Inland Northwest History and Culture  >  Indian-White Encounters  >  Spokane: 1877-1890

Baldy's Battle

The Man Who Laid out Three Indians on the Columbia River Tells His Story

Source: The Morning Review (Spokane Falls), May 8, 1886, page 4

Subject: Baldy Huff shoots at three Indians

Synopsis: Three Indians who allegedly perform a home-invasion are stopped by Baldy Huff

Notable Quotation:

“When I got inside I lit the candle when Jim, who had the reputation of being a bad man, noticed a five gallon keg of vinegar that we had bought from Bartol & Conlee. Jim shut the door and demanded that I give him some whisky. I told him it was only vinegar.”

Text:

When in Sprague last week, we took occasion to call on "Baldy" Huff, the man who killed three Indians at Billy White's place on the Columbia River just across from the reservation and near the mouth of the Okanogan.

It was along in the forenoon," says Baldy, "when Cooper who was with me at the cabin, noticed three Indians cross from the reservation in a canoe. They were drunk and had a bottle of whisky with them. Cooper and I took a drink with them. One of the Indians was so drunk that he fell into the river and was dripping wet when he entered our cabin. We took his (the Indian's) shirt off and proceeded to dry it.

While this was going on Indian Jim wanted me to go to our dug-out cellar and get flour and bacon he had stored there. I took a piece of candle and went out the three Indians following me. When I got inside I lit the candle when Jim, who had the reputation of being a bad man, noticed a five gallon keg of vinegar that we had bought from Bartol & Conlee. Jim shut the door and demanded that I give him some whisky. I told him it was only vinegar.

Two of the Indians had rocks in their hands, the other had a broken wagon spoke. I saw there would be trouble and started to get out of the door. One of them caught me by the neck and shirt, another grabbed me by the waist and the third got hold of my legs. I had a navy revolver stuck inside of my outside shirt. By a sudden quick jerk I was able to get hold of the gun and fired at the Indian who who had me by the neck. I put three balls in him. He fell directly in front of the door and I could not get out.

With the first shot the candle went out and the other red devils clung to me. I struck out with my fist and knocked the one down that had me by the waist. I did not want to fire anymore in the dark. I struck a match and then Jim came bounding at me. I shot him in the mouth by the light of the match. I then wheeled and shot the third and last Indian in the stomach. Pulling the dead body away from the door I made my way out. I had killed all three of them.

Mounting a horse I was soon out of reach of any Indians who might pursue me. I killed them in self-defense. Cooper and I kept whisky there for our own use only. I am awaiting the action of the authorities in this matter and do not desire to leave here till everything is investigated.

Baldy showed the shirt he had on at the time and it was torn about the neck. We have known Mr. Huff for a number of years and although he is not a man to be fooled with he is not inclined to be quarrelsome, and it is our belief that he would not have killed those Indians had he not been sure his own life was in danger. A man shut in a dark cellar with three crazy drunk red devils is not apt to take many chances, and most men would have done as Huff did. We understand that the present grand jury will look into the case.

 

Written by: Troy Kirby, Graduate Candidate, Department of Physical Education, Eastern Washington University, December 2005