On July 15, 1853, Luther B. Collins (1813-1860), David Maurer, and William Heebner lynch Masachie Jim, a Native American whom they accused of murdering his wife. This occurs in King County, probably between Georgetown and Seattle. The lynching will lead to the murder of settlers Rogers and Phillips by friends of Masachie Jim and will feed Native American resentment against white settlement.
The county grand jury convened on October 23, 1854, and considered charges for two lynchings of Indians that had occurred, one in July 1853, of Masachie Jim, and two on April 12, 1854, of suspects in the murder of James B. McCormick (reported missing in July 1853). One of the suspects was William Heebner, a member of the grand jury. He had to be excused while the panel considered the question.
Heebner, Maurer, and Collins were indicted for strangling Masachie Jim. Citizens immediately collected funds for the defense. Dr. David Maynard (1808-1873) headed the list with a pledge of $150. The prosecution was brought by U.S. Attorney Elwood Evans and Territorial prosecutor Frank Clark. The defense team included Captain Joseph Cushman of the Revenue Cutter Jefferson Davis.
Maurer, “a simple-minded Dutchman,” stated, “I suppose I is guilty, Shudge” (Watt). The plea was later amended to “not guilty.” Maurer and Heebner were acquitted at trial. The prosecutors dropped the charge against Collins.
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Arthur Armstrong Denny, Pioneer Days On Puget Sound (Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, 1979), 67-68; Roberta Frye Watt, Four Wagons West: The Story Of Seattle (Portland: Binfords & Mort, 1931), 173-175; Frontier Justice: The Court Records Of Washington Territory microfilm reel 1, Cases THR-338, THR-35, THR-37 (Olympia: Washington Secretary of State, 1987); Clarence B. Bagley, History of Seattle: From the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1916), 53.
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