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

KILLED, AN INDIAN SHOOTS AN INOFFENSIVE WHITE MAN

The City Terribly Excited Over The Deed

Source: The Spokane Evening Review, June 22, 1885, page 3

Subject: The murder of Chas. Geiger is first reported

Synopsis: An Indian named Sam is accused of murdering a Spokane man when the two crossed paths. 

Notable Quotations:

"Our people are still so bitter that if the murderer could be found he would be strung up without the preliminary trouble of trial by jury.”

"The murder, which is the first case of an Indian shooting a white man ever known to have occurred in this immediate vicinity, looks as though it was a deliberate, unprovoked attack."

Text:

Saturday night this city was thrown into a perfect whirl of excitement by the report that an Indian had, without provocation, shot down and instantly killed a white man, and the fever lasted over Sunday, and our people are still so bitter that if the murderer could be found he would be strung up without the preliminary trouble of trial by jury.

The shooting took place about 10 o’clock Saturday evening, the victim being Charles Geiger, a particularly quiet and inoffensive man, who has recently been working as tinner for Newport & Holley. Numerous rumors are in circulation as to the shooting, but those near enough to the murder to know something about it were too badly frightened to be able to give any full particulars.

From the mixed accounts floating around it would seem that the shooting was a clear case of Indian cussedness superinduced by whisky. There were three or four Indians together on the north side of the river, and they acted as though they had been drinking. They did not attempt to interfere with any white man and all of them left except the fellow who did the shooting, whose name as known among the whites is Sam.

About this time Geiger came riding along the road on a white horse, bound for Dr. Morgan’s ranch, some little distance from town, where Geiger had been in the habit of sleeping.

The Indian rode after Geiger and when they reached a point in the Chewelah road, only a few hundred yards from the bridge across the main branch of the river, as it opens into the prairie, the Indian drew a pistol and fired three or four shots at Geiger. One of the balls struck the unfortunate man in the side and passed through the body, and another striking the horse in the neck.

The man never said a word, and after the horse made three or four jumps fell to the ground. The Indian fled at once. Several parties reached Geiger but, he was unable to articulate and died in a few minutes after the fatal shot was fired. After shooting Geiger the Indian murderer met Geo. Brandt and Mr. Harvey on the road who were walking to the city, and fired three or four more shots, possibly to intimidate the men.

The news of the killing was brought to town. Sheriff Whittier, Marshal Glispin, Constable Hubbard, Officer O’Conner, and a large number of men were on the picnic grounds, and when a man on horseback rode up and told of the crime there was a desperate rush for town.

Horsemen and footmen armed with guns and revolvers were soon scattered over the country looking for Indians. The crowds traveled mile after mile, all of Saturday night, visiting all of the lodges in the vicinity, trotting out the bucks and straining every effort to secure the murderer, but without success.

One or two Indians were found who knew the fellow that did the shooting and they were brought to the city. The boys felt very much chagrined that they should fail in their search. Sunday Marshal Glispin and Charles Wilson made a raid in one direction, while Sheriff Whittier and Jack Hubbard and a half-breed, who said he knew the Indian who did the shooting, started for the Calispel country, where it is thought that the murderer has gone. Glispin and Wilson returned last night without a hair, while the other party is still on the trail, and we hope they will succeed in bagging the game.

The murder, which is the first case of an Indian shooting a white man ever known to have occurred in this immediate vicinity, looks as though it was a deliberate, unprovoked attack. Geiger was a man who never interfered with anybody. He was remarkably quiet and reticent. He lived in the city for three or four years, and yet there are lots of old residents who did not know him by name. He was a tinner by trade and has worked at the different tin stores in the city during the past three years.

Last summer he did some prospecting for himself and Dr. Morgan. He was originally from Canada, and had no relatives on this coast. He was a member of Spokane lodge No. 17, I. O. O. F., and that order took charge of the remains, and the body was interred from the hall Sunday afternoon.

Sam, the Indian who did the shooting, has a bad reputation, and if caught will very probably go to the happy hunting grounds by fast express.

 

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