A Place of Refuge

Spokane Falls 1881

The Falls in 1881

Havermale Island also became a place of hiding when the existence of the few white settlers seemed precarious as in this story of the Nez Perce War.

Before Joseph escaped over the Lolo trail deep alarm was felt in all the scattered settlements north of Snake river. Appeals were sent to the coast towns for arms and annnunition, and at many points in the Spokane section and the Palouse country settlers gathered for defense with their wives and children. James N. Glover, then conducting a store at Spokane Falls, contributes an interesting account of the manner in which the danger was met by the settlers around the falls:


"We drifted along in that dull way until 1877, the year of the Nez Perce Indian war. June came around and we began to get little glimpses of the conditions in the Lapwai country. We learned that chief Joseph and his followers had
broken away from the reservation, had taken to the warpath and had killed two or three white men on White Bird creek near the Salmon river. Meanwhile the government had ordered the second regiment, commanded by Colonel Wheaton
to the scene. At that time we had mail once a week, carried on a cayuse from Lewiston to Pend d'Oreille lake, but I got my most authentic news through the Indians. Things here continued fairly quiet and I went on trading with the In-dians until about the middle of July, then a squad of Nez Perce Indians, who had been on the warpath, were sent over here to work up the young bloods of the Spokane tribe. They had a camp out near a little grove, just south of the present line of the Northern Pacific tracks. After they had been doing the war dance for a week, I gradually got alarmed. It seemed to me that the trouble was getting so close to me that I could almost smell gunpowder. I sat up one night and watched them at their war dance. Mr. Post and Reverend Mr. Havermale were the only other men then lure. I w.itehed the red devils from dusk till daylight, when they lay down to sleep. The next night Ed. Bradbury, afterward sheriff of Kootenai county, Idaho, came in and volunteered to sit up with me. It was a gloriously
beautiful summer night and we conld plainly see them dancing from the stoop of my store, where the Pioneer building now stands, at the corner of Front and Howard.

"While we were watching, I saw a procession coming along the trail from the four lakes country, as the Medical Lake section was then known. When I sighted the procession it was at a point that is now the corner of Riverside and Howard. I turned to Bradbury and said:

"Ed., I think we are up against the real thing.'

"That night every soul in Spokane except Mr. Post and his family was sleeping in my house. Bradbury went to the house and gave the alarm. He found Mr. Havermale at the rear end of the building trying to get out of a window. Mr.
Havermale's daughter, Mrs. B. F. Burch, was on a pallet on the floor. She had a child under each arm, and was praying that if she had to go. she wanted to go just as she was with her children.

"All the time I was watching the procession, and when Bradbury returned, its outlines werie a little more distinct and I could hear wagons. I turned to him and said:

"'Bradbury, it's white people instead of Indians.'

"First came an old man named Crunk. a homesteader, riding a pony. He had an old bedspread over his head, which gave him very much the appearance of an Indian in a blanket. It proved to be fifteen or twenty settlers, men, women
and cliildren from the country west of Spokane. They had come here with the idea of taking refuge on Havermale island and building fortifications there. Other fortifications had already been built at Spangle, Pine Grove, Lower Pine Creek, and Colfax, and the settlers roundabout had been assembled at those places.

"They were all pretty hungry and the first thing to do was to get them something to eat. By this time daylight had come. I had a skiff and we constructed a raft and moved tliem and their effects over on the island. I had made up my mind to stand my ground, but after two nights of sitting up, I had determined on the course that I would pursue — call a few of the old Indians into my store and have a heart to heart talk with them as I had often done before. Many times the old fellows had told me of the Wright campaign, and the tears would run down their cheeks like rain.

"I called them in and closed the door. I asked them if they remembered the time when they were a happy and prosperous people. They said they did. I asked them if they remembered when Colonel Wright came and destroyed their
wealth and made them a poor people. They said they did.

"I then asked them if they knew what this squad of Nez Perce Indians were here for, dancing the war dance night after niglit. They said they did.

"I then said at a hazard:

"'My friends, I know where Uncle Sam's soldiers are. They are very near here, and I can call them here at any hour. Do you want to have the last remnants of your people wiped from the face of the earth? If you do not, see that
these Indians leave here and leave here for good before noon.'

"They promised me, went directly to the camp, and before noon there was not a sign of an Indian to be seen there...

Nelson Wayne Durham, History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co, 1912.