Biography of Charles A. Splawn

CHARLES A. SPLAWN. – This veteran of Indian wars was born in Clay County, Missouri, in 1831. He went from there to Davis County, near Galiton, and was there during the Mormon trouble. His mother, in the absence of his father, was compelled to leave her home by the “saints” who threatened to burn the house over her head if she remained another night. In 1844 he moved with his father’s family to Hold county, and in 1851 crossed the plains to Oregon. After reaching this territory he became alternately trader, miner and packer, until in 1853 he joined the forces under General Lane in the war on Rouge River. It was in this trouble that the Indians were decoyed into a fort on Grave creek where they were all killed. Again he became packer and miner until 1855, when his train narrowly escaped capture on Bear creek. After this he went with his express friend to the Pend d’Oreille with a party of miners, receiving fifty dollars for a horse or one hundred and fifty dollars for each two miners who had three horses. On his return he heard at John Day river that General Stevens had been cut off by Indians in the upper country. The miners whom he had taken up came back with him on account of the Indian trouble. He sold his train to the Oregon government, and became a packer for the army in the field under John Fortune.

Mr. Splawn was married to Miss Dulcinea H. Thorpe in 1861, by which union they had one daughter, Viola. Mrs. Splawn died ten years later; and in 1873 he married Miss Melissa F. Thorpe. Mrs. Splawn was absent in Seattle during the excitement of 1878. The settlers had gone into a fort, and were canvassing the idea of demanding the valley Indians to surrender their arms. Learning of this, these friendly people came to Mrs. Splawn’s house, turned their arms over to her, and became her body-guard as against the hostiles until the excitement passed away.

Mr. C.A. Splawn was the first sheriff of Yakima county, and served two and one-half terms. He was probate judge for two terms, and has been justice of the peace in Yakima and Kittitass counties for a number of terms. His home is at Ellensburgh, Washington.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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