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 David M. Fraser

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David M. Fraser

Pennsylvania, USA
Death 10 Sep 1885 (aged 60)
Pierce, Clearwater County, Idaho, USA
Burial Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho, USA
Plot IOOF, Row 29, Lot 004, Grave 08
Memorial ID 127185892 · View Source
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Owner of the Fraser Trading Post in Pierce
On a stormy summer night in 1885, the Chinese were setting off firecrackers along Main Street in Pierce. It was custom to do this to frighten away the evil spirits of the storm.

Fraser slept in the back room of his store. His body was found on the floor near the front of the building the next morning, cruelly mutilated.

He had apparently been attacked while he slept. There as blood on the pillow, bed and floor. Blood trailed to the front door where the struggle had ended. He had been hacked to pieces with axes, hatchets and knives. A bullet had entered his mouth and gone out the side of his neck.
Because of the noise from the firecrackers outside no one heard the shot.

Five Chinese were accused and taken by posse to federal court in Walla Walla. Three miles out of Pierce, the prisoners and their guards were stopped by a band of masked vigilantes. The vigilantes slung a pole between two black pine trees, put up five ropes and hanged all five of the prisoners.
(Taken from the Lewiston Tribune, August 7, 1960 and from “Idaho Chinese Lore”)
One summer’s night in 1885, it is alleged that five Chinese men gained entrance to the Fraser General Store, while their fellow countrymen set-off fireworks up and down the Main Street. It was a stormy night and the fireworks supposedly helped drive-off the evil spirits. The store’s owner, David M Fraser, a well-known and respected pioneer, slept in the back of his store. No one heard a shot, but the next morning his dead body was found by his packer, who had been sent to see if he were ill when he did not arrive for his usual breakfast at a boarding house nearby. It appeared that Fraser had been brutally attacked with axes, hatches and knives while sleeping, since there was blood on the pillow, on the bed, on the floor and a stream of blood trailed all the way to the front door, where the struggle ended with a gun shot through the mouth. Blood was also smeared on a rack of pick handles, as if Fraser had attempted to grab a weapon and defend himself.

Interestingly, Fraser’s safe and property went completely untouched.

Seven Chinese suspects were rounded up and thrown into jail. A group of citizens from Lewiston and the Camas Prairie, upon hearing of the murder arrived in Pierce to investigate. The surrounded the town, and sent in a small posse to learn of the situation. A tiral was arranged, but it was not an ordinary trial. From lack of evidence and confessions, the court decided to try an old ruse. A man named Lon Sears, who had learned the Chinese language in the mining camps of Warren, Idaho, was disguised as a drunken Indian and thrown into jail with the suspects. Sears’ ruse was apparently not successful, as the next day, a mock hanging was arranged at the Pierce Confession Tree, thinking it might be possible to frighten the guilty ones into confessing (photo of tree at Pierce Historical Kiosk). This also failed, so the prisoners were returned to the jail. The court, unable to determine guilt, released the two oldest men. The five remaining were turned over to a deputy sheriff, loaded into a hayrack wagon and started on the long journey to Murray, Idaho, for further trial.

Three miles south of Pierce, at a place called Hangman’s Creek (near this present location), the entourage was met by a band of masked vigilantes. Without hesitation or interference from the guards, the vigilantes slung a pole between two black pine trees, put up five ropes and hung all five of the prisoners. The vigilantes were never found in the following years of searching. The bodies of the Chinese men were buried in the Chinese Cemetery (located at the corner of Moscrip Drive and Stover Drive in Pierce). According to custom, the bones of all Chinese in the cemetery were later dug up, washed, and sent back to China. David M. Frasier’s remains are buried in the Pierce Cemetery (Cemetery Road in Pierce), and the Community of Fraser (between Weippe and Greer) was named in memory of him.

Not all of the Chinese experiences in Pierce were positive. This includes the murder of prominent Pierce merchant D.M. Fraser.

Family Members



Aged 60 Years

Gravesite Details Originally buried in the 5th Street Cemetery (Pioneer Park). The city subsequently ordered it to be emptied of graves. The remains were exhumed and moved to Normal Hill Cemetery in 1893




  • Created by: Kerry
  • Added: 31 Mar 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 127185892
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for David M. Fraser (10 Sep 1825–10 Sep 1885), Find A Grave Memorial no. 127185892, citing Normal Hill Cemetery, Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Kerry (contributor 48011981) .