Warren I.T., August 22, 1879


On last Sunday, August 17th, news reached this place that James P. Rains had been killed by Indians the evening before.  His ranch is near the mouth of the South Fork, where it meets the main Salmon river.  Lieut. Catley's forces crossed the South Fork at this point going and returning from Big Creek about three weeks ago.

Rains, being the most exposed settler, brought his family into town for safety in June.  The family is his wife, Mary and two sons, Jesse, about a year and a half old, and Henry, 7 months old, and his wife's sister Miss Pauline Weber.

Early last week he returned to put up his hay, taking with him James Edwards and Harry Lemhi Serrin and was joined by his brother-in-law, Albert Weber.  The weather was intensely hot and the haymaking was complete.  No sign of Indians had been seen.

Saturday evening about 7 o'clock, Rains, Serrin and Edwards were working at the hay press and heard a shot at the house about 200 yards distant, where Weber was getting supper.  Then two shots were fired at them from a ridge separating the meadow from the river, not sixty yards distant.  They ran towards the house.  Two more shots were fired from a fence nearer the house and Rains fell, shot through the body.  The others gained the cover of some brush along a creek and reached the mountains, their retreat to the house being cut off.  Rains rose, went some distance and was shot again, shattering his thigh, and finally crawled along and reached the house.  He bled profusely, never spoke and died about 10 o'clock.  The shot at the house was an Indian firing at Weber from the corner of the cellar.  A splinter from the bullet perforated his clothes, merely abrading the skin of his shoulder.  Evidently the enemy's best shots were not in the field.  Weber seized a gun and fired at one of the Indians who was shooting at the men in the field, but probably without effect.  The Indians then kept a respectful distance from the house as long as Weber stayed.  After dark, at the signal from a round mountain nearby, the Indians fired the stacks, out buildings and country around in eight places at once.  Weber's stay became precarious.  After Rains was dead he crawled out through the least exposed window and taking his Henry rifle, gained the cover of a friendly fence and escaped to the mountain.  Edwards and Serrin reached Warrens the next forenoon and Weber later.  Immediately a party of fifteen of us well equipped were in the saddle.  We took the road to Frank Smith's place, which is further up the river and nearer Warrens.  As we filed down a long ridge jetting out towards the river, suddenly a signal smoke shot up on the mountains, at and beyond Big Creek, where Col. Bernard has gone, were a sheet of smoke and vast columns of it rose here and there showing that the Indians were burning over as much of the country as possible.

Smith's ranch had not been visited.  His family were already in town.  In the morning we climbed over the mountain to Rain's place, the route down the river being passable only to birds and fishes.  We reached Rains' at noon.  The wind blew a gale, and the flames leaped up the mountains on both sides of the river, licking up the dry grass and bushes, the rocks and burning logs rolled down, and altogether it was such a scene of destruction as one may hope rarely to witness.  Everything about the premises that would burn was consumed.  We gathered the calcined bones of our late fellow citizen, dug a grave in the field and buried them with reverent hands.  He was 48 years old and had come to the Idaho county mines in '65.

Before burning the house the Indians evidently entered it, taking two Winchester rifles, with from forty to fifty cartridges and leaving an old gun and taking such plunder as they desired.  They took eight good horses from the pasture and forded the river, striking northeasterly up the main Salmon.  There was nothing to indicate their number, but it was not large, Weber saw only two.

The property destroyed and taken away was of considerable value, from $3,000 to $5,000.  There can be little doubt that the marauders followed Lieut. Catley's trail back from Big Creek.  Where they will next reappear time will show.  They take no chances themselves, but assassinate only from ambush.  It is understood that Col. Bernard's firm opinion is that a winter campaign only will exterminate them.  Their runners are continually passing two and fro through the country.  Moccasin trails are often seen.

A messenger was dispatched to overtake Col. Bernard and we look for his return tomorrow.





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