Founder of Eatonville Thomas Cobb Van Eaton

Thomas Cobb Van Eaton was an amazing man. Through his deliberate planning and strength of character, his dream of building a town became a reality. However, the whole story of the formation of Eatonville, WA is broader and not only includes TC Van Eaton, but other amazing individuals as well.

1864 Soo-Too-Lick

Indian Henry and the Mashel Prairie

On a beautiful October morning in 2009, among trees of bright yellow leaves, the Sutterlict family song filled the Mashel Prairie sky once again.  Descendants of Indian Henry (Soo-Too-Lick) had come to connect the broken line of their family.  Below a bright, blue sky, the Sutterlict family left gifts and continued to sing as they blessed Indian Henry’s grave.  Finally, they left restored to their past.  In one day, the Sutterlict family gave closure to Eatonville’s history as well.

As it has been written before, any history of Eatonville would not be complete without Indian Henry.  The only writings about Indian Henry stated that his family had all died and so ended his line.  However, recent examination of early census and death records revealed a path to his descendants.  Nevertheless, fate through a chance meeting would bridge the gap to his great-great-great grandchildren.

Indian Henry 1888
Early accounts vary.  Some say he was here as early as 1857 but did not make himself known because of the Indian Wars and fear of being taken to the internment camp on Fox Island.  There used to be a question if Indian Henry was Klickitat, Nisqually, or Cowlitz Indian.  However, his marriage to Cowlitz women and his descendents records confirm that Indian Henry was Upper Cowlitz or Yakima-Cowlitz Indian.

A possible reason for the confusion in his heritage stems from a governmental decision made after the Washington Territorial Wars.  When the war ended in 1856, the US Government grouped one part of the Cowlitz (now known as Upper Cowlitz) with the Yakima Indian Nation.  So, for a time the Upper Cowlitz Indians were considered Yakima Indians, although now they are autonomous.
The Cowlitz Indians were not a part of the fighting and were not interred during the Indian wars.  Because of this, it is very unlikely that Indian Henry fought or was involved in any battles.

It is said Soo-Too-Lick came to Western Washington from Yakima.  He was banished from the village of Simco after killing a medicine man in retaliation for not healing his father.      After leaving the Yakima area, he lived among other Indians who had formed Squaitz Village up near Mt. Rainier away from Tacoma and large groups of white settlers.  He may have even taken his wives from among that band.  He took his “Boston” name from someone else passing through.

Sometime in the mid 1850’s Henry Winsor was on route carrying mail between Cowlitz Landing and Steilacoom when he came across Indian Henry.  The story goes that Winsor asked him what his name was.  He answered Soo-Too-Lick.  Winsor asked him what his “Boston” name, complaining that his native name was too difficult to pronounce.  When Soo-Too-Lick stated that he had no other name, Winsor said that he could use his.  It stuck and Soo-too-lick is still known as Indian Henry. 

Indian Henry's Hunting Ground (courtesy of Jeff Morrison)
Winsor met up with Indian Henry again in 1862 while he, James Packwood, and James Longmire were in search of a better route to bring cattle through.  They met Indian Henry near Skate Creek.  He was there with a group of other Indians picking berries and catching fish.  Later in the day, the two men stayed and enjoyed a fish fry with the group.

Perhaps it was these positive experiences that led Indian Henry to settle closer to the whites on the Mashel Prairie around 1864.  Many called it the reservation because many other Indian people were attracted to live there rather than on the federal lands.   Not many were in this area at the time, so he would have no problem gaining the land from just inhabiting it.  To be sure and secure the land, T. C. Van Eaton helped Indian Henry, with sons Thomas and Wickersham, file homestead claims to the settlement just before Indian Henry’s death in 1895.

Indian Henry may have chosen the Mashel Prairie because it had been an earlier village site.  This existed along an established Indian path to Mt. Tacoma, later called Mt. Rainier.  It turned out to be a prosperous site since many seeking to go to the mountain often stayed at his home, bought supplies, and needed a guide.
Though Indian Henry guided many in and around Mt. Rainier, he is sometimes mistakenly given credit for guiding Hazard Stevens.  In 1857, it was not Indian Henry but was in fact a Nisqually Indian named Wah-pow-e-ty.  That party was unsuccessful and did not reach the summit.  Thirteen years later, Stevens made it to the summit with the help of a Yakima man named Sluiskin.

In 1883, Indian Henry guided James Longmire, George Bayley, Philemon Beecher Van Trump, and A.C. Ewing to Mt. Rainier.  He charged $2 a day for his services.  George Bayley wrote this account:
"…terminating abruptly at Mishawl (Mashel) Prairie, where we passed the night, the welcome guests of Henry, Klickitat [Yakima] Indian who had renounced his allegiance to his tribe, adopted the dress and manners of living of the whites, married three buxom squaws, and settled down as a prosperous farmer.  He had preempted a quarter section of land, fenced it, erected several good log buildings, and planted his land to wheat and vegetables, which appeared as thrifty and prosperous as any of the farms of the white settlers we had seen.  Henry was skilled in woodcraft and we needed his services to guide us to the mountain.  For the moderate consideration of two dollars a day, he agreed to take us by the most direct route to the highest point that could be reached by horses, there to remain in charge of the animals while we went forward on foot."

Indian Henry did ride his horse to the point where the group had to dismount, but he refused to go any closer.  Some thought he was afraid of the spirit of the mountain, which could be very true.  Those who knew him thought the 58 year old just was not interested and did not see the point of huffing and puffing just to get to the top where there were no berries or game.
It was on this hike, while fetching wandering horses, James Longmire found a beautiful meadow containing hot springs.  He went back up, built cabins, and Longmire Springs was born.

Indian Henry, Muir, Loomis, Van Trump, Ingraham, and Booth
at Camp in the Clouds, Mt. Rainier.  1888
Indian Henry even guided famed naturalist John Muir accompanied by H. Loomis, P.B. Van Trump, R.S. Ingraham, William Keith, N.O. Booth and photographer A.C. Warner to Mt. Rainier in 1888.  After staying the night on the Mashel Prairie on August 9th, John Muir described Indian Henry as a “mild-looking, smallish man with three wives, three fields, and horses, oats, wheat, and vegetables.  Len Longmire, grandson of James, described Indian Henry as a “slim little fellow but was straight as a young fir and when he walked he went in a straight line.”

In October of 1888, Henry guided Ohop Valley pioneer Torger Peterson up to Mt. Rainier.  Peterson described it in detail:

I went in the company of Indian Henry and some other Indians up to Mount Tacoma.  We went on horseback through brush and lower logs and finally landed in what is now known as Indian Henry’s Hunting Grounds.  It was a clear day and the sun was just setting when we reached the mountains and I will never as long as I live forget that sight; such a park surrounded with flowers of all colors and descriptions, and right then I made up my mind to do all in my power to get a road to that Mountain so that the people could see that wonderland and inhale that invigorating Mountain air.

This area is now enveloped within Mt. Rainier National Park.  The place still bears the name Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.  Indian Henry is also honored with Satulick (Soo-Too-Lick) Mountain named after him.
On August 4, 1890 Fay Fuller, first woman to climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier, stayed the night bedded in fresh hay in Indian Henry’s barn along with the Van Trumps and their daughter.  Several additional groups were staying as well.  Among them was Mrs. Maud Shaffer, a granddaughter of James Longmire, who reported this encounter with the family:

On the way up to the springs, the family would stop and stay at Indian Henry’s place on the Mashel Prairie.  She remembered that Indian Henry was small and had not a beard.  The house was large and well kept.  She enjoyed playing with the children.  Both wives were pleasant but she liked Anna the best.  After a long day of play, there were bonfires and fun nights sleeping on the hay in his barn.  Her father Elcaine Longmire traded furs and barter over fresh fish using “Indian-Chinook” prices.  Maud recalls hearing the haggling: “Yet dollar, $1.00; mo dollar, $2.00; klone dollar, $3.00; sitsum dollar, $4.00.”  There was a mutual fondness and trust between the two men.

When Indian Henry needed to pay for his supplies at the Van Eaton Mercantile, he would do so in gold nuggets.  His gold mine is still a mystery.  Some looked for it around his hunting grounds.  Others tried to follow Indian Henry as he journeyed to the lake head of the Ohop but he always eluded them.  He had one of his wives serve as lookout while he panned some placer gold (gold found in sand or gravel in rivers or streams) then returned with the nuggets. 

T.C. Van Eaton was the only person Indian Henry offered to show where the gold was.  He declined and believed Indian Henry would give him gold if he needed help.  Van Eaton’s descendants believe that T.C. did not want to see a gold rush in Eatonville.    

According to John Van Eaton, T.C. Van Eaton’s son, the Sigmund family ran a chicken farm in the little valley past Clay City.  They supplied chickens for Ohop Bob Restaurant which was located on the Mountain Highway and overlooked the valley below.  They noticed something shiny in the claws of the chickens and were startled to discover that it was gold.  At one point they gathered enough to fill two gallons of placer pebbles.    Washington State Gold Mines published in 1984, states there is a probability of gold in the Mashel River and near Clay City.
“The Mashel River has produced some placer gold near its mouth.  Gold ore was produced from lodes three miles upstream.  A wide vein of free milling quartz produced some low grade gold ore near Clay City.”

When not using gold, Indian Henry found a gold mine in tourism.  He was a shrewd businessman.  He is said to have brought travelers to his farm for supplies and lodging by changing the signs directing tourists to Mt. Rainier.

Indian Henry’s farm was extremely self sufficient and raised enough to take to the market.  The homestead was teeming with horses, ponies, pigs, and hunting dogs.  In addition, there were dogs that were bred for their long coats and sheered the same as wool.  Three fields yielded crops including wheat and oats in abundance.  His wives were skilled at keeping vegetable gardens.  He even had a fanning mill and was so productive he sold seed to the settlers in the Ohop Valley.

The abundant wildlife fed the families as well.  The Mashel Prairie area was rich in wild vegetables and several types of berries like black, salmon, raspberries and huckleberries.  In the spring and fall, the salmon filled the Ohop Creek and Mashel River.  Many years later, Mashel-Nisqually and Ohop Creek-Nisqually confluences made for favorite fishing stations and sites of many salmon bakes.

Indian Henry was said to have three wives.  In 1888, John Muir on his way to Mt. Rainier commented that Indian Henry had three wives.  However, in 1890, Mrs. Maud Shaffer only encountered two wives; “Anna” was her favorite.

Some have written the incident of losing his two other wives as a comical story, but it was not.  Indian Henry was told it was against the law to have three wives.  When he came before Judge James Wickersham in Tacoma, it was quite a serious matter of being forced to change his way of living.  It meant ripping apart his family.  It is unclear how many children were from the other wives.  Separation would mean they would be taken from their mothers to stay with their father or go with their mothers and be reduced to fending for themselves.  One account states that Indian Henry was locked up in jail until he agreed to comply with the judge’s order.  After pleading had failed, Indian Henry gave in and chose his oldest wife.  He implored the other two to stay for wages.  Indian Henry offered them 10 cents a day to clean, pick berries, cure meat, and help with the crops.

Indian Henry’s first wife was a Cowlitz Indian named Patoomlat, but she was called “Sallie.”  Born in 1849, she and Indian Henry had five children: Wickersham (named after Judge James Wickersham), Joe, Mary, Robert, William.  It is unclear when Sallie died.  Part of the confusion lies with Indian Henry’s second wife.
The second wife of Indian Henry was also called “Sally,” even though her Indian name was Leequint.  She was 16 years younger than Patoomlat (Sallie).  Her one known son John died at age 24 in 1913.  After Indian Henry’s death, Leequint/Sally later married a Puyallup Indian named Thomas Howard.  Skilled in many crafts, she made beautiful cedar baskets.  These baskets are still with us today in a private family collection. She fulfilled her last request to have a “white” wedding to husband Thomas.   Her death was suspected by the coroner to be from tuberculosis; the same cause of death as her son four years earlier.
The February 9, 1917 issue of the Eatonville Dispatch posted this obituary:

The funeral of Sallie Howard was held in Eatonville last week.  George Barr officiated at the ceremonies. Mrs. Howard was married the week previous to Thos. Howard by Rev. Wood of Eatonville.  She was in a critical condition at the time of her marriage. Deceased has been married to Mr. Howard for a number of years but desired to have the ceremony performed according to the white laws. She was a member of the Cowlitz tribe of Indians.

Anna (Indian Henry's 3rd Wife)
Anna's baskets, doll, and Indian Henry's fishing spear
Indian Henry’s third wife was named Anna.  Anna was admired for her gentle spirit and beautiful basket weaving.  She was said to have been deaf and could not speak.  Anna was said to be still quite young.  Her one known son went by the name of “Jimmie Satolick.”   When she left the Mashel Prairie, she sold berries and salmon to make a living.  Finally, she married an Indian man named Willie Sam.

Recorded in a 1910 Lewis Country Census is an Annie Suterlick age 60 in the Randle Indian Precinct.  Charles Lutkins claimed to have seen Anna in 1924 selling huckleberries in Elbe.

Anna’s son “Jimmie” or James H. Suterlick moved to Nesika within Lewis County, Washington.  In 1913, James signed as a witness on the death record of his half-brother John Suterlick.  James wed Mary York and had a child named Joseph.  Mary’s father was James York the founder of Randle, Washington.  Joseph Suterlick died at age 32 in 1942 leaving a wife Alice S. Suterlick. Their descendants are many and still live within Washington State.

Though some left, other family members of Indian Henry and various Indians lived on or near the Mashel settlement.  The Indian Henry Trial printed in 1949 states that “Patomlat” had three additional sons, Thomas, Patrick Henry, and Yappen.  Ohop Valley residents recall three other children named Johnnie, Maud, and Tim Satelick.

Local residents also remember Thomas Howard, Bob Smith, Jim Pennoyer, William Panier, and Bill Pattawa.  Bill Pattawa (Padawa or Padua) and his wife had two daughters Anna and Christine.  Christine later married an Indian man named Louie Jack.

In addition, the 1910 Census for the Silver Lake Indian Precinct, verifies some of those residing on the Mashel Prairie. In one household was Thomas Henry (who was no relation to Indian Henry), his wife Mary, daughters Lena and Ida, and son Louie.  Also in the same household were son-in-law George Tumwatter, his wife Alice (daughter of Thoms Henry), and their children Lily, Nora, and Adam.  Alice attended a nearby school and taught many how to weave baskets from bark.  In the next home over, there lived Sally Saterlick and her 21 year old son John.  Besides discovering the cause of John Sutterlick’s death, Thomas Henry did not die of natural causes but drowned in the Puyallup River.

Until the early 1920’s, many of the Indian people of the Mashel Prairie were involved with the surrounding settlers.  Salmon was abundant on the Mashel River.  Settlers and Indian people harvested salmon with “gaff hooks.”  At times, whole wagons were filled with the great fish.  The Indians would feed some to their dogs.
All that salmon prompted many salmon bakes, usually operated by Bill Pattawa.  The Mashel Indians supplied all the fish. They placed the fresh fish on t-poles over hot coals of alder.  Many have written that these were goodwill gatherings, but according to Ohop Valley resident Matt Kjelstad, they were actually fundraisers for the Mashel Baseball Team.  The fish, ice cream, confection, and other dishes all came with a price.  It was the Barr Indian family, who lived in Ohop Valley, who hosted the community or potluck-style bakes.

The settler men and boys formed baseball teams for Ohop and Silver Lake and wanted others to play with.  They encouraged the Indians from the Mashel Prairie to form their own team.  The Mashel team was very good.  They were fast runners and hardy players.  Sunday was game day.  One Sunday, the game was on the Mashel Prairie then on the alternate Sunday, they were at Silver Lake on an open pasture at Henley’s place. 

On one Sunday, the Silver Lake team had already arrived.  They saw the Mashel team riding up on horse and wagon.  Stopping before reaching the field, the Mashel team came “a howlin’ and a yelling.”  The wagon full of Indian men and women came “rattling down.”  It was great fun putting on a show and scaring them.

Louie Jack
The baseball games were very popular.  One fellow, who came to the area to work on the Mountain Highway, was a “cracker jack” pitcher.  He chewed slippery elm and covered the baseball with it to make it stiff and harder to hit far.  Louie Jack of the Mashel team was a real stand out as catcher.  He was said to have it all: he was able to hit and run extremely well.  Johnny Henry (Indian Henry’s son) threw a mean pitch. Perhaps it was games on Sunday that led to the end of baseball on the prairie.

Sometime in the 1920’s, some Yakima preachers came to the Indian Shaker Church there on the prairie.  They felt that baseball was ungodly and convinced many others as well.  Bill Smith was the holdout as he felt there was nothing wrong with baseball.  He was outvoted and so ended the baseball team.

The Shaker church continued much as it had since 1913.  The ringing of hand bells marked the start of service.  The faithful would form two squares of about 16 folks each.  Then, one member at a time took their turns reciting in Chinook.  After shaking everyone hands, the hand bells were rung again signaling the end to the service.  

By the 1930’s, there is no record or oral tradition of the thriving settlement Indian Henry’s once was.  Only tales of disrepair such as this article in the Tacoma Sunday Ledger printed in 1930:

Remnants of Indian Henry’s Settlement
Bill Pattawa’s Root Cellar
For some little distance the road leads through forest, then through an open area and again into the woods bordering on the edge of the cleared farms of the valley.  Just past the barn of Fred Johnson is the gate that bars the trespassing of live stock, but the swinging open of the gate allows the road to be traversed until one reaches the ruins of the old Pad-e-wa place (Pattawa) high up on the banks of the Nisqually river [The Pad-e-wa place is probably where Putawawa Bill had lived in about 1915].  This barn of Johnson’s used to be the old Indian church, but Mr. Johnson has built an addition to either end of the same and made it into a barn, but the old belfry still marks the front of the original building.  After entering the gate, a few hundred feet brings the old Indian graveyard to view on the right.  Here are a number of burial plots enclosed with fences, some of them containing rude crosses, some still cruder markers.  To the extreme right as you approach this God’s half acre, is the lot in which Indian Henry and four other of the tribe are buried.  There is no marker of the exact spot of the grave of the man who has his own hunting grounds on the slope of Mount Tacoma.  Across the road is the site of his old home.  The old building is no longer in existence, and a new farm cottage has taken its place.  But near the highway, the old home of his son, Wickersham Suvik [So-To-Lick], is still standing, and nearer yet is the home of Indian Tommy [Thomas So-To-Lick], another son.  But continuing the trip in, the trail ends at the Pad-e-wa (Pattawa) buildings.  Here is of much interest, the old house, the barn, the building that was used to dry fish, the dugout cellar, and the old spring with its ceaseless flow of water [Medicine Springs].  The lumber of which these buildings are constructed is for the most part very crude; some of it being cut by a sawmill operated by water power at Eatonville and hauled in, the remainder being of shakes which evidently were cut and shaped on the “horse” which stands now back of the barn.  The river cannot be seen from the bank on account of the heavy growth of timber, but a winding trail takes one to the water’s edge, and here is an open space with a small lean to where, in the old days, the Indians tethered their horses, and prepared their meals while netting fish in the waters of the Nisqually.

Many believe Indian Henry is buried within the Shaker Church grave yard on the Mashel Prairie.  Thirteen to twenty additional Indians are estimated to be buried there.  The site was in a state of disrepair in the 1930’s until the WPA cut down bush and trees and erected a wire fence with a “suitable” marker.

Evelyn Guske and 4H Club 1974
The “suitable” cross marker was fading when the Silver Lake 4H club worked on it in 1966 under the direction of club leader Evelyn Guske and her son Jack Guske.  Then, in 1974, the same Silver Lake 4H club lead by Tom Guske erected a stone monument to which a rock from the Pyramid of the Moon brought up from Mexico City was embedded.

In 2005, two local Eagle Scout candidates and other volunteers including members of the Puyallup Indian Tribe, cleaned out and renovated Indian Henry’s grave on the Mashel Prairie.

Indian Henry saw beyond these curious encounters with whites and realized they could mutually benefit from one another.  Many in the area counted Indian Henry among friends.  He was a close friend to T.C. Van Eaton and often dined at his home.  He knew and was friendly with Robert Fiander.  So much so that when T. C. Van Eaton shared his plans to build to the town, Fiander knew who to introduce him to: Indian Henry.