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

After Many Days

The Indian who Murdered Chas. Gieger in this City Arrested

The Brave Act of Wm. Martin, Sheriff of Kootenai County, Idaho

Source: The Morning Review (Spokesman), Jan. 10, 1886, page 3

Subject: Indian Accused of Murder is Caught

Synopsis: The Indian allegedly accused of Charles Gieger’s murder is caught by the Kootenai County Sheriff.


In the evening of Saturday, June 20, 1885, an Indian committed one of the boldest murders in the annuals of eastern Washington by shooting down Charles Gieger, an inoffensive white man, on the north side of the river and within the corporate limits of the city.

At the time of the murder, a picnic given by the Concordia society was in progress on the flat in the western part of the city. Upon receiving the new of the shooting, the crowd broke up and a large force of men, on foot and on horseback, immediately started out and scoured the country, but failed to secure the Indian, he having escaped on horseback. The following are the particulars of


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 a tinner for Newport & Holley. Numerous rumors were 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 is known among the whites as 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 has been in the habit of sleeping.


And when they reached a point on the Chawelah road only a few hundred miles 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, 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 at once fled. 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 with Geo. Brandt and Mr. Harvey, who were walking to the city, and fired three or four more shots, possibly to intimidate the men.


The murderer known by the name of Sam and had a very bad reputation even among his own kind. Sheriff Whittier advertised a reward of $100 for his capture, but as the sum was small and no further reward was put up, and the Indian was known as a desperado regardless of his own life and careless of the lives of others, the risks were too great for the stakes, and no one was found bold enough, under the circumstances, to go after him.

Besides, it was known that he had gained the shelter of the Calispel country, a region peopled by the independent race of red men known as the Calispels, who have no particular love for the white man and who would not give Sam away.

Besides the


is rough and mountainous, giving him ample shelter against any pursuit. Some time after the murder Sheriff Whittier and Constable Hubbard started for the Calispel country and were gone for several days. They heard of Sam but failed to catch a glimpse of him. During last summer we received letters from the Colville country from men who claimed they know where the Indian was and that they could capture him, but the writers desired some greater inducement to undertake the job than a paltry $100 bill. All this time


Sheriff of Kootenai County, Idaho, living at Rathdrum, was quietly working on the case. He knew Sam well, and from Indian friends and by carefully questioning he ascertained where Sam generally loafed. Mr. Martin is an unostentatious, taciturn gentleman. He has lived in this country for years. He is well acquainted with the topography and the people. He is a man of cool nerve, a tenacious purpose, and one who can abide his time.

These characteristics make him an excellent officer.

Sheriff Martin has waited and waited, and while


almost passed out of the memory of man he never lost sight of either. He learned that Sam was stopping with some other Indians near Sand Point, and the audacious fellow, presuming that his crime had been forgotten, rode up and down on the railroad although never coming west of the Idaho line. He may have been in our city since the shooting, we would not be surprised if he had.

Sometimes ago Sheriff Martin got track of the murderer and started after him in hot haste but the Indian, unaware of his danger boarded, a train


the pursuing officer at a small station a few miles east of Rathdrum only a few minutes before the officer reached the place. Sam, not suspicioning that a Nemesis, untiring and determined was upon his track, made no effort to cover his trail, and instead of putting a great distance between himself and the avenging spirit he seemed lulled into feeling of security and courted his downfall.

Several days ago Sheriff Martin learned through friendly Indians, having no love for Sam and probably induced to betray their own color by the customary bribe, that the man he wanted was camped for the winter in the mountains near Sand Point. The officer at once made up a job to


Securing an assistant the two took the train to the nearest point on the road to the camp. Knowing the exact direction, they started out on foot and reached the camp Thursday. In order to play it down fine the men walked up and pretended to be perfectly exhausted from want of food and their exertions.

Knowing the habits of Sam, Martin timed his visit so as to reach the tepee when the individual was out. As Sam knew Martin, it would not have been safe for him to have seen the officer coming up.

The Indians at the tepee supplied the white men with food and at their request they were permitted to take their blankets and lie down in the hut. They wrapped the blankets well about themselves, sought the darkest part of the tent, and the best of them are always gloomy, and then the most trying ordeal commenced.


After some hours, which seemed like weeks in duration, Sam, the long looked-for murderer, came walking with a light tread characteristic of the race, and perfectly unsuspicious of the trap he was putting himself into.

Carelessly casting his eyes about, and probably mistaking the recumbent figures for his brother Indians, he wrapped his blanket about himself and stretched out near Sheriff Martin. Having arranged himself for instant action, Martin allowed the Indian a few minutes to get settled down, and when he thought the proper time had arrived he suddenly shoved


right in the face of the Indian and in a voice that the fellow could not mistake told him if he moved off would go the top of his head. Accepting the situation with the most indifferent nonchalance the Indian never moved nor changed countenance. He was trapped.

There was light enough to see the face behind the gleaning pistol barrel. He knew it and knew that the man was in earnest and could not be fooled with. Martin’s assistant at once clapped the hand cuffs on Sam. On his person were two revolvers and a bowie knife.

Had he been given an equal chance he would have fought desperately and the result would have been doubtful. Getting their prisoner between them the officers took him within a short distance of Rathdrum, where he was placed in security until Martin could communicate with the authorities of Spokane county.


Sheriff Martin was down Friday and making all the necessary arrangements he returned to Rathdrum, got his prisoner and yesterday passed through the city of Cheney, where the murderer is at present secure, and where he will probably remain until the next term of court if the law is permitted to take its course.

We, among others, never expected the fellow to be captured, and now that he is we hope he will suffer the extreme penalty for the brutal assassination he is guilty of.

Sheriff Martin is deserving of the warmest congratulations and, the most fulsome praise for his dogged persistence in watching and waiting his time, and for the bold and successful execution of his plans.


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