From all I can gather, William Lindsay was the straightest of arrows, a saint. In an attempt to keep his experiences accessible, I'm dedicating a few years of research into William Lindsay and putting it on this blog. Please sign the guestbook. I'd love for this to be a gathering place for discussion on the man and his family.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Indian War, 1866-1867

Source: Peter Goddfredson's "History of Indian Depredations in Utah"

At the age of 19, William Lindsay was enrolled in Utah's Blackhawk Indian War on the 26th of May, 1866. He served until November 1st and then did it all again the following year. He was under the command of Captain John Murray Murdoch [his future wife's uncle and through his remarriage his future father in-law]. Below are his reflections on the war taken from his reminiscences.
In the fall of 1865 the Blackhawk war started in Sanpete & in May 1866 Robert T. Burton & some others came to Heber to organize the Millitia Knowing that the Indians would be sure to make raids on the stock in this valley. Men were requested to enroll companies were formed & officers appointed & all regulations made so the people could protect themselves & their stock. I enrolled in John M. Murdock's company of Infantry. We had to furnish our own arms & ammunition I had never owned a gun up to that time in fact only a few did have guns and we did not have money either. So John Turner & I got a few head of stock & took them to Salt Lake city to trade for fire arms. We had a horse or at least John did & we managed to drive them there & got what we could that answered the purpose all right I took a 2 year old steer for myself a heifer for my brother James, & a cow for Geo. Muir. I was called on to help build a stockade up in what was called the Ross hollow where the young cattle could be shut in at night men were kept with them to guard them in the daytime. Not long after I was again called to help move the stockade as it was too close to the hill we moved it up to where Geo. Fishers ranch now is.

Of course we were all called to stand guard on the outskirts of the town also & when we went to the canyon we went in groups & some of us usually stood guard while the others got their loads of wood. Men were also kept out as scouts on the Pole canyon & Lake creek ridges to watch for Indians & see that none came on this side of the ridge but with it all they came at 7 different times & made raids & all but once they got away the stock. This was the time they came right into Heber & took Tom Hundley's oxen & a cow out of his corral. The scouts reported Indians in the valley the day before the Indians got the cattle & men were sent out in squads of 4 that night not knowing any cattle had been stolen. But one squad got on their trail & found they were driving some cattle. They followed them away down on the Duchesne river & took them by surprise killed one Indian & wounded one another & the wounded Indian got away. They had killed a cow & was skinning it when the boys caught them. The boys Andrew Ross, Sid Carter, Joe Parker & Isaac Cumings brought the oxen & 3 Indian horses back with them.

All through the summer months of 1866 & 1867 we were called out on guard quite often to prevent the Indians from coming into our town & committing depredations. One man Brad Sessions lost 7 cows in one raid it was all he had practically outside of his little log cabin home & a large family. None of the men belonging to this county were killed during the Blackhawk war by the Indians. However there were 70 persons killed mostly in Sanpete & Sevier counties. But some hundreds of cattle & horses were driven away in these seven raids. When the war had just got fairly started Brigham Young who had tried to avert the war & had failed to stop it. Early in 1866 or as soon as the snow was gone between this valley & the Uintah Reservation. Sent a few men to this valley with a fine herd of young fat cattle some 75 or 80 head with orders to have a company of men from this valley take these cattle out to the Indians & try to persuade them to make peace And to tell them Brigham Young & the Mormons wanted peace. But anyhow they were to take the cattle because if they still want- ed war they would need lots of beef to make them strong as the Mormons would of course try to defend themselves. Wm M. Wall with some 25 men on horseback & 4 wagons loaded with flour bacon sugar & other necessaries drawn by ox team with their drivers took these supplies out there & runners were sent asking the Indians to come & make a treaty & receive the cattle & provisions But the Indians were mad & stubborn & would not come at all for 3 days & when they did come they would not talk peace either & they did not want the Mormons beef anyway. Colonel Head Indian Agent had gone out with our boys & he thought to buy the cattle for the government & give them to the Indians as he wanted to gain their favor but Captain Wall told him these cattle were not for sale & if the Indians eat them they would eat Mormon beef. Head really acted as a traitor at that time rather encouraging the Indians in their warlike actions. Mr. Whitney another government man informed our men of his purpose & it looked very much like there would be a battle.right there & if it had come Wall & his men" made preparations to get rid of Mr. Head the very first. When he found our men were likely to kill him if trouble started he then was anxious to pacify all parties & get the Indians to accept the cattle & supplies which they did but did not agree to make peace As soon as the cattle were turned over to them the Indians began to shoot them down & cut pieces from them to eat raw dripping with blood

To show how anxious Pres. Young was to avert the Blackhawk war he sent Al. Huntington an Indian interpreter out alone to the indians before the cattle were sent to try to induce them to make peace & he promised him if he went he should return safely. So he went & found the Indians practically all anxious for the war to go on. They were surprized that any man should dare to come among them alone. They gathered round him but would not listen to his peace talk. He finally sat down & cocked his 2 pistols & they had him surrounded & to make matters worse word had come to the Indians that Sanpitch had been killed in Sanpete & his squaw came up crying & asking them to kill the Mormon quick so she could eat his heart while it was warm. This of course increased the excitement & it looked every moment as though they would devour him. Finally old Sowiet a chief who was old & blind stepped in front of Huntington & said you Indians are cowards you are like a pack of coyotes after a poor lone sheep. You know Brigham Young has always been our friend he sent this man all alone to talk peace & this is they you treat a brave man who came here to do us good. At this the Indians cooled down & slipped away. Huntington of course expressed sincere thanks to brave old Sowiet & got away from there as quickly as possible. I heard him relate this experience in front of Joseph S. Murdock's log cabin here in Heber on his return from that trip.

Clark Allen "Al" Huntington, and statue of Chief Sowiette, Captain William Madison Wall
Sources:here,here, and here

I will relate an incident that took place in 1866. At the same time that Captain Wall & his men were out to the Indian camp & were returning home by way of Lake creek canyon. Another scouting party of Infantry were also up there looking for tracks of Indians who were thought to be lurking around on this of the ridge & they came on to the tracks made by Wall & his men. They felt sure they were Indian horse tracks not thinking of any of our men being anywhere near. They followed the tracks that led into a shady place it was about noon & very warm. The men on foot crept cautiously up & finally could see some parts of the other men & without orders two men fired at the objects they could see & the result was N.C. Murdock & George Bonner were shot in the legs. Of course as soon as it was done & Walls men spoke the others saw their mistake & of course were very sorry that they had wounded their own men. I was on guard the night these men were brought home to Heber neither wound proved serious & these were the only casualties that occurred in this valley during the Blackhawk war as far as I know. There were some however in other ways Brigham Meachem was one.

During those 2 years 1866 & 1867 the cows were all herded closely by day & some of the corrals were watched by night beside the men who stood guard on the east south or north sides of the town. While every man from 18 to 50 years of age was urged to enroll in the Territorial Militia to help protect the lives & property of the people no one at that time seemed to ever expect any pay therefor. But in the last ten years the government has seen fit after being urged by our Senator Reed Smoot & others to grant a pension to those who enrolled & served 30 days or more. The first 10 years the pension was $20.00 per month. Now it is raised to $50.00 & I happen to be one who is now receiving that amount for which I am very thankful. A majority of those who did their part nobly at that time however has passed from this life before any pension was granted Some of their widows however lived to get $12.00 per month the first ten years & those still living get $30.00. Out of 275 men enrolled in 1866 in this county only nine men are living here now & there are only a very few alive anywhere, there are some 12 or 13 widows also. Of course our whole time was not taken up around home during these 2 years we felt fairly safe in hauling wood or coal between Coalville & Salt Lake city or Camp Douglas & I spent most of my time hauling with 2 yoke of oxen on my wagon when I was not required to be at home standing guard or other duties.

Pgs. 280-282
The accounts of some of the events of Utah's Blackhawk Indian War in the Heber area were written by William Lindsay at the request of author Peter Gottfriedson and recorded in his "History of Indian depredations in Utah" published in 1919 (available free here).

Another account of the Indian War was given by William Lindsay to reporter A.F. Philips for the Salt Lake Herald and was published among other historical accounts of Heber on July 6th, 1930.

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