Sunday, August 20, 2017

Chief Walkara (Walker) and the Walker War


Settling of Sanpete County

After coming to Utah, prior to coming to Mount Pleasant, many of the pioneers located in and about what is now Salt Lake, Utah and Cache Counties.

In June of 1849, scarcely two years after the arrival of the first company of pioneers in Utah, Chief Walker (Walkara, mean­ing yellow) and Chief Sowiette with a band of Ute Indians visited President Brigham Young in Great Salt Lake City, and asked that colonizers be sent to the San pitch valley, named after an Indian Chief, Sanpitch, a brother of Chief Walker, to locate there and teach the Indians how to till the soil, and to build their homes and become civilized. This valley was described by them as "good land having much water." An exploring company with Chief Walker  as guide was sent out to investigate. They camped on the present site of Manti, August 20th, where they were kindly received and entertained by the Indians. After remaining there a few days, they returned to Great Salt Lake City and reported conditions favorable for settlement.

Although Chief Walker and Chief Sowiette, who was the older chief, with a band of Indians had visited Great Salt Lake City, and had asked that settlers be sent to Sanpete, Chief Walker proved to be a treacherous, blood-thirsty Indian, always stirring up trouble that he might have victims to slaughter; and seemed to regret the white man being there, as did a number of the Indians who were his followers and who plainly showed that they resented the presence of the pale face. Had it not been for the great and good Chief Sowiette who with his policy of peace proved to be a friend of the white man, the people in the little colony of Manti would have been massacred during the first winter.  About July 1, 1850, Chief Walker, with a band of 700 San pitch Indian warriors with their squaws and papooses, returned from an expedition against the Shoshones. They camped in a semicircle about the settlement of Manti where they held frequent war scalp dances and proudly exhibited their trophies of war; forcing the squaws and papoose prisoners to dance with the scalp of their kindred attached to poles. While they were thus amused, Chief Walker, with his leading men, would tantalize the colonists and threaten to treat them in a similar manner. The fiendish actions would sometimes keep up all night long; occasionally a shriek or a blood curdling yell would burst forth from the Indian camp, and the small colony of pioneers would lie on their beds, not knowing what minute their lives would be taken by the hands of the blood thirsty Indians.

Walker Indian War

At Manti, in the early summer of 1853, while most of the able bodied men were away, some at Hambleton at work, among them being James C. Meiling who later pioneered at Mount Pleas­ant, and some in Salt Lake City for supplies, Chief Walker and a band of painted warriors, demanded that Charles Shumway and others, against whom Walker had grievances, be delivered to them that they might be tortured and put to death. When this demand naturally was not granted, Walker threatened to massacre all the people then in camp, mostly women and children and old men.

Preparations were made to resist the attack. However, the aged Chief Sowiette pleaded with his people to let the white man alone, and his policy of peace again prevailed. Chief Walker, humiliated at what he termed cowardice of his tribe, mounted his pony and rode off to the mountains to hide; no doubt thinking Sowiette's followers would come to him. He and his followers remained surly, and frequent pow wows were held in the mountains. On the 18th day of July, Arropine, a brother of Chief Walker, enraged at being caught stealing cattle, killed Alexander Keel, a guard at Payson. This act, it is said, was the beginning of the noted Walker Indian War which lasted three years. On July 9th, a band of blood thirsty Indians fired upon guards at the Hambleton and Potter saw mill, but were forced back. Before this they had made many attempts to take the stock belonging to the Hambleton settlement. Once they tried to take them out of the corral, which, however, was well guarded. On this occasion they had crawled in the bed of the creek until they were opposite the corral which stood on the bend of the creek. They then jumped in and attempted to stampede the cattle, but the guards discovered them in time and the Indians fled. During the night of July 19th, they again made an attempt to make a raid on the corralled cattle but they were fired upon by guards, and two of the Indians were killed. The other Indians made their retreat, carrying with them their dead comrades and leaving behind them a gun, and a blood-covered blanket. On July 20th, in a raid made upon the cattle at Manti, several head were stolen. An attack was also made on the range near Nephi. At Springville, after the Indians had wounded William Jolly, the people became alarmed and in order to protect their homes and families, they were at once organized. Captain P. W. Conover, with a company of fifty men, was sent from Provo to assist the settlers at Hambleton, and on July 23rd, the troops met the savages at Hambleton's and Potter's mill, where a fierce and bloody battle followed, resulting in the death of six warriors, while the others fled to the mountains. The few settlers at Ham­bleton were not considered strong enough to protect themselves against the savages, and the following morning the veterans and their families, cattle, and provisions were moved to Allred's Settle­ment, about six miles south, where about fifteen families had settled and built a fort in 1852. While the settlers were rushing to Allred's Settlement for shelter, their wagons, homes, saw mill, and lumber at the mouth of the canyon were burned and destroyed by the raging Indians who were on the war path. The Indians did not wait long before making another attack, and on Sunday, August the 2nd, they attacked Allred's Settlement; they rounded up all the cattle, leaving only a few calves which had been cor­ralled, and drove them towards the mountains. The herders were fired upon and forced to flee to the fort for protection, while the Indians with loud shrieks and yells, waving their arms and red blankets, rode away in defiance. 

For the purpose of recovering their cattle and horses, a posse was at once organized and was soon upon the trail of the Indians. When they neared the herd, a number of Indians rushed with Indian strategy back toward the fort as if to attack the wives and children left there, and the posse was compelled to return to protect their families. When they neared the fort, the Indians fled towards the mountains, joining those of their tribe who were rushing on with the cattle. Two of the herding ponies escaped from the band and returned to the fort. This gave the settlers means of communication with Manti, the only point from which they could hope to obtain help.

A messenger was immediately dispatched and by riding west and then south across the valley, succeeded in evading the Indian scouts. The messenger reached Manti at three o'clock in the after­noon, having made one of the quickest trips so far recorded. When the news reached Manti, drums were beat and the cattle were rounded up at once. Sentries were posted at all important points, while hasty preparations were made to send relief to
All­red's Settlement. A number of good wagons, drawn by ox team, accompanied by teamsters and twelve mounted guards left as soon as it was possible, arriving at the little settlement at daylight the following morning. The settlers were then taken to Manti and given quarters in the fort, which had been erected there that year. From here, with the aid of the militia, some of the settlers re­turned to their farms at Hambleton, to irrigate their lands and harvest their crops which turned out quite well considering the circumstances. January the 6th, 1854, Allred's Settlement was burned by the Indians. The entire population of Sanpete County
numbered at that time 765 men, women, and children, all of whom remained and fortified themselves at Manti until the spring of 1854. September 30, 1853, four ox-drawn wagons loaded with grain left Manti for Great Salt Lake City. A few hours later, under the leadership of Isaac Morley, they were followed with twelve wagons drawn by horses. These wagons were loaded with provisions and feed, as well as a number of Saints enrooted to at­tend the semi-annual conference. Arrangements had been made for camping at Shumway (Duck) Springs, near Moroni; from there they were to travel together through Salt Creek Canyon. For some reason, the first teams kept going until they reached Uinta Springs (Fountain Green) where they camped over night and the horse teams did not overtake them as planned. Early on the morning of October 1st, the Indians made an attack and all four drivers, James Nielson, William Lake, Thomas Clark, and William Reed were killed and their bodies so badly mutilated they could scarcely be recognized. The grain was emptied from the sacks, which the savages took possibly for clothing. When Morley's company came along, they found the three bodies; later Clark's body was found in the bottom of a wagon box, covered with wheat emptied from the sacks. He had been scalped, his head crushed, his body cut open and his heart taken out.

The bodies were taken to Salt Creek (Nephi) for interment. Several Indians were seen watching from among the trees and bushes making gestures of joy over the massacre. When the wag­ons bearing the bodies reached Nephi, seven Indians who had followed at a safe distance were captured and shot. Although guards had been kept at the little grist mill at the mouth of the canyon, east of Manti, until sufficient flour could be ground for the winter, on October 1st, the Indians killed the miller, John F. Warner, and the guard, William Mills, whose bodies were found a short distance from the mill. Their clothing had been removed; their faces badly disfigured. The mill was left undisturbed; how­ever, the Indians returned and burned it. Indians were later seen wearing the clothing that had been taken from the bodies of the two men. Cattle about there were killed with poison arrows. The Indians claimed these acts had been committed because of the shooting of five Indians, alleged to have been killed by a company of immigrants enrooted to California.

In the spring of 1854, R. N. Allred and R. W. Allred, together with fifteen families left the Manti fort, having remained there over the winter after they had been driven away from Allred's Settlement by the Indians the fall previous. They located on Pine Creek, seven miles north of Manti. Isaac Behunin had built a home on this creek as early as 1851, but he had been forced to return to Manti for protection from the Indians. The site after­wards was called Fort Ephraim, which was really the first success­ful attempt towards forming a colony outside of Manti. During the fall of 1854, Fort Ephraim was substantially strengthened by the arrival of several Scandinavian families sent by President Young from Salt Lake City, to strengthen the colony in combating the Indians. During 1854, the Indians confined themselves mostly to Southern Utah. Yet often they invaded the herds of Sanpete County, stealing horses and cattle and making their escape in safety.

January 26, 1855, Walker, the great Indian Chief, who had caused so much sorrow and bloodshed in Utah, died at Meadow Creek, Millard County, Utah, and was buried with high honor. Peter Gottfredson, in his Indian Depredations in Utah writes, "Ac­cording to the cruel customs then in vogue among the savages, an Indian boy and an Indian girl and thirteen head of horses were buried alive with Walker's corpse, being secured near the corpse of the chief at the bottom of a deep pit or enclosure and left to suffer until death brought relief. It is said that two Indians passed by the place and the boy begged to be let out, but the Indians laughed and passed on. The boy said that 'Walker was beginning to stink.' " Walker had three brothers, Arropine, Sanpitch and Tabby. Arro­pine was made chief of his tribe and he with other Indians made a treaty of peace, a copy of which is found in Book B. Church Transfer and is as follows: "Be it known by these presents, that I, Siegnerouch (Arropine ) of Manti City in the county of San­pete, and Territory of Utah, for and in consideration of the good will which I have to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, give and convey to Brigham Young, trustee in trust for said church, his successors in office, all my claim to and ownership of the following described property, to wit: The portion of land and country known as Sanpete County together with all material and timber on the same, valued at $155,000, ten horses, valued at $500; four cows, $120; one bull, $40; farming tools valued at 810; in all 8155,765 together with all rights, privileges and appur­tenances there unto belong or appertaining. I also covenant and agree that I am the lawful claimant and owner of said property, and will warrant and forever defend the same unto the said trustee in trust, his successors in office and assigns etc.

"Siegnerouch (Arropine) His X Mark"

"Witnesses: George Snow, R. Wilson Glenn, John Patten."

This ceded to Brigham Young and the people of Sanpete County, which at that time comprised an unknown area, including all of southeastern Utah, and no well-defined description was given until an act of the legislature, approved January 10, 1866, gave the following boundaries: "All that portion of the Territory bounded south by Sevier County, west by Juab County, north by the summit of the range of mountains between Sanpete Valley, and the Spanish Fork river, thence by a line drawn due east from said intersection to the thirty-second meridian. Provided that the hay ground in Thistle Valley shall be included in the county." Thus ended the so-called Walker Indian War which had lasted three years.

Although a treaty of peace had been made by Arropine, some­times called Siegnerouch, the Indians could not be trusted, for even Arropine, hard-hearted and cruel, finding that he could play upon the fears of the "pale face" by his fine oratory, compelled them to pay tribute in the form of provisions.

At a general conference held in Salt Lake City, April 1855, a party of forty men from Sanpete were called to settle Elk moun­tain country. Leaving Manti May 23rd, after a hard trip they ar­rived at Grand River, crossing the stream on June 12th. The Indians were friendly and welcomed the "White Man." Corrals were built of logs and the Mormon Fort at Moab built of stone was finished July 19th. It was not long, however, until there was some feeling that mischief was meant by some of the Indians. On September 23rd, Wiseman Hunt, Edward Edwards, and William Behunin were killed and Captain A. N. Billings was wounded. The settlers entered the fort and it was at once surrounded by Indians, who gave notice that they intended to kill all the inmates. However, some of the friendly Indians interceded in behalf of the white man, and the imprisoned colonists were allowed to return to their homes with the understanding that the Settlement should be abandoned and that section be left undisputed property of the Utes. The colonists then returned to Manti.

The grasshoppers invaded the farms of Sanpete in 1855, and destroyed almost all the crops. However, in December 1857, there was much rejoicing and a general jubilee prevailed because of the abundant crops which had been harvested.

History of Mount Pleasant by Hilda Madsen Longsdorf pp:15-25

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