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The Rule of Law Through Lawlessness:
Vigilante Activity in 1860s Walla Walla County



Transcribed by Rob Spencer

Source: Walla Walla Statesman, April 27, 1866, page 3

Subject: Victims of vigilante violence.

Synopsis: Two men are hung as criminals. Cards are attached to the bodies to identify the men and their alleged crimes. The Statesman officially endorses vigilantism.


MORE OF THE VIGILANTES-UPDIKE AND DIXON HUNG-Mr. Dover and another gentleman arrived in town from Rocky Bar, Sunday afternoon bringing the news that D.O. Updike and Jake Dixon were hanging at Syrup Creek. Mr. Dover and his companies camped at Syrup Creek about dark on Saturday night, and had occasion to go down to the house a short distance and were surprised at finding no one living there but Updike suspended in the shed between the two houses. On his body was pinned the following card:
DAVE UPDIKE- the aider of Murderers and Horse Thieves. XXX

The discovery had the effect of making their camp a lonesome one for that night. Coming on the next morning, they learned that Jake Dixon was also hung to a tree a few miles down the creek. They could not tell how long the bodies had been there. Justice Kline started yesterday morning for Syrup Creek for the purpose of disposing of them. Monday morning the following card was found posted on the Main street, written in the same hand writing as the one found on Clark a week ago:

DAVE UPDIKE- Accessory after the fact of the Port Neuf stage robbery. Accessory and accomplice to the robbery of the stage near Boise City, in 1864. Chief conspirator in burning property on the Overland Stage Line. Guilty of aiding and assisting West Jenkens, the murderer, and other criminals to escape, while you were sheriff of Ada county. Accessory and accomplice to the murder of Raymond. Threatening the lives and property of an already outraged and suffering community. Justice has overtaken you. XXX

JAKE DIXON- Horse thief, counterfeiter, and road agent generally. A Dupe and tool of Dave Updike. XXX
All the living accomplices in the above crimes are well known through Updike’s confession, and surely will be attended to. The roll is being called. XXX

In the addition to the above from the Boise Statesman, we have a rumor that two other men have been hung by the vigilantes, but of this there is no certainty. Passengers, who have lately come through from Boise, state that an intense excitement prevails, and that the hanging of Updike and his partner is only the prelude to further trouble. The opponents to the vigilantes were arming, and a collision between the two parties was liable to occur at any moment. The Idaho World condemns the course of the vigilantes in the severest terms, whilst the Statesman just as decidedly approves of all that has been done. In the moral as well as in the natural world, storms are sometimes necessary to purify the atmosphere and after the storm that now prevails in Idaho subsides, we doubt not the people of that section will enjoy a season of quiet.