Sunday, 27 May 2007

Research Fellow

Dr Karen Wonders, is a Research Fellow, Institute of the History of Science, University of Goettingen, in Germany. Dr Wonders mentions Slumach on her Web site, First Nations Land Rights and Environmentalism in BC: "She speaks about Slumach as the "legendary Indian" who "had become famous for his hidden gold stash." Dr Wonders comments: "Unable to to speak English and illiterate, he [Slumach] had no defence to the fabricated charges against him."

There are no reasons why the charges would have been fabricated. There was no white skin to protect. All involved were "Indian." From the sources it is clear that Slumach shot Bee and the only reason to twist the evidence would have been to demonstrate that the shooting was in self defence. The records suggest that the Court would have liked to twist the evidence in favour of Slumach, but that the witness consistently denied that there was anything on board to threaten or attack Slumach with. Also, Slumach may have been illiterate and unable to speak English, but he had access to translators and a lawyer.

What bothers me is not the fairness of the trial, but the lack of compassion of the white population as a whole and the harsh and inhumane execution of an elderly "Indian" and fellow human being. Even if that was a usual punishment for murder in those days.

Dr. Wonder's refers to a questionable source of information, a 2005 German film: Auf Slumachs Spuren, [On Slumach's Trails]. The German treasure hunter Toni Lennartz claims in the film that all the records of the trial and the testimonies were lost in a fire, which is evidently not correct. But Toni's interest is not like Dr. Wonders in the fairness of the trial, but what the legal records could have said about Slumach's gold. He complains that the meager news reports of the time don't give any good information about the treasure. In truth the newspapers don't mention gold at all. Toni sets out on an expedition in the Pitt Lake mountains, aided by an entourage of experts and comes back with the suggestion that the gold was perhaps pyrite: False Gold.
Good joke! One hears the laughter of Volcanic Brown and all the other sourdoughs!

Thursday, 24 May 2007


Called at the trial is Kitty, wife of Louis Bee for ten years before his murder. In the 1881 Census no Louis or Louie Bee at all nor any trace of Kitty at Katzie even at the 1891 census.

In the 1881 Census is Lewey, indigenous, 27 years and Kitty, indigenous 40 years in the Cowicham [sic], Coast of Mainland, New Westminster, BC. NA film No. C-13284 -- District 187 -- Sub District D -- Division 7 – page number 123

Slumach had a daughter Mary living at Cowichan (Interview Don Waite 1972)

Slumach: murderer of women?

C. V. Tench in "The Gold Mine Murders of Nine British Columbia Women," Liberty, July 1956, gave the women names and faces and a life, but the idea of Slumach as a repeat murderer of women was not Tench’s.

Prior to this, in a 1951, the murder of women was presented by Chief August Jack Khahtsahlano. He was then in his eighties and "the only Indian still living who knows the whole story."

Chief Khahtsalano may well have been inspire by a January 1947 article, "Hoodoo Gold!" by Clyde Gilmour raising he possibility that Slumach murdered up to eight "squaws." Before that, in June 1942, a similar story written by W.W. Bride, titled "The Bluebeard of Lost Creek Mine," appeared in BC Provincial Police's The Shoulder Strap, .

But the origin of this legend lies probably in a story written by Jack Mahoney for the Province, 30 June 1939, from which the following: "Slummock was a tough character, and it was believed but never proven, that he had drowned three of his Indian "wives" near Siwash Rock at the mouth of Pitt Lake to prevent them from divulging the location, which they had been fortunate enough to learn, of his find."

Census 1881

The Census 1881 does not show any names that could be interpreted as Slumach or Bee. Indian Agent McTiernan did the census for the Fraser Valley, including Katzie.

Daily Columbian second half 1890 missing!

My search for the original articles about the murder, the search, the arrest, and the conviction in the Daily Columbian was not successful. The microfilm for the period from June to December 1890 is missing—no one has the July to December Columbian on film.

Fortunately, bound originals (the only surviving ones known) were found to be in the custody of the New Westminster Public Library. They are in a poor condition and the library believed that the volume should not be used at all. Experts have now examined the print copy and determined it can be filmed. The libraries are working on organizing the financing of the filming. Hopefully the missing months will soon become available for researchers.

For now I have used for my transcripts on the site the same articles published in the Weekly Columbian rather then the Daily Columbian, and where missing in the weekly, the transcriptions in the Native Voice of July 1959 (the usual source for quotations by authors writing on the subject).

District Court records missing?

On 3 November 1890, preliminary hearings of the Slumach case were held at the District (County) Court before Justice of the Peace Capt. Pittendrigh. According to the press, "several witnesses were examined and a mass of evidence taken down."

These records were not found in the BC Archives or any institution in New Westminster. It is possible that these records were destroyed in the 1898 New Westminster fire but I still hope that the manuscripts survived and will some day be found, even if I doubt that they would add substantially to our knowledge of the case.

Verbal or physical confrontation?

Aunt Mandy Charnley reported that according to what her father, Old Pierre had told her, "Bee came at Slumach with an axe." Aunt Mandy’s remarks about an axe-wielding Bee and Slumach acting in self-defence do not match testimony at the trial, that suggest that the murder was triggered by a few words by Bee.

An axe-wielding Bee would have suffered a frontal shot, and not one "at the shoulder, going down through the heart and lung", which was described by Doctor Walker, who performed the autopsy on Bee’s body. The results of the autopsy are consistent with witness Charlie Seymour’s testimony that Bee was sitting down in the canoe when Slumach, standing on the shore, shot him.

This was not the first time that Bee and Slumach confronted each other and that axe-wielding may have been part of an earlier incident. Also the reported finding of Bee’s axe in Slumach’s cabin may have to do something with an earlier encounter.

Why did Slumach shoot Bee?

Bee was described "as in the habit of blustering at and threatening everyone with whom he came in contact," and it was said, that there was "bad blood between Slumach and Bee." A few words by Bee that day may have been the last straw and it was enough to enrage Slumach to the point that he shot and killed Bee with his old front loader.

There were rumours in the press that Slumach killed at least one more man before Louis Bee is raised in the 1890 newspaper reports. The "Colonist" (January 1891) even suggest that he had killed 10 men "before the whites settled on the mainland of B.C." Indian Agent McTiernan believed Slumach when he denied that he had killed anyone other than Louis Bee in his life. The buzz may have related to a number of unsolved murders in the area for which Slumach’s hanging was meant to be a deterrent. Still the accusation that Slumach killed more people than Bee persists till the present. Unjustly I asume.

With the hanging of this old man the press’s interest in Slumach died. What was there to report? Slumach was only rumoured to be involved with other murders and there was not a thing about gold. British Columbia between the Fraser gold rush and the Klondike, was is a world full of prospectors, fortune seekers and speculators and even gossip about gold would have triggered a stampede to the Pitt Lake area, duly recorded by the press —but it did not happen.

Witnesses Moody and Reid

The Daily Columbian report on the Assizes of November 14, 1890, mentions that the defending counsel asked for Slumach’s case to be adjourned on the grounds that two important witnesses for the defense, Florence Reid and Moody could not be "obtained" in time for the trial.

It has been suggested that this "Moody" would have been an illegitimate offspring of Colonel Richard Clement Moody, but Colonel Moody left British Columbia in 1863 and George Moody, thought to be the witness, was born in 1875, son a Native women and Sewell Prescot Moody, the first large-scale lumber exporter of lumber in BC.

Although both witnesses Florence Reid and (George) Moody were present at Slumach’s trial, they were not called by the defending council.

Simon Pierre, who in his interviews with Wayne Suttles, referred to George Moody as "white." Simon was a son of Old Pierre, who supported Slumach in his time of imprisonment and who shared his experiences with his daughter Amanda.

Florence (Brouseau) Reid (1849-1899) married Abraham Reid, who died about 1873.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

“It all started with all the lies.."

"It all started with all the lies they said about him. He was this and that you know, a cruel old man and all that." (Aunt Mandy)

Who was the real Slumach? Was he indeed the "bloodthirsty old villain" of the newspaper reports? In her interviews, Aunt Mandy stressed that her parents (Peter and Katherine Pierre) said that Slumach was a kind old man, closer to eighty than to sixty and that he was a crippled and harmless old widower who lived in a shack at the bottom end of Pitt Lake, on the abandoned Silver Creek Indian Reserve.
Why did this kind, elderly man shoot Bee? Louis Bee was described as "in the habit of blustering at and threatening everyone with whom he came in contact. " Slumach also told Jason Allard "that the young man who he killed had tantalized him on every occasion." It was said, that there was "bad blood between Slumach and Bee." Bee’s words that day may have been the last straw, enough to enrage Slumach to the point that he shot and killed him with his old front loader.
Was Slumach a serial killer? There were rumours in the press at the time of his conviction that this was not the first time that Slumach had killed, but as Aunt Mandy said: "It all started with all the lies they said about him. He was this and that you know, a cruel old man and all that." Indian Agent McTiernan believed Slumach, who denied that he had killed anyone other than Louis Bee. The buzz may have related to a number of unsolved murders in the area for which Slumach ’s hanging was meant to be a deterrent, aside from as punishment of his own misfortune.
With the hanging of this old man, the press ’s interest in Slumach died. What else was there to report? Slumach only was rumoured to be involved with other murders, and at that time there was nothing about gold in his story. British Columbia, between the Fraser and Klondike gold rushes, was a world full of prospectors, fortune seekers and speculators, and even gossip about gold would have triggered a stampede to the Pitt Lake area. That would have been duly recorded by the press —but it did not happen.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Jason Allard interview, 1926

"The Sunday Province." 8 August 1926

In August of 1926, the The Sunday Province published an interview with Jason Allard about Slumach. Jason Allard "who knows everything there is to be known about Fraser Valley Indians" knew Slumach "the desperado" by repute and he is reported to have been one of Slumach’s jailers.
Allard believed that Slumach and his brother were born in Nanaimo, although their father came from the Pitt Lake and Pitt River area. Living up the Nanaimo River Slumach murdered any stragglers coming his way for the only reason that he "liked to be monarch of all he surveyed." Caught in the act of killing "an Indian" he escaped by playing dead in his canoe and with his brother moved to Pitt Lake and there, living like hermits, murdering "everyone that ventured into their territory." "One can picture the wild terror of being hunted by this long-haired strange creature." That went on until Slumach was caught and sentenced to die for killing Louis Bee.
Jason Allard told the interviewer that, "when Slumach was first captured, he behaved just as any wild creature would do." Jason remembered that the long- haired Slumach "had wonderfully large eyes which reminded of the eyes of a grey lynx. Later in the article we read that Slumach "…was not given to talk and never boasted about the number of scalps he had taken." In the eyes of many in those days, Slumach was the savage Indian personified. On the other hand Jason Allard, described Slumach as a "most charming personality, with the manners of a French dancing master.., [who] continued to exhibit the same good manners" during his time in jail.
Slumach ’s, name, according to Allard, was actually Slough Mough, which means rain and he also suggested that Slumach’s brother’s name was S’mamqua or"ceremonial undertaker," a name Allard thought very appropriate because this brother "always chose the graveyard to do his courting." The surname Bee of the victim, "half-breed Kanaka" Louis Bee, is interpreted by Allard as Poll-al-ee.
About the "secret of a great gold mine" the reporter adds: "Had Mr. Allard only known that his prisoner knew of its existence, he might have become a very wealthy man, for the murderer, with his fine manners, would undoubtedly have told him where it was."

Donald E. Waite's mentions that Allard was an interpreter and perhaps not a jailer as mentioned in the 1926 interview. I quote from page 103 of Waite's The Langley Story :
Allard had earned a living over the years as an interpreter in the courts all over the province. He spoke five Indian dialects as well as French and English. The most notorious trail in which he took part was that of Indian Charlie Slumach, famous for the "Lost Mine of Pitt Lake Tale", who was hanged in 1891 for the murder of Louis Boulier, a half-French, half Hawaiian from Langley. Apparently Slumach, after weeks of eluding the police, surrendered to his nephew Peter Pierre and Allard. Jason, upon the death of his wife in 1915, moved from Langley into the Royal City in order to be always readily available for court appearances in New Westminster County Court. He died in the Royal City in 1931.

Great Fire of September 10, 1898

Indian agent Patrick McTiernan played in important part in the Slumach tragedy as intermediary between the First Nation people and the authorities.
Unfortunately the records of the Indian Agent became victim of the 1898 New Westminster fire and none of McTiernan’s correspondence about Slumach (if there was any) seem to have survived. Slumach’s conviction and death were not mentioned in Tiernan’s annual report. I still have to search the correspondence of the Indian Superintendent of that time, A.W. Vowell to find a mention of the Slumach case.

1890 newspapers in conflict with testimonies.

"The Daily Columbian" September and November 189o and January 1891.

The reliability of the press as a source of information is immediately put in question by the account of the murder in the Daily Columbian’s first report in September 1890, a version repeated in November with the conviction and again in January 1891 after the hanging of Slumach."
What is reported in the press is quite different from what is recorded at the inquisitions and the trial. If, as reported in the newspaper story, there were "several other Indians"around when Bee was murdered, they all would have been called to witness. In truth there was only one witness to the murder, a man called Seymour, from Harrison and it is on his pronouncement that Slumach was convicted. This Seymour lived in a fishing camp at Lillooet (now Allouette) Slough together with Louis Bee, their wives and an unnamed old man. On that fateful day, Bee and Seymour set out to find bait for their sturgeon line. They heard a shot and went to see who was shooting and what the shooter was hunting. Sitting in their canoe alongside the shore they encountered Slumach who was standing on the bank with a single-barrelled muzzle loader in his hand. Some words were spoken, Slumach fired, and Bee’s dead body dropped overboard into the river. Slumach went to his own canoe and started reloading his gun. Seymour fled over land, recovered his canoe later, and reported the murder to the Indian Agent Peter McTiernan at New Westminster that same night.

No Slumach in 1906 Pitt Lake gold story.

"The Daily Province" of 3 April 1906, "Buried Treasure at Pitt Lake."

Quote: "that it would appear that some man by the name of Frazier secured information that an old man, who has ere this been gathered to his rest [I love that expression], had some valuable placer grounds in the Pitt Lake country. He had recovered $8,000 in gold nuggets and these he had hidden under a rock, He had then passed away, but had left directions where the treasure and the placer ground had to be found."
That news came to the knowledge of others who set out to find the gold "ahead of another party which was stampeding to the treasure ground." Of course nothing was found. They had all a hard time though: "...the party had a very rough trip as the weather was rainy, and sleeping out did not remind one of the dreams between Dutch feathers."
The Slumach legend seems not born yet in 1906 and the old man in the story could well refer to the also legendary "Jackson."

Slumach in 1879 census?

RG 10 Census, Yale to Coquitlam 08397 -- Indian Census 1879 -- Yale tribes through Coquitlam; Indian Names, number of dependents. population etc.

Katzie Tribe –Pitt River Village on Pitt River, 30 December, 1878.

Population – 7 Total: 7 Adults. No Youth, No Children.
5 Males and 2 Females.
Livestock – (none listed)
Farm implements – (none listed)
Tsa mem.kwah (Chief) --- Male 1 Female 1
Slum.ook --- Male 1 --- Male 1
Skwul.skay.nim Charlie --- Male 1
Stul.lah --- Male 1 Female 1

Pitt River Village at the south end of the Stave Lake is hardly populated in the winter of 1878. Slum.ook may be Slumach. A brother’s name recorded as Smum-qua (Aunt Mandy interview) and S’Mamqua (Jason Allard interview) can’t be reconciled with the names of those living in the this village, or the names listed for "Ko.kwit.lam Villlages" or the "Katzie Village."