Narrative about Virginia Miller
The daughter of Tum-Wulth, Whylick Quiuck (Virginia Miller), told the Cascades side of the story to Edward Curtis in the early
1900s (Curtis 1911a:26-28). She was present at the incident and states that Tum-Wulth was not engaged in the battle, rather, it was
Wapánaha (Obanaha), who was “actuated by ambition.” Presumably Obanaha, the other Wah-lal-la treaty signer, was hoping to take leadership power from Tum-wulth. According to Virginia Miller Tum-Wulth had a feud with a Klickitat chief named
Taimatas, who had mistreated Tum-Wulth’s sister, which led to her death. Taimatas was one of the leaders of the attack on the
Cascades and also intended to seek revenge on Tum-wulth as well and so conspired with Obanaha to remove Tum-wulth. At the
outbreak of hostility Tum-Wulth canoed his family across the river, went ashore and sent the canoe with his wife and daughters
downriver to Fort Vancouver. At the conclusion of the battle when the Cascades were captured Wapánaha implicated Tum-Wulth in
the attack, which may explain why Wapánaha was spared execution.
Isabel Lear Underwood, the granddaughter of Chenowith, maintained his innocence as well. “My mother and my grandmother were members of the Cascade tribe. My grandfather, Chief Chenowith, was a member of the Hood River tribe of Indians. When the Yakimas and Klickitats attacked the Cascades they escaped and the Cascade Indians were left to bear the brunt of punishment for the attack…. When white men are killed there must be victims sacrificed to atone. Chief Chenowith, though a friend of the whites, was a victim of the vengeance of the white men” (Williams 1980:114). Chief Chenowith and Chenowith Jim are not to be confused with the white settler Francis Chenoweth, who homesteaded in the Cascades area in the 1850s. Philip Sheridan wrote of this incident in his memoirs. He did, indeed, determine the guilt of thirteen Cascades men based on the fact that their guns had been recently fired. He ordered nine of them to be executed, among them Tum-Wulth. The others were taken to Vancouver to be jailed, among them O-ban-a-hah. On April 4 six Cascades Indians were murdered near the lower landing. A few days later Sheridan’s men found seven Indians from near Vancouver murdered on the Cascades portage. The dead
consisted of a woman, two youths, three girls and a baby, all of whom had been strangled [the after-effects of the Cascades attack, many Indians were murdered as revenge, even though they were innocent of any involvement]. Sheridan would remark “In my experience I have been obliged to look upon many cruel scenes in connection with Indian warfare on the Plains since that day, but the effect of this dastardly and revolting crime has never been effaced from my memory” (Sheridan 1888).
Cascades Men Executed April 1856
Tumwulth, [Chief] Chenowith, Chenowith Jim, Tecomoc, Captain Joe, Tsy, Sim Sasselas, Old Skein, Four Fingered Johnny
MICHELLE MARTINEAU [nephew to Virginia], retired steam-boat captain and sailing master and at present [early 20th century] living upon his two hundred and forty acre ranch three and a half miles west of Toppenish, is the “son of one of the noted pioneers of the Northwest, and himself is a man of striking character, well known in the later history of the Northwest. His father, Michelle Martineau, senior, was a native of Montreal, Quebec, of Canadian French stock. Early in life he came into the wilderness of western Canada, accompanying Doctor McLoughlin to his post at Vancouver. First the father served as a mail carrier in the Rocky Mountain region, working for the Hudson’s Bay Company; then he entered other departments of the service, traveling all through the west. It is said that he and another white man named Bozmah were the first whites to find Doctor Whitman’s body after the massacre. History refers to this intrepid French Canadian in dealing with the story of the west. He was at one time accused of killing John McCoy, another well-known pioneer. The senior Martineau died in 1902. The mother was a Wickham [Wishram-presently], a member of the Cascade tribe of Indians [Wishrams and Cascades were said to be of the same tribe for a time]. Her father was Chief Tompha [Tumulth], hanged in 1856 at the Cascades by order of Colonel Wright. She died in 1871. [some spellings and details may be inaccurate in this account]
The younger Martineau was born at Vancouver in 1848, while Oregon was yet a territory, and the only settlements in the Northwest were along the Columbia and Willamette rivers and on Puget Sound. He was reared at Portland, the Cascades and The Dalles, thoroughly imbibing the free, restless, dashing spirit of the life around him. At the age of sixteen he entered the steamboat business in the kitchen department, rising thence very rapidly to engineer and then to a captain’s berth. He was the first captain of the General Humphreys, plying between the upper Cascades and The Dalles in 1879. He has been captain of all the steamers owned by the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company and has served the government fleet on the Columbia and its tributaries, among the steamers under his captaincy being the R. Thompson, the Harvest Queen, Emma Howard and the Modoc. In 1898 he went into the Alaskan waters for an English syndicate. There he was captain of the Flora, the first boat built on the Yukon river, and since 1898 he has spent each season on the Yukon. In 1903 he had charge of the Frantz.
Early in his steamboat experience he was recognized as one of the ablest masters on the Columbia river, and each year since has added to his reputation in that line. He has, however, decided to retire from his steamboat life, and with that end in view will take charge of his ranch, now under lease, as soon as the lease expires this year.” His property interests consist of this ranch, which is all under water, and mining property in the Yukon region.
In 1874 Mr. Martineau was united in marriage to Martha Tieo, a native of Oregon City, whose parents were Cowlipe Tieo, a native of the Sandwich Islands, and Ticashara (Winner) Tieo, a member of The Dalles tribe of Columbia River Indians [Wasco or Wishram]. Mrs. Martineau is a sister of Alex Tieo, Indian foreman of the new government ditch being built near Wapato. Captain Martineau is a member of the Sailors and Masters’ Association of America. The captain is a man of ability and is an excellent representative of the old school of Northwestern pioneers whose courage, energy and perseverance have made it possible to reclaim the Pacific coast of America from its original wild condition and place the stamp of civilization upon it.
These accounts reportedly gathered from the Huntington Library but this is unconfirmed.
Narrative accounts courtesy Val Alexander with some information from Chuck Williams.