Thursday, December 6, 2012

William R. Lotz

Were you aware that Washington Territory was involved in the Indian War of 1855?  Were you aware that the year 1855 was the beginning of one of the most dreadful and trying times in the history of the Washington Territory? That was the year that Native Americans “ceased diplomatic relations” with non-Indian settlers and declaring a war of extermination against the few and scattered settlers. I have to admit I didn’t know of this part of Washington history, and I suppose I could excuse myself by saying I was not taught Washington history because I went to school in other states, not in the Pacific Northwest. But is that really a good enough excuse?

W. R. Lotz wrote an excellent article on the Indian War of 1855. I found a copy he wrote and published in 1930 in a News Tribune editorial column “Other Viewpoints on Various Subjects." I found the column most interesting and although I won’t quote all of it, I will quote a portion that deals directly with his experiences during this time:

“Here I will detour long enough to say, that, no doubt, I am the only survivor of those who bore arms—carried a musket---in that war.  It is true that the musket I bore was only an imitation which I had whittled out of cedar wood and the soldier who bore it was an imitation too, being then only in my seventh year, having been born at a young and tender age in 1849; but, by the way, this was not the only event to make ’49 memorable in history, for that was the year in which gold was discovered California. This discovery was not only enriching California, but the entire Pacific Coast

“Just before the outbreak of the war, my father had established his family in a comfortable log house on a donation claim seven miles south of Olympia (now South Union), but was compelled, for safety sake, to move to Olympia. Here he did duty standing guard nights. His beat was Main Street from the fort to the foot of the street at Giddings’ wharf. Several nights, with my imitation gun on my shoulder and with his consent, I marched with him...

“Someone reported seeing a large fleet of Indian canoes rounding Dofflemyer’s point, seven miles below, and rapidly paddling towards Olympia. A telescope was hurriedly gotten and the looker said “Yes, there is a big fleet of them, but the leading canoe bears a white flag.”…Soon the “flag ship” canoe, the first to land, grounded on the beach and Chief Patkanim came out of his canoe and shook hands warmly with the more than relieved little crowd of welcomers…Why has not something been done to perpetuate the memory of this noble “white man’s friend” Chief Patkanim?

“…According to the account by the late venerable Indian fisherman, Dave Squally, of Wollochet, the last battle fought in that war took place on the north shore of Hales Pass.

William R. Lotz was born in Germany in 1849. He told his daughter, Grace Lotz Woodruff, the story about him as a seven year-old patrolling the streets of Olympia with his father. 

He also told her about training as a “Printer’s Devil” (one learning the trade of a printer) on an Olympia newspaper. He was alone in the newspaper office when a telegraph came in stating that Abraham Lincoln had been shot. All the others had gone fishing, and as he was alone he wrote the article, ran it off the press, and got an “Extra” out on the streets before the others returned.

Lotz left Washington in 1870 and worked on different newspapers – in Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, and Bell Plain, Texas. He and his future father-in-law established the Callahan County Clarendon in Bell Plain in 1879. He then moved to Baird, Texas, where he married Ada M. Rust in May, 1880. In September, 1889, he returned to Washington where his parents still lived, bringing his wife and three children with him. The rest of his life was spent around Puget Sound in Tacoma, Olympia, and Shelton, where he was editor and proprietor of the Shelton Tribune for several years.

He retired to a spot on Hales Pass near Gig Harbor (in Warren) in 1904 and spent the rest of his life there until March, 1937, when he died at age 88.

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