1878: Christmas at Neah Bay, and a clue to Jack’s 1881 CW letter

Well within the frontier period (some of Washington’s biggest cities hadn’t yet been founded!), Chinook Jargon was already being suppressed in some places…


AW Smith is said to be in this photo from prosperous La Push circa 1890 (image credit: From Our Corner)

Also of great interest to us, this article mentions the “Mr Smis” (Smith) who I now believe was the recipient of Jack’s 1881 Chinuk Wawa letter from Quileute country!

christmas at neah bay

christmas at neah bay 2

christmas at neah bay 3

Charles Willoughhy, the efficient In-
dian agent at Neah Bay Makah In-
dian reserve, gave a fine entertain-
ment yesterday to the employees,
the children of the school, some fifty
boys and girls, and several invited
guests. The school room and dining
hall were tastefully decorated with
appropriate mottoes and with fes-
toons and wreaths of evergreen in
Capt. Willoughhy’s usual tasteful
style. In the centre of the School
room was a huge Christmas tree,
loaded with presents, and made bril-
liant on Christmas eve with a multi-
tude of wax tapers. Two long tables
in the large dining hall of the school
were loaded with the orthodox sup-
plies of roast turkeys, geese and
ducks, roasted and spiced boiled beef,
vegetables of all kinds, plum pud-
dings, mince, pumpkin, apple and
cranberry pies, apples, cakes, and
candies, coffee, tea, and chocolate.
Never before was such a banquet
spread at the agency, and every one
present pronounced it a decided suc-
cess. The children sang, spoke
pieces, and declaimed, all in English.
Capt. Willoughby repudiates the use
of [Chinook] jargon, and has the children
taught to read and write in English
by the excellent teacher Mr. A[lanson].
Westley [i.e. Wesley] Smith[1]

The school children under the
motherly care of Mrs. Willoughby,
the matron, Miss Jessie Scott, assist-
ant matron, and Miss Hattie Smith,
present an appearance of neatness,
cheerfulness, and marked improve-
ment, highly creditable to the dis-
creet management of the present

— from the Port Townsend (Washington Territory) Puget Sound Weekly Argus of December 26, 1878, page 1, column 1

aw smith

AW Smith, recipient of Chinook letter (image credit: findagrave)

[1] “A[lanson]. Wesley Smith [born 1854, immigrated to Washington in 1876 from Dakota Territory] filed a homestead in Quileute but he continued to teach at Neah Bay until 1883 when he was appointed as teacher at the newly established [Quileute] Indian agency school at La Push, WA. He remained a teacher there until 1905. In August of 1886 Mr. Smith and Harriet* Gertrude Bright were married in Port Townsend, WA. She had been an assistant teacher to Mr. Smith the previous year. While he was teaching, he also farmed, served as Justice of the Peace, Clerk of the Quileute school district and at times as postmaster. In 1906 A.W. resigned from the Indian Service to devote full time to his family, homestead, public office and, in later years, to the Forks Cooperative Creamery of which he was president and record keeper. A. Wesley Smith passed away in Seattle, WA 24 January 1938.” ( — SNACCooperative) A.W. Smith would apparently have perfectly understood the Makah kids talking Jargon to him, but his boss put a stop to that! I’m inferring that Quileute tribal member Jack’s letter in Chinuk Wawa, whose location has been unknown to me, is preserved at the Washington State Library in A.W.’s archived papers, a collection that I hope we will get access to soon, as it includes “the personal correspondence written by Native Americans to Mr. Smith”.

* Although Hattie is a nickname for Harriet, “Miss Hattie Smith” is A.W.’s sister, Harriet Matilda Smith Pullen, 1860-1947.

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