Seven Frontier Women and the Founding of Spokane Falls

Cochran, Barbara F.  2011.  Seven frontier women and the founding of Spokane Falls.  Spokane, WA: Tornado Creek Publications.  [Written 1986 or 1987, just before the author’s death.–DDR]

page 8:  (in chapter I about the 1870s at the location of Spokane Falls, today’s downtown Spokane): “Most of the early settlers picked up enough Chinook jargon [sic] to converse with the Indians.  Actually, it was not an Indian language, but a hybrid mixture of Spanish, French, English and Indian words (i.e. pidgin Indian).  It came into use between the ‘Boston men’ (early white sea traders on the coast and up the Columbia) and all the different tribes of the Northwest.”  [Endnote: Williamson, p. 73 = Williamson, A.J.  Manuscript, 1922.  EWSHS.]

[According to pages 1-8, pioneer James Nettle Glover came here from Salem, Oregon in 1873, starting Spokane’s first store in November of that year with his main clientele being visiting Coeur d’Alene Indians who sometimes traded furs for merchandise.  Glover’s partners were Jasper N. Matheny and Cyrus Yeaton; the latter had experience working for J.K. Gill, stationer, in Salem.]

page 18:  “During this time, the Spokane Indians kept abreast of events on the Indian battlefields around the Palouse Country by runners going between their camp and the fighting.  Curly Jim [see below] or another of the older Indians then informed Mr. Glover.  Even so, Jim [Glover] decided something had to be done.  With great personal courage, he called some of the older Spokanes to his store.  He told them the Nez Perce had better klat-a-wah (a Chinook word for ‘go’) by noon of the next day, or he would call for the boys with the ‘brass buttons.’  The ruse worked, as the memory of Colonel [George] Wright’s campaign of September 1858 was still vivid, and the Nez Perce left.  Fortunately, after a week of camping out, the settlers were able to return home as the local Spokanes assured them of their peaceful intentions.  Rev. Cowley wrote afterwards: ‘From the 27th of June til the 10th of August the suspense was painful in the extreme.’ ”  [endnote: Durham, v. 1, p. 372 = Durham, Nelson W.  Spokane and the Inland Empire.  Spokane-Chicago-Philadelphia: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1912, v. 1.]

page 86: about Anna Whittlesey (Stratton) Browne and John J. Browne: “Both Mr. and Mrs. Browne made their home available for meetings.  In the spring of 1892, a group of ladies met there to organize a society to do good and to encourage labor among the poorer classes of women and girls.  With ‘tongue-in-cheek,’ they chose a Chinook word Cultus (meaning ‘worthless’) as the name of their club.  Membership was limited to thirty ladies, and meetings were held bimonthly.”  [This chapter (III) says the Brownes were from Kansas, came west to San Francisco, then lived in the Portland, Oregon area for a few years before coming to Spokane.]  [Cultus seems a bizarre name for this kind of organization, unless it was actually a Latin word.–DDR]  [no endnote]

page 120:  in chapter V about Clara “Caddie” Foster (Smiley) Gray:  “The Grays felt the Indians were honest and very capable of doing all kinds of work.  In fact, as Clara commented later, she did not know how they could have gotten along without their help.  ‘Curly Jim was always one of my friends and did me a number of good turns.  He was an honest, hard-working Indian and was well liked by all the white people,’ Clara recalled many years later.  Another good friend of her was Chief Moses, a famous character, and chief of the Sinkiuse (sin-kus), usually called Columbias, who lived at Moses Lake and the Moses Coulee area.  It was said that although Chief Moses was on good terms with many influential white men, he never made friends with white women.  On his way back from Washington, D.C., where he had seen the heads of government, Moses stopped at the hotel.  Bill Gray went to get his wife, perhaps with tongue in cheek.  Clara walked into the office with her hand outstretched, cordially greeting the chief. ‘Halo wawa,’ he replied in Chinook.  The proprietress of the hotel had learned enough of the Indian trade language to invite him to have some dinner.  Accepting, he stalked into the dining room where he was served the best meal they could prepare.  ‘Now, Chief Moses,’ Clara told him when he was through eating, ‘whenever you come to town, you must come here for your meals.’  She apparently struck a responsive chord because from that time on Chief Moses never came to Spokane without visiting the lovely lady of California House.”  [Clara was born January 20, 1854 in Maine, to a family who eight years later moved to Indian Valley on the Yuba River in the central California goldfields, then a year later to Marysville in northern California.  Her husband William Chandler Gray, a former Easterner who had worked in Virginia City, Montana and around California, came from San Francisco to Spokane Falls, arriving August 26, 1878.  Clara joined him in October.]  [no endnote]

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