Sunday, July 7, 2013

Native Americans of Hyrum, Utah

Cache Valley was the home to the Northwest Band of the Shoshone Indians.  Chief Bear Hunter was leader of the division which inhabited Cache Valley.  He was considered the chief leader of the Northwest Shoshone.  There were two other divisions under Chief Pocatello and Chief Little Soldier.
It is interesting to note that Cache Valley was plentiful with buffalo at one time.  However, the buffalo met a terrible fate before the 1800s.  "This is the story told by an Indian Chief, Sagwich, to the first settlers of Cache. At the time of the telling, Sagwich was seventy-five or eighty years old, thus making his birth about 1780. He says that when he was in his fourth year, the snow began to come early in the fall to such a depth that the Indians became alarmed and began to move out of the Valley into the Valley west. By doing this, they saved their lives, for all winter the snow continued to pile up in the two Valleys until even in Salt Lake Valley it reached the depth of about fourteen feet and in Cache Valley it was worse. In the spring when the Indians returned to this Valley they counted but seven live buffaloes. These they gave chase to, killing some, and the others fled and disappeared out of the Valley to the north."
It may have been, that before having access to the horse, the inhabitants were a framing people.  However the plentiful supply of buffalo, and the ability to kill them from the horse, lead to the abandonment of agriculture.
The coming of the Mormon pioneers to Cache Valley starting in 1859 alarmed the native population.  They retaliated to the incursion by driving away and stealing the settlers cows and horses.  A local militia was set up to combat the threat.  There were conflicts in Richmond and Providence.  In 1863, the Bear River Massacre took place.  Colonel Patrick Connor attacked the encampment of Chief Bear Hunter with about 200 California volunteers.  As a result, 23 soldiers, and over 250 Native Americans, including at least 90 women and children, were killed.  Chief Bear Hunter was among the killed.  After this, there were really no major conflicts with the Shoshone in Cache Valley.
There are a few stories of Indians in Hyrum from "Home in the Hills of Bridgerland.  When they first arrived, while the men wee working on the canal, the women where confronted with a group of Indians.  However they only demanded provisions and were satisfied.  During the years of the fort, a group headed by Chief Pocatello came to town demanding provisions, and they were supplied.  The only year "trouble" occurred shortly after the Bear River Massacre.  Twelve horses were stolen from the joint corral.  The militia headed out in search of them.  A couple days later they came upon the camp of those who had stolen them, and stole them back. 
 Chief Washakie was a frequent visitor with a group of Indians.  He would come in watermelon season and was allowed to pick a few.  Annually, the Indians would come through, and the squaws would go door to begging for flour, while the men would visit the Bishop for meat.  The general policy was it was better to feed them than to fight them.
There was an Indian Princess who became ill and died in Hyrum and was buried west of town close to the river.
For the most part, there were no hostilities in Hyrum.  Many years the Indians would camp just out side of town, and Indian children would play with white children.

Chief Pocatello


  1. Holly Glover I've been working on a bit of history myself. It's so very interesting. My 3x great grandfathers history talks about the issues they had with the Indians in Richmond. Then said the battle happened and they weren't as much of a problem haha. Simple as that!

  2. Billy, do you have journal entries that you'd be willing to share? I find it fascinating and very humbling.

  3. I was studying volcanic eruptions and their effects on the environment. It just so happens that a large valcano erupted in 1783 to 1784 and the effects of the fallout of ash were wide spread. I'm willing to say that the coinciding timelines of the chiefs recollection of heavy snows in the year 1784 would fit perfectly together with this erruption.

  4. My ancestors had an encounter with two Indians in Wellsville as they were some of the first settlers. Look up Thomas Rowell Leavett and his wife Ann Eliza Jenkinns and Betsey Hamblin. It happened in 1858ish. No one was hurt that evening, but it was an intense experience.

    1. There were a lot more than two Indians. Fresh scalps hung from the leaders from a blond woman and one from an elderly woman with grey hair. It is an interesting story.

    2. There were a lot more than two Indians. Even the Chief was with them. They had fresh scalps of a woman with blond hair and a woman with get hair. Also, I spelled Ann Eliza's last name is Jenkins.