|Birth: ||Dec. 7, 1813|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Oct. 19, 1860|
In 1860 one of the worst massacre in Idaho and Oregon took place, called the Utter and Van Ornum massacre.
Thousands of emigrants traveled from the eastern states to the West Coast via the Oregon Trail. The group known as the Utter train assembled in southern Wisconsin. The two largest groups were the Elijah P. Utter family with 12 and the Joseph Myer family with 9. The Daniel Chase party from Illinois had five members. The Alexis Van Ornum family had seven members.
They followed the usual route of the Oregon Trail and arrived at Fort Hall, Idaho on August 21, 1860. They heard about other Indian attacks along the Snake River plain by the Shoshoni. Some discharged troopers went along with the Utter train. Twenty-two other soldiers escorted the train as far as Twin Falls, Idaho. From there they crossed the Snake River and headed west across the Bruneau River.
On September 9, eight wagons, 44 people - among them were 21 children - and 100 animals were attacked by about 100 Indians while heading northwest of Castle Creek near the Oregon border. The train formed a defensive circle to protect the livestock. The Indians charged, trying to stampede the stock.
The strong position of the hurriedly circled wagons and the distribution of food to the Indians discouraged additional aggression. But they came back only a few hours later. Toward sundown on the second day, immigrants were forced to flee. Each family hitched up a wagon and left the remaining wagons and loose stock for the Indians. Taking only the needed wagons they took flight in fear for their lives, since 11 had alread been killed in 2 days.
A wounded Elijah Utter was shot down, and his wife, Abagel, and four of his children refused to abandon him. All were killed.
The survivors escaped with only the clothes they were wearing, some firearms, and a few basic necessities. For over a week they worked their way down the Snake River, hiding in the daytime, walking at night. They traveled over 75 miles to the Owyhee River crossing until they were physically too weak to go on. Some were wounded and all were hungry and exhausted.
Two weeks later, the camp was visited by a few Shoshone Indians. They traded salmon for what few possessions the survivors still harbored and forcefully took their firearms.
After receiving some salmon, the Van Ornum family, Alexis, his wife Abigail, his son Marcus, his other son Reuben, 8 years old, and his 3 daughters, a young man named Gleason, and the two surviving Utter boys left the camp in hopes of finding a relief party. A short distance northwest of Farewell Bend, they encountered Indians. The three van Ornum girls and their little brother Reuben were taken captive. The bodies of the others were discovered by soldiers in an old crater near the site.
Captain Frederick T. Dent, leader of the Army Relief Expedition, reported that a party led by Lt. Marcus A. Reno discovered, "gleaming in the moonlight, dead, stripped, and mutilated lay the bodies of six persons. . . . Mrs. Van Ornum had been whipped, scalped, and otherwise abused by her murderers; the boys, Charles and Henry Otter, were killed by arrows, Mr. Van Ornum, Marcus Van Ornum, and Gleason had their throats cut, and besides were pierced
by numerous arrows. They appeared to have been dead from four to six days, the wolves had not yet molested them, decomposition was going on however, and Lieutenant Reno buried them."
The bodies were buried where they were found. Mrs. Van Ornum's body was laid to rest 4 1/2 feet deep, separate from the common grave containing the five remains of the men and boys. Local historian P. D. Wood rediscovered the graves and placed a small metal cross to mark the site.
At the Owyhee River camp, Mr. Daniel A. Chase Sr. died on October 13, Libbie Trimble passed away, and five days later her baby sister died. The next day, Danny Chase died, followed two days later by his brother, Albert. All four children died from starvation. After much discussion and prayer, those who remained resolved to eat the flesh of the dead children with the hopes of preserving their own lives until a rescue party arrived.
On October 24, an Army relief expedition led by Captain Frederick T. Dent rescued ten survivors. They were the Joseph Meyers family of seven, Elizabeth Chase and daughter Mary, and Emeline Trimble. Captain Dent reported: "found the remains of Christopher Trimble, who had been murdered by the Indians; his body had been much disturbed by the wolves, but sufficient remained to identify it. . . . This boy of 9 years of age, deserves
special mention. He had killed several Indians in the fight . . . he then became a prisoner voluntarily with the Indians, in order that he might get some salmon taken to the camp. . . . Two weeks had elapsed since his last visit; it must have been at that time he was killed."
Reuben Van Ornum was rescued by California Army Volunteers in November 1862 in the Cache Valley of Utah. Unfortunately, he could not adapt to civilized life again and returned to live with the Shoshoni in early 1870. The 3 Van Ornum little girls had died of starvation while captives in 1861.
Body lost or destroyed
Specifically: Body buried on a Memorial place in Baker County
Created by: Hugo Bartoli
Record added: Jul 04, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 39079607