Black Rock Tom

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Sequinata (Se-quin-a-ta), also known as Black Rock Tom, was chief of the Black Rock Band of Paiutes.[1] In March, 1865, he and others killed George Thayer and Lucius Arcularius at the Smoke Creek Desert.[2]

1860

Se-quin-a-ta was for the Paiute War at Pyramid Lake. In 1881 it was reported that his name was Chiquito Winne-mucca and that he distinctly remembered meeting Fremont in 1849 at Pyramid Lake. During one of the Pyramid Lake battles, Se-quin-a-ta disobeyed the orders of Young Winnemucca (Numaga) and charged past Numaga as Numaga was trying to start negotiations with Ormsby.[3]

November 1865

An 1896 article states that in November 1865, Lieutenant Osmer tracked Tom to the Quinn River resulting in 55 Paiutes and one soldier killed.[4]

Joseph Bellew (aka Ballou) was murdered near Cedar Springs.

"Mr. Ballou had got up opposite Cedar Station (about fifteen miles from the Humboldt River)"[5]

Fairfield recounts the 1865 murder of Bellew and the Quinn River battle:

"The Murder of Bellew"
"On the fourth of November three or four ox teams that were hauling goods from California to the Humboldt over the Honey Lake road, were approaching Cedar springs, thirteen miles from Rabbit Hole springs. One of the teams had gone some distance in advance of the others and was captured by the Indians. The driver, a man named Bellew, was killed and mutilated and the wagons plundered and set on fire. The Indians went off toward Black Rock."
"'Black Rock Tom' and his band went on the warpath about the middle of March, and were joined by the Indians living in the mountains to the north and northeast and by renegade Shoshones and Bannocks, and they kept up hostilities in Paradise valley and on the northern frontier. In May Charles Adams, a Honey Laker, started a colony in Paradise valley. In a fight there with the Indians the following July M. W. Haviland, a member of the colony and another of our Honey Lake acquaintances, was wounded. The peaceably disposed Pah Utes were afraid that the warlike attitude of this band would bring the anger of the whites upon the whole tribe and cause their destruction. Because of this, Captain Soo, the chief of the Humboldt river Pah Utes, determined to aid the soldiers in killing off the hostile Indians, regardless of tribal relations."
"The news of Bellew 's murder was taken to Dun Glen and Lieutenant Penwell was ordered out with twenty-six men ursuit of the Indians. Captain Soo, who had been the leader in the Williams massacre in 1860, acted as their guide. When he examined the signs about the scene of the murder he came to the conclusion that Black Rock Tom was the guilty party, and the command moved north in pursuit. On the ninth of November they overtook the Indians, and found them intrenched upon a mountain west of Pah Ute Meadows. After an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge them, they fell back about seven miles into the valley and camped for the night. The next morning they started for Dun Glen without having killed any Indians or lost any men themselves."[6]

Wheeler states that Black Rock Tom and is band were entrenched in the mountains to the west of Paiute Meadows. Wheeler also includes Osmer's official report which covers the event in detail.[7]

Fairfield continues:

"On the 13th of November Lieutenant R. A. Hosmer [Hosmer is probably a typo, it should be Osmer] of Company B, Second California Cavalry, with sixty soldiers, four citizens, and Captain Soo with fourteen of his warriors started from Dun Glen to make another effort to punish the bold outlaw. On reaching the sink of Queen's river a hundred miles northwest of Dun Glen, the wagons were left in charge of fourteen men and the rest continued the march. At daylight on the morning of the 17th, after having passed through the swampy sink of Queen's river during the night, Captain Soo declared, as the summit of some low hills was reached, that he could see the smoke of the enemy 's camp fires some nine miles away to the northeast. He also insisted that the smoke came from the camp fires of Black Rock Tom. The march was continued, and when they got to within five miles of the point where he said he could see the smoke, it could be seen by all. The Indians did not see them until they were about two miles from them, when Lieutenant Hosmer said "Come on, boys, we can't go around. The best man will get there first." The command then struck out, every man for himself, for a two mile charge. Captain Soo, who was riding on an old McClellan saddle given him by the soldiers, finding that some of the whites were likely to pass him, reached down and cut the girth of his saddle with a knife and threw out the saddle from under him. He kept on barebacked, and was the first to charge in among the enemy who were doing their best to escape. A skirmish battle that extended over several miles of country followed. Along the last of it Captain Soo used an old cavalry saber with good effect. Only one prisoner was taken, and that was a squaw whom a citizen was trying to kill, but was prevented by a soldier. Only six Indians and five squaws escaped, among whom was Black Rock Tom. David O'Connell was killed and Sergeant Lansdon and another man were wounded. The bodies of fifty-five Pah Utes were found, but this does not account for all the Indians killed. Many of them must have remained hidden on the battle ground which extended over an area of possibly three square miles and which contained many gullies and quantities of sage brush."
"After the battle was over a corporal was called by a comrade as he was coming down the side of the mountain. He went to him and found him trying to stop the blood that was flowing from the wounds of an Indian mother. Beside her lay an infant that had been struck by an accidental shot and near by was another child about two years old. The private wanted the corporal to help him carry the squaw down to the camp, for he thought it was too bad to let her die and the children starve. The corporal said he was in a hurry and told him to call a citizen near by to help him. Soon after reaching the foot of the hill he heard several pistol shots in the direction of where he had left the two men and the squaw, and looking up that way saw the soldier coming down alone. When he came up the corporal said 'Where is that squaw?' 'That was a fine specimen you called to help me," was the reply. "The ---- bush-whacker shot the whole lot of them, babies and all, before I knew what he was up to.'[6]

December 1865

In December 1865, Captain Conrad and Captain Sou[8] tracked Tom to Fish Creek (present day Battle Creek Ranch) and in the resulting battle killed forty of Tom's band with only three survivors.[4]

Fairfield reports:

"A part of Company B from Dun Glen and Company I from Camp McDermit, both of California regiments, met at Kane springs in December for a scout under Captain Conrad. Black Rock Tom had gathered in the scattered families of his followers, and joined by those of other bands that were committing depredations, had rendezvoused at another place on Queen's river. The snow was lying on the ground at the time, and one night while out the command was forced to lead their horses in a circle to keep from freezing. They were allowed to build no fires to keep the Indians from knowing that they were there. Finally the Indians were discovered on, or near, Fish creek and surrounded before daylight. One squaw, a boy, and an old man were captured, and the balance, about forty in all, were killed. None of the white men were killed. This ended organized hostilities on the part of any band of the Pah Ute tribe, but some of the more desperate went in with the Shoshone and Bannock renegades and kept up the fight the following year, some of them going into Paradise valley."[6]

Again, Wheeler includes a letter from Osmer that covers this battle as well.[7]


Death of Black Rock Tom

Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867 states:

"Remarks on Return of Company K, Second Cavalry, for January, 1866.- According to instructions from Headquarters District of Nevada, and S.O. No. 31, of December 20, 1865, I left Fort Churchill, Nev., December 21 1865, with nineteen men of company to execute orders at Dun Glen, Nev. After four days' march, I arrived at Blake's Station, where the citizens turned over to me a notorious Indian called "Black Rock Tom." After being put in charge of the guard, he tried to escape and was shot dead by some of the command."[9]

In 1913, Sam Davis tells a different story:

"Black Rock Tom, who was absent at the time, went down to the sink of the Humboldt, and delivered himself up as a prisoner to the chief Captain Soo, who turned him over to the soldiers and told him that he had better make his escape if he wished to live. An opportunity was given for the attempt to be made, which he availed himself of, when he was shot and killed."[10]

Fairfield's 1916 History of Lassen County has details:

"The Death of Black Rock Tom"
"Black Rock Tom, who was absent when his band was destroyed, went down to the sink of the Humboldt and gave himself up to Captain Soo. "The Humboldt Register" of December 30th has the following:"
"Black Rock Tom all Right"
"Several messengers have come lately from Captain Soo to citizens here, asking them to come down to the Big meadows and be put in possession of the notorious cut-throat known as 'Black Rock Tom.' Those who have been accustomed to attend to such business were busy, and Tom remained on the meadows doubtless each day feeling more secure. "When Captain Street came that way Tuesday, Soo notified him of the opportunity to capture this leading marauder. Street took him in charge." Some citizens then went to Tom and told him that the people were going to take him away from the soldiers and hang him, and that he had better make his escape if he wished to live. Street put him in charge of a squad of soldiers and gave them particular orders not to allow him to escape. Probably the soldiers knew what the citizens had told Tom and they gave him a chance to get away. He took the opportunity and the soldiers shot and killed him."
"The following is also from the Register of December 30th."
"Black Rock Tom's Pale Horse"
All hunters of Indians who came to an engagement any where between this and Owyhee, and almost all parties attacked on that road during the past season, emarked a white horse of extraordinary qualities, the rider of which seemed to take great pride in his efforts 'to witch the world with noble horsemanship.' The white horse was ever spoken of as a wonder of strength and fleetness. The rider - a stalwart Indian - delighted to dally just out of musket range from the white men, caricoling most provokingly, and darting off occasionally with the fleetness of the wind. The rider was Black Rock Tom. He has quit this vale of tears, but the horse has not been taken. Tom did not bring the pale horse on his last trip, and the much-coveted animal is still in Indian hands."[6]

Oddly, an 1881 article states that Se-quin-a-ta was alive and living on the reservation.[3]

References

  1. "The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, The History of Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming," p. 210, volume 25, 1890
  2. "A History of the State of Nevada: Its Resources and People," Thomas Wren, p. 290, 1904.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Indians and their wars in Nevada," The Daily Appeal (Carson City, Nevada), February 13, 1881, p. 1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "History of Nevada," Robert Lewers, Weekly Nevada State Journal, p. 1, November 14, 1896
  5. "Indian Massacre," The Chico Weekly Courant, November 18, 1865, p. 2
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Fairfield's pioneer history of Lassen County, California, p. 378, 1916."
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Nevada's Black Rock Desert," Sessions Wheeler, p. 116, 1978.
  8. "Old Cap Susie dead," The Pacific Bee, Sacramento, p. 5, March 1, 1888.
  9. "Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867," California. Adjutant General's Office, p. 186, 1890.
  10. "The history of Nevada," Davis, Sam P., page 176, 1913.

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