Idaho History Apr 12, 2020

Long Valley Ambush

August 20, 1878

Valley County, Idaho

Long Valley Ambush Historical Marker

LVAmbushMarker-a
(click image for larger size)
by Rebecca Maxwell of Boise, Idaho

Inscription. While hunting stolen horses on Aug. 20, 1878, WM. Monday, Jake Groseclose, Tom Healy, & “Three Finger” Smith were ambushed in a rocky basin 9/10 mile by road from here.

Monday and Groseclose were killed immediately, and Healy wounded; Smith, “being a man of experience in such matters,” fled. He made it 40 miles to Salmon Meadows. Infantrymen buried the 3, marked the spot, and took up the Indian trail. Smith estimated there were 75 Indians; army trackers finally concluded there were only 5 — but they never caught them.

source: Historical Marker Database by Craig Swain
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from page 133 “Valley County Military Action” by Bill C. Bowman

When the first white trappers came to this part of the country in search of beaver, they found a beautiful place where the Nez Perce, Northern Paiute and Northern Shoshone (Weiser and Sheepeater) Indians gathered to hunt, fish, and collect food during the summer. For the most part, there were peaceful relations in the area. There was little strife until prospectors and white settlers came to the Weiser, Little Salmon, and South Fork of the Salmon Rivers. This group gradually forced the Indians from their lands.

The Nez Perce War of 1877 and the Bannock War of 1878 influenced the policies of the US Army. These new policies eventually led to Valley County’s Sheepeater War. In June 1878, a small group of natives stole some horses from the settlers in Indian Valley. A group of four settlers, Jake Groseclose, Billy Monday, Tom Hailey and Three-fingered Smith, trailed the Indians over West Mountain to the falls of the Payette near the present town of Cascade. The settlers were ambushed and three of them were killed, only Three-fingered Smith was able to escape and make his way back to civilization. In August of the same year two prospectors were killed on Pearsall creek, about five miles from the site of the previously mentioned ambush. The Sheepeaters were blamed for other murders that occurred on Loon Creek and on the South Fork of the Salmon. It was later determined that these murders were the work of prospectors and not the Indians.
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from page 249 “Early Settlements” by Sheila D. Reddy

… Although Indians, miners, pack trains, herders and soldiers used the old trails to travel through Long Valley, it appears no one had settled or was living there in the late 1870’s. A telling incident occurred near the present town of Cascade on August 20, 1878 that left three men dead, and one man injured and seeking help.

In June of 1878, about sixty head of horses belonging to William Monday, Tom Healy and Jack Groseclose were stolen from ranches in Indian Valley. It was shortly after the 1877 Nez [Perce] War and renegade Indians were suspected. The three men accompanied by “Three-Fingered” Smith headed out on the trail of Indians and horses. Smith was a seasoned mountain man and miner who had come to the Territory in the 1860’s and knew the country. He and the others followed tracks east across the mountains dropping into Long Valley above the series of cascading waterfalls on the Payette River. As the trail closed into a narrow pass they were ambushed. The attack left Monday, Healy and Groseclose dead. Although he had been hit, Smith managed to hide in the underbrush and escape. He headed north to the closest help, Calvin R. White in Little Salmon Meadows. Badly injured Smith would have sought the aid of any settler in Long Valley had help been available.
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Long Valley Massacre Markers

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Location: 0.9 miles and 317 ° from Cascade, Idaho Elevation 4889 ft.

source: Pictures of Cascade by Mike Huston
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Long Valley Ambush

Nellie Ireton Mills, in “All Along The River” (1963), p. 269f writes:

“Long Valley came into the news with a bang when on August 20, 1878, three Indian Valley ranchers were killed by Indians above the falls on the Payette.

“Going to his pasture early on the morning of August 17, 1878, William Monday, the first settler in Indian Valley – over the divide (to the west) from Long Valley – found that his beautiful team of matched mares had been stolen.

“Indians! There was no doubt. Moccasin and pony tracks mingled with those of the mares in the dust at gate, confirming his fears. Investigations revealed that neighboring farmers had also lost horses that night, but Monday’s were the most valuable.

“William (Billy) Monday was a determined man who had overcome much. Life had dealt him many a hard blow. He was abandoned by his parents, and found, weak and hungry, in a log cabin in southern Ohio. He was not old enough to talk and give his name, so was called “Monday” for the day on which he was found.

“His wife begged him not go after them, as did his friends and neighbors, some of whom – Solon Hall, his son Edgar and Jake Grosclose – had followed the tracks far enough to determine that the Indians had gone east toward Long Valley and could make their escape. Advising against the trip also was Sylvester Smith, a mountain man wise in the ways of Indians, Tom Healy, a squaw man, also wise in Indian ways. However, Monday was determined to go.

“Early the next morning, Tuesday, August 19, Smith, Healy, Monday and Jake Grosclose, all heavily armed, took the Packer John trail for Long Valley. They reached the Payette above the falls Tuesday noon, and crossed the river to a place where the Indians were lying in wait for them along the trail.

“Ezekiel Sweet of Lower Squaw Creek (now Gem County) wrote an account of the encounter with the Indians, in which three of the men lost their lives, as follows (from Idaho Statesman):

“‘In coming up the hill probably a quarter of a mile from the river the trail makes a turn to the north and runs up some heavy granite rocks some 20 feet above the trail. There are large cracks in the rock at this point, and the Indians had cut small pine brushes and stuck them in the crevices, shooting from behind them. Monday being in the lead three bullets struck him over the heart. You could cover all three with the palm of your hand. Healy crawled behind the rock and when he was found, there were thirteen empty shells around him. It always looked funny to me that these men, as well versed in Indians as they were, should have walked into a death trap.’

“Grosclose was also killed instantly. Healy called to Smith to take refuge behind the rock with him, but Smith, already shot, whirled his mule and started back down the trail. He fell off and rolled down the bank and hid in some wild rose bushes close to the river. There he is said to have found a beaver house and crawled in . . .”

Duane Petersen, “Valley County/The Way it Was” continues the story (p.13):

“He (Smith) stayed hidden for a couple of days before hiking toward Payette Lakes which was 26 miles away. He met up with the mail carrier who took him on to Meadows Valley where he could get some medical help.

“Word was sent to a U.S. cavalry unit under the command of Major Drum who were camped about 13 miles down the Little Weiser River from Meadows. When the soldiers arrived at Cascade Falls they buried the bodies of the men and marked the graves. They followed the trail to the east and found two miners killed at the Pearsol diggings (Dan Crooks and Bob Wilhelm) and also buried them. They then followed the trail into what is now called Scott Valley and turned south following the creek. They found a lone Indian boy guarding the horses. When the boy saw they soldiers he took off on his horse to warn the Indian camp near by. The Indians scattered and the soldiers recovered the horses plus others the Indians had. This is where we get the name Horsethief Basin. The area today is the site of the Idaho Fish and Game Horsethief Reservoir, a very popular fishing and camping area.

“The graves were along the river. When the first railroad tracks were built up the valley the graves were just above the tracks. Later on when Cascade Dam was built the railroad’s new grade came close to covering up the site so a rock retaining wall was built to protect it. The old railroad grade has been changed into a road by Valley County and grave site is below the road. Above the road is a flag pole and plaque telling the history and names of the pioneers buried here. You have to hike up the hill just a little ways to see the flag pole and plaque mounted on a big boulder.”

Sources:

Mills, Nellie Ireton. — All Along the River/Territorial and Pioneer Days on the Payette. Privately printed for Payette Radio Limited, 1963.

Petersen, Duane L. — Valley County, the Way it Was. D & D Books, Cascade, Idaho. 2002.

source: Valley County Idaho GenWeb
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Duane Petersen provides the following account of the Long Valley Ambush and the grave site of Jake Groseclose and his companions:

Cascade Falls Indian Battle & Grave

There are graves near Cascade Dam of pioneers that were chasing some Indians from Indian Valley that had stolen some horses. Those horses belonged to a rancher named Billy Monday. Three friends volunteered to help Monday recover these horses – they were Sylvester (Three Finger) Smith, Tom Healy and Jake Groseclose. They followed the trail of the Indians and the horses to the Payette River by Cascade Falls. There they were ambushed by the Indians on August 20, 1878. All the men were killed except Smith who after being wounded hid in a beaver dam until the Indians moved on. He stayed hidden for a couple of days before hiking toward Payette Lakes which was 26 miles away. He met up with the mail carrier who took him on to Meadows Valley where he could get some medical help. Word was sent to a U.S. cavalry unit under the command of Major Drum who were camped abt. 13 miles down the Little Weiser River from Meadows. When the soldiers arrived at Cascade Falls they buried the bodies of the men and marked the graves. They followed the trail to the east & found two miners killed at the Pearsol diggings and also buried them. They then followed the trail into what is now call Scott Valley and turned south following the creek. They found a lone Indian boy guarding the horses. When the boy saw they soldiers he took off on his horse to warn the Indian camp near by. The Indians scattered and the soldiers recovered the horses plus others the Indians had. This is where we get the name Horse Thief Basin. The area today is the site of the Idaho Fish and Game Horse Thief Reservoir, a very popular fishing and camping area.

Valley County: The Way It Was (D & D Books, Idaho 2002), Duane Petersen
source: (for above quote)
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Reminiscing -The Monday, Healy And Grosclose Massacre Of 1878

Mr. Ellis Hartley

Ellis Hartley, a long time resident of Payette County, and who lived as a small boy in Indian Valley until 16 years of age, tells of the Monday, Healy, and Grosclose Massacre of 1878, & other events.

I am a native of Idaho, having been born at Falk’s Store on January 20, 1876. I have lived in Idaho all of my life except 4 years in New Mexico. In 1878 we were living on the Wm. McCullough ranch, which joined the Billy Monday place in Indian Valley, Washington Co., Idaho, now Adams County. Recently I have been reading an account of the killing of Monday, Healy, and Grosclose, and the wounding of Smith, at what was known as “The Falls” on the Payette River, near Cascade, Idaho. The article referred to, appeared in a book called “The Payette and its Pioneers” compiled by Nellie Ireton Mills, and which I disagree with in part.

Going back a little, in the spring of 1876 we moved from Falk’s Store to Middle Valley, and Father took a Squatter’s right on a piece of land about 2 miles up the river from the present town of Midvale. He built a cabin and put in some crop and garden, but in July or August the Mormon crickets came and ate everything into the ground. That was the year before the Nez Perce Indian War. As it was generally known by the settlers, the local Weiser and Sheapeater friendly Indians were secretly communicating and sympathizing with the Nez Perce. Knowing this, the settlers had commenced forting up, or in other words providing central places where women and children would be fairly safe in case of Indian attack. Father, in taking the situation into consideration, and having lost his first crop to the crickets decided to more over into Oregon where conditions were more settled and where he could get work. In 1878 we returned to Idaho, but instead of moving back to the Squatter’s claim we moved to Indian Valley, and rented the McCullough place, as above mentioned.

Evidently it was on August 19th, 1878, Monday discovered his horses had been stolen, and upon investigation found evidence that it had been done by Indians, and after following the tracks for several miles made sure the Indians were heading for South Fork of the Salmon River by the way of Long Valley. This little band of Indians were often in the Indian Valley, as were other Indians, and were well acquainted with Monday, also Healy (who was a Squaw-Man) and Smith, a pioneer of these parts. Grosclose was a young man probably not more than 20 years old. Evidently Monday, Healy, Smith and Grosclose left Indian Valley on August 19th, going by the way of the old Indian trail to Long Valley on which the Indians had gone, and which crosses the Payette-Weiser River Divide almost due east of Indian Valley. The Indians must have expected pursuit and as soon as they knew they were being followed selected an ideal place for an ambush. This is about what Smith’s account was, of the massacre, which took place at a point one quarter mile north of the Falls (or Cascades) on the Payette River near the town of Cascade. The Indians had secreted themselves in some granite rocks near the trail. The first volley of shots killed Monday and Grosclose. Healy dismounted and got behind some rocks. Smith, who was the last man on the trail, started back, but almost the same time his mule was killed from under him and he was shot in the hip. Healy evidently held the attention of the Indians and allowed Smith to hide himself in a log jam on the river. After it was dark he left his hiding place and traveled on foot some 35 miles in all, reaching White’s place at what is now Old Meadows, a day or two later.

Two other men, Daniel Crooks of Mt. Idaho, and Brady Wilhelm of Idaho City, miners, were killed the same day by the same Indians, eight miles east of Cascade at what was known as Pearsol Diggings. Soldiers under the command of Major Drum found their bodies after finding those of the three ranchers in the canyon. My father with other ranchers of Indian Valley went to Lardo and received from the soldiers the Monday horses and others that were taken by the Indians at the same time, and brought them back to the Valley. Later he used the Monday team of horses to finish the harvesting of crops on the Monday place.

The Idaho Sons & Daughters marked the graves of Monday, Healy and Grosclose in the year 1929, and at the same time placed a marker at the graves of Crooks and Wilhelm. In the fall of 1964, my wife and I, and my sister and her daughter visited both to theses gravesites.

Wm. Monday was not the first settler of Indian Valley as stated in the book compiled by Mrs. Mills. A Mr. Spoore was the first, and he was also the first Post Master.

Our association with the Monday family was very close, and though I was only a little more than two and one half years old, this event was reviewed by our family over and over for many years afterwards, and in my opinion is very near to what really took place.

source: Copyright. File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by: Patty Theurer November 19, 2005
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The Long Valley Ambush

by Rick Just

long-valley-ambush_orig-1

In August, 1878, several horses were stolen by Indians from settlers living in (irony alert) Indian Valley, about 12 miles east of Cambridge. William Monday (or Munday), S.S. Smith (aka Three-Fingered Smith), Jake Groseclose, and Tom Healy set out to retrieve their stock. They were able to follow the tracks for about 40 miles to the falls on the Payette. An Idaho historical sign at milepost 115.4 on Idaho 55 marks the site today.

The Valley County IDGenWeb Project cites an account Ezekiel Sweet told about the incident: “In coming up the hill probably a quarter of a mile from the river the trail makes a turn to the north and runs up some heavy granite rocks some 20 feet above the trail. There are large cracks in the rock at this point, and the Indians had cut small pine brushes and stuck them in the crevices, shooting from behind them. Monday being in the lead three bullets struck him over the heart. You could cover all three with the palm of your hand. Healy crawled behind the rock and when he was found, there were thirteen empty shells around him. It always looked funny to me that these men, as well versed in Indians as they were, should have walked into a death trap.”

The Idaho Statesman, recounting the incident on September 15, 1878, reported that Groseclose was also killed, but that Smith got away. “Smith, however, being a man of experience in such matters, saw that they were completely outnumbered and at the mercy of the Indians, and not having dismounted from his mule, turned to flee, when he was fired upon by the Indians and shot through the thigh. The next shot took his mule from under him, and being on foot and running for life, he was again hit by a shot, which broke his arm.”

Some accounts say that Smith got away by hiding in a beaver house. In any case, he did find his way to safety. He estimated that 75 Indians had ambushed them. Army trackers concluded that there were only five Indians, but they never caught them.

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caption: ​Infantrymen buried the three men near where they were shot. The spelling of “Monday” on the marking is incorrect, according Aaron Parker who knew all three. It should be Munday. Photos courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society physical file collection.

source:
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“Jake” Groseclose & The Long Valley Ambush of 1878

As commemorated by an Idaho historical marker outside of Cascade, Idaho, the best known Idaho descendant of Jacob Groseclose is his great grandson, “Jake” Groseclose (1855-1878) — the eldest son of Jacob and Elizabeth Groseclose. An Army Indian scout, Jake Groseclose was killed by Indians, along with two companions, near Payette Falls, Idaho.

The story of this incident — known as the Long Valley Ambush or the Billy Monday Massacre — is recounted in, among other sources, B. Clark Groseclose, Grosecloses and Descendants in America, as follows. Jake Groseclose was living with his parents in Indian Valley (also known as Long Valley), Idaho in the summer of 1878. He had served with Captain Galloway’s Army as an Indian scout. A settler, Billy Monday, left some horses tied to a wagon in Indian Valley, and Indians stole the horses. Volunteers were requested to retrieve them. Five scouts, including Jake Groseclose volunteered. Abner Hall was sent as a messenger to the soldiers at Boise, Idaho. Jake, along with Billy Monday, Tom Healy, and Sylvester “Three Finger” Smith trailed the Indians over the mountains to Payette Falls. The scouts overtook the Indians but were ambushed. The Indians killed three of the men almost at once, and Jake was among the first killed. Three Finger Smith was badly injured. However, he escaped and made his way back 40 miles to a mail station. Soldiers stationed nearby immediately set out for the scene. When they reached the ambush site, they found the bodies of the three slain men. The soldiers buried the three bodies in a common grave and erected a marker. A permanent marker later was attached to a nearby stone.

source: Groseclose Families
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Indians at Payette Lakes, Idaho ca. 1913

From the Mike Fritz Collection
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(click image for larger size)
source: Mike Fritz Collection via Heather Heber Callahan
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from page 9 “Valley County Prehistory” by Steve Stoddard

… Although the Native American groups were feared and distrusted by the Euroamerican settlers, the only documented violent confrontation between them, the “massacre” near present day Cascade, was not caused by the Shoshone or NiMiiPuu, but by renegade Blackfoot fleeing the Bannock War to the west in Oregon. These renegades were followed to Montana and killed by the survivor of the confrontation, Three-Finger Smith, a legendary resident of Warren, the South Fork, and Cascade.

A Tukedika (Shoshone) village coexisted peacefully at McCall (near the present day Smoke jumper base) through the early 1900s. Nearly half of Valley County was included in the original 1855 Nez Perce Treaty, but when the revised 1863 treaty reduced the original reservation by 90% because of the gold discoveries at Pierce, Elk City, and Warren, the land south of Payette Lake was largely ignored until the [late] 1800s
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Nez Perce – The Treaty Period

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Treaty Period – 1855 to 1863.

The treaty era for the Nez Perce begins in 1846, when Great Britain and the United States settled a long running disagreement over settlement and control of what was known then as Oregon country. With the settlement of this dispute, settlers going overland on the Oregon Trail began to pour into the region. The creation of the Oregon Territory in 1848 and Washington in 1853 triggered the treaty process.

In 1855, territorial governor Isaac I. Stevens met with representatives from the Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce, Cayuse and Palouse. After more than a week of tense negotiations, The Nez Perce agreed to cede 7.5 million acres of tribal land while still retaining the right to hunt and fish in their “usual and accustomed places”. The Treaty of 1855 was ratified by the US Senate in 1859.

In 1860, gold was discovered within the boundaries of the reservation. Rather than stop the squatters and trespassers onto reservation land, the U.S. government initiated another treaty council that would shrink the 1855 reservation by 90%, claiming over five million acres. The bands that lived outside of the proposed reservation boundaries walked out of the proceedings and refused to endorse this land grab. Nevertheless, 51 headmen, who lived inside of proposed reservation, affixed their marks to the treaty. The US Senate ratified the document in 1867. The 1863 Treaty became known as the ‘steal treaty’ and created the conditions that would eventually lead to the armed clash between the Nez Perce and the US Army, now known as the Nez Perce Flight of 1877.

source: Nez Perce National Historical Park
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History of Valley County – General Overview

by Tamara Probst, Valley County

Nomadic Native Americans used the area both prehistorically and historically. They used the land following seasonal patterns of harvest, staying only for short periods of time. Salmon, huckleberries, camas, and mammals were probably some of the major resources they came for.

The first non-indigenous people entered this area to harvest beaver pelts. Hudson Bay Company trappers first trapped here in the early 1800s. Aside from names like Payette, the trappers left little evidence of what must have been thorough exploration and knowledge of this area.

The second wave of non-indigenous people came for gold – the first ones in the 1860s. For forty years, prospectors scrambled over Valley County’s mountains and miners mined out the rich veins. Conflicts between miners and Native Americans during the early mining years resulted in the Sheepeater Indian War of 1879, when the U.S. Calvary forced scattered Native Americans onto reservations.

The valleys were first settled during the 1880s. By 1890, according to census figures, 750 people lived in Valley County. Land use activities at this time included timber, grazing, farming and mining. Crops included peas, oats and wheat, and livestock.

Up until 1890, land use patterns reflected use of open, unclaimed land. During this time, ranchers annually brought large herds of cattle from the south to graze in Long Valley. The homesteaders resented this intrusion and retaliated on several occasions by slaughtering cattle. This tension existed until the U.S. Forest Service began to regulate grazing.

Between 1890 and 1910, Long Valley and Round Valley were completely claimed as a result of the Homestead Act, a federal government program. By 1910, towns, one-room schoolhouses and farms sprinkled the landscape.

excerpted from (link)
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see also: Sylvester Scott “Three Finger” Smith