the approval of Governor Lane, and a disagreement following Thornton resigned. However, it was not the intention of Governor Lane to permit the guilty Indians to escape unpunished. There was no judge for Lewis County at the time, but the Legislature passed a special act, providing for holding a term of court at Fort Steilacoom, to try six Indians who had been surrendered by Patkanim under the reward offered by Thornton.

Lewis County was attached to the first judicial district for that purpose; and Chief Justice Bryant was empowered to proceed to Fort Steilacoom and hold court on the first Monday in October. Under this special act, the first session of a territorial court in the Puget Sound Country and in what is now Pierce County, was convened at Fort Steilacoom upon the day designated.

Judge Bryant made a written report of this event and in his report to the governor stated:

'In pursuance of the provisions of the act of the Legislative Assembly for the Territory of Oregon, attaching the county of Lewis to the first judicial district in said territory and appointing the first Monday in October at Steilacoom as the place for holding the District Court of the United States for said county, I opened and held said court at the time and place appointed.

'Captain Bennett H. Hill, of the First Artillery, United States Army, delivered to the marshal of the territory six Indians of the Snoqualmie tribe, given up by said tribe as the murderers of Wallace, namely Cussass, Quallawowt, Stulharrier, Tantam, Whyerk, and Qualthlinkyne, all of whom were indicted for murder.

'The two first named, Cussass and Quallawowt, were convicted and executed. The other  four were found not guilty by the jury. Those who were found guilty were clearly so. As to three of the others who were acquitted, I was satisfied with the finding of the jury. It was quite evident that they were guilty in a less degree, if guilty at all. As to the fourth, there was no evidence against him; all the witnesses swore they did not see him during the affray or attack on Fort Nisqually.

'It is not improbably that he was a slave whom the guilty chiefs expected to place in their stead, as a satisfaction for the American murdered. Two other Americans were badly wounded by shots and an Indian child who afterwards died. The effect produced by this trial was salutary, and I have no doubt will long be remembered by the tribe. The whole tribe, I would judge, were present at the execution, besides a vast gathering of Indians from other tribes on the Sound.

'They were made to understand that our laws would punish them promptly for every murder committed and that we would accept no satisfaction short of all who acted in the murder of our citizens.'

Officers of the court were Joseph Meek, Marshall of the Territory of Oregon.

Alonzo A. Skinner, District Attorney.

The jury of the district court called consisted of:

John R. Jackson, foreman with David Chambers, Jr., Marshal Birner, Benjamin LaRamer, Mitchell Collonnair, John Batise Charlefar, George Bruell, Oliver Duffany, Gabriel Jones, John Bradley, Simon Plomondon, J. Batise Real, Samuel Hancock, Isam Corvier, and Michael T. Simmons.

The jury that tried the case consisted of:

Thomas M. Chambers, Peter G. Stuart, James Sexton, Hiram Stuart, David Kindred, Johnathan Burbee, John Ellenberge, Sidney Ford, Lewis Plomondon, James Porter and Nathaniel Hamlin.
The Clerk of the Court was William Wallace.

The Counsel for the Defence was David Stone.

Steilacoom's First Trial

(Lucile McDonald, "Washington's First Criminal Trial," Seattle Times October 9, 1949.)

Washington's first criminal trial (was) held at Fort Steilacoom one hundred years ago the past week.

The event attracted Indians and settlers from long distances and played to a full house during the nearly three days court was in session. Indeed, the house being a log cabin about twenty feet square, the audience overflowed into the yard.

Never before nor probably since in this region has justice been dealt out so promptly. A grand jury, empaneled in the morning of
Monday, October 1, 1849, examined the findings in quick time and returned an indictment and once, so that the trial was under way the next day.

By Wednesday two men were found guilty and executed, the other defendants released and the court was prepared to take the trail once more, en route back to oregon City, then the capital of Oregon Territory of which Washington was still a part.

Principals in this momentous judicial proceeding were the murderers of Leander K. Wallace, a young bachelor of twenty-six who was shot down at the gate of Fort Nisqually on the preceding May l during a display of unrest among the Snoqualmie Indians camped there.

Wallace and two other Americans named Lewis and Walker had been employed at the Simmons Mill in Tumwater. When the warning came that the Indians might make trouble they headed for Steilacoom for safety but stopped at Fort Nisqually on the way. An accidental shot fired by a guard set off the melee and before the Americans could get inside rifle shots had killed Wallace and injured his companions, also an Indian child who later died.

In anticipation of a promised reward of eighty blankets the Snoqualmies on September 5, delivered to the military authorities at Steilacoom six Indians  who, they said, were guilty of the crime.

Their names, which have been variously spelled in government documents, were Quallahwowt, a brother of Chief Patkanim of the Snoqualmies; Kussass, a chief of the Skykomish, Sturharnai, Talatarn, Whyesk and Quatthlinkyne.

Having delivered the culprits, the tribe stayed around to see what would happen. They lingered at Fort Nisqually trading dried salmon, baskets and mats for three weeks while the prisoners languished in the guard house.

Meanwhile territorial bigwigs considered the implications of the trial. It would have been simpler to send the Indians to a more populated place such as Oregon City or Vancouver, but the military commander suggested that a hearing in the presence of their own people might have a salutary effect.

There was no Indian sub-agent for the district, the first appointee having retired after displeasing the governor by offering the eighty blanket reward. Governor Lane feared such promises might inspire other murders for payment.

The legal machinery got in motion at the territorial capital. Judge William P. Bryant who had been engaged in other Indian matters was appointed trial judge and Alonzo P. Skinner, who had come to Oregon three years earlier to practice law was prosecuting attorney.

It now became necessary to find a champion for the Indians and Governor Lane hit upon David  Stone, who just had settled on the Cowlitz River at present day Longview and was living in a crowded hut with his brothers family, their six children and another stray nephew.

Stone had been admitted to the bar in  Shelbyville, Indiana. At the time of his appointment as defense counsel he was thirty-seven years old.

Little is known about Stone's later legal career, although Arthur H. Beardsley, who just has completed "A History of the Bench and Bar in Washington," searched old records and corresponded with relatives.  Many legal documents of Cowlitz and Clark Counties were lost in a fire and there were no newspapers to record Stone's later achievements. It is known that in 1852 he was appointed post master at Monticello and served two years.

So much for Washington's first practicing attorney. He joined the judge's party, journeying with them by batteau and canoe and camping on the trail. They arrived at Steilacoom on September 30. Jurors also were on the way, some traveling two hundred miles for there were not enough settlers in the immediate vicinity to complete a panel. The clerk was none other than the dead man's brother, William Wallace, who came from Whidbey Island. (Wallace was Mrs. Beardsley's grand father.).

John R. Jackson was appointed foreman of the grand jury which completed its work on Monday. Those who served with him were according to badly spelled court records, David Chambers, Jr, Marshall Burner,(Marcel Bernier), Benjamin Sa Remer, Mitchel Cottonnair (Michel Cottonier), John Batise Charloafter, Gabriel Jones, John Bradley, Simon Plomande (Plamondon), J. Batise Real, Samuel Hancock, George Brill, Isam Carrier, Oliver Duffany, Michael G. Simmonds (Simmons.).

The trial jury was headed by Thomas M. Chambers and included Peter G. Stuart, William Craig, John Sexton, Jonathan Burbee, John Ellenberge, Sidney Ford, Lewis Plomand (Plamondon), Hiram Stuart, James Porter, David Kindred and Nathan Hamilin.

By Tuesday night the latter group had returned a verdict of death by hanging for Quallahwowt and Kussass. The other prisoners were to go free. Judge Bryant stated in his report to the governor:

            "Those who were found guilty were clearly so.
             Three of the others that were acquitted...it
             was quite evident were guilty to a less degree
             if guilty at all.

            "As to the fourth...there was no evidence
             against him and all the witnesses swore that
             they did not see him during the affray or
             attack on Fort Nisqually.

            "It is not improbable that he was a slave
             whom the guilty chiefs expected to place in
             their stead as a satisfaction for the
             American murdered."

This ruse of the Indians trying to find a substitute victim to take the punishment for their leaders brought a pointed lecture from the judge. The entire band of Snoqualmies and a large number of Indians from elsewhere on the Sound witnessed the execution of Quallahwowt and Kussass.

Then, in the late afternoon, the judge formally liberated the remaining four defendants, declaring as he did so that the Indians must remember that the white men's laws would punish them promptly for every murder they committed.

The big trial as over and the court prepared to return home. Judge Bryant added up the bill. Washington's first important murder case cost the territory $2,379.54, including the price of the eighty blankets.

(Lucile McDonald, "Washington's First Criminal Trial," Seattle Times October 9, 1949.)

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