09 March 2020

Interview with Captain Jack [guest post by Edward Fox, 1 March 1873 (conclusion)]


[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox (continued); the two versions (telegraphed 25 February and written 1 March) of the Modoc speeches have been conflated and the speeches re-punctuated for completeness and clarity]
W
hen all were quiet John Fairchild got up and introduced the Herald correspondent by name to the assembled Indians, and told how I came from afar off, from Boston Illihee, and wrote for a paper that told all the white people what was doing in all parts of the world. He said I had heard what the white people said about the Modoc troubles, and that I wanted so bad to hear the Modocs’ own story; that though the Commissioners had forbidden him to take me in I had followed their tracks in the snow to the top of the bluffs. Bogus Charley, who officiated as interpreter, then translated this speech to the Sachems, and when he concluded they expressed their approbation in a perfect chorus of A’s, the nearest approach to their approving grunt being a sound resembling the pronunciation of the letter A.
John Fairchild then proceeded to carry out his mission and read out the letter of the Commission, which was translated, sentence by sentence, by Bogus Charley. The letter simply informed the Indians the names of the four Commissioners, and that they were anxious to delay the big talk until Judge Rosborough and Mr. Elijah Steele should arrive. As each sentence was translated the Indians grunted their approval.
Fairchild then asked to hear them speak, and in the meantime I sent my pipe on its rounds. John Schonchin finally got up, and in order to give an idea of a Modoc speech, as rendered by the interpreter, I will give it verbatim:—
“Well, glad to see men, glad to see the Paper Man from afar off. My heart feels good when men talk; tired of hearing [women] talk. Indian not ashamed to talk when white man come to see him.
“You tell me a name; I know him, Mr. Meacham. I see him; he says ‘I am big chief’; first time see him he say ‘I big chief.’ I see him long time ago. I know him, Mr. Meacham, tell me all straight: ‘I come now big chief. Come with me; I make you good place.’ Tell me first time; showed me good house; said, ‘You like that?’ Long time ago, that man, I say I know him, Mr. Meacham.
“He took me to live out at Fort Klamath, then he tell Captain Knapp, ‘You treat him good, this Modoc Indian.’ Captain Knapp no like me; he scare me, Captain Knapp. Mr. Meacham told him to watch me good. Give plenty of grub. I know Mr. Meacham; he say big talk, tell me straight, tell truth.
“Captain Knapp, bad man. He come to my door; I say ‘I do no want you come to my house—no like you.’ I knew Mr. Meacham; tell me the truth; give me good say; say want to tell me truth; no want to tell me lie.
“I knew Mr. Meacham long ago at Fort Klamath; put the axe in the ground; no want to take it out. I know Mr. Meacham; he say he want to talk; I put the axe in the ground; I tell him straight; Fort Klamath; I no make first blood; I want talk right; tell him, Meacham, I want to live in good place, where I lived first (Fort Klamath). Man from afar off hear Indian speak; hear him speak truth. Meacham go away; that agent make it bad; hang Indian; Captain Knapp; he bad man.”
Mr. Schonchin made a diversion in my favor to give an account of the first fight on Lost River. He spoke about the fight when the citizens attacked the Indians. He said:—“Four Moons ago (first fight) white man make trouble. He shoot me first; white man shoot first. I same as white man; they come attack me. I want the chief to tell me good; no lie. He shoot me; I don’t know him.
“I give you all my country; I keep a little piece of land on Lost River; yet they shoot me. I do not know what he shoot me for. ‘What makes him kill?’ I thought. I gave him all my land, water, grass and everything. I don’t charge nothing for my land; I give away all. What makes them shoot me? I keep little piece of land. I don’t like fight; no want fight. He comes; I tell them no fight.
“You come in, Mr. Fairchild; that’s all right; all true when you come; I see you; all right after you come; you like grass in this country; that’s all right.
“White man shoot children, little girl, big girl; my friend there, white man shoot him.
“I get up soon in morning; I hunt geese; when I look back see too many men, both sides of the river. I look back, both sides Lost River. What the matter? Bad work—Applegate’s son (meaning Lindsey Applegate’s son [Ivan]) tell me lie. Applegate’s son say he go back to-morrow. He tell me lie; me feel bad; when I go back, he kill my friend.
“I come home; I call my children—no breakfast, no home. I like to see him. Applegate’s son, he bad man. One day he tell me good, with one-arm Brown, all hi hi. I see him; he said plenty of men; I see them.
“I don’t know what the matter with Jackson; he come early morning; soldier men coming, pistol in hand; like to see Captain Jack; all carry gun.”
Bogus Charley here took up the story, saying:—”I said ‘Stop!’
“He say, ‘Like to see Captain Jack in bed.’
“I say, “Stop, boys, Ivan Applegate.’
“I got up early morning, told Charley go get me water. He say, ‘Plenty of men come.’ I hardly get up. I sleep in house. He come slow, say ‘Boys, soldier come—what he want?’
“I say, ‘Stop, boys!  I don’t want you come near. Make you place there—camp there.’ All children scared—still they come—close to house. All carry gun, ask for Captain Jack.
“Captain Jack asleep, no clothes on, no gun loaded, no pistol loaded. Old woman give Jack shirt. He said, ‘No hurry. Plenty of time.’ He go out; we have nothing—no gun.
“I go down to see him. ‘Major Jackson, how are you?’
“He said nothing.
“‘Why you come for this morning? What you come hurry?’
“Sets big shoot, all guns.
“I never do nothing against soldiers. Scar-face Charley come from other side; been to Dennis Crawley’s house. He came slow—he see soldiers—he run up—carry gun to kill duck. Four hundred yards away he fall down, gun go off. Soldier hear shoot; he shoot—kill Indians. One man shoot me.
“Jackson talk: ‘Come, boys, get off horses; stop all together.’ I think Ivan Applegate make him bad. Man shoot me, fifty yards away. All soldiers shoot; two Indians dead. Few Indians shoot; only two or three guns.
“Then on other side bad men took guns from Indians. Big shoot other side. George Fiock shoot first and Dennis Crawley; both fire shotguns; shot women and papoose. Take guns from Indian.
“Ivan say ‘Want you go to Yainax; soldiers shoot you; I want you go.’
“I say ‘Want to stay with my father.’
“Ivan come down two days before; say he come back two men, have big talk hi hi. Come back with soldiers; would not go off, camp and talk.
“Major Jackson no talk. Scar-face say, ‘Jackson, what chief you come from?’ He say come from the mountains.”
Fairchild then suggested that we should break up the council for the present and go to supper. This proposition appeared to meet with general satisfaction, and the Indians all retired to their respective rancheries and caves, leaving Captain Jack in the charge of the Curley-Headed Doctor and wife. Fairchild, Whittle and myself returned to Mr. Tame’s rancherie, and pulling out a bag of biscuit and cold meat, set to work at supper, and Mrs. Wild Gal Tame boiled some water and made us some coffee. A number of Indians sat around outside and munched greedily at some pieces of bread that we gave them.
After supper Bogus Charley, Scar-faced Charley, John Schonchin and several others arrived, and Bogus told me that Captain Jack was too sick to talk to me himself and had sent them to tell me all about their wrongs.
They first told me about going on the reservation, where they had nearly frozen to death, as the agent only gave them half a blanket and none at all to the [women].  He also said they had only been issued provisions for the first two or three days and afterwards they had to dig camus roots in the depth of Winter and kill and eat their horses to keep from starvation. Charley said that he and three or four others had split some two or three thousand rails and had never been paid for their work, and added that starvation finally drove them back to Lost River, after they had been about ten weeks on the reservation.
Speaking about the last fight, they told me each two or three men had about two miles of rock to defend. They did not have a high opinion of the Oregon volunteers and said they lay on their backs behind rocks and shot up in the air. They asked me all about the Herald, and were evidently much amazed and astonished at the magnitude of the establishment connected with that paper. Finally, Scar-faced Charley told me they were going to doctor Captain Jack, and so I went over to see the performance.
A good many Indians were in the cave, and in the centre were two other Indians, jumping up and down on the ground and singing some unintelligible works to a meaningless kind of tune. Captain Jack was lying down alongside the fire and the Doctor and his [wife] were evidently trying the effect of magnetism on his system. Captain Jack’s [wife], a nice looking woman, with a magnificent eye, soft and full of expression, sat at the head of the bed.
After a little quiet work upon his patient the Doctor appeared presently to get quite excited, and finally turning Captain Jack on his face, he gave a howl, jumped on his back, laying all over him, and put his teeth in Jack’s shoulder blade. He held on there for a couple of minutes, writhing and twisting his body about, and then Dave, a stout looking Indian, weighing about one hundred and sixty pounds, jumped on top of the Doctor, in order to keep him in his position. In the meanwhile the men kept up their dancing and howling in the middle of the room, being relieved every now and then by fresh recruits. Presently Dave got off, and the Doctor rose from the body of his patient, and, going up to the entrance of the cave, vomited. All the Indians ran up after him to see what he threw up, as their belief is that he had sucked all the disease out of the sick man, and they wanted to see what it looked like. My curiosity did not lead me to join in the prospecting party; so I sat and watched them bathe Jack in cold water and then continue their rubbing and singing. I finally returned to my wickkeup, not at all satisfied with the performance I had just seen, as I was inwardly convinced that Jack would be dead next morning, and, as such an event might cause a revolution in this peaceful family, the position of the guests in such a case would be rather unpleasant.
On my way back to the Tame rancherie I passed a group of bucks dancing round in a circle and singing a peace song. They all appeared in good humor, judging from the height they jumped, which is said to be graded in accordance to their exact feelings. I found the house pretty full, and, after sitting up for about an hour, my hostess, Mrs. Wild Gal, proceeded to arrange the bed. After shaking out the matting the blankets were thrown on top, and, taking off my boots, I lay down and made an attempt to sleep, but it was so cold I never closed my eyes all night. If animal warmth could have kept my blood in circulation I would have been all right, as our party consisted of four gentlemen and three ladies, all stretched out on a matting eight feet wide.
A little before daylight … Matilda got up and lit the fire, and I was glad to get a little warm in my feet. After eating a light breakfast and smoking a pipe we went over to Captain Jack’s cave and found the Council already in session waiting for our arrival. Captain Jack was sitting up, supported by his [wife], who had her arms around his waist, and he looked a little better this morning, as if the treatment he received on the previous evening had really done him good. As soon as we were all seated Captain Jack commenced his talk, which was translated as follows:—
“I know Mr. Meacham. I see him a long time ago at Fort Klamath; I don’t know which way he comes from now. He tell me truth; he got plenty of soldiers. I afraid I don’t know him; maybe he don’t feel good. I got one heart; maybe Meacham got two hearts. My thoughts straight. I don’t want to scare Meacham; he come here; don’t be afraid. I don’t tell nobody hard; I tell truth. I tell my one heart; other chiefs sometimes tell lie. I want you, Mr. Fairchild, tell how you know me a long time, hear me speak truth. I don’t know what I have done bad. I tell truth. I am a Yreka man. I conceal nothing; I tell truth all. I know good many men, treat me well, want to fight. I don’t so. I tell you glad to see Paper Man from afar off. I know you better; I am not ashamed to talk to white people; I did not steal your horse.”
He then turned to me and said:—
“Tell your people I just got up in the morning, they disturb me; I done nothing. I told them Yreka men gave me a letter; good words in letter. White men no like, he tell you a lie.
“You say all right. I don’t want see no more before day. You go home, you fellows. Want people to look good; no watch any more; get up in morning, just look for something to eat, not blood. I tell him not going to steal your horse; not ashamed to speak. No shoot no more, want it all good. These Indians done shooting, no tell lie. I want things done quick; no wait long; talk quick. I can tell them to quit; I say boys quit, all quit. I got good sense; my boys use my sense.  That’s all.”
Fairchild: “Meacham wants to know if when you say all quit, that every Modoc quit.”
Captain Jack: “My boys think as me; I say quit, they all quit. Mr. Meacham maybe got two tongues, I speak with one tongue. These all my people; I good sense; give them my sense. Meacham got too many friends; I don’t want Meacham talk that way. Maybe half white good, maybe half bad; all boys here one mind, want whites all one mind. I tell him truth, I won’t tell him gas; I laugh and feel good to see Mr. Meacham.
“Before fight we same as white men; after fight Indian. I want no Indian law, got no Indian law. Want same law for Indian and white man. Indian want to be same as white man; when Mr. Meacham done talking, if he tells no lies, I be same as white man. Meacham’s side only half minded, this side all one mind. I go to Yreka, I same as white man; money in pocket, go to store, buy what I want. I make more friends with white; I tell him truth, all straight, shake hands, want no more bad.
“Mr. Meacham must not think treachery from my boys; they all act right. Wash all the blood from these boys; make them same as women; he must not talk that.  I got only few men; I got one house. Sorry white man afraid to travel this road; I like people travel everywhere.
“Well, John Fairchild, you look after your cattle; watch them well. I don’t know what chief want to make blood again. Mr. Meacham perhaps not know they were going to make blood; very bad; every Indian agent did. Want Mr. Meacham talk quick; stop making blood. I don’t know why send Major Jackson; he want to kill me quick; he bad man; I like to see him; he tell me lie; he make me crazy; I want him to talk straight.
“He come before morning, all dark. Ivan came days before; tell me he come back three men; he tell me lie. When Jackson come my gun not loaded, no pistol loaded, no clothes on, my friends all asleep. I tell the boys all bad; told all to get up. Scar-face, coming into camp, fall down; gun go off. I tell him soldiers shoot. They say want to find Captain Jack; they come pistols in hand; me no clothes on. I told Major Jackson to make a camp, come back and talk. He don’t want to talk; tell men to get off; keep together. Ivan say clean them all out to-day; kill these Indians. Boys won’t talk; want to kill these tricks. All soldiers get off; pull off his coats; my boys get scared.
“I don’t shoot first; they shoot one of my friends; he fall down dead. Tell you truth; I don’t shoot first. I did not want to fight. He come kill my friend; my friend dead. I don’t care about dead; let them go; I want good for alive.
“I told Fairchild, when he come first, I quit. They come fight, get all fight; come again, get more fight.  I saw Klamath Indian; I tell him I want to quit; no want to fight. He tell me all coming to fight to-morrow; soldiers camped very close. I did not go near; did not want to fight; could have fought them before day; did not want to fight. I tell my boys, and we go any place and fight; my boys not afraid. Did not want to fight them.
“Long time ago Indian get fighting, many of them. Big chief could not stop them. Now not so many; stop them. Want Meacham and one, three or five come talk; no gassing; want them to come. Tell him not to be scared, this man from paper afar off. This man with good eye, he come to see me; he not afraid. Indian glad to see him; want paper man come again. He hear same story; hear me speak truth; hear no more hard stories about me when done talking with white men. I did not make first fight; I want everybody good.  I hold up my head; I not ashamed of first fight. Glad to see men come to see me; tired of hearing [women] talk. That’s all.”
Fairchild: “What place would you like to hold the meeting?”
Captain Jack: “Glad to talk; little flat by the lake, near foot of the bluff; plenty water and grass. Want to see white men. I don’t want soldiers come. Want Fairchild; paper man from afar off he come hear me speak truth. I want to show my boys to Mr. Meacham. We don’t want to make gas; meet down on flat by the lake; plenty of water and grass.”
Fairchild: “How many Indians come? Mr. Meacham says he bring many soldiers as Indians. He don’t like to come with few men to meet all Modocs.”
Captain Jack: “I don’t like to see soldiers. Keep the soldiers where they are; don’t like their faces; make me feel bad. Want to see Mr. Meacham and white men. If he want peace, what he want soldiers? He come Meacham and four others; you three come—eight altogether.”
Fairchild: “Meacham want Lalakes, Joe Parker and Modoc Sally come.”
Captain Jack: “I don’t like them—no want to see them.”
Fairchild: “This party come—Meacham, Case, Applegate, Canby, writer, waiter, clerk, Rosborough, Steele.”
Captain Jack: “All right, ten altogether. No soldiers. Talk good; tell me truth. You three come.”
Fairchild: “Other paper men want to come.”
Captain Jack: “That’s all right; want to see paper men. No soldiers. Soldiers stop where they are, mad with them; make my boys feel bad.”
Fairchild: “What day shall they come?”
Captain Jack: “I am tired. I want you come to-morrow. Tell him to do right. I am sick. Ready any time; come soon.”
Fairchild: “All right; we come when Steele and Rosborough come. When they come I come down and tell you.”
These matters being all arranged satisfactorily we were arranging to go when John Schonchin said he wanted to talk, and, according to Indian etiquette, we remained where we were and heard the following speech:—
“Indians bury the hatchet. No want to see soldiers, make him feel bad. Meacham not be scared. Boys waste all the blood. Mean good. Talk truth.
“When I see Fairchild I not ashamed. I don’t gas about anything. You tell me what Mr. Meacham says all good. I like Meacham well, no more bad. I know Meacham; he wants good talk. I don’t like to wait long. Like Meacham good; like him well. Meacham says he big chief. Little chief wants to talk quick; big chief slow. I want to talk good; wash my hands.
“Mr. Meacham maybe good talk; what he want to bring soldiers? Soldiers no good for peace; I don’t like soldiers. I like good roads, all open; people travel right and left; don’t scare when you hunt your cattle; you need not watch them—all good; these boys only look out for good—no bad. I feel good now as if I stood in high place, saw all peace; see cattle graze, leave them alone. Men get scared, go to hunt their cattle—don’t like to see that.
“I am chief of this country; the bricks like to work round the country, chop wood, look for things. If Meacham wants to stop fight, all right; that would be good. I guess some one on your side want to make blood again; don’t like it; perhaps tell lies. This side tell all truth.
“The big soldier chief he come here; all right. Your side think good; want no soldiers; no gas this side. You know my heart, Mr. Fairchild; you know me; you know whether I am crazy. I want to make all good. I don’t tell lies. I make no bad sense. I think you do on your side. I have got no bad heart. I don’t think of making it bad again; maybe you do; that why you want bring soldiers here again. He send good word; want to make no more blood. If Mr. Meacham stood here and talked no more blood, soldiers same as dogs; when they come look like blood. Don’t like Mr. Meacham fetch soldiers.
“I am telling paper man all about it. Talk with one heart; all truth. [Woman] tell me come big chief. Mr. Meacham make my heart good; next time he tell me straight. Don’t want to see more soldiers. I tell you truth. White men come and see me all right. That’s all.”
Schonchin’s speech wound up the council and we all got up and, after a round of handshaking, started for our ranches and saddled our horses. As we left the camp the Indians crowded on the rocks and, shouting our names, said, “Goodby; come again.” Bogus Charley rode back with us and went on with the party to Fairchild’s, and I left them after crossing Willow Creek and rode up to Van Bremer’s. During the night Hooker Jim, Curley Jack and another Indian [Shacknasty Jim] rode in and had a talk with Lalakes, the Klamath chief, about their horses and rode back.
On Thursday evening Judge Rosborough and Elijah Steele arrived, and I had the pleasure of hearing from Mr. Steele that my visit to the lava beds, he was certain, had done more to establish confidence between the Indians and whites than anything that the Peace Commission had yet accomplished. Mr. Steele, John Fairchild, Frank Riddle and [wife] and three California newspaper correspondents went into the lava beds on Friday morning. Mr. Steele was the bearer of the following proposition, which was suggested by General Canby:—
“For the Indians to surrender as prisoners of war, and go on some reservation in California or Oregon.”
[The material in the first paragraph of  John Schonchin’s final speech is found only in the telegraphed version. The two versions of differ sharply; comparison of the parallel portion shows that the telegraphed version is made up of isolated sentences pulled from the complete speech. As this material is without parallel it probably consists of fragments of a lengthy opening portion of the speech omitted by Fox in his letter.]

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