Jonas Stanup

Thurston County, Washington, USA
Death 16 Dec 1897
Pierce County, Washington, USA
Burial Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington, USA
Memorial ID 106464350 · View Source
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Called to his last sleep at the age of 93.

Once a great fighter and orator among the Puyallups and sire of the most noted Indian of the Tribe.

The funeral will take place at reservation tomorrow.

Jonas Stanup, one of the oldest and best known Indians in western Washington, and father of the famous Peter Stanup, died on his old "illahee" (dwelling place), on the Puyallup reservation, at 9 o‘clock yesterday morning.

The old brave was gathered to his fathers from among a little assembly of friends including his aged and faithful wife, Scho-wash-ni, Henry Bagley and Charles Johnson.

Stanup was strong until a few hours before his death, and scarcely did he have the little coterie about him think that he was being summoned to the happy hunting ground when he was suddenly taken ill night before last.

The old man had seen between 93 and 94 "snows," and time had dwarfed his once lithe and athletic frame and added line after line to his brow. He was subject since his boyhood to periodical fits, and it was during one of these that he yielded up his life. The fit lasted an hour, instead of about 15 minutes as usual. As it came on, his good klootchman, infirm and feeble under a weight of years, soothed his head and his friends gave him nourishment.

Putting his head back on the pillow for the last time he was admonished by his attendants to sleep. He replied in Chinook, saying, "Wake, wake" (no, no), "alki moosum" (bye and bye I will sleep).

He slept sooner than he anticipated and from a nervous twitching of the muscles about the lips that had so often spoken eloquently in the war councils of the Puyallups and the Nisquallys and in the tribal pow-wows of his people, the Mud Bay Indians slowly became quiet and finally cold. His last fit was the first he had suffered in a year.


Seattle Post Intelligencer, 17 December 1897.



Jonas Stanup, who died at his home on the Puyallup River, in Pierce County, December 16, at the ripe old age of 94 years, was the last survivor among the more noted members of his tribe who took a prominent part in bringing about the treaty of 1854. He was equally active in the war with the whites, which followed soon after, and was one of the leading spirits in the final peace making. He was the father of Hon. Peter C. Stanup, who met an untimely and violent death, and who is supposed to have been murdered by political enemies of his tribe.

Jonas Stanup was born at Oyster Bay, in Mason County, early in the century, and from boyhood was noted as a great hunter, an athlete and warrior. At the time Washington Irving visited the West and during the sway of the Hudson's Bay Company, he was among the most prominent Indians of America. It was after the exciting times incident to the transition from the dominion of the Hudson's Bay Company to the United States, and the setting apart of the Puyallup reservation that Stanup married the daughter of one of the leading families of his tribe and settled on the farm where he lived for nearly half a century.

During his prime he was second to no warrior for bravery, although he was never noted for reckless killing, and in the history of his people none is credited with having possessed more influence over the tribe, or with having seen more clearly the future of the native born Americans after the first encroachments of the whites. When the Indians first realized that white men were taking from them their lands, killing their game and herding their sheep where elk and deer had formerly grazed, and that the time must come when they would be crowded from their own property, they reasoned that by killing these whites they would put an end to the trouble; but Stanup from the first advocated making terms with the white men. He proposed that certain lands be reserved to the Indians and that the whites be allowed to settle upon all other lands, and held to this idea through war and trouble. It required several years of bloodshed to convince his friends and tribesmen that he was right, and that the number of white men was "as trees in the forest," but in the end his conception of what should be done was proved wise and practicable. After having used all his power of oratory and having worked unceasingly he finally brought about the treaty he so earnestly believed in, and succeeded in having the Puyallup reservation set aside for his people by the government.

From the day the land was declared a reservation Jonas Stanup was foremost in resisting the many attacks upon it which have since been made by land grabbers and by the government as well, and his only son, Peter, ably seconded his father in thus defending their rights. The son was murdered May 15, 1893, at midnight at his own doorstep. This was the night succeeding the attack upon the Indians by Captain Carpenter and a company of troops while the Indians were at work grading a railroad through their lands under the direction of Frank C. Ross.

This fight is a memorable incident in the history of the tribe, and how the troops made a bayonet charge, being repulsed by the Indians rolling logs on them from the hill above, and now finally the troops were placed under arrest by the sheriff of King County, has already become a matter of history. Peter Stanup was the leader of the Indians at that time and before the troops began their attack made a stirring speech to them, warning them not to try to interfere, as the Indians were engaged in a lawful enterprise on their own lands.

The night after this trouble, young Stanup went home late and is said to have been killed as he stood on his own doorstep. His neck was broken and his body then thrown into the Puyallup River. The father never recovered from the shock caused by the death of his boy, and from a vigorous and hearty man soon declined into ill health, rapidly growing weaker and more helpless until the day of his death, when he said to his old wife: "I will sleep now."

Old Stanup was always enterprising and progressive in business and tribal affairs. He was a warm friend of several of Tacoma's more prominent citizens in years gone by, and worked in conjunction with Col. C.P. Ferry in securing the right of way for the Northern Pacific railroad through the reservation. The first fourth of July celebration ever held upon Commencement Bay was arranged by Stanup, who was the orator of the day, Col. C. P. Perry having acted as president of the gathering and reader of the Declaration of Independence. Delegations of Indians were in attendance from all parts of the Puget Sound country, a big feast was prepared, and nearly every resident of the then sleepy little village of Tacoma was on the scene to participate in the exercises and to join in the feast.

Old timers here still tell of this celebration, how they had horse and foot races, and games, and how old Stanup held them all entranced by his magnificent oration.

The Indians of the tribe had for years looked upon old Stanup as a father and adviser at all times, and his death is sincerely mourned by all. Last summer a portrait of the historic old character was painted for the Ferry Museum, where it now stands, but it is the picture of a feeble old man, showing only faint traces of the iron will, rugged honesty and remarkable intellect of one who was probably the ablest of all the Indians on Puget Sound.

Seattle Post Intelligencer, 26 December 1897.

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  • Created by: Tenalquot
  • Added: 10 Mar 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 106464350
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jonas Stanup (unknown–16 Dec 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 106464350, citing Old Puyallup Indian Cemetery, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington, USA ; Maintained by Tenalquot (contributor 46506981) .