Hot Tempered, Hard Drinking and God-Fearing


All that was missing was a passable road through the area, so Hanson ordered one to be cut. A survey was made of the coast from the Klamath to Crescent City as 1855 was nearing its end.  Building a road in rugged and steep terrain had its trouble, but not as many as the difficulties with Capt. Robert G. Buchanan and his hot temper.

Buchanan’s temper prompted the man first ordered to create the Agency, S.G. Whipple to ask that the company of soldiers still in his area not be subject to orders from Fort Humboldt.  Whipple asked that the men be permanently assigned to the Klamath Reservation.

However, when Henley brought up the subject with Brig. Gen. John E. Wool, the commander of the Department of the Pacific, he was told that the detachment was being recalled because they had no quarters on the reservation. This left Whipple with 5,000 Indians who has recently “been hostile.”

As the year 1855 came to a close, Whipple busied himself purchasing flour from a mill near Kepel, directing his agents to ready gardens for the Indians to use for potatoes and other plants.  They bought gardening tools for them, along with seeds and twine for fishing nets.

And as the nearby war on the Rogue River ended, Whipple asked them to move to Wilson Creek. He promised them the government would help them until land could be cultivated and food grown.

He also promised to reimburse them for their fisheries and 900 square miles of land with money paid to them in their currency, Ali-cachuck.  But Whipple resigned in 1856 and was replaced by Agent by James A. Patterson.

Patterson repudiated the agreement, whereby the Tolowa returned to their Rancherias on the Smith River and the coast north of Crescent City.  In October 1856, Lt. Hezekiah Garder of the 4th Infantry concentrated them on Smith Island, where he issued those rations and clothing at the government’s expense.

Patterson was found so drunk in Crescent City in January 1857,  that he slept in his clothes in the bar of a local hotel.  He continued drinking the next day and passed out in a local stable’s stall and an investigation of his conduct was called for.

When the charges were substantiated, he was ordered removed, and replaced by V.E. Geiger. However, Geiger declined the appointment, so Maj. H. P. Heintzelman was nominated as sub-agent and told to take charge of the Klamath River Reservation. 

Unlike his predecessor, Heintzelman was industrious and “God-fearing.” He prohibited liquor and gambling on the reservation, ordered his employees not to drink or co-habit with Indian women on pain of discharge. 

He too, would soon find himself being discharged.

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