Our Family Legacy
Incident at Franklin: Sept. 14, 1864
Through a not inconsiderable proportion of the total Shoshoni population had fallen at the Battle of Bear River, a part of the tribe - that under Chief Washakie in the wind River Valley of western Wyoming- had not been touched.
Washakie had readily agreed to allow Charles C. Rich and his colonists to settle in the Bear Lake Valley - providing they stayed north of the Lake. Washakie of the Shoshoni and Targhee of the Bannock reserved the south end of the Lake - site of the great Mountain rendezvous of 1827 and 1828 and their traditional ground for trading with the Utes - for themselves.
While Washakie had not specifically laid any claim to Cache Valley at the Treaty of Fort Bridger, he had also not specifically relinquished claim to it. Washakie had probably frequented Cache Valley after its settlement, but had been replaced in local chronicles by Chiefs Bear Hunter, Sanpitch, and especially Sagwitch. Cache diarists probably ignored Washakie because he was less of a threat - or a nuisance - than the others.
The first time we can be certain of Washakie's presence in Cache Valley was in September of 1864: and the visit was very nearly a disaster.
On September 14, 1864, Washakie and perhaps a thousand Shoshoni, traveling east to the buffalo grounds on the High Plains of Wyoming, were camped on the Cub River bottomlands near Franklin. Two Franklin men treaded some whiskey to some of the Shoshoni braves. The result was a drunken riot. An Indian tried to ride his horse over Mrs. George (Mary Ann) Alder. In answer to her screams John Doney, Edward Kingsford, Samuel Handy, and Ben Chadwick, who had been threshing grain nearby, came to her rescue. Chadwick shot the Indian through the neck. Samuel Handy recorded the incident in his journal:
"...This made the Indians mad...I was taken prisoner, and Washakie snapped his pistol at me 6 times: then he knocked me down - the blood streamed down my head, and I was bruised considerably. An Indian named Alma interposed in my behalf or I might have been killed. I felt the effects of my wounds for more than a month. The Indians cut the belts of my Thrashing machine, Killed 50, took $16.00 in cash, ransacked the house, took everything they thought would be of any use to them."
The Indians captured Robert Hull and held him captive on a knoll a quarter mile from town, dancing around him and threatening him. Washakie constantly tried to get Hull to confess to killing the Shoshoni.
As soon as the trouble started, William L. Webster mounted a horse and rode south for help. By 11:00 o'clock in the evening 300 Minute Men rode from as far south as Logan to the relief of Franklin, all under the direct command of Apostle E. T. Benson in his capacity as Colonel of the Cache Valley Nauvoo Legion Regiment. At midnight Benson, Peter Maughan, Bishop Lorenzo Hill Hatch of Franklin, and Shoshoni interpreter Armenius Neeley went to Washakie's camp to demand Hull's release. Washakie's camp to demand Hull's release. Washakie agreed to release Hull's if the men would locate the man who had murdered his follower. The party returned to Franklin to find that public sentiment was in favor of turning Chadwick over to the Shoshoni if that would restore peace.
The ever-direct Peter Maughan stopped such discussion. "Talk about giving up a man that would save a woman's life! If you want to give anyone up to the Indians, give up the ones that sold the liquor to them."
The next morning Benson and Maughan met with Washakie and some of his advisers under the Franklin bowery. The discussion was a heated one. Maughan asked Washakie what he would do if a white man tried to ride down a Indian woman. When Washakie replied that he'd shoot the man, Maughan countered with the suggestion that that was just what the men of Franklin had done.
Benson and Maughan finally placated the Indians. The people of Franklin made a substantial gift of flour, cheese, and other goods - probably from the Tithing Office - and four beefs. Handy's diary recorded that transaction: "Bro. Maughan decided that S.R. Parkinson & N.W. Packer should give the Indians four head of cattle (each man one yoke of cattle) as they were the parties that sold the whiskey to the Indians, so reputed."
It was no doubt the quick response of the Militia which saved Robert Hull and Franklin; but Maughan's coolness in dealing with Washakie probably was the reason that September 14, 1864, was the last time there was a significant threat to Cache Valley from the Shoshoni.
Throughout the rest of the nineteenth century Washakie's stature grew with his own people so that by 1870 he was the premier chief of the Shoshoni Nation and clearly in a position to make or break peaceful relations with Intermountain settlers. After 1864 he never troubled Cache Valley.
feel free to contact
me with any questions or comments.