|Ward Memorial State Park|
Postal Code: 83644
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The Ward Family Massacre:
When Wm. Alexander Ward and his small wagon train reached the Boise River Valley they felt it was the climax of their trip. Behind were months of travel through the debilitating, never-ending desert heat. Not far ahead was a larger wagon train, giving them a confident feeling of security.
They drove off the road August 20, 1854, to rest and have lunch by the Boise River. The 20 emigrants, including Ward's wife, four sons and four daughters; and John Frederick, Adolph Shultz, Dr. Adams, Charles Adams, Samuel Mulligan, William Babcock and several others, were preparing to continue their westward trek when one of the Ward boys rushed up to cry that a horse had been stolen by Indians.
Several men were accompanying the party on horseback, and one of these, named Amond or Amen, was dispatched with three others to recapture the horse. The wagon train moved on toward the road, the women and children drowsing in the heat. Ward led the party on horseback, and the other men walked or road by the wagons.
When they reached the road the emigrants were ambushed by a band of Snake Indians. Ward fell dead in the first flurry of shots. Amond/Amen joined the melee and was killed as he tried to rescue one of the Ward girls who was being dragged away. The rest of the men held off the hostiles until sundown, but the rain of arrows and rifle bullets felled them all. Although William and Newton Ward were shot through with arrows, they each managed to crawl into the brush and hide.
Driving the wagons with the women and children into the bushes, the Indians tortured their victims, burning alive three of the Ward children.
The men in the larger wagon train ahead were quick to ride back when they heard the firing but were too late. They buried the dead. Finding the wounded Newton Ward, they carried him back to their train. William Ward, unconscious, lay unnoticed in the bushes. He made his way to Fort Boise a few days later, the arrow still in his lung.
Newton and William Ward were the only survivors of the massacre. (They were taken in by family members in Lane County and both lived until 1925.)
When three of the Indians were caught they were tried and found guilty. One was shot as he tried to escape. The others were hanged at the scene of their depredations. The gallows were there for many years as a warning to other warrior Indians.
The site of the Ward Massacre is near what is now Middleton near Caldwell, Idaho. Take Highway 30 east to the city limits. Turn right at the sign pointing to Municipal Rose Garden. Continue straight ahead 2.8 mi. on gravel road. Turn right on gravel road 0.9 m., then right again at 0.8 mi. to monument on the left side of the road. Here the highway follows the exact course of the Oregon Trail. In earlier days the graves of nine victims of the massacre were preserved. Later the owner of the farm plowed them under and planted alfalfa.
|Photos may be scaled.|
Click on image for full size.