Grand Rounde: anecdotes of Quinaby
The rare find of an Oregon bank’s house magazine turns up Christmas-season gems from the Grand Rounde (i.e. Grand Ronde) Reservation community, 1883.
(Edited to add: that date was recollected wrong. I’ve found a January 18, 1879 “Letter from Oregon” in the Sacramento (CA) Daily Union reporting the death of “Quinnaby”.)
The Ladd & Bush Quarterly volume II, number 2 (September 1914), out of Salem, knows its local readers well, so it runs not one but two Chinuk Wawa-laden reminiscences of the K’alapuyan Chief Quinaby for their reading pleasure.
Here I’ll reprint them with the Jargon bolded and explained as necessary. I probably need not explain the curious mix of nostalgia, pity, and condescension towards Native people that you’ll be perceiving here. The portrayals of Quinaby’s character don’t match up, you’ll also find; one narrative takes the man for himself while the other sounds less familiar with — and more dismissive of — him.
The first of these is “The Story of Quinaby”:
The Story of Quinaby
Mr Clarke Tells of a Well known Old Indian’s Traits.
MR. S.A. CLARKE contributes the following about an old Indian character once well known in the Willamette valley:
“The Salem papers copy from the Puyallup Commerce an item concerning young Quinnaby, who came up from the reservation, and, while smoking cigarettes, boasted he never had done a day’s work and never would, his great pride being that he was the son of old Quinnaby, a sire of the Chumkita Indians, who died at Salem Christmas week, 1883, a nice old native who had a smile for all, but couldn’t digest too many Christmas dinners.
“Old Quinnaby was a character about Salem for several decades. His wickiup was in the brush and scrub oak along the creek near the Salem passenger depot. When Calipooia supremacy waned, the old siwash [Indian] had to give up hunting, fishing, berry picking and camas digging and manfully went to work with saw and buck to earn his daily bread. It was a pleasure to meet him and hear his ‘clarhiam six [hello friend],’ for he was always friendly, and, withal, there was a touch of dignity and consciousness that he was the last of his race. He came to our house and was befriended by its guardian angel, who had the old fellow’s picture taken, and it remains as a token of the old time. When years accumulated on his shoulders Quinnaby became unequal to the saw buck life and went about among his white friends, who were many, and cheerfully kept his flour sack filled with wholesome muck-a-muck [food]. He was judicious in his visiting, and came not too often, nor asked too much. One time he came when the mother was away, and the saucy girls stood the old fellow off for his usual supply of coffee, tea, sugar and ictas [supplies]. They soberly told him they had none, and one of them inquired if he wouldn’t take a horse and wagon. The old sachem was indignant.
“The last time we saw him was Christmas day, 1883, and the spirit of the day filled his flour sack with well-assorted grub and threw in a few quarters besides. Quinnaby was jubilant, and, as he left, the wife asked: ‘When will you come again, Quinnaby?’ and he gleefully responded, ‘Come again New Year’s, you bet!’ and the last relic of the Chumkitas went forth bearing his Christmas with him and appeared no more! New Years came and went and we heard that the old man was dead. Christmas was too much for him; not the wholesome food we gave, but on his way to his home
[photo caption:] Mrs Quinaby
on the creek he stopped at Lew Griffith’s, another of his old pioneer friends, where there had been a wedding feast the night before. With the hospitality peculiar to pioneers, they made him welcome, and sat him down to scraps left over from the feast. Such he had never seen before, rich meats and richer dressing, with assorted cake and pie, and with his aboriginal appetite, that scarce ever had been satisfied, he ate and ate until digestion had ceased to wait on appetite, and the kindly soul took flight, wearied with the attempt to digest the relics of a white man’s feast. We who knew him had one consolation, for we know the old man died on a full stomach!
“It is a pleasure to chronicle such mementoes of the past, especially of a race that is no more among us. Up to that time we had never met the feminines of the Quinnaby family, but as time passed there came a painted squaw who said she was the better-half of it — or words to that effect. She had not the wit and high-bred courtesy of the old man, who never sniveled or
whined, but whose siwash visage glowed so friendly and his Chinook tongue had a natural flavor of blarney the cleutchman [wife] had nothing of. She said they were all hungry, even the cayuse cuiton [pony horse] was famished. So the dear wife loaded her up and told her to come and get a backload of hay besides; the next afternoon, as the ladies were entertaining friends, they saw two mountainous backloads of hay coming out of the alley. The squaw had brought a tillicum [friend] with her — probably the same boy who boasts he never worked — and made the most of the opportunity.”
The second article is titled “Anecdotes of Quinaby”:
Anecdotes of Quinaby
WE PRINT elsewhere a sketch written by Mr. S.A. Clarke, a copy of which Mrs. S.C. Dyer, his daughter, has favored us with. The subject is Quinaby, an old-time Salem Injun. To call him an Indian would be a misnomer, for the only Indians came from India. Injun is the real name of our cultus [worthless; this pseudo-Latin spelling brings about the following word:] homo about whom the poets write verse extolling their virtues and nobility. Mrs. Dyer also procured for us a picture of the “chief,” as he has been called, but we are inclined to think the only command he ever had was over his squaw, whose picture we print in this issue. It is such a picture as one would expect from Mr. Clarke’s apt description of her. Mr. Clarke pays tribute to the hospitality and kindness of his own wife, the truthfulness of which the small boys of her day well remember and appreciate.
J.W. Redington recently wrote that the whites “made such good use of the land which Chief Quinaby’s warriors had for ages and ages let lie outdoors and unproductive, and it is too bad that Quinaby, after his long life of ease, holding up the corner of Bill Griswold’s building (now the Murphy block on the corner of State and Commercial streets) on Sunday mornings, should finally collide with too much mince pie and climb the skyward trail solitary and alone, when all his tribe had gone before, leaving so much more pie for him.”
Quinaby had a sister named Sarah, who married a Siwash named Kylus. They had three children, Chargaloo, a girl; Oshot and John, boys. Oshot, in particular, is remembered, as the boys were wont to make sport of his name, when they saw him across the street, by calling it out to him in derision. It never failed to arouse his ire.
In a drunken spree Kylus brutally murdered Sarah, then fled to Lebanon. Quinaby was very much enraged at the death of his sister. He took the Salem people generally into his confidence and boasted that he would avenge her death. He assured them that he would cut his brother-in-law into four quarters and hang a piece on each corner of the town, or words to that effect. He painted his face, mounted his kuiton [horse] and started south with “blood in his eye.” About two weeks later a Salem man and family going to Lebanon met Quinaby on his way back, with a string of horses. There were four, perhaps five, three strung along behind, and it may be there was one alongside the one he was riding. He had in addition red blankets and other junk. The brother-in-law had appeased his wrath, and made good his sorrow by giving up all of his possessions, and thus perhaps saving his own skin. On Quinaby’s face there was a happy look of satisfaction as he said he had made it all right with Kylus.
What became of Quinaby’s family, after they were seen going out of Mr Clarke’s alley with the two backloads of hay, history seems to have failed to record. There is an old saying that a good Injun is a dead Injun, and we think it safe at least now to assert that the whole Quinaby family are good Injuns, Kylus included.
When the bank opened for business in March, 1869, Quinaby called it the Chikamin house [money house]; he thought it was a place where any one could go and get Chikamin, all that one had to do was to ask for it and money would be handed out. When he got short he was in the habit of asking Judge William Waldo for money. On the occasion of one of these requests the Judge replied that he had none. Quinaby declared
[page 18 is an unrelated photo]
that could not be the truth for all white men had chikamin. But the Judge insisted, turning out his pockets to prove they were empty. Quinaby then said in jargon (all conversations with Quinaby were in jargon), go to the Chikamin house and get some. Quinaby’s camp was for a long time near the creek north of Judge Waldo’s house, in what is now Blandford Addition. Night after night all night long gambling went on there, with the never ceasing loud and melodious chant, Hoia Hia, Hoia Hia, plainly audible above the din made by pounding with small clubs upon a board. Sleep at the Judge’s house was almost out of the question. Finally he told Quinaby he would have to move or he would lay the matter before the police. Quinaby drew himself erect and with a lofty air reminded the Judge that this was not the whites’ country but belonged to the Indians, that when the Judge was a little boy he was always his friend, that in the early days the Indians were many and the whites few and when they planned to kill the whites he was always the white man’s friend and would not permit it. With this he stalked off without another word. It was an argument the Judge could not refute. Quinaby’s camp was not molested and the gambling went on. The small boys of the day were attracted by the gambling chant and would go to the camp and try to understand the game, which seemed to be some sort of passing of small round pieces of marked sticks from one buck’s hands to the other. Blankets, saddles, knives, everything an Indian owned would be lying about; these were the stakes risked in the game. But to fathom it was beyond the ken of the boys and even had they been able to, before they had half a chance to work it out in their minds, the many fleas which always infested everything about an Indian camp would send them off in haste to hunt the swimming hole and get the fleas out of their clothes and by a speedy dip off their bodies.
Gambling was the crowning vice of the Indian. He would risk everything he possessed and it was not an unusual thing for them to go flat broke. Whiskey Jim, one of the Molalla tyees [chiefs], was seen on a journey up the Rickreall and was asked where he was going; pointing toward the west he replied, “S-i-e-y-a-h [f-a-r],” which drawn out meant quite a distance. He was asked if he intended to go to the lake in the mountains which is the source of the Rickreall. He promptly stated that he would not go there. He explained that one time a young buck went into a game and lost his horses, blankets, clothes, in fact all his worldly possessions except his knife. With this in his hand, he struck out toward the west, he traveled far and finally came to this lake. Instead of going around he started to swim across it. When in the middle a very large snake appeared and swallowed him. He still had his knife in his hand and slashed away with it on the inside of the snake, which made the snake so sick that he swam to the shore and on the sand beach threw up the young buck, who then returned to his tribe and related his experience. From that time on no Indian would risk going near the lake. The story of the great snakes which dwell in the mountain lakes was not confined to this lake, but to lakes in the Cascade mountains, as well as the Coast range, and the superstitions of the early day Indians made them avoid them all.
Appetite was Quinaby’s bete noir, and finally was the cause of his transition from this world. When he got a chance to eat he was notorious as a glutton. When the tribes in the Willamette valley were put on reservations. Quinaby was located at Grand Rounde. In Salem in those days the 4th of July was a great day of celebration. It began at sunrise with the boom of a cannon, which was fired at
[page 20 is an unrelated photo]
intervals until sunset. Everybody joined in the spirit of the day, which ended in a grand barbecue. A whole ox would be roasted in Marion square and a feast prepared to which all were welcome. To Quinaby these were great occasions and he ate until he could hold no more, then repaired to his tepee to sleep it off. The Fourth of July following Quinaby’s removal to Grand Rounde the barbecue feature of the celebration was given up but the news did not reach Quinaby. He rode his cuitan all the way from the agency to Salem, about thirty-five miles. Crossing the river on the ferry he went at once to J.H. and I.R. Moore’s store, where he made a great brag about his patriotism, telling how he had come all the way from Grand Rounde just to celebrate the birthday of the republic, and thereby exhibit his loyalty to it. But he was not long able to conceal the real motive which had prompted him to make the trip. Turning to Mr J.H. Moores he inquired, “Hiyu muckamuck? [Lots of food?]” When Mr Moores replied, “Halo muckamuck [No food]” Quinaby was mad, his patriotism disappeared and he was so disgusted he even threatened to return to the reservation at once. But in the end he did not carry out this threat, but remained and, to the best of his ability worked his Salem friends for the supplies consumed in his celebration, which were not scanty, but in no way were they as satisfactory as a barbecue would have been.