1919 – Update on Dispossed Nisqually

Present Status of Dispossessed Nisquallies.

 Cushman School. Tacoma, Wash, October 20 1919.

George Bobb (Account B-7) 

George Bobb, an intelligent, capable farmer, has built a new eight-room house across the Nisqually River from his old home on 277 acres of allotted lands which he inherited from Gerge Stahi, deceased Nisqually allottee No. 26.  Bobb is well situated in his new home except as to pasture, most of his new land being in small timber, while open prairie predominated at his old place.  He also lacks the berries and other fruit and the excellent bottom land, which is very limited on his new farm and covered with timber.  He has cleared 4 acres of upland timber and had 7 acres of prairie planed to oats and potatoes.  In all Bobb has 20 acres free of timber.  However, there is a small cleared bottom on the adjoining allotment of Chickamin (allottee No. 27), deceased father of Mrs. Bobb, which Bobb can probably cultivate with the consent of the heirs.

            To $415 of his earnings Bobb had recently added $770 from his award funds and bought a new Overland automobile.  He has $1,662.49 remaining, which should be used to clear more of his land for pasturage and cultivation, and to provide berries, an orchard, and needed improvements and equipment.

            Bobb and him wife both speak English will.  Their children attend the local district school a mile away from home.  They greatly miss their old home, with its open prairies, fine view of Mount Tacoma, its garden and fruit, but did not wish to go back there if the money they received had to be returned.  They told Col. E. A. Hickman and me that a lawyer named Sergent had recently held a meeting the dispossessed Nisquallies for purpose of getting their old reservation returned to them, now that the war was over, and he said it wasn’t needed any more by the War Department.  This lawyer is Fred A. Sergent of Grand Mound, Wash., associated with W. H. Abel, of Montesano, Wash., who of attorney for protesting owners of property condemned for Camp Lewis Army Post who have appealed to the Secretary of War and the Military Committees of Congress.  (Exs. D. and E.)  (See Ex. C-10, and Roblin report, pp. 12, 13, 30, 31, 32)

JOHN STAWHA (Account S-15).

            We found John Stawha comfortably housed in the old Stahi housed of two rooms, which George Bobb had sold him with 32 acres of the Stahi land bordering on the Nisqually River.  John is 83 years old, infirm, and needs the care of the Bobbs, as he has no near relatives.  He has a barn and chicken house in connection with his new home.  His former home was in a little cabin at Bobb’s place across the Nisqually River.  Stawha said he was not satisfied, but liked his old land best; that he couldn’t raise anything at his new home.  As a matter of fact, he is too old and infirm to do any faring and is dependent on his friends, the Bobbs, for personal assistance, and upon the balance of his funds in the superintendent’s hands for livings expenses.  (C, 10.  Roblin, 16, 17, 30.)

Section V. Present Status of Dispossessed Nisquallies.


Cushman School.

Tacoma, Wash, October 20 1919.


            Alice James is an old windowed woman, who paid George Bobb for the privilege of squatting with her house and outbuildings on the George Wheatsut allotment No. 5, in which he was part heir.  She is a Puyallup citizen Indian and came to the Nisqually Reservation in 1904 and lived on another allotment until the allottee (Tenas Pealo, No. 19) died, when she moved to the Wheatsut land, where her improvements were appraised by the county at $265.  She paid Bobb liberally for her occupancy of the Wheatsut land, but the heirs would not pay her any of the amount awarded for her improvements.  George Bobb, who heired half of the Wheatsut estate has promised to deed Sallie James 5 acres for life at his new home and build thereon a comfortable house for her use.

            Bobb has made no move to provide this house for Alice James, and it is recommended that unless he does this at once the $265 of his funds with the superintendent be used in repairing the sawmill cabin which she now occupies on the Henry Martin allotment 2 miles up the river, after securing consent of the heirs, Peter Kalama, Sallie Jackson, and Charles Martin.  Alice is reported to have gotten $16,000 a few years ago for her Puyallup land, but she is now without funds.  Her lawyer at Olympia has a small amount, but he states it will be needed to pay Alice’s note for which he is guarantor.  Alice’s living comes from earnings from picking berries and potatoes and fish and help from Indian friends.  She formerly had chickens and a garden, and her new home should be provided with garden patch and chickens, both fenced.  (C, 10.  Roblin, 13, 31, 1, 2.)

LIZZIE JOHN (Account J-13)

Lizzie John and family live part of the time in one of the cabins erected about two years ago for sawmill employees on the allotment of Henry Martin, deceased.  Lizzie used the funds derived from the condemnation of her Nisqually home to discharge debts against the Puyallup lands of her husband, Joe John, the 11 acres being conveyed to Lizzie with restrictions against the alienation.  I visited this tract and find it excellently situated near the Tacoma-Seattle paved road and a short distance from the town of Puyallup.  The land is worth three or four times what Lizzie paid.  The Japanese renters have part of it in berries and balance in high state of cultivation for growing produce.  On the land is an old unpainted, frame house of five rooms.  The roof is shingled.  This house is comfortable and much better than the one on the Nisqually of which were dispossessed.  There is also an old barn, wagon shed, and root house, and a new bunk house built of lumber for the Japanese laborers.  I learn that the Johns are trying to lease the land for next season.  They will probably do so and live at the saw mill where Joe John has recently secured employment.  The family will no doubt return at intervals to the meager quarters in the abandoned Martin sawmill where there are Nisqually neighbors rather than move to their home in the Puyallup Valley.  If they do the superintendent should require them to use some of their rentals from the Puyallup home to make one of the Martin buildings comfortable and ample for the needs of the family, after making and arrangement in writing with the Martin heirs for use of a building and a few acres for garden, chicken house, and outbuildings.  (C, 31.  Roblin, 22, 42.)

PETER KALAMA (Wife’s Account K-9)

            The home of which Peter Kalama and family were dispossessed was old and appraised at $283.  A barn, granary, tool house, and chicken house increased this to $559.50.  However as his wife’s interest in the allotment was only seven one hundred and forty-fourths and Peter had had exclusive use of the land for years, the other heirs refused to allow his wife anything in addition to her share, viz, $162.05, which she quickly spent for living expenses.  Mrs. Kalama is only 32 years old.  Peter is much older (57 years), but vigorous, capable, and self-supporting from his earnings.  They have five children, from 5 to 15 years old.  Peter is the graduate of Chemawa School and was employed in 1886 and 1887 as Indian teacher at the Yakima Agency.  His father was a Hawaiian and his mother a Nisqually.

            Peter is allotted on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon, where he has an improved farm and 60 acres in cultivation, the place being occupied by his son, Oliver, and his mother, a Wasco, the former wife of Peter by whom he has several children.  When we met Peter he was working with his team of heavy horses near his present residence at a little sawmill on the Nisqually River across from a railroad station of the same name and about 3 miles down the river from the reservation. 

            Pending in the Indian Office is a report, dated January 14, 1919, of hearing to determine the heirs of Henry Martin, No. 23, and Qual-a-muth or Robert Martin, No. 24, deceased Nisquallu allottees, whose allotments are on the reduced Nisqually Reservation on the west side of the river.  It is recommended that early action be taken on this report, as Peter states he can do nothing toward establishing his new home thereon until he knows he is sage in his title.  If this report is approved as submitted, Peter will be sole owner of the while Qual-a-muth allotment of 140 acres and equal owner in the Henry Martin allotment with Sallie Jackson and Charles Martin, 72 and 89 years old, respectively.  The Henry Martin allotment has 132 acres.  Charles Martin is blind, and both he and Sallie are dependent on Peter, who will be their heir when they die.  Peter’s present residence is a little box house 16 by 20 feet into which he moved when he left his old home.  He is now working for a logging contractor.  At intervals he works with his team for Pierce County on the roads, receiving $7.50 a day.  When the sawmill is running Peter earns $6 a day as a sawyer.

            While Peter won’t have the free use of the large Nisqually Prairie as he did at his old home, he will, when the Martin cases are decided, have practically 190 acres of lands and be better and more securely situates in its occupancy than he was before, where his wife only had a small undivided interest in the land he was using.  The Robert Martin or Qual-a-Muth allotment has some 12 acres cleared in the bottom around a little tow-room house.

            Before making repairs to the mill buildings on the Henry Martin allotment a formal transfer to the allottee of all improvements thereon should be secured from Harsted Bros., the timber contractors, who have abandoned their operations and removed the machinery.  It is thought that they will readily consent to this, in consideration of the cancellation of their contract, which is considered an equitable arrangement.  (See Indian Office letter Forestry 75098-83654, 1917, W. v. B.)


Sallie Jackson is a widow 72 years old and has no near relatives, except Peter Kalama, a nephew, and Charles Martin, a half brother.  All three have equal shares in the allotment of Henry Martin, deceased Nisqually No. 23, having 140 acres.  Sallie lives in the old Martin home, near the Harsted sawmill.  The house is old and needs a new roof and minor repairs to make it dry and warm.  A hydraulic ram brings water from a spring to edge of the escarpment near this house, where it is convenient now only for Sallie but for Alice James and Lizzie John and family when they live there.  A small garden should be cleared and fenced and chicken house, with yard, provided for Sallie.  One of the mill buildings can be converted into a woodshed and smokehouse for her.  As Sallie received only $416.70 from inherited interests and $250 from James Nimrod for her house on his allotment, her means are slender and should be closely conserved after these small improvements are made.

In justice to Salle, James Nimrod should be required to pay to her the $411 which he received from the Pierce County for her home on his allotment, where she was a squatter.  (See Roblin’s report, p. 41 ½.)

As Peter Kalama will likely outlive Sallie and heir her share in the Henry Martin allotment, it is thought that he will look after her and see that she doesn’t suffer.  The Nisqually River being near, fish can be secured, but not as conveniently as in the sloughs on the other side of the river.  (C. 29.)

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